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.

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