Deutschland – Nürnberg

This weekend I decided I would stay close-by again, as I have a longer trip coming up. I gathered a group of Americans and we drove to Nuremburg on Friday after leaving work. The drive itself took a little over two hours. While we rode we discussed our upcoming trip to Berlin, our plans for the weekend, and where we wanted to eat dinner.

We checked into an Airbnb around 7PM. Our hostess took the time to show us maps of the city, discuss some guidebooks, and offer recommendations for places nearby. After we got settled in we started looking for places to have dinner and eventually settled on a casual Japanese buffet nearby. I ate a ton of sushi, had some stir-fry, and went for two plates of dessert. I’ve been doing a fair bit of weightlifting lately so I always find myself hungry – the buffet was a good choice for me. I tried Kangaroo meat for the first time, I was surprised they were offering it so I felt I had to give it a shot. It tasted like beef but was a little tougher, although I would say I preferred it to the horse meat I had tried in Iceland.

After we stuffed ourselves we headed back to the Airbnb where we met a few others who had left Stuttgart after us. We made it an early night after forming a plan.

I woke up early the next morning. Only one person was up before me, and that was because she had jetlag from having flown over recently from the US. I went for a run around 7AM and made my way towards the old town. I didn’t run terribly far or push myself too hard as I suspected we had a long day ahead.

After my run I got cleaned up and everyone else was stirring by the time I was ready. Our first stop was the Nazi party rally grounds near the hostel, where a documentation center describes the rise of the party and the role the party rallies played in cementing the popularity of the power structure and ideals held by its leaders.

We arrived at the documentation center just before it opened, and were in the first group to go through. The friends I was travelling with had said they would not want to spend a long time there, but without any discussion we paced ourselves to take 3 hours to walk through. The documentation center was not a museum, per se, but rather a historical and contextual analysis of the rise of the Nazi party and the role the rallies played in manipulating public opinion.

Most people are familiar with the high level highlights of the story, I think. Decimated after WWI, the German populace rose up in a surge of nationalism and racism that led to the Third Reich. But such a recollection of events is an oversimplification. This exhibition went into more depth about the politics involved, the socioeconomic climate, and laid out the narrative as it unfolded.

This is a story not often told, but one that is important to recall. By understanding how the Nazi party came to power, we can learn about how to prevent the rise of extremist parties and recall the past. The Nazis capitalized on an angry populace, masterfully manipulating public opinion and seizing power through the institution of militant police forces and regulators.

Understanding the role of the party rallies in the transition of power painted a grim scene. By creating grand rituals to honor military service, labor on behalf of country, and self-sacrifice, the Nazis instilled a cultural value in militant behavior and reduced the importance of the individual. Grand architecture and huge gatherings also served to inspire the sense that one was part of a grand monumental movement.

We also learned a bit about the Nuremburg trials and the role of the city during the war, although this was not the focus of the museum. By late morning we left the museum and went to explore the rally grounds, largely left to ruins but utilized for new purposes in some cases. We saw people testing ambulances, and there were sports being played at the Zeppelin Field where Hitler gave some of his most infamous public appearances.

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“The Grand Road” Pointed towards a historic castle, symbolically linking the party to the country’s royal past. This street was used for massive military marches
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The Congress House was meant to imitate Roman architecture and look imposing
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The towers at the Zeppelin field served as bathrooms during party rallies
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View of the podium where speeches were delivered at the Zeppelin Field

After surveying the grounds, we got a quick lunch of pizza and made our way into Nuremburg itself. We spent the afternoon getting lost in the streets, and eventually found the castle with a nice view of the city. Nuremburg was totally bombed out by the British towards the end of WWII, but was carefully restored to retain its old aesthetic. Here are a few pictures from our walk.

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In the evening we did dinner a little differently. Rather than sit down for a formal meal, we bounced from place-to-place and snacked (some people drank). This was a fun way to continue our meandering, and led to us getting to see even more of the city.

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After we had our fill of exploration, we made our way  back to the apartment and went to bed before it got too late. We wanted to be on the road early enough for our trip the next day. More on that later.

Nuremburg was a nice mix of history and scenery. While we had a museum-heavy morning, we were able to just aimlessly explore later in the day, which balanced things out nicely. I enjoyed my stay there and felt I learned a lot at the museum while also getting to enjoy a little fun in the charming town.

I’ll explain my adventure Sunday in my next post. Until then,

Best wishes and safe travels everyone,

– Ben

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