Saturday, October 31, 2009

Deutschland, Part 2

I knew that while I was on automotive pilgrimage, I would definitely need to take advantage of being in Germany for a bunch of non-car stuff. I'd heard that the city of Nuremberg was beautiful and interesting, and it has a lot of WWII history, so I continued north from Ingolstadt.

Nuremberg is full of architecture spanning from the middle ages forward. It also has the classic castle-on-a-hill layout, and an old city/new city dividing line. The old castle is actually built into the side of a cliff. In fact, the reason it's called Nürnberg (in real German) rather than Nürnburg, is that berg means mountain or hill (whereas burg means town).

Here are some more pictures of the town and the Kaiserburg Imperial Castle.

Later in the day I went to the Nazi Rally Grounds, which had been an enormous construction project during WWII, but had been only partly finished. They had turned the Congress Hall, the planned HQ of the Nazi party, in a Documentation Center, a giant Holocaust museum. That was fascinating, with a great audio tour.
I also walked to the zeppelin field, where there were giant rally parades, and actually stood in the spot where Hitler watched them. Talk about strange emotions.

Interestingly, these kids are playing roller hockey right where the German soldiers used to march, which kind of drives home the point of how difficult it must be for Germany to reconcile its past and present. Clearly the greatest shame of its history is something that must not be forgotten, but Germans must also make peace with this legacy and continue with their lives.
As a tourist, it at first strikes you as a bit perverse that these people are doing such light-hearted activities in a place that makes your own heart so heavy. But these are people who grew up living among these historical landmarks, and to them it has a different significance, or at the very least, multiple levels of significance.

I'll actually touch on this a bit later when I post about Berlin. I'm hoping to post more tomorrow. That will be when things get really cool: Stuttgart, with both Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

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