The Nazi Forced Labor Documentation Centre (Dokumentationszentrum NS-Zwangsarbeit) on is located at the historical site of a former forced labor camp that has been largely preserved. The camp was erected in the middle of a residential area at the end of 1943 by the “General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital” (GBI), under the direction of Albert Speer. The 3.3 hectare grounds contained 13 stone housing barracks and a central administration building.
The “GBI-Lager 75/76” (its abbreviation in contemporary documents) was built for 2,160 male and female forced laborers, but was not filled to capacity. More than 400 Italian forced laborers, including military internees, were housed here along with male and female civilian forced laborers from different countries. In 1945, during the final months of the war, two additional barracks also served as living quarters for female concentration camp prisoners who were forced to work at the Pertrix battery plant.
After 1945 the Red Army used a few barracks as a paper storage area for the Soviet Military Administration. The GDR vaccine production plant probably moved in 1947 into the six barracks that are now used by the Documentation Centre. The remaining barracks are today still occupied by a workshop, sauna, day-care centre, car show room and bowling restaurant. An unfinished barrack was torn down shortly after the war. Another barrack was torn down in 2000. The Vaccine Institute closed down after 1989. Beginning in 1995, this section of the historical camp grounds stood empty for over ten years.
The public was very late to become aware of the history of the former forced labour camp in Schöneweide. By 1994 various initiatives were working to preserve the historical site and to establish it as an educational site.
In 2004 the Berlin Senate resolved to have a documentation centre on the history of Nazi forced labor established at the site. An international advisory board was founded in 2005/2006 with the support of the foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future.” It advised on the design and use of the historical grounds and on the concept for developing a future documentation centre as an educational site with an exhibition and archive. Two barracks were refurbished with rooms for exhibitions, special events, seminars, an archive,and offices. The Documentation Centre opened and was officially handed over to the Topography of Terror Foundation on August 24, 2006.