Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally Grounds

Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally Grounds
Zeppelinfeld MapHome of the Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher, the publisher of Der Stürmer and Gauleiter of Franconia, Nuremberg held great significance for the Nazis. It was because of the city's relevance to the Holy Roman Empire and its position in the centre of Germany, the Nazis chose the city to be the site of huge Nazi Party conventions–the Nuremberg rallies- held annually from 1927 to 1938. After Hitler's rise to power in 1933 the Nuremberg rallies became huge state propaganda events, a centre of anti-Semitism and other Nazi ideals. It was at the 1935 rally that Hitler specifically ordered the Reichstag to convene at Nuremberg to pass the Nuremberg Laws which revoked German citizenship for all Jews; to this day one could be born in Germany yet not be allowed citizenship as in the case of my son. A number of premises were constructed solely for these assemblies, some of which were not finished and so many examples of Nazi architecture can still be seen in the city today.
The site of the rallies on the outskirts of Nuremberg, particularly the enormous Zeppelin Meadow, was conspicuous for its monumental architecture and landscaping. The Nazis pioneered elaborate staging and lighting techniques to give the annual celebrations the character of sacred religious rituals with Hitler in the role of High Priest. The function of the ceremonies was to manufacture ecstasy and consensus, eliminate all reflective and critical consciousness, and instil in Germans a desire to submerge their individuality in a higher national cause.
In 1933 and 1934, the Zeppelin Field meadow served as a parade ground for the National Socialists during their Party Rallies. They put up temporary wooden stands for the spectators but by 1935–1936, the Zeppelin Field, complete with stone stands, was constructed to plans by architect Albert Speer. The complex is almost square, and centres on the monumental Grandstand with the “Führer’s Rostrum”. The visibly lower spectators’ stands on the other three sides were divided by 34 tower-like structures, housing toilet facilities. The interior (312 x 285 metres) provided space for up to 200,000 people for the mass events staged by the National Socialists.

Inspiring the final scene of Star Wars (1977), Himmler, Hitler and Lutze at the 6th Party Congress rally in the film with the Grandstand in the background from Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will; a link to which is on the right of the screen. The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various Nazi leaders at the Congress, including those by Hitler, interspersed with footage of massed party members. Hitler commissioned the film whilst serving as unofficial executive producer; his name appears in the opening titles. The overriding theme is the return of Germany as a great power, with Hitler as the True German Leader who will bring glory to the nation. Much of it takes place in the Zeppelin field- the second day shows an outdoor rally for the Reichsarbeitsdienst (Labour Service), which is primarily a series of pseudo-military drills by men carrying shovels. The following day starts with a Hitler Youth rally on the parade ground again showing Nazi dignitaries arriving with Baldur von Schirach introducing Hitler. There then follows a military review featuring Wehrmacht cavalry and various armoured vehicles.
It's on the fourth day (Riefenstahl took liberties in her editing; this is not a true documentary despite her post-bellum protests) which provides the climax here as Wagner's Götterdämmerung plays whilst Hitler, flanked by Heinrich Himmler and Viktor Lutze, walks through a long wide expanse with over 150,000 SA and ϟϟ troops standing at attention, to lay a wreath at a Great War Memorial.
Arguably the most powerful scene in a film that has many is Hitler’s speech at the memorial for the late Paul von Hindenburg, Germany’s most famous World War I commander and Hitler’s predecessor as the Weimar President. The Führer is surrounded by over a quarter of a million civilians and troops from the Nazi special Schutz Staffel (“Shield Squadron,” or ϟϟ , Hitler’s personal bodyguard) and Sturm Abteilung (“Storm Troopers,” or SA, an earlier paramilitary outfit eventually superseded by the ϟϟ). Hitler, flanked by ϟϟ  commander Heinrich Himmler and SA commander Viktor Lütze, slowly marches towards Hindenburg’s memorial and gives the Nazi salute in absolute silence.

