Nürnberg: Nazi Party Rally Grounds

Day 21, 07.14.2009

lunch of beans and rice

A hearty lunch of bell peppers, onion, and sting beans in a cream sauce, coupled with rice.

Our only class for the day: die Geschichte [History]. The students gave presentations on the history and background of the Dokuzentrum, a museum about the rise and fall of the Nazi Regime and pieces of the Holocaust. The full name of the museum is Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände, or the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rallying Grounds. We went to the Dokuzentrum after the erste Pause [first break]. I recommend a visit if you’re in Nürnberg. The building looks like a giant metal ship split diagonally, from the tip of the bow to the bottom of the ship.


It was appalling and disturbing how resonant George Orwell’s 1984 was as I read about the founding and structure of the Nazi Regime. You know how you have one of those ironic moments where you’re somewhere really beautiful and think to yourself, “oh wow it looks just like a painting!”–only to realize that the paintings themselves are based on the landscape you’re admiring? This was like that. Spending time in the Dokuzentrum and learning about the Nazi Party was like, “wow this is so Orwellian”, except Orwell wrote 1984 based partly on Nazi Germany. Kind of meta when you think about it, actually.

the dokuzentrumDokuzentrum’s architecture is merged with the old Congress Hall that Hitler never finished. Apparently there are 100 searchlights on the outermost ring of the Hall for the wow effect at night. It’s also big enough so that the Coliseum can fit inside! We climbed some 200 steps to reach the rooftop, but it felt more like 1000. I was exhausted.

IMG_2946My friend and I were panting, looking at each other with sweat blurring our visions, wondering why we did this. Clearly we both needed more exercise. We could see the Nürnberg skyline, and it’s a much larger city than it feels when you’re walking through it. I think we were about 40m high (which is about 131 feet). The climb down was even worse because I have the most irrational fear of stairs and slipped multiple times.

H. Reynolds took us to see the Zeppelinfeld [Zeppelin Field]. We walked around the Congress Hall and my friends and I sang “I feel Pretty” the entire way. It was amusing to hear one of them scream “I feel pretty and witty and GAAAAAAAAAAY!” because he was so ridiculously, genuinely homophobic. H. Reynolds snorted and told Jon he must be if he kept yelling “gay” like that. Some 15 minutes later, one of the girls in our group suddenly decides that she wants to go back home. So she does. Such a sweet girl, and yet, never seems to want to stick around with our group. The rest of us played rock soccer, which is literally what it sounds.

zeppelin field gymnastics

One of the girls in our group being cool.

We finally got to the Zepplinfeld and everyone climbed up the steps to where Hitler supposedly stood to address all the Nazi soldiers. We took our last group photo there. In preparation for our Abschiedsfest, Abby and Kelvin wanted to learn how to waltz, so I taught them.

the train ride home

View from the train.

After leaving the Zepplinfeld, we all got lost on finding our way back to the Hauptbahnhof. I thought it was hilarious, given that H. Reynolds has been to Germany more times than you can count on his fingers and toes (but maybe he has fewer than the rest of us 😉 ). All of us nearly boarded the train at the wrong station, which would’ve taken us completely in the wrong direction. The station we were supposed to be at was another 20-minute walk away.

You could say that we, collectively, were kind of a hot mess at times. But I loved my group. Finally, we made it back to the Hauptbahnhof. Because I lost my host family’s umbrella (I forgot it in the coatroom at the Dokuzentrum), I bought them a new one at the convenience store in the Hauptbahnhof. The guy at the cash register told me that “You look Asian, but you speak Danglish!”. That kind of hurt. I was hoping my German was better. Whatever, cash register guy.

spinach potatoes dinner

For dinner: creamed spinach, scrambled eggs, potatoes, and a giant slab of ice cream cake.

I got home and Clara and I decided to watch Sailor Moon in German. It honestly may have been the funniest thing on the trip. Absolutely amazing. We watched the series finale and Sailor Moon was naked for like, 2/3 of the show. Is this really a kid’s show? I don’t remember so much nudity watching it in the States. Then in the evening, we watched this old kid’s classic called “Wir Kinder aus Bullerbü” without subtitles (go me!). It was an adorable movie set in Sweden about this little girl’s life and adventures in the tiny town of Bullerbü. Relaxing and idyllic; the cinematography was also stunning.

Nürnberg: Art and Falafel

Day 20, 07.13.2009

Today my group and I had to take a “Sports” class. I was expecting a game of soccer or something physically active, but instead we sat in a classroom for 2 hours, learning about German sports classes instead. We learned and sang this German soccer-chant-song, which turned out to be kind of fun. Otherwise, I didn’t feel like it was productive use of our time.

The next class was Art. I wish the art classes at my high school were more like this! They tend to spend the first week or two just teaching you how to shade properly… Here, though, we got our hands dirty right away. Our Lehrerin [“teacher”, female] was awesome! First exercise was staring at Starry Night for about a minute and then drawing it from memory. After about 10-15 minutes of sketching, we got to see the original again, compare it to our own, and discuss details that slipped from our memory and a bit about how our brain remembers things. I found this reflective portion of the class quite interessant [interesting].

Then, we partnered up. We needed to describe a picture, ganz auf deutsch [completely in German], to our partners, who could only base their drawing off the things we told them. It was fun, but I was l unfathomably awful. So terrible that I wondered how I even managed to win this scholarship in the first place. One of the girls in the group was spectacular; she was so descriptive, almost like she could’ve written a scientific paper on the picture. On the plus side,  the art teacher told me that I had a lot of potential in art and encouraged me to continue taking classes. Definitely helped alleviate some of the embarrassment from speaking German.

The fun died when we had Herr Besmens. Film analysis could have been fascinating. Could. It was worse than watching paint dry. We were forced to sit through over an hour of powerpoints. Needless to say, i caught up on some beauty sleep.

During the erste Pause [first break], I went with two of the girls on a walk through the Gymnasium’s neighborhood. We didn’t get far. We passed by a hospital and a cafe, in which we stopped to buy drinks and some snacks. After school, a bunch of us went into the city to look for a present for H. Reynolds and H. Birkelbach. No luck. I did, however, discover a Döner Falafel place for lunch and damn. The pita was piping hot and soft; the falafel ingredients so fresh that when you broke through the crunchy shell, it was like opening the door to the Narnia of herb gardens; then you have homemade tahini sauce and pickled vegetables slathered all over.

All of us split up eventually–my friend and I wanted to walk around a bit more instead of going to the Lochgefängnisse [prison] with the others. Spent a dozen Euros on some gingerbread. In a failed attempt to return to the Hauptbahnhof [main train station], we took the wrong U-Bahn and we were several stops into arriving at a completely different city before we were like, oh crap. Eventually (thankfully) we did get back to the Hauptbahnhof and I saw that my train was leaving in 2 minutes so (regrettably) I had to ditch my friend. Otherwise I’d have to wait another 90 minutes for the next train. I channeled my inner Usain Bolt and bolted down the underpass and up to the platform.

The rest of my day was pretty relaxed. I made some boba for my host family to give them a taste of Asia. Lotte and my host mum liked it, but Clara thought it was the most bizarre thing she had ever eaten. In other words, “ew”. I also finished Grapes of Wrath from my summer reading list. Whew. My Gastfamilie [host family] and I then spent the rest of the evening watching a really cheesy, 50’s German film that apparently was like Germany’s Titanic when it came out. Lots of cute guys in that film–too bad I can’t remember the name of it ;).