Obviously I love doing seasonally inappropriate things around the holidays. Like taking a break from Nuremberg’s gorgeous Christmas markets to remember the Nazi party’s humble beginnings.
Visiting the Documentation Center Exhibit
Just a few steps from the Doku-Zentrum tram stop in Nuremberg is the Documentation Center where the permanent exhibition for the Nazi Party Rally Grounds is housed. The exhibit is basically a documentary you can move within. There are a lot of old photos and some original materials like newspapers from when they were built and used. The audio guide tells you everything about the history of the Nazi party from its inception and rise to power all the way to the Nuremberg Trails.
As part of the narrative, it explains how instrumental the city of Nuremberg was in creating visible support for the Nazi movement. It’s a great illustration of how people slowly lose sight of their own humanity when they get swept up in the false narrative of a corrupt and unhinged leader. Really compelling if you’re interested in WWII history or contemporary American history. I couldn’t help but think of how much my high school history teacher would enjoy it.
As part of the Documentation Center exhibit, you will see the bricked inside of the Congress Hall. Though I have to say, the outside is far more imposing and impressive with its well-preserved archways and stone columns. I feel pretty much the same about most structures that look like this, including the Colosseum in Rome, which looks exactly like this.
If you don’t enjoy history, you may find the whole thing underwhelming. But it’s only 5 Euro to visit. And for an additional 2.50, you get entrance to all other municipal museums on the same day. This includes museums like the Toy Museum, the City Museum Fembohaus, artist Albrecht Durer’s House, and the Museum for Industrial Culture (which was my favorite of the ones I visited).
The Grandstand and Zeppelin Field
A visit to the Nazi Rally Grounds is not complete without seeing the Zeppelin Field grandstand. This is 15-20 minutes walk around the lake next to the Documentation Center. The site is a bit run down and is used by bored teenagers as a skate park. But the structure is still imposing and impressive. You can go up to the grandstand and imagine what the field might have looked like full of subservient Nazi soldiers. After the war, the giant stone swastika that sat atop the grandstand was blown up.
The lake between the grandstand and Congress Hall is so gross that I can’t even tell if it’s swampy water or wet muddy ground. Everything about that is very fitting, that this massive symbol of Nazi propaganda is a now a dump. The view of the large Congress Hall structure is better and more complete from the other side of the lake.
It’s still beautiful in its own way and worth visiting if you’re in Nuremberg.