Hitler then reviews the parading SA and ϟϟ men, following which Hitler and Lutze deliver a speech where they discuss the Night of the Long Knives purge of the SA several months prior. New party flags are consecrated by touching them to the "blood banner" (the same cloth flag said to have been carried by the fallen Nazis during the Beer Hall Putsch).
One of my seniors wrote her IBDP history internal assessment paper on How the Film “Triumph of the Will” by Leni Riefenstahl Address the Night of the Long Knives in which she argues that
the post-Operation Hummingbird aura is explicit in Triumph of the Will, and is especially heavy in the scene depicting Hitler’s address to the Schutzstaffel and the Sturmabteilung. Despite their positions and formations having aesthetic purposes, it is still evident that there was a rift between the two groups, the former being closer to Hitler than the latter, resulting in drunk quarrels during the Rally. These were, needless to say, excluded from the film. Nevertheless, the cold animosity and tension is evident.

Comparison of Triumph of the Will and the final scene of Star Wars IV: A New Hope; even John Williams's soundtrack evoked that heard in the earlier film.
In some cases, such as the visual allusions to Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will that cap the concluding medal ceremony of A New Hope, the reference could only become clear in the context of the saga as a whole. In that case, the allusion to the Rebel victory as a quasi-fascist one suggested the moral hollowness of their victory achieved by military force, while setting the stage for their defeat at the start of the second film. The only enduring victories in these films are those built on love, understanding, and mutual self-sacrifice.
Amir Bogen in Human History According To George Lucas: Models of Fascism in Star Wars’ Prequels described how he had "thoroughly reviewed the narrative elements contained in the prequels which anchor the films to their historical context and suggest how they relate to the rise of the Third Reich in Germany of the 1930s. Adopting the aesthetics of Leni Riefenstahl as a dominant stylistic element reinforces the link between Star Wars films and Nazi Germany, both before and after Hitler’s rise to power.” Joel Meares,  editor-in-chief of the website Rotten Tomatoes, goes on to support this comparison: “Take Hitler’s climactic speech: The camera surveys the precisely aligned crowd as Hitler, flanked by Viktor Lutze and Heinrich Himmler, walks to the podium. Lucas echoes this in Return of the Jedi, when Emperor Palpatine arrives at Death Star II, where he’s flanked by Lord Vader.”
Triumph of the Will, Star Wars, Gladiator scenes
Procession march from Triumph of the Will to commemorate the dead of the SA and the ϟϟ at the Hall of Honour in Luitpold Arena, 1934 on the left compared to the Star Wars throne room scene with Hitler, Himmler and Lutze replaced with Skywalker, Chewbacca and Solo walking not towards huge vertical Nazi banners but beams of light akin to those used during the rallies (see immediately below) and Ridley Scott's Gladiator with its depiction of Commodus's entry into Rome (although Scott has pointed out that the iconography of Nazi rallies was of course inspired by the Roman Empire). Gladiator reflects back on the film by duplicating similar events that occurred in Hitler's procession. The Nazi film opens with an aerial view of Hitler arriving in a plane, whilst Scott shows an aerial view of Rome, quickly followed by a shot of the large crowd of people watching Commodus pass them in a procession with his chariot. The first thing to appear in Triumph of the Will is a Nazi eagle, which is alluded to when a statue of an eagle sits atop one of the arches (and then shortly followed by several more decorative eagles throughout the rest of the scene) leading up to the procession of Commodus. At one point in the Nazi film, a little girl gives flowers to Hitler, whilst Commodus is met with several girls that all give him bundles of flowers. Personally, I am most impressed in the opening scene when the Germans are heard giving the same war-cry as that heard in Zulu, Scott's favourite film.
Hitler and Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
The Nazi influence continues to be made explicit in the most recent instalment of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The so-called 'Cathedral of Light.'
The so-called 'Cathedral of Light.'
It was September and time for the annual party rally again. This time London instructed the British ambassador to attend, and Henderson saw for himself the spectacle of aggregate manpower as hundreds of thousands of brown-shirted party automatons paraded at Nuremberg. Hitler arrived after dark, the arrival of the “messiah” announced by the simultaneous uplifting of three hundred searchlight beams to intersect thousands of feet up, leaving the hushed and darkened stadium inside what Sir Nevile called “a cathedral of ice.” The thousands of standard-bearers marched up the main lanes carrying red or gold lights that formed five flowing rivers of colour in the darkness. The dour Henderson involuntarily thrilled to this pageant as much as if it had been His Majesty’s birthday parade.
Irving (267-268) Göring: A Biography
Four coloured versions of the dome of light seen between 1936-1938 courtesy of Michael Sabadi, artist and owner of the unique Rekonquista art gallery in Nuremberg. Owner to the rights of the original black and white photographs, Herr Sabadi has produced these images for the first time in real colour. From left to right: i) The well-known photograph of Walter Hege from 1938 showing the “Zeppelintribüne” in colour; ii) The “dome of light” back in 1937 with focused-light view; iii) the “Dome of light” of 1936 with a spread-light view for comparison and iv) distant view of the “dome of light” back in 1937.
Pergamon Altar
Albert Speer had chosen the Pergamon Altar as a model, shown during the Third Reich and t0day.

