The traces of the dramatic history of the 20th century are clearly visible in Germany. In Nuremberg during the Hitler era, nothing was saved when the “national party days” were held and these are the extensive traces left today.
The national party days in Nuremberg, Germany, was an annual meeting held by the German “Nazi Party”, NSDAP. Since 1923-1932, they were more of an internal party meeting. The concept changed when Adolf Hitler saw the opportunity to carry out a propaganda number. The name was changed in 1933 to (freely translated) “German People’s National Party Days”. These were held each year until 1938 and were then canceled in favor of the war.
The first party days were not held in Nuremberg, but instead in Munich and since 1926 in Weimar. From 1927 and onwards, Nuremberg was the scene of the scene. Nuremberg was geographically beneficial and, above all, NSDAP had strong sympathies in the local police force.
Adolf Hitler later claimed that Nuremberg was suitable as a city because of its historical past as an important city in the German-Roman Empire (existed in 962-1806).
Huge area on the outskirts of Nuremberg
The place where the meetings were held is in German called “Reichparteitagsgelände” and is very large. Third Reich architect Albert Speer planned the area which is 16.5 km2. It consists of both large-scale buildings and giant grass fields. However, several buildings were never completed.
Today there is a museum on site. The museum is called Dokumentationszentrum Reichparteitagsgelände.
Logistical challenges for receiving millions of people
The rulers of the Third Reich liked magnificent events as part of the propaganda. Currently, approximately 200,000 tourists attend guided tours of the area every year, but in the 1930s millions of people visited the site at the same time. Most of them came via the nearby Märzfeld railway station which was built for the purpose.
The exact number of the audience when Adolf Hitler spoke is unclear, but all sources indicate at least half a million. The place Zeppelinfeldt held the largest number of spectators at the same time; Up to 350,000.
The square concrete structures that stand around the field in the picture below are nothing more exciting than the 1930s toilets. A building of the same style is the former large transformer station that fed power to the field. This is now Burger King.
The performance was choreographed carefully before giving perfect film clips to Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda films.
Granite stone and workers from concentration camps
The area’s largest parade street, Grosser Strasse, is made of granite blocks. Granite is a relatively expensive stone to build with, but forced labor from neighboring concentration camps (mainly KC Mauthausen), reduced the costs.
The suffering prisoners resulted in a memorial monument in front of the Lorenzkirche in Nuremberg.
After the Axis powers lost World War II and the Americans entered Nuremberg, almost the entire area was left unused. Some of the spaces were used as ammunition storage.
The Grosse Strasse served as a military airfield. Several large green areas were transformed into sports and leisure place for US soldiers and their families. It was returned in 1995 when the United States pulled back its troops from the city.
During the 1960s, when they started to build the nearby Langwasser apartment blocks the ammunition warehouses and some other buildings were blown out.
At least three recurring events are held annually in this area. Rock am Park is a music festival where both Bob Dylan and Deep Purple have performed for over 80,000 people. FC Nürnberg plays home matches here and the festival “Volksfest” uses the space.
To visit Reichparteitagsgelände today
As mentioned earlier, every year a large number of tourists visit the area that contributed to some of the 20th century most noticed events. In many cases, you can visit the remaining buildings. The Tribune at Zeppelinfeldt was previously locked off because of the fall apart risk from the cracks when the Americans blasted out the outer towers. In 2008, the tribune was reinforced and can now be visited.
The easiest way to start the walk is to start at the documentation center. In the same place, Nuremberg’s symphony orchestra is also featured. Thereafter, there is large signs and information about the different buildings, where they were and what they were used to. Expect a visit to at least two hours and good walking shoes are recommended.
For all historically interested, this is a really good story section.
The future of the controversial area has been discussed. Some claimed that it should be demolished, but finally, the state invested money to secure the area and present it as a large open air museum. In addition, the park areas are popular for athletes. So the concrete blocks stay for a while …