Information on the permanent exhibition "Fascination and Terror" and the architecture of the Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rallies in the former NS Congress Hall.
The former Nazi Party Rally Grounds are an historical site unlike any other memorial site in Germany. In contrast to the memorial sites within former concentration camps, prisons, etc., reminding us of NS terror and, in turn, of the victims of that tyranny, the area in the southeast district of Nuremberg is a site that was directed at "the taking in of an entire people" (Ignatz Bubis). This is where the Nazi movement celebrated itself in an almost obscene fashion, presenting an appealing but false picture of their regime to the world. As they openly geared people to war, they sowed the seed that would yield a hideous harvest in the above-named sites.
Nazi Party Rally Grounds
The historical magnitude of this site makes it imperative that it be presented and evaluated with utmost rigour and clarity. Finally, a long time after the end of the war, a modern and comprehensive source of information is now available to the public in the form of the Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds. The fact that the Documentation Centre's Board of Trustees includes leading personalities from political and social life also testifies to the great national significance of this undertaking.
The idea to house the Documentation Centre in the north wing of the Congress Hall dates back to 1994 when the very first plans were conceived by nuremberg municipal museums. On this basis, an international architecture competition was held in 1998.
With his contemporary steel and glass construction, the winner of the competition, Austrian architect, Günther Domenig, presents a convincing architectural counterpoint. The existing building is pierced diagonally by a 130-metre glass walkway, permanently dissecting this solid-stone National Socialist demonstration of power. The walkway cuts through the rectangular geometry of the North wing, exposing the hitherto hidden interior and presenting us, so to speak, with an archaeological cross-section.
A freely suspended platform at the end of the walkway offers dramatic views into the Congress Hall's courtyard. The interior reveals the rough, unrendered brick masonry of the unfinished rooms. Additional innovations include a film and lecture auditorium suspended under the ceiling of the entrance hall, and a Education Forum located on the roof, available for guided in-depth educational work.
The new permanent exhibition at the Documentation Centre was planned by nuremberg municipal museums.
It describes the Nazi Party Rallies and explains the fascination they exercised upon participants and visitors. At the same time, the exhibition endeavours to explain what led to the National Socialists' criminal exercise of power and to reveal how the various causal factors were interrelated. A further goal is a frank presentation of the violent consequences that ensued for the population. The events that are inseparably linked with the name of the City of Nuremberg and the NS period are also explained: the activities of Julius Streicher, the editor of the anti-Semitic rabble-rousing weekly Der Stürmer (The Storm Trooper), the proclamation of the so-called "Nuremberg Laws" in 1935, as well as the Nuremberg Trials after the end of World War II. The exhibition concludes with a problem that has been with us since 1945, namely how we should be dealing with this legacy in stone left to us at the Party Rally Grounds by the National Socialists.
Every visitor will receive an audio guide that allows the exhibition to explain itself. The exhibition is structured in chronological order. The individual exhibition rooms vary in size and structure. They range from corridors of just a few square metres in size to large halls. The exhibition area offers a total of 1,300 square metres of floor space.
The exhibition is presented in narrative form. Use is made of classical exhibition methods, as well as of modern forms of presentation. Five films newly created for the Documentation Centre are essential elements on the route through the exhibition. Easy-to-use electronic display stations on various topics offer a wealth of informative pictorial material. Eyewitness interviews which were especially filmed are aimed at making history much more amenable, particularly for the younger generation.
Since 2004, additional areas have been available for temporary exhibitions. First projects included an exhibition on the Hitler Youth "Tempted. Misled. Slaughtered. A Hitler Youth History", as well as a presentation of the picture cycle "Like a Danse Macabre" by Alfred Hrdlicka on the events of 20 July, 1944.