Unfortunate as it may be for a city with almost a millennia of history, and which boasts everything from an 11th century imperial castle to quaint half-timbered houses, the fact is that it's almost impossible to discover Nuremberg's past without reflecting on the events of World War II. Strategically located in the centre of Germany, it was used as a base for the Nazi propaganda machine, its name becoming synonymous with rallies, the revoking of German citizenship for Jews, and later the Nuremberg Trials. To its credit, however, the city has not shied away from these events, and today the ground on which they took place has been turned into an illuminating and unflinchingly honest museum known as the Documentation Centre and Nazi Party Rally Grounds.
'Fascination and Terror' is the name of the museum's permanent exhibition and explores how the Nazi's were able to rise to power, the context in which their atrocities were carried out, and the lasting consequences of the period. With a heavy focus on Nuremberg's own role, it covers topics including the way in which propaganda was used, the rallies themselves, the structures on the site, the enacting of the Nuremberg Laws and the party's eventual downfall.
Moving chronologically through 19 different sections, 'Fascination and Terror' also includes details of Hitler's childhood, the ways in which film and photography were used to manipulate the wider population, and features testimonies from those that were affected by the horrors in unexpected ways. All in all, it's far from an easy visit, but it's undeniably eye-opening, even for those who think they have a good knowledge of World War II history.
An audio guide is included in the entry fee and is particularly useful.
In addition to being a fascinating museum, the building in which it is housed is also of architectural importance itself. Set in the gigantic remains of the never-finished Congress Hall, originally designed with the intention being a 50,000-seater congress centre for the Nazi Party, the museum reclaims the space that was once used to divide in order to promote understanding and tolerance. Symbolically, the design of the Documentation Centre features a giant glass spear smashing through the entire front section of the building, disrupting its original design; this is also a play on the name of chief Nazi architect Albert Speer, who was responsible for designing this entire site as a symbol of Nazi power.
Once you're done with the main exhibition inside, you can also walk around the Zeppelin Field, a grandstand and field area used for party rallies and march-pasts, capable of holding up to 200,000 individuals. It is from this space that some of the most famous images of World War II emerged, including those of Hitler commanding his loyal followers, surrounded by swastikas.
As a follow up to the Documentation Centre and Nazi Party Rally Grounds, you may also wish to visit the Nuremberg Trials Courthouse. It was here that 24 of the most prominent figures in the Nazi party, and a further 177 members of the German establishment considered to have helped install and maintain them, stood trial. Today, it is still a working courthouse, and also home to a museum-memorial detailing the proceedings and their outcomes.
For an additional €3, you can upgrade your museum entry ticket to a day ticket, which will allow you to visit other municipal museums on the same day free of charge.
Throughout the Year
Family Small - 1 adult, up to 3 children
Family - 2 adults, up to 3 children
Documentation Centre and Nazi Party Rally Grounds
Germany 90478 Nürnber