Blowing up of the swastika on the Zeppelin Grandstand

Blowing up of the swastika on the Zeppelin Grandstand on April 22, 1945. The gold-plated and laurel-wreathed swastika which once crowned Albert Speer’s Zeppelin tribune represented the apotheosis and fulfilment of the swastikas which are still present, but sublimated in the decorative scheme of the tribune’s interior. Ornament as the unconscious graphology of the Volkgeist was thus ‘completed’ in the self-conscious presence of the Nazi symbol, and the sign of a (Gothic, mediaeval) past is linked to the rhetoric of a glorious future, thus avoiding the displacement of tradition implied by an Enlightenment concept of progress. The Tribune swastikas expressed in microcosm Hitler’s aim of uniting the medieval Nuremberg with the ‘modern’ National Socialist city, giving equal weight to a glorious past and a glorious future, and thereby defining the present as a moment of transition from one to the other.
Members of the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) parading before Hitler
Members of the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) parading before Hitler on September 7, 1938 and me in front seventy years later. It was at this event that Hitler delivered an address before blue collar workers (Arbeitsmänner), culminating in the following words: 
We are proud of you! All of Germany loves you! For you are not merely bearers of the spade, but rather you have become bearers of the shield for our Reich and Volk! You represent the most noble of slogans known to us: “God helps those who help themselves!” I thank you for your creations and work! I thank your Reich Leader of Labour Service for the gigantic build-up accomplished! As Führer and Chancellor of the Reich, I rejoice at this sight, standing before you, and I rejoice in recognition of the spirit that inspires you, and I rejoice at seeing my Volk which possesses such men and maids! Heil Euch!
My Bavarian International School students in 2012

To clear the ground for it, the Nuremberg streetcar depot had to be removed. I passed by its remains after it had been blown up. The iron reinforcements protruded from concrete debris and had already begun to rust. One could easily visualise their further decay. This deary sight led me to some thoughts which I later propounded to Hitler under the pretentious heading of 'A Theory of Ruin Value'. The idea was that buildings of modern construction were poorly suited to form that 'bridge of tradition' to future generations which Hitler was calling for. It was hard to imagine that rusting heaps of rubble could communicate these heroic inspirations which Hitler admired in the monuments of the past. By using special materials and by applying certain principles of statics, we should be able to build structures which even in a state of decay, after hundreds or (such were our reckonings) thousands of years would more or less resemble Roman models.
To illustrate my ideas I had a romantic drawing prepared. It showed what the reviewing stand on the Zeppelin Field would look like after generations of neglect, overgrown with ivy, its columns fallen, the walls crumbling here and there, but the outlines still clearly recognisable. In Hitler's entourage this drawing was regarded as blasphemous. That I could even conceive of a period of decline for the newly founded Reich destined to last a thousand years seemed outrageous to many of Hitler's closest followers. But he himself accepted my ideas as logical and illuminating. He gave orders that in the future the important buildings of his Reich were to be erected in keeping with the principles of this 'law of ruins'

