Monday, June  24, 2019
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We finished off with the toy museum at about 4pm. The final exhibit of Nazi-inspired toys had focused our attention on the dark period of World War II, and how Nuremberg had been a very central and important part of that history. As a result, there were several important sites around Nuremberg related to the National Socialist movement, and we thought it might be worthwhile to visit the most prominent of these - the Nazi Party Rally grounds.

The location of the rally grounds, located some distance away from the old city center, meant that we couldn't reasonably reach them on foot. We therefore walked back to the vicinity of our hotel, to the underground parking lot where our rental car was located.
Hangman's tower and bridge
Walking past Closed store
After retrieving our rental car, a fifteen-minute drive brought us southwest to the outskirts of modern Nuremberg. A somber-looking monolithic building with a smooth granite facing stood in front of us. An abstract 'spike' of modern architecture protruded out of one corner. This was the entrance to the Dokumentationszentrum - the "Documentation Center" museum of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds.
courtesy RHanel
Fascination and Terror
We had arrived late in the day - around 5pm - and the musuem was only open until 6, so we wasted no time in getting underway. Darkly lit and with a backdrop of rough-hewn red brickwork, the exhibits inside the museum documented the rise of National Socialist movement in Germany, from the position of an opposition party all the way through to dictatorial dominance - and beyond.
The Rise of NS
Identifying Undesirables
Nuremberg's importance
The tag-line of the museum is "fascination and terror", and I could see why. Seemingly inexorably, the National Socialists managed to ratchet up their policies, sometimes in little steps, sometimes with big ones: marginalization of minorities, aggrandizement of Aryan superiority, and a dismissal of many democratic concepts. How large swaths of the populace could be swayed (or sometimes coerced) to back this sort of thinking is indeed both fascinating and terrifying. Germans were (and are) as intelligent and advanced as any modern nation, and what happened here goes a long way to show how humans - all humans - are capable of acting in completely unacceptable ways.
Party Grounds
Masses in the Luitpold
Grandiose Excesses
With the 6pm closing deadline fast approaching, our walk through the museum's exhibits was a bit rushed, but we did manage to get a good sense of it. The track through the museum ended at an open-air lookout over the central space of the Kongresshalle - a massive colosseum-like structure built by the Nazi regime (and only partially complete). From here, in a neat feat of construction, a modern walkway drilled straight back through the documentation museum building to the main entrance. The lookout, the inner walkway and the protrustion at the museum's entrance were essentially all one big "spike" of metal driven diagonally through the building. Perhaps this was meant to symbolize a stake driven through the heart of Nazism.
The documentation center museum is only a very small part of the entire Nazi party rally grounds, and we decided to visit a couple of more spots - ones that were "open-air" and weren't subject to a closing time - before we finished up. A walk of approximately one kilometer around the perimeter of a recreational pond (the Dutzendteich) brought us to the famous Zeppelin field, where huge National Socialist rallies were held most years starting from 1927 up to the start of the second world war. Many iconic images of Nazi events were filmed at this location.

Much of the wider infrastructure was falling apart, the field overgrown. The main grandstand - the Zeppelintribüne, though, still stood in relatively good shape. It was instantly recognizable as that central building in all of those film clips showing Hitler shouting to the crowds.
Decaying Monolith
Climbing up to and then standing at the central podium - at the very spot where Hitler projected his persuasions over the throngs - was both powerful and unsettling. This stuff was not just some story written in books - it really happened, and these preserved locations were important proofs of that. Important especially for those subsequent generations that did not experience it first hand. Hopefully these preserved sites can help people internalize what happened and seek not to repeat it. I fully believe that without that internalization, this kind of national irrationality can (and will) happen again and again.
courtesy JInnes
Top of grandstand
The podium
Somber Stephanie
Commemoration of fall
Spectactor Stands
War Damage
After visiting the Zeppelinfield, we continued our circuit around the Dutzendteich pond, eventually coming to a very wide road paved in curiously-large slabs of multi-colored granite. This was the Große Straße, or the Great Street. It was super-wide - probably twenty lanes wide - and was meant as some sort of grandiose parade route (seemingly all of the National Socialist construction was about dwarfing people with immense sizes of things).
courtesy JInnes
The Great Street
Rally Grounds Overview
We completed our circuit back to the car by walking past the rounded outer section of the Kongresshalle. For all of their malevolent activity, the Nazi party did manage to construct buildings of very high quality. The granite-faced structure looked nearly brand-new from this side.
courtesy RHanel
Arcade of the Kongresshalle
After the sobering but very worthwhile visit to the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, we returned to our hotel and then headed out for another dinner of local cuisine. This time we ate at a place called zum Spießgesellen, not far from the central market area. And this time, we were more careful in our ordering and did not overdo it. We sampled a particularly notable speciality of the area as our main course - Schäufele. Schäufele is a roasted pig shoulder (with side fixings of sauerkraut, cabbage, and potato dumplings). The preparation is notable for a soft interior texture and a very crispy skin. It may sound a little disturbing to some, but it was really quite good.
Nuremberg at Night
Finally, we visited a special spot - one communicated to me out of the blue by a strange man wandering the streets of Nuremberg earlier in the day: the top of a parking garage with a superb view out over the old city. At night, this presented a wonderful scene and was wonderful final view of the city for us.
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Nuremberg, Day 2 - click map to view
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