A tour of the Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally Grounds could be confused with a visit to a film set. In the scorching summer heat, devoid of greenery and without the intended crowds, the architecture appears to be mere staffage. But one is reminded that this is not a film set by the uncanny neighboring German amusement area including a bratwurst stand and colorful dolphin pedal boats on a pond which mirrors the megalomaniac Congress Hall.
The so-called Goldener Saal (Golden Hall) is usually closed to the public. To this day its function remains unknown; Hitler never visited this part of the Zeppelin Grandstand. In this interior the film set idea re-emerges: while the eyes get used to the dim light, swastika mosaics shimmer on the ceiling and the coolness of the oversized stones is almost pleasant. One wonders, if this is where Indiana Jones might be searching for a lost ark? Hidden treasures can be found in the small side rooms: the remains of the exhibition “Fascination and Violence” that was shown here between 1986 and 2001.
The room “Das Reichsparteitagsgelände nach 1945” (The Nazi Party Rally Grounds after 1945) explains the site and buildings on display panels and with the help of a city model. In a corner in the hall, an unidentified life-size doll in plain fatigues is slumped over. The biggest cinematic effect, however, comes the room labeled: Rassimus—der ‘Stürmer’ und sein Herausgeber Julius Streicher” (Racism—the ‘Stürmer’ and its editor Julius Streicher). The dark room is filled with thick dust and cobwebs and only illuminated by cell phone flashlights. Once lit, portraits become visible as part of the wooden paneling: Depicted are inmates in concentration camps or Jewish people wearing a yellow star. An iconic image of the entrance gate to Auschwitz hangs below the ceiling and, beneath, there is a school blackboard inscribed in chalk. In complete darkness, a display case stands in an alcove, covered in dust and broken pieces of plaster. The torch’s beam reveals a disturbing hodgepodge of anti-Semitic coasters and signs. This unplanned presentation could not be more impressive and irritating.
Fascination and Violence
Nazi Party Rally Grounds, Nuremberg
1986-2001 (now in ruins)