Close-up of the large, red wheels of a historic locomotive.

Rail Transport

Railroads perfectly embody the inextricable link between the history of technology and the history of everyday life. In its exhibition “Trains, Locomotives, and People,” the Deutsches Technikmuseum focuses on the history of important rail vehicles and the people whose lives were touched by the railroad.

Engine shed 1 is open again!

Zwei Frauen laufen von rechts nach links durch das Bild. Rechts hinter ihnen ist der Bogen eines alten Portals erkennbar. Direkt hinter ihnen befindet sich eine Wand, die mit einer rot eingefärbten Fotografie des Anhalter Bahnhofs bedruckt ist. Links in diesem Foto befindet sich ein Textfeld mit der Aufschrift: „Eisenbahn: Revolution und Alltag“.
Im Eingangsbereich zur Dauerausstellung „Eisenbahn: Revolution und Alltag“ steht das originale Fürstenportal des Anhalter Bahnhofs direkt neben einer großformatigen historischen Aufnahme dieses legendären und größten Fernbahnhofs Berlins im 19. Jahrhundert.
SDTB / Ériver Hijano

The new permanent exhibition on Rail Transport has reopened under the title "Railway: Revolution and Everyday Life". In the historic engine shed, colorful exhibition islands structure the tour. Media installations and interactive stations invite visitors to discover the history of key objects in animated films. The first phase of the revised exhibition, which has now been completed, covers the period from the beginnings of the railroad 200 years ago to 1914.


It shows how rail transport fundamentally and forever changed the lives of all people. For example, the railroad made major migration movements possible and created the time zones. The focus is always on the museum's unique collection, which includes the oldest preserved streetcar: a Berlin horse-drawn carriage from 1865.

Supported with funds from the Lotto Foundation Berlin.

Next Stop: Anhalter Bahnhof

Anhalter Bahnhof was the largest of prewar Berlin’s legendary terminus stations. Its monumental head house was demolished after suffering damage in World War II – all except for a small fragment on Askanischer Platz. Other elements of the structure are now preserved in the Deutsches Technikmuseum, such as the so-called Fürstenportal. This “princely portal” led into the waiting room for “gentlemen of the very highest class and quality.” Today the portal leads into two historic historic engine sheds, or roundhouses, dating to 1874, where the Museum presents 150 years of railroad history over 6,000 square meters of exhibition space. Along with their outdoor turntables, the roundhouses themselves are the largest exhibit, standing as a monument to the complex infrastructure that was necessary to operate the railway system.

Two large, green-tarnished bronze figures stand in front of yellow brick pillars in the historical Engine Sheds. Between them is a black locomotive.
Ludwig Brunow’s (1843-1913) sculptures “Night” and “Day” were once located above the main entrance to the “Anhalter Bahnhof” train station. Today the electrotype figures welcome visitors to the Engine Sheds.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

The Smell of Soot and Oil

Forty original railway vehicles, some of which still exude the smell of soot and oil, make up the heart of the exhibition. In addition, there are many unique, highly detailed models of railroad cars and locomotives on display. These models, built to a scale of 1:5, were made around 1900 by apprentices aiming to qualify as journeymen. The vehicles – both models and originals – are displayed alongside a variety of exhibits illustrating what it was like to work and travel on trains, as well as what place trains had in the popular imagination: train compartments, souvenirs, uniforms, dining car tableware, suitcases, tickets, and toy trains.

The exhibition proceeds chronologically, from the 18th-century predecessors to the railroad, to an open passenger car from 1843 – one of the oldest of its kind still in existence – down to the locomotives and cars of the West German economic miracle and of East Germany. Visitors can walk underneath a locomotive and climb up into the cab and play engineer.

A view of the Rail Transport exhibition. A historic black-and-red locomotive and several compartment cars are lined up in a row, each displayed on its own set of rails.
Numerous historical locomotives and railroad cars are on display in the Engine Sheds. More than 40 original vehicles illustrate the history of rail transport.
SDTB / H. Hattendorf

Wilhelm II, the “Traveling Emperor”

The history of the German railroad system was closely linked to social and political developments. Thus the exhibition highlights the connection specific people had to trains. For example, Wilhelm II’s parlor car provides insight into his derisive nickname Reisekaiser, or “the traveling emperor.” Otto von Bismarck, on the other hand, symbolizes the fierce debate over the unification of the Reichseisenbahn (German Imperial Railway) that took place in the 1870s.

