Today we visited the Documentation Centre and Nazi Party Rally Grounds. Before we visited Nuremburg the first time, all I really knew about its past was the Nuremburg Trials. Then, as I learned a big of German, I found out about its Christkindlmarkts. It was only planning this trip that I learned about its importance to the Nazis. It must be hard to be a Nuremburger with that in your past. The city has also been told it must preserve these buildings. It’s not that I think the past should be buried, but still it must be hard to see it every day.

We bought a day pass for public transit, at 8 euros for two adults and took a tram to our destination. We started with the indoor tour. For 5 euros each, we were given an audio guide In English, which you control by entering the number codes of the various exhibits. When you walked closed to a looped film, that audio would automatically start if you weren’t already listening to something else.

One of the movies made a lot of the audience members shudder. It was explaining the death camps and how the children were convinced to walk into the gas chambers. They were told they were going to be de-loused. Like, who does that? I don’t particularly like children, especially ones that scream for an entire flight, but that definitely crosses a line for me.

There was a lot of history in the exhibit. We’ve already been to Dachau, and that made me depressed. This exhibit explained how Hitler rose to power, his use of psychology with mass rallies making people feel like they belonged and didn’t need to question his ideas. It’s not that it justified the behaviour. In fact, it called into question the responsibility of bureacrats who said they were just following orders. It made me think about what would I have done if I had been a public relations person working in government and was being asked to organize big events for my leader. At what point would I have been comfortable to speak out? I imagine there were people who did nothing because they were afraid to speak up. And others who just wanted to have a source of income.

As we walked around the outside of the Congress Hall, I looked up at the stonework and remembered that inside I’d learned that Jewish men worked in horrible conditions lifting granite slabs for all of the construction that was being done to make Hitler seem much grander than he was.

But as we left the Congress Hall and walked the rest of the grounds, I remembered that before all of these grand architectural buildings were built (and some not completed), regular people lived here and visited the lake and a zoo, which was moved to build the Congress Centre. We walked around half the lake, over to the new arena and stadium and past the Zeppelin field. It too was a rally site back in the day. Now it’s used for football games and rock concerts. It seemed surreal climbing the very icy steps up to the podium where Hitler used to greet his supporters.  And the view from below looking up almost made you understand how you could get caught up in the moment and believe in something that was just so wrong.

A lot of emotions went through my head and my heart today. I never took European history at school. I’ve only learned bits and pieces about the Holocaust. Let us make sure it never happens again.

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