Yesterday’s excursion lead to two places in Nürnberg: The Reichsparteitagsgelände and the Memorium, that is Courtroom 600.
Nürnberg is a treasure box, it’s filled with museums representing every era of the history of the proud Reichsstadt. The undisputed crown of these collections belongs to the GNMGermanisches Nationalmuseum – a house of European prominence. Some years ago the Bavarian centralized gouvernement nourished plans to take parts of the collections to Munich with the justification, that art of international importance should not be shown in the Franconian province. The reactions were not as joyful as those Bavarians expected and the plans were dropped.
The Third Reich is part of the German history and undeniable a part of the history of Nürnberg – 12 hectares of land in the middle of a city and some unfinished megalomanic buildings are not to be ignored. Nürnberg was called the Stadt der Reichsparteitage, the annual meeting of the NSDAP were held here (Ger., Eng.), it was seen as a name of honour. München was the Hauptstadt der Bewegung, Capital of The Movement, and until today has no idea how to deal with this past and what to do with the numerous nazi buildings still standing around.
The Reichsparteitagsgelände (Ger., Eng.) today is preserved and protected, plans for building houses, industry and other uses were put aside. Since 2001 the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände (Eng.) is in use showing a large and informative exhibition.
On our arrival we were greeted by the spiritus rector of the institution, Dr. DIETZFELBINGER (wiki). He gave us a short introduction and after our visit of the exhibition we would have the possibility for a discussion. The place is unique in the brick shell of the giant Kongresshalle (Ger., Eng.). They have good texts, good pictures and a good presentation. Later in the discussion our host sayed that a survey showed that young people seeing the exhibition did not use the computers and touchscreens – these gimmicks in fact fall completely through. The content is transported by text mainly, and images, but these need explanation. All these photo albums on touchscreen are in vain. The Centre has a very busy schedule and offers educational programs and discussions – and these services are used and accepted very well.
The second station was the Memorium Nuremberg Trials (Ger., Eng.), also part of the Nürnberg museum landscape and closely related to the Dokumentationszentrum. I had visited Courtroom 600 (Ger., Eng.) some years ago together with a friend. It is still used as courtroom and in the earlier years it was possible to see it on weekends only. Now above the courtroom under the roof an exhibition about the Nuremberg trials (Ger.) is created, four rooms with modern exhibition technology. We were greeted by Frau ZENTGRAF of the scientific staff. While we visited the exhibition I had the possibility to talk with her. The subject of this exhibition is pretty “bulky goods”, history of law, finding new law. We had a nice conversation about the start of the exhibition. The first three texts depicting 19th century’s ideas about Völkerrecht (Ger., Eng.), the change of the character of war and the final need to react to the deeds of the Third Reichs leading caste were a bit abridged in my humble opinion. I did not come to see the last two rooms where the longtime consequences of “Nürnberg” were discussed. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in DenHaag (Ger., Eng.) is based  explicitly the Nuremberg Principles (Ger., Eng.) and thus they were crucial for the development of an International Crime Law. And its enforcement. The group had a nice discussion in the courtroom.

It was a very enriching and inspiring excursion. But what the activities of the city of Nuremberg can mean for this city’s view on her own history still needs to be figured out.

15 thoughts on “Nürnberg

  1. Excellent report! I hope to visit the field and courtroom some day.

    I can highly recommend Judgment At Nürnberg to anyone interested in the trails (allowing for a little “Hollywood” in telling the story). I think this was one of Marlene Dietrich’s best performances and she should have won an Oscar. She played the “We Didn’t Know” character to perfection.

  2. Great trip. Bad time took place in that town. I remember a great deal of the news reports of the trials. I have some magazines from the thirties with articles about Germany and Hitler before he got in power. I can’t see a repeat of that history. It was not an easy time for a great number of people. We need to remember there is more history to view than 1930-1945.

  3. Exiting and exhausting, Wanda.

    I have not (yet) seen this film, XL. Coincidentially the GNM shows an exhibition about luggage including one or two suitcases that belonged to her.

