A visit to Nuremberg’s Kongresshalle

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A visit to Nuremberg’s Kongresshalle (Congress Hall) and the Documentation Center which is located on site requires a minimum of 2 hours. The imposing structure cannot be seen from a distance. To get there by car you must be careful (unless you have a GPS). The signs are few and small. It is as if nobody wants to know about it. It is as if it is a burden, a leftover that should ideally have been disposed off.

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The map above shows the location of the Congress Hall in the overall area known as “Nazi Party Rally Grounds” (Reichsparteitagsgelande). It is marked as number 5.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

This entrance, like most of the building, is closed. Entry is through the Documentation Center. The facade is made of granite panels.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

The unfinished building is the largest Nazi building that survived the second world war, and most of it is not used. Some areas on the ground floor are used for storage. I had an impression that I was looking at a modern lifeless Colosseum. It just so happens that this was the inspiration of the architects who designed the hall.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

The actual height of the building is 39 meter,s compared to the planned 70 meters. The diameter is 250 meters. A few meters farther down this corridor, one could hear bobcat equipment operating inside what looked like a storage area.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

The U shaped building never had a roof, although this was the design of the Nuremberg architects Ludwig and Franz Ruff. As we enter the horseshoe, we face west. To the right (North) is the Documentation Center, to the left (South) is the home of the city’s symphony orchestra.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

The roof would cover over 50,000 people.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

Photo in the Documentation Center

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

Photo in the Documentation Center

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

The lake by the Kongresshalle. Notice that there are no signs whatsoever. This is in Germany, a country where people are obsessed with being precise and accurate.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

The Southern Wing of the huge building today is the home of the city’s symphony orchestra. I had mixed feelings about this. Why is the “monument” of Nazi Germany used as a concert hall? Only if it is not considered a “monument”.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

The amusement park right next to Kongresshalle. More question marks here. The park is literally a few meters away form the huge structure. In my mind such proximity almost neutralizes Kongresshalle, makes it just another of the buildings of the city. It makes you forget.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

“Every Wednesday Family Day  with half prices.”

I read that starting in Spring, the whole area becomes a huge beer garden.

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Photo: N. Moropoulos

On the way out of Nuremberg, I noticed that a power transformation block of the original Party Rally compound has become a Burger King.

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Photo credit: Rick Steve

Now that the visit is over and I had a chance to collect my thoughts, and I have read a little about the grounds, things are clear.

The Party Rally Grounds are not an area designated as historic, and thus it is not protected nor is it preserved. In a few years, the Congress Hall may become a football stadium, or something else. History is thus dissolved into  the razzle-dazzle of everyday life, never to emerge again as collective knowledge, as collective conscience, as memory, as awareness, as appreciation of what Man can do.

 

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Depriving the Party Grounds from a historic monument status has a strong – I guess non-intended – symbolism. Past experience is not transferred between generations. Every generation reinterpret – or retrieve – the past on their own. Heidegger replaced “wiederholen” with “wieder-holen” to indicate that it is the current generation who create the past from whatever is around them. No historical facts exist on their own but are always the result of (re)interpretation – and there are no two interpretations the same. May be that´s why, and despite the warning of countless dark age monuments, Europe regresses into nationalism and populism once more .

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