It’s hard to think of Nuremberg without thinking of the monumental architecture and mass rallies of the Nazi party (and the Nuremberg trials which followed). With that in mind, a visit to the Nazi Documentation Centre is almost compulsory if you’re in the area.
The exhibit is housed in the Nazi Congress Hall on the Party Rally Grounds – one of the few pieces of Nazi architecture to survive post-WWII. What used to be a celebration of Imperial power is now a stark and complex reminder of the era.
As you descend from the bus, you’ll first notice the large grey stone building which wouldn’t look out of place as a parliament or law court. Next, you’ll see the glass and metal spike that sticks out of the entrance. Dangling unfinished at both ends, this spike runs through the building, an act of intentional disruption that stabs through the heart of the Monumentalist architecture. Compared with the outside, the inside often shows unfinished brick: the grandiose exterior appearance is in stark contrast.
Multiple exhibition rooms cover the pre-war, wartime, and post-war periods using a combination of mixed media. All written text is in German, but the well-produced audio guides closely follow written texts in addition to providing extra information and the audio tracks for several movies. Audio guides are included in the €5 entrance fee.
At times, I found it a bit overwhelming. Looking at a picture of human destruction and having a surreally chirpy British voice in my ear: “If you’d like to hear more about the SS, please press…”
This place doesn’t have the emotional impact of Dachau or Auschwitz, but it is an important stop in the heartland of the Nazi party. It does a good job of documenting and curating Naziism in an accessible way, and is an important statement for the city: that they won’t forget or hide the part it played during the Third Reich.