A Sobering Tour of the Nuremberg Nazi Documentation Center

Our main purpose for visiting Nuremberg was a bit of holiday cheer at the Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt.  However, we felt we couldn't pass through the area without acknowledging its darker past.  We took a tram out to the Nazi Documentation Center which served as a Nazi Party rallying ground before and during World War II.  It's because of its prime position in the Nazi sphere of influence that Nuremberg was heavily targeted by the Allies during World War II and 90% of the historic medieval core was destroyed by the end of the war.  Nuremberg is also famous for hosting the Nuremberg Trials where Nazi war criminals were made to answer for their deeds after the war.  The Nazi Documentation center now features a well-done (albeit sobering) museum that addresses the rise and fall of the Nazi regime.  

We mounted the steps and entered the museum bracing ourselves for what we might find inside.
We came face to face with Nazi propaganda...
...and the man himself.  The informative audio guide included in the price of admission gave context to everything that we were seeing.
We watched scenes play out from the Nuremberg trials and shook our heads incredulously.  There were also a number of other first hand accounts of the war presented in the museum from a variety of perspectives.  Nothing was candy-coated, for sure.  One thing that stuck me the most was a video interview with two old ladies taken decades after the war.  They had been young girls and Nazi supporters at the time and had spent a good deal of time at the Nazi rallies.  What disturbed me the most though was how they reminisced about 'The Fuhrer' (Hitler) all these years later as if he was the equivalent of a popular member of One Direction or any other boy band member or 'teen hearthrob'.  They talked about how girls were infatuated with Hitler and would seek him out, chanting below his hotel window when he was in town hoping to get a glimpse.  The women reminisced proudly about how they saw the Fuhrer more than ten times during one year and how he had smiled at them.  I'm not judging these women for these feelings during their misguided youth but I am judging them for how they are representing these views so many years later.  It's as if they cared nothing for the lives that were lost and the 6 million Jews sent to their graves by their precious Fuhrer.  If I had been in their shoes, I would have been much more guarded about what I revealed and how I revealed it so many years later.  I was absolutely outraged and found this interview so many years later truly repugnant. I still find myself angry about it now as I write this :-(
We moved on to view a Holocaust memorial sponsored by the Deutsche Bahn.  It was a way to pay their respects given the pivotal role that train transport played in the brutal events of the war.  A series of train tracks are laid out and are scattered with 60,000 placards each with a name of someone that died at the hands of the Nazis in the concentration camps.  The most sobering thing is that each placard is meant to represent 100 victims of the Holocaust.  It was just not possible to recognize all those that lost their lives individually in the space available.
After our tour of the Nazi Documentation Center, we went outside to get some fresh air and reflect on what we had seen.  We walked among the crumbling remains of the Nazi Rally Grounds.
We could see in the distance, the platform where Hitler would have addressed his devotees in Nuremberg.  There were megalomaniacal plans to build a stadium that would seat 400,000 and impress those in attendance with the power of the Nazis.
We went in for a closer look at the remains of the Party Rally Grounds at Zeppelin Field and took time for a moment of silent reflection.
We looked back on Congress Hall where the museum is now housed before heading back into town.
While we certainly prefer happier experiences on our travels, it's important to confront the uglier side of history from time to time.  The Nazi Documentation Center offers a good opportunity to learn and reflect.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: A Sobering Tour of the Nuremberg Nazi Documentation Center
A Sobering Tour of the Nuremberg Nazi Documentation Center
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