The last weekend in February we decided to take a little day trip over to Nuremberg. While the list of things to do in Nuremberg can be extensive (depending on your interest), we had picked out two history related places to go and check out. We figured we would spend a few hours in the city, walk around quite a bit, and then head back home. Happily, we were completely wrong.
Both my husband and I are very much interested in World War 2 history. I tend to read a lot of historical books (both fiction and non) that are based in this time period (honestly I go in between WW2 and Tudor/Elizabethan England) and my husband watches A LOT of documentaries from that time period. In fact, so much so that if you named one we’ve probably read or watched it. So, not only is being in Germany such a blessing for culture reasons, it’s also ripe with history (not only WW2, we can’t wait to explore ALL the histories that Germany has to offer).
So, on this first trip into Nuremberg (as we will be taking several) we decided to head to the Nuremberg Courthouse and the Reichsparteigelande (or the Nazi Party Rally Grounds). We figured that this would be more than enough for one day trip, and boy were we right. We started our day with a hearty hotel breakfast (seriously the food here is amazing) and then headed out to start at the Nuremberg Courthouse.
Let me start by saying that being in these spaces is incredible. I don’t know that I truly have the words to describe, but I’ll try. It is breathtaking and surreal, cool, but at the same time somber. A sobering experience to be in the same places where so much hatred was spewed and then where those same people spewing hatred were brought to justice. Standing in these same spaces that have become so entrenched in history is a completely different experience to just seeing it in a documentary. Walking through the exhibitions attached/within these spaces is full of so much information and I can say that I have come away with a whole new understanding that documentaries just can’t give.
For the courthouse, you are given a little handset that relays the information about the trials and the various parts of the exhibit in your native language so you can get a full understanding. Not only do the handsets detail out the rise, fall, and trials from the Nazi Party, but it also goes into testimony and audio accounts from the trial.
There is something to be said for listening to the audio of the trial while sitting in the gallery of the courthouse.
The exhibition upstairs is extensive and contains artifacts, a layout of the courtroom, as well as a little mock courtroom that would show exactly what it looked like during those days (the upstairs gallery was converted to the exhibit which is the only difference).
A tip if you are going- the courthouse is still actively in use, so plan accordingly. If they are having a trial in the courtroom you will not be able to go in, but you may (or may not I’m not entirely sure) be able to peek in the upstairs windows to still see the courtroom. The cost is reasonable (especially for what you are getting), but like many other places in Germany you will want to pay in Euro. We spent around an hour and a half at the Courthouse but could have stayed longer. If you have young toddler age children, I would recommend a)bringing a small umbrella type stroller, and b) be sparing with what you choose to listen to in the audio upstairs. The audio at the Courthouse is quite long and not all toddlers may want to stay still for the length of time that it requires. I still suggest going as you do not want to miss it.
Overall, a MUST SEE in Nuremberg.
Our next stop was the Reichsparteigelande. This is about a 20-minute drive from the courthouse and is truly a site to see. We started at the Documentation Center, which is the unfinished remains of the Congress Hall. The cost is incredibly reasonable and once again, you are given a headset to detail out the exhibit information in your native language. Some of the headsets have a mechanism that starts the translation of the various videos that are shown when you walk within a certain distance of the video screen. My husband’s headset worked like this, while mine did not, so it is very hit or miss on that.
When you enter the museum and exhibit, you are walking through the very walls of the hall. That in itself is eerie, but everywhere you go there are either artifacts from his time, or from the war. The floors in the first room have boxes within them with pamphlets, war displays, and other relics. The walls are lined with information. The information is much more succinct than the Courthouse, but still just as powerful.
As part of the exhibit you can walk a walkway out to the interior of the hall (where it was not finished). This is an overlook of the grounds that would have become the hall if completed. You are also able to walk the lower grounds when you leave the museum.
Once finished with the exhibit, we headed out to walk the trail that would take us over to the main highway street, the stadium, and the parade street at Zeppelin Field. This is a very pretty, paved walkway that follows along the outer edges of a man-made lake. At each point of interest there is a large information board/sign that breaks down what you are seeing and where you are at on the route in both German and English.
The main street is about halfway between the Congress Hall and the Parade Street/Stadium. The main street cuts through the two lakes (on each side of the street) and walking on it was another surreal experience.
Towards the end of the path around the lake you are able to enter the Parade Street at Zeppelin Field.
If you watch any documentaries on Hitler, this is a space that you will most likely see. It is the overlook where he would review the troops, speak to his followers, and such. Most of the parade grounds have now been converted to use in everyday activities; a soccer field, American Football field, and some other sports are played and there are carnivals, and such held all along this route. However, the original outline and different buildings/stands are still there and intact. You are able to climb up the stand and look out at the parade route in the same manner as the Nazi Party Leaders.
Our day ended with starting to watch the sunset on the lake, which is always a beautiful sight to see. There are a couple of restaurants and places to stop and eat nearby, but we decided to head back to the hotel as we had two very tired little boys that were reaching the end of their ropes.
A tip if you are going to make this a trip, which I highly highly think you should, make sure to wear comfortable, breathable clothing. You will be walking a few miles if you choose to go to all the spots and while the trail is paved and easy to walk, you will want to make sure that you don’t get any blisters or sore feet at the end. Along with that, an umbrella stroller or the like for younger kids is a bonus if you do not want to carry them most of the route. Our oldest ended up riding on my husband’s shoulders most of the way.
Overall, we had such a wonderful first trip into Nuremberg. There is so much to see and do that I know that we will be back to do more. When we do, I’ll do another post detailing out what we’ve seen.