22.09.2014 - 24.09.2014
We have now parted ways with Neil and Amanda, as they head towards Belgium and onwards to home. We would love to see and do more of Germany but didn’t realize that the whole country would be so expensive and fully booked during Oktoberfest! Instead of heading to Berlin, we decided to spend a few days in Nuremberg and then most likely head to Greece for some warmth because it’s starting to become significantly cooler here. Nuremberg is a beautiful little city that we unfortunately only had two days to explore.
Nazi Party Rally Grounds
The first place we explored was the Nazi Party Rally grounds. This 11km area is filled with massive buildings, lakes and pathways and is known for some of the most iconic pictures from WWII. The complex, whose grandeur and style were inspired by classical Roman architecture, served as the site for the ritualistic Nazi party rallies between 1933 and 1938. Constructed by ‘Hitler’s favorite architect’ and Nazi minister Albert Speer, it formed the backdrop to the synchronized marching and showmanship captured in so many pictures and films. Large parts of Speer’s intended complex, such as the world’s biggest stadium, were never completed after the outbreak of World War II. Much of the architecture was defaced by advancing Allied soldiers at the end of the war and have since fallen into disrepair. The city of Nuremberg recently announced 90 million Euros are to be used to restore the entire grounds area. We have read that many people who live in Germany and Nuremberg disagree with this action, even though it is part of our history, many feel that the cost is to high. What do you think??
the Congress Hall
The first building we came upon was the Congress Hall, which is the biggest preserved National Socialist Party Monumental building in Germany. The building was designed to look exactly like the Coliseum in Rome. Even though it was so large there was an incredible amount of thought and detail put into it. On the inside, the bricks from the walls were crumbling away, plants were growing in and around walls and fences, and some old “rooms” were being used for storage. The outside however is made up of clinker with a facade of granite panels.
The Great Road & The Zeppelinfeld
Next, we walked the pathways along the Dutzendteich Lake to the Great Road, which is 2km long and 40m wide. It was intended to be the central axis of the site and a parade road for the Wehrmacht (The unified armed forces of Germany). In its northwestern prolongation the road points towards Nuremberg Castle. This was to create a relation between the role of Nuremberg during the Third Reich and its role during medieval times. Now, a parking lot for festivals and football matches and once used as a runway for the U.S. army, it’s hard to imagine the amount of people that were involved in these massive parades and rallies. Continuing along some paths, we at last found the Zeppelinfeld, where Hitler used to make his propaganda speeches. Looking out from his podium, Hitler could watch thousands of soldiers marching by, professing their loyalty with the familiar Nazi salute to their Fuhrer. We both had the chance to stand on this perch and to see the enormity of this field and stadium. It was an experience like no other in the sense that we have visited so many places where WWII was fought, but this was the first time we had experienced a place that was used prior to the wars beginning. To think that this was exactly where Hitler stood and exactly where he made his hateful speeches that eventually allowed for the atrocities that occurred many years later, made us speechless. It will remain one of the most humbling experiences of our lives. We have included some old pictures to give everyone some perspective on what it used to look like.
Once we made it back from the rally grounds, we decided to wander around the old city in Nuremberg. We passed through the old city walls, which are still “protecting” the castle inside. Inside we found lots of new shops and restaurants, but also extremely old churches, bridges market spaces and of course, the castle. The city was built in medieval times around the 10th century, so the architecture was breathtaking. Enormous churches towered above us with gargoyles and solemn statues staring down. Cobblestone roads and bridges were leading us up the hill until finally we saw the stunning castle. It really was quite the climb to get to the gates, but it was so worth it once we got inside. We could see the whole city from up there! There were these perfect German wooden beams that cover the walls, with pink flowers flowing over the railings of windows and walls that were made of stone over 1m thick surrounded by gorgeous manicured gardens. Sigh….oh to be royalty
It was definitely a packed 2 days, but it opened our eyes to the enormity of what the Nazis were trying to accomplish prior the start of WWII. Germany you have been good to us and we look forward to seeing the rest of you very soon. Until next time.