Sunday, July 19, 2015

Nazi Party Rally Documentation Center, Germany

One of the things my brothers said they wanted to see while they were here was a Concentration Camp. We had gone to Flossenburg and they had seen a concentration camp. In my research of things to do I found out about the Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg. Nuremberg is about an hour away from me, Drew and I have flown out of that airport multiple times, we've visited it a lot, but I had no idea how important it really was to the Nazi supporters. Nuremberg was the place where in 1935, the infamous "Nuremberg Laws" were proclaimed which robbed Jews and other minorities of their rights. Large Nazi propaganda events were held in Nuremberg, especially after Hitler's rise to power in 1933. These events were held at the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg from 1933 to 1938. The Party selected Nuremberg for pragmatic reasons: it was in the center of the German Reich and the local Luitpoldhain was well suited as a venue. In addition, the Nazis could rely on the well-organized local branch of the party in Franconia (Upper Bavaria).

So on Friday morning we were off to Nuremberg to check out the Documentation Center. Due to construction, it took 1.5 hours to get there instead of the 40 minutes it was supposed to take. (Gotta love Construction season). But once we were off the Autobahn it was an easy drive, there's lots of free parking (which driving and SUV in Europe is not always a good thing). There is a small fee to get in, an Adult ticket is 5 Euros pp, kids are 3 Euros pp, There are Family tickets, or Group Tickets; Small Group Ticket 1: 5.50 EUR (= 1 adult and up to 3 children under 18 years), Small Group Ticket 2: 10.50 EUR (= 2 adults and up to 3 children under 18 years). You also get an audio guide, all you have to do is type in a number and a voice explains things to you.

I went to the bathroom before our tour started, and honestly I was appalled by all the graffiti that was on the back of the doors. The most appalling one was the one I saw before I left, someone actually wrote down that they had sex in the bathroom. Not really sure how true it is, but come on! Who does that!

At the documentation center there are 19 exhibition areas which are structured in chronological order: the history of the party rallies, the buildings of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, the "Nuremberg Racial Laws" of 1935, the "Nuremberg Trials" of the main perpetrators of Nazi crimes in 1945/46 and the twelve follow-up trials, as well as the difficult problem of dealing with the National Socialists' architectural heritage after 1945.


At the end of the tour, before you turn your audio guides in, you can go to the Old Congress Hall, The huge oval-shaped building, designed in the typical Nazi neo-Classicist style, was modeled on Rome's Colosseum and designed to seat 50,000 people. The foundation stone was laid in 1935 but the building was never finished. After the end of the war, the city of Nuremberg kept the ruins as a reminder of the dangers of fascism. The structure is part of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds where Hitler held massive military parades during the 1930s.

Just like when I've been to concentration camps, I'm not sure what to feel. I walked around the center away from my brothers listening to the audio guide and watching the videos, and just taking in what it meant to live during that time as someone Jewish, Homosexual, or even someone who outspokenly said that they didn't agree with what their government was saying. I'm thankful that I didn't live during that time.
It was a great place to go and visit. But I think for the moment I'm gonna go back to putting places like this on the back burner.