On my second full day in Germany, I began my tour of Nuremberg by visiting the Documentary Museum. Being highly interested in WWII, I found this to be the highlight of the day for me. For just a five euro entry fee, I spent three hours learning about the significance of Nuremberg in Nazi Germany.
Apparently Nuremberg was the headquarters for Nazi Germany. Hitler once called it, “The Most German of German Cities”, and it was here that the annual Nazi Party Rallies were held. I learned a lot about the rallies. These were big week-long festivals devoted to the Socialist Party. Each day held a different theme. Youth Day, Military Day, Community Day and even a sports day. There were huge parades and the entire city of Nuremberg came together to make the event happen. Thousands of visitors traveled from all over the region to participate in the annual rally.
It's sad to think that Hitler did such a great job brainwashing everyone that they were so excited about the rally. What's worse is that those who weren't excited were eliminated. The museum gave plenty of video footage of eye-witnesses from the events; those who had spent the majority of their childhood in Hitler's youth programs. They talked about seeing their friends and family dissapear; though they knew it wasn't normal, they didn't ask questions and they assumed the worst.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating factions of the museum was that of the architecture designed around the Nazi Party. Even the buildings were designed to glorify Hitler himself. He created buildings with stern, powerful looks, often times using an elevated platform for where he would stand and deliver speeches. Some gathering places used lighting and flags to set a sovereign or religious mood during certain events. Specific buildings around Nuremberg were designed while Hitler stayed richly involved in the process. These buildings fascinated me and as it turns out, the end of the museum led to the entrance of one of the more famous gathering places. Yes, it still stands today.
The Congress hall was a massive empty stadium with a platform at the front where Hitler stood and gave charismatic speeches to his followers. To stand in the presence of such a structure was mind-altering to say the least. A wash of humility covered me as I stood there for several minutes, thinking...contemplating.
Aside from the Nazi Party Rallies, Nuremberg was also the chosen location of the Nuremberg Trials, which was a massive post-war trial held by the Allies to try 22 Natzi Leaders against the crimes they committed during the war. This was something I had only recently heard about and so to watch video footage and see preserved artifacts from that event was very self-effacing.
When I finished the tour I found I had an increased hunger for more history, more artifacts, more knowledge on the subject. Unfortunately it was time for me to walk across town and meet Maggie. As I walked towards the city center I came across two other buildings I had just read about in the museum. One was now a immigration headquarters and the other still served as a courtroom.
When I caught up with Maggie she led me downtown and led me through a local tour of this wonderful German city. First, I had a Currywurst at Wurst Durst, which basically translates to “a thirst for sausages.” My currywurst came with guacamole mayonnaise and french fries. It was delicious to say the least!
After a quick bite we walked on towards the city center where I saw lots of famous sites.
One of my favorite sites were the Schoner Brunnen fountain. Local folklore has it that a man who worked with metal wanted to marry a young girl from the village. Her father wouldn't give his approval so the man devoted himself to a labor of love. He created a fountain 19 meters high with a gold ring in the center for his would-be bride. The superstition is that if you rotate the ring three times and make a wish, it will come true!
Another neat site was “The Meat Bridge.” This is one of the main bridges downtown. It has a sculpture of a bull at one end. That is because in medieval times, the townspeople would chop their meat on this bridge so they could easily throw the remains into the river.
There were lots of buildings dating back to the 1300 and 1400's. This was mind-blowing to me. We even toured the inside of several churches that are still being used today.
We even toured a castle and enjoyed a nice summer shandy in the shade beneath it. THAT was cool!
We ended the night at an avante-guard art show inside what looked like a car park. I loved seeing all the amateur art and couldn't wait to get started a few new ideas of my own.
Nuremberg is quite the charming little town. I will say I loved that it wasn't touristy or over-crowded and the inside scoop from Maggie gave it just the personal touch I desired. Such a historic city shouldn't be overlooked.