Nürnberg, Germany: Nazi History Sites


Nürnberg,
so steeped in German history, was nicknamed the most German
of German cities. That’s one reason
it was a favorite of Hitler’s. A short tram ride
from the center is a collection
of important Nazi sites. When Hitler took power in 1933, he made Nürnberg’s
Zeppelin Field the site of his enormous
Nazi party rallies. The stark remains of
this massive gathering place are thought-provoking. For several years, increasingly elaborate
celebrations of Nazi culture,
ideology, and power took place right here. -Imagine Hitler stepping
out of that door, overlooking the massive
200,000 people being lined up. He used propaganda
to create a new community — in fact,
we even have a word for it. It’s called
Volksgemeinschaft.” -The chilling images from Leni Riefenstahl’s
documentaryTriumph of the Willwere filmed at the 1934
Nürnberg rallies and then shown in every theater
and schoolroom in the country. The goal? To bring
a visual celebration of the power of the Nazi state
to every person in Germany. Looming over a now peaceful lake is another remnant of
the dictator’s megalomania — his huge yet unfinished
Nazi Congress Hall. Hitler was enamored
with the Roman Colosseum. He had his Congress Hall
modeled on that but built much bigger. -Imagine, 50,000 leading Nazis
in here. One third higher,
covered by a roof. A window inside the ceiling, sunshine would have fallen
down to the podium. Once a year,
one speech, of Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler
liked huge buildings. He was a big fan of the architectural style
named Neoclassicism. The idea was to make
the individual feel small. -This really makes me
feel small here. -Yeah, you give away
the responsibility of your life, and you get something back
in return. That is, a bright new future. -The Nazi Documentation Center
fills one wing of the hall. This superb museum does its best
to answer the question “How could Germany’s
Nazi nightmare have happened?” It traces the evolution
of the Nazi movement, focusing on how it somehow
both energized and terrified the German people. This is not a WWII
or a Holocaust museum. In fact, those events
are barely mentioned. Instead, the center
frankly analyzes the origin and evolution
of the Nazi phenomenon, to help better understand it and help prevent it
from ever happening again. Exhibits offer insights
into the creation of the Messiah/pop star image
of Hitler — the mass hypnosis
of the German nation. You’ll see his manifesto,
Mein Kampf, mementos that placed
the dictator alongside Bismarck and Beethoven in the pantheon
of German greats, and souvenirs from his rallies. With postcards like these, the Hitler-mania generated
by these rallies was shared across the land. Of course, Hitler’s promises
were trumped up and led not to glory
but to war, the Holocaust, and the devastation of Germany. The challenges of building and
maintaining a peaceful future are ongoing. -Incorporated into these museums
are classrooms like this. -Why is that? -Because every student,
military, policeman should learn
from our difficult history. -So this really is, today,
part of German education. -Yeah, it finally arrived
in our education system.

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