Unlike any other German city, Nuremberg conjures up memories of the time of the Third Reich: apart from the city's official appointment as "City of the Nazi Party Rallies", Nuremberg was the place where in 1935, the infamous "Nuremberg Laws" were proclaimed which robbed Jews and other minorities of their rights. It was also here that the pathological anti-Semite, Franconian Führer, Julius Streicher, had his domain. During World War II, about 90% of Nuremberg's Old Town was reduced to rubble by Allied air raids, and became a symbol of utter destruction. And finally, it was in Nuremberg that the victorious powers held Nazi perpetrators accountable for the crimes they had committed in the "Nuremberg Trials".
Since 2001, the Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds has fulfilled the task of relating this history to present and future generations. It sees itself not as a memorial site, but rather as a place of remembrance and learning which because of its specific history and context may make a contribution to a fuller understanding of the causes, contexts and consequences of the National Socialist reign of terror. The exhibition "Fascination and Terror" presents many and varied materials and explains the background and the structures which, particularly in the regime's early years, managed to fan mass enthusiasm and led to a cult-like admiration of Hitler.
This authentic location, the "Nazi Party Rally Grounds", with its area of over four square kilometres, plays an important role in the teaching process. The unfinished Congress Hall with the permanent exhibition "Fascination and Terror", as well as the remaining other buildings on the grounds, are themselves the main exhibits. Visitors get a direct impression of the dimensions, the structures and the stage-management of these National Socialist edifices. The modern architecture of the Documentation Centre stimulates discussion and thought processes.
But the Documentation Centre does not see itself exclusively as a place where "the past is illustrated". It is precisely in this location that further questions arise almost automatically, questions which have been and will be of importance. They might concern the issue how prone individuals are to being manipulated, or the relationship between individual and collective. The role of human rights or of the International Criminal Court, a direct successor of the Nuremberg Trials, lead to links with current political issues.
The exhibition was designed to be easily accessible for independent individual visits with the aid of an audio guide, included in the admission fee. The Education Forum's educational programme gives visitors the opportunity of in-depth study of specific aspects. Using age-appropriate materials, groups of school students and young people may arrive at their own independent evaluation and judgement. Moderators initiate and direct the process of discussion and learning by deliberately using this historic location and "deciphering" its topics.