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Nuremberg

The Congress Hall in Nuremberg, the largest preserved national socialist building and home to the Documentation Centre at the Nazi Party Rally Grounds.

Nuremberg: city of culture and history

History student offers reflections on trip to Nuremberg

Due to the generosity of the University of Leicester I was able to travel to Nuremberg this past May to follow up my MA History module on Nuremberg and After: Nazi War Crimes Trials in Occupied Germany. When I stepped outside of the train station in Nuremberg, I was struck by the sheer history of the place. Winding cobblestone streets, cafes and sprawling outdoor markets are surrounded by medieval stone walls, and an imperial castle dating back to the time of the Holy Roman Empire—damaged in the Second World War but since rebuild—stands imposingly at the top of the city. Nuremberg is also well known for its mass of diverse museums, its handmade toys and its delicious gingerbread. But even more importantly, it is known for the wat trials that were once held there.

As the main reason for my visit, I was particularly glad to get the chance to visit the site of the Nuremberg Trials, where twenty-two men were tried for their criminal actions or associations with the Nazi Regime and the Second World War. Nuremberg was chosen by the Allies not only because it was controlled by the American military, but also because of Nuremberg’s symbolic association with the Nazi Party. Nuremberg was at one time the epicentre of Nazi Germany, holding yearly Rallies for masses of people to gather and listen to the propaganda of the regime.

The Documentation Centre (Dokumentationszentrum Reichparteitagsgelände) at the Nazi Party Rally grounds provided me with an in-depth overview of the history of the Nazi party, the scale and logistics of the Rallies, and the history of the buildings and grounds, all of which were fascinating. It also had an informative exhibit on the Nuremberg Trials, where they showed footage from the trial and of the many war criminals convicted throughout its duration. Unfortunately, the actual court room once used for the trials—'Courtroom 600'—is closed for renovations until late 2010, so I was unable to visit. However the Documentation Centre was extremely educational, well done and balanced—definitely worth the visit.

Once outside of the building, the rally grounds that were once filled with marching soldiers now play host to a different sort of crowd. The grounds are free and open for all to come and enjoy, with a beautiful lake and walking paths providing enjoyment on a sunny summer’s day. Nuremberg is a historically and culturally rich city with so much to see and do, and I again thank the University for giving me an opportunity to explore this wonderful city and all it has to offer.

Gavin Freeman

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