By ERIC SCOTT
PICTURES: The Congress Hall, another of Hitler's follies;
Room 600 in the Nuremberg District Court during the War Crimes trials in 1945 and the buliding where Hitler surveyed his mighty army.
One of the most sombre and confronting visits I’ve ever made was the World War II historical tour at Nuremberg, the home of Hitler’s
Rally Grounds and the documentation centre – even the name brings chills as the evils of the Nazi Party were slowly revealed. It was simple to understand then how Hitler rose to power. It was the frog in the water – it heated up so slowly that no one noticed- until it was boiling and then it as too late.
It was a bus drive from the River Duchess river ship to the site and then we walked and looked and listened. There was the building at the top of the stands where Hitler strutted as his army paraded in front of thousands upon thousands of people every day of the year. The missing thing was the huge swastika that the Americans demolished when they marched into Germany.
The 10 square kilometre site was surrounded by elevated seats and even toilets were dotted around the perimeter
Hitler’s mighty army marched, drilled, and showed off precision and fitness to an admiring audience, who paid to watch. (They had to, otherwise they might find their name on one of the many lists that were growing at the time. And that could be deadly).
The echoes of past evil lingers in the air
Across the lake in beautiful surrounding we also saw what looked like a copy of Rome’s Colosseum. It was the Congress Hall, another of Hitler’s grandiose plans that did not come to fruition. It was an amphitheatre designed to seat 80,000 people. The advance of the Allies into German put a stop to the work and it remains unfinished as a testimony to absolute power and corruption.
But sombre as the visit was, it was nothing so chilling as the permanent exhibition in the Documentation Centre, which is titled “Fascination and Terror” where walls echoed with the effects of the Nazi atrocities in photographs, newsreels, and documents. There are photographs of the leaders, the people, the tortured, and the murdered and it showed how clever the spin doctors of Germany pushed national Socialist propaganda and fooled most of the people all of the time.
On leaving the building there is a glass encased railway line which is composed of cards with the names of the people who were transported to their death in the concentration camps.
It was such a poignant and heart-breaking experience, so much so that we cancelled a planned trip in Regensburg the next day to the Jewish Quarter. There is only so much emotion you can call on.
Fascination and Terror Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds, Bayernstraße 110 90478 Nuremberg¸ Fascination and Terror Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds, Bayernstraße 110, 90478 Nuremberg, Germany. Tel. +49 (0)911 231 - 54 21 Fax +49 (0)911 231 - 54 22 E-Mail: email@example.com
Admission costs: Adults, 5.00 EUR; Reductions 3.00 EUR School students in a school party. 1.50 EUR per student Groups of over 15 persons; 4.00 EUR per person Small Group Ticket 15.50 EUR (1 adult and up to 3 children under 18 years); Small Group Ticket 2 10.50 EUR ( 2 adults and up to 3 children under 18 years)
But the final call on the visit showed that evil can be punished as we walked into Room 600 in the Nuremberg District Court. This was the room where all the war criminals were tried after the war. Photos were on the wall in the lobby, people like Hermann Göring (suicide by potassium cyanide), Rudolf Hess (life sentence), Franz von Papen (Vice-Chancellor under Hitler who was acquitted), Arthur Seyss-Inquart (Austrian Chancellor, Nazi Commissioner, hanged) and Joachim von Ribbentrop (Foreign Minister who was also hanged).
The room is still used as a courtroom, but we were lucky that day because there were no cases being tried and we were allowed to sit inside.
After the trials the courtroom was refurbished, and is now smaller. A wall that had been removed during the trials in order to create more space was re-erected. In addition, the judges' bench was turned 90 degrees and is no longer situated in front of the window, but stands where the witness box was placed during the trials.
It was a strange feeling to sit in such an historic place.
Memorium Nuremberg Trials, Bärenschanzstraße 72, 90429 Nuremberg, Germany
Tel. +49 (0)911 321 - 79 372, Fax +49 (0)911 321 - 79 373
Opening Times: Wed to Mon 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Last admission 5 p.m. Tue closed,\ Admission costs: Adults, 5.00 EUR; Reductions 3.00 EUR School students in a school party. 1.50 EUR per student Groups of over 15 persons; 4.00 EUR per person Small Group Ticket 15.50 EUR (1 adult and up to 3 children under 18 years); Small Group Ticket 2 10.50 EUR ( 2 adults and up to 3 children under 18 years)
Adults 5,00 EUR; School students in a school party, per student 1,50 EUR; Groups of over 15 persons, per person 4,00 EUR; Small Group Ticket 1(1 adult and up to 3 children under 18 years), 5,50 EUR; Small Group Ticket 2 ( 2 adults and up to 3 children under 18 years),10,50 EUR.
The admission fee includes the audio guide for the exhibition which is available in the following foreign languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Polish.