Almost bombed out of existence during World War Two, the city of Nuremberg has recovered beautifully, and – thanks to extensive reconstruction – the city’s medieval centre charms as it must have done centuries ago, albeit with less Plague, and more tourists. Tongue-pleasingly, the city is home to the legendary Nürnberg bratwurst. And, given that a Nuremberg restaurant’s idea of a hearty meal is ten thin wurst in a row served with cold kartoffel salad and cold beer, it is just as well they are so divine.
Other than sausages, the city is, of course, most famous for its role in Hitler’s Germany, host of his notorious Nazi Party rallies, and – years later – where the Allies condemned the masterminds of his regime that had not already died, committed suicide, or fled to Argentina. Thanks to the ice-cold genius of Leni Riefenstahl, most everyone has seen footage of the Nazi rallies, a sinister cross between Disney’s Fantasia and Orwell’s “Two Minute’s Hate”. An old lady singing a Nazi song in a documentary screened in the local museum sobs at the feebleness of its poetry, and how stupid she must have been to fall for it so utterly. Today the song plays almost as self-parody, and yet the remnants of Hitler’s rally grounds stand as mindboggling evidence of parody’s utter absence in his ideological omniverse. Even in ruin, the parade ground seems to gloat over the landscape.
Not much remains of the zeppelin field. In disrepair, it is fenced off haphazardly with wires, like an unexploded bomb. When I visit, there are no admission fees or guards. Bored teenagers climb over the ruins as casually as an ant clambers over land mines.
And yet it is still there. A reminder and a warning…