    Yes, you are right Joyce, it’s not only 1930 to 1945 – the city of Nuremberg existed before and afterwards. But for a whole generation after WWII the history ended 1930 and only since the late 70s or 1980s things changed and the city turned towards this part of its own existence. This is something Munich for example still has to do. And the town I live in has to think about itself and its role. It’s still all in fluxus, moving.

    Than you saw pictures Leni RIEFENSTAHL produced, Kahless. Her first film about the party rallies was “Sieg des Glaubens / Victory of faith” (1933), but it was destroyed because Mr. RÖHM was too often in the picture – the leader of the SA. He and a lot of other people were killed in the “Night of the Long Knives / Nacht der langen Messer”, the socalled “Röhm-Putsch”: The official justification was that RÖHM, the SA together with others would have prepared a coup d’etat. It was a plain lie, and afterwards the SS took over as political power and Mr. HIMMLER allowed himself a little smile. The SA still existed but had virtually no more real influence. RIEFENSTAHL also produced “Triumph des Willens / Triumph of Will” (is that the right word? seems a bit weak) – THE movie about the rallies, and “Tag der Freiheit /Day of Freedom” a propaganda piece about the Wehrmacht holding their blam–blam-games at a party rally. RIEFENSTAHL created THE images for all this, technically brilliant, absolutely dedicated, richly rewarded, and absolutely unshaken and without any trace of regret afterwards.

    Franconia is not Bavaria, Amanda. Med denna Bauernfünfer ham mihr nex ze dunn. Both Bavarian “kings” (courtesy of Napoleon) Ludwig would not find Franconia on a map, the second would all look in his trousers. After 1803 museums, archives, monasteries and libraries were plundered and the loot carried to Munich. Bavaria – beer, bratwurst, Blödele. Regionalism needs care … :) And no, I will not sing all verses of the Frankenlied now.

    See my comment to Amanda, Lone Grey Squirrel. It IS a difficult legacy, but the do not ignore it anymore, that’s the difference. And it is a very fine cooperation that gives the basis for the work in the Doku-Zentrum, because the German State, the land Bavaria and the city of Nuremberg found a way to create a new entity, the Doku-Zentrum, that takes care of all what belongs to this single historical situation.

  4. Ja, I saw that luggage exhibit when following the links before. Marlene was famous for her luggage, too. She used her own luggage as props in No Highway In The Sky.

    In English, the title is Triumph Of The Will. Marlene and Leni were friends in 1920s Berlin, but parted ways when Riefenstahl got too cozy with the Nazis.

  5. That sounds like a fascinating day. I learn so much about a Germany I didn’t know. My mother and grandmother were amidst the bombing of Berlin, but beyond their recollections and a brief introduction to history, I know very little about their home.

    Hope you’ve recovered from the trek there and back.

  6. I did not know that they were close to each other, XL. Surely they knew each other, the German filming industry was not that big, and RIEFENSTAHL worked as actress too. Another one who joined the brown ranks enthusiastically was Thea von Harbou.

    Thank you Roses, I am feeling well. If you are interested in some historical topic, just say something. If I know something about I will tell, or I can at least say where to look.

  7. What an interesting picture! I have once heared about Ms. WONG, but totally forgoten about her. As I see from wikipedia she was in Germany 1928-1930 filming in Berlin. The German wiki-article mentions an interview she gave Walter BENJAMIN (!) while she was in Europe: I have to look for this text, maybe it’s in the BENJAMIN edition.
    It fits well together with RIEFENSTAHL having their years as actress between 1925 and 1931 doing all these “Berg-Filme” “mountain flics”, she did the first work as director 1932 (“Das blaue Licht” / “The Blue Light”). And Marlene, well she’s about to become “die DIETRICH”: She does the “Blauer Engel” / “Blue Angel” 1929/1930 with STERNBERG, who will lead DIETRICH and WONG 1932 through Shanghai Express. In Hollywood. No more Berlin.
    Interesting to see that WONG did a HITCHCOCK 1930 – HITCH made his first films in Germany, in Munich as I remember – but may be wrong – in the mid 20s.

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