Holocaust Trains

View of an old, brown wooden boxcar. Black-and-white photographs of concentration camps are displayed on the boxcar’s sides.
A boxcar in the exhibition testifies to the Deutsche Reichsbahn’s involvement in the Holocaust.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

The Holocaust is also remembered in the exhibition: more precisely the decisive role the Reichsbahn played in the murder of European Jews in the “Third Reich". A boxcar symbolizing the deportations is the centerpiece of an exhibit called “Deportation of the Jews”. It relates the fate of 12 people from Berlin, telling their stories by means of photographs, maps, and train schedules.

“Next Stop: 1900!”

A boy looking into the window of a train model. In the foreground you can see the wooden benches of the 3rd class compartment.
1st to 3rd class corridor train coach, "Danzig 0674", 1:5 scale model. A size comparison with a boy makes the dimensions of the model clear.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

The museum has a unique collection of historical railway models on a scale of 1:5, which were produced around the turn of the 20th century. Every door lock, every rivet, every sink is faithfully reproduced – from the steam locomotive to the funeral train. The interiors have been digitized with 360-degree cameras. From now on, users can take a virtual journey through time in the world of railways around 1900 – in 360-degree tours with a literary soundtrack.

Discover the digital story “Next stop: 1900!” on the platform Google Arts & Culture!


Der offene Personenwagen aus Holz fährt auf Schienen und ähnelt einer Kutsche. Der Wagen besitzt kein Dach. Er ist grün gestrichen und trägt vorn die Nummer 41. Auf der Seite steht der Schriftzug B.F.E.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

Open passenger car, 3rd class

This original passenger car from the private railroad company Breslau-Schweidnitz-Freiburger Eisenbahn dates to 1843.  It is one of only a few such vehicles still in existence from the early days of the rail travel – a truly special part of the collection. It shows how quickly German manufacturers departed from the model of horse-drawn carriages, developing designs specifically suited to the rails. Its open construction, without any weather protection at all, is a sign of the highly stratified class structure of the time.


Seitenansicht einer preußische Dampflok S10, Dampfmaschine, Fahrwerk mit Rädern und Gestänge sind im Detail zu erkennen.
SDTB / C. Kirchner

Prussian S 10 steam locomotive

This Prussian S 10 steam locomotive is one of the truly spectacular exhibits in the railroad collection. Between 1910 and 1914, a total of 202 locomotives of this class were built. Down to the 1930s, these robust locomotives were a mainstay of the rail network that spread out from Berlin across the North German Plain. Retired from service in 1934, our S 10 has had its boiler, cylinders, and cab cut open to show how a steam locomotive works.

Berliner Maschinen AG, 1911

SDTB / C. Kirchner

E 19 streamlined electric locomotive

The increasing use of automobiles and airplanes in the 1930s put pressure on railroads in Europe and the USA. In response, rail vehicles capable of traveling at higher speeds were developed. They were often given streamlined panels to improve their aerodynamics, which gave them a modern look in addition to greater speed. The E 19 01 streamlined locomotive could go 180 km/h (the top speed allowed), making it the fastest electric locomotive on German rails. Just as in the 1930s, the front bears the emblem of an eagle with a swastika, thus illustrating the way in which outstanding technological innovations were instrumentalized by the Nazi regime.

AEG, 1938

SDTB / C. Kirchner

Prussian P 8 passenger locomotive

At the end of Engine Shed I stands an oily, cannibalized steam engine of the P 8 class dating to 1919. The P 8 had a wide variety of uses. It could haul all but heavy express and freight trains. It was indispensable to rail traffic in Germany for a very long time. The last P 8 locomotives weren’t retired until 1972 (in East Germany) and 1974 (in West Germany).

Schichau-Werke, 1919