Oct. 18th, 2014
Congress Hall at Nazi Rally Grounds in Nuremberg/Germany
Nuremberg is world-known for its Christkindlesmarkt, but it also has many sights which are worth visiting like the impressing Imperial Castle, medieval St. Lorenz Church or the Toy Museum for example. But Nuremberg once was “Stadt der Reichsparteitage” (city of the party rallies) – a fact which was not easy for the town to deal with. Until they decided to use part of the monumental Congress Hall for the museum and documentation center which opened in 2001. The “Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände” soon made it to No. 1 on tripadvisor. To start with the review first – the documentation center is very well done – and even if you are interested in World War II only a little bit, you may consider a visit. Definitely if you are in Nuremberg anyway or maybe, if you are traveling along the Romantic Road (Nuremberg is just about an hour from Rothenburg ob der Tauber). This day trip is part of the 8-DAY HISTORY RAIL TOUR: “FASCINATION AND TERROR” – RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH.
How to get there
If you are traveling by car, there is plenty of parking available on the former Rally Grounds which are 1.5 mi south of the Old Town. If you arrive by train at Nuremberg Central Station a tram (tram number 9) departs from just outside the station and takes you directly to the entrance of the Documentation Center Nazi Rally Grounds which is located in the Congress Hall. There are signs pointing to the tram station saying “Doku-Zentrum”. One way fare is € 2.50 (a little more than US-$3) and you may also consider purchasing the day pass for unlimited free travel on the Nuremberg public transportation system which is € 5.30 (single ticket) or € 9.10 (for two adults)
The Documentation Center
The entrance of the Documentation Center has a contemporary design which is quite different from the monumental design of the Congress Hall itself. It is located right at the tram station when you exit to your right.
The entrance fee is € 5.00 per person and the fee already includes an audio guide which is available in English and in six other languages. For € 7.50 you may purchase a day pass museum ticket instead which makes sense if you plan to visit at least one additional museum in Nuremberg that day. There are lockers available which you may use free of charge. Also you find a cafeteria in the foyer of the Documentation Centre, where you can sit down for drinks and snacks.
Fascination and Terror
Its permanent exhibition “Faszination und Gewalt” (Fascination and Terror) is concerned with the causes, connections, and consequences of the Nazi movement in Germany. It is structured in a chronological order and first shows the fascination, extensively managed with means of modern marketing and media. The visitor will learn how the Nazis celebrated their movement in an “almost obscene fashion, presenting an appealing but false picture of their regime to the world” (as the documentation center states on their website).
The museum also shows the personality cult around the “Führer” (leader) and how Hitler managed to become the undisputed leader. Fascination was created and fear was seeded. The exhibition then shows how critics and political opponents very fast became enemies to the “Volksgemeinschaft” (people’s community) and how they were eliminated by detaining them into the first Konzentrationslager (concentration camp) in Dachau, which was opened only a few month after Adolf Hitler became Reichskanzler (chancellor).
Many films are shown in the exhibition and you probably need a total of about two to two and a half hours for your visit. This time is needed for the documentation center itself – not for a visit of the Rally Grounds.
Nazi Rally Grounds
If you have the time (and the weather is nice) you may want to visit the enormous Rally Grounds by foot. There is no specific walking path but along the way you will find several information boards with background information.
When you exit the Documentation Center to your left and walk along the lake “Grosser Dutzendteich” (the Congress Hall will be on your right) you will get to the “Grosse Strasse” (Great Road). The road is made out of granite, almost 1.2 mi long, and is leading towards the Imperial Castle to symbolize the connection to medieval times the Nazis saw themselves in.
Make a left on the great road and follow the street until you pass the end of the lake and make a left towards the Zeppelinfield. The large Grandstand with a width of 390 yards is a work of Adolf Hitler’s favorite architect Albert Speer. Speer was inspired by the Perganon Altar when he planned it. On top of the Grandstand was a large “Hakenkreuz” (Swastika) which was blown away by the Americans in 1945.
From the Zeppelinfield you can walk north towards the lake again and back to the tram station. You will pass the popular beer garden Gutmann am Dutzendteich along the way. Nowadays the former Nazi Rally Grounds is used as a Recreation Area for the residents of Nuremberg.