Nuremberg

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…

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