Standing on Hitler's rostrumGIF: Standing on Hitler's rostrum
On the Führer's rostrum which was positioned in the centre of the grandstand for which all participants of the party rally on the  field, including political leaders, had to look up to the “Führer” just as much as the other spectators. Seen from afar, the rostrum was further emphasised by the golden swastika placed above and by a Nazi flag draped on it. The rostrum was positioned on the main axis of the Zeppelin Field so that, for example, the men of the Reich Labour Service would always march towards the swastikas and the rostrum, thus getting ever closer to Hitler. The grandstand served to confront the “Leader” with his followers in such a way that every year his leadership was symbolically reconfirmed and thus strengthened by forcing participants to line up before him and pledge allegiance to him. The spectators were witnesses to this staged oath of allegiance and thus became part of the “national community” which took a subordinate role to the “Führer”.
GIF: Standing on Hitler's rostrumDuring the Day of the Hitler Youth of September 11, 1937, and standing on the same podium now. By this time the Hitler Youth now had five million members and was the largest youth organisation in the world. Here Hitler spoke at a celebration organised by the Hitler Youth whilst it was pouring rain—a fact which Hitler had to account for appropriately in his speech: "This morning I learned from our weather forecasters that, at present, we have the meteorological condition “V b.” That is supposed to be a mixture between very bad and bad. Now, my boys and girls, Germany has had this meteorological condition for fifteen years! And the Party had this meteorological condition, too! For the space of a decade, the sun did not shine upon this Movement. It was a battle in which only hope could be victorious, the hope that in the end the sun would rise over Germany after all. And risen it has! And as you are standing here today, it is also a good thing that the sun is not smiling down on you. For we want to raise a race not only for sunny, but also for stormy days!"
 Standing on the Zeppelintribüne's podium today Standing on the Zeppelintribüne's podium today
Standing on the Zeppelintribüne's podium today. In June 2006, five matches of the World Soccer Cup were held at the municipal stadium in the Volkspark Dutzendteic now a public park that once was the Nazi Party rally grounds. Tournament organisers feared that the remains of the Nazi era buildings surrounding the stadium would be glorified, expressing concerns about misuse by the infamous English soccer hooligans in particular. In December 2005, the Times Online wrote: "It does not take a big leap of imagination to see England fans mimicking the goose-step march heading for the Zeppelin Tribune from where Hitler took the salute from the massed ranks of party faithful." Nuremberg Mayor Ulr Maly rejected the idea of a "no go" zone for English fans, but added that the police would be mobilised immediately if anybody was seen making Hitler salutes, forbidden by German law.
Hitler Youth walking past Grandstand in 1940 and today 
Hitler Youth walking past in 1940 and today
Goldener Saal
GIF: Goldener SaalInside the so-called Goldener Saal in 1938 and today. Located below the heightened VIP stands, this large foyer was known as the “Golden Hall” because of its gilded ceiling mosaics. Through two stairwells inside the grandstand, a cast iron door was reached, positioned above the rostrum and exactly below the golden swastika. Hitler, according to Speer’s original plans, would have been able to step down to the people assembled in the Zeppelin Field area, from above, as it were. But Hitler in fact preferred to drive up in a car during the party rallies, and so entered the grandstand from below, from the crowd of spectators. This, too, was calculated to stage himself as the “Führer” who came from the people and remained connected to them. This staging of the “Führer” as coming from the people meant that Hitler probably never set foot in this foyer, historically known as the “Hall of Honour”. The hall was only completed in 1939, and was to be used for the first time during the party rally of that year. Large sculptures created for the four niches in the foyer by Kurt Schmid-Ehmen were never installed. At short notice, the “Party Rally of Peace” was cancelled before Germany attacked Poland and unleashed the Second World War. The “Golden Hall” is the only remaining interior planned by Albert Speer, remaining an impressive example of Nazi architecture’s resemblance to stage sets.
GIF: Grandstand then and nowIn Germany as this sites presents, there are many building relics from the Nazi era, many of which continue to be used with Nazi paraphernalia on the façades still intact- the Olympic Stadium in Berlin has remained a sports arena, the former ministries of the German Reich in Berlin were converted into of offices, the “House of Art” in Munich is an exhibition venue. In Nuremberg, the situation is particularly nuanced however as the Party Rally Grounds and various buildings designed by Albert Speer served only one main purpose: as a forum for the glorification of the Nazi regime and Hitler. Germany today has no need for places for march-pasts and roll calls for 100,000 to 200,000 people in uniforms or for a megalomaniac Congress Hall for 50,000 party members which is why the Nazi buildings in Nuremberg could not be suitably used after 1945. After 1945, the Nuremberg buildings remained largely in their original state with no means to strip them of their original character. Even the Zeppelin Grandstand is only rarely used as a grandstand today with the Zeppelin Field in its vast size of very little practical value today. Parts of the area are used as sports fields now; up until the mid-1990s, American forces played sports on the field and the ring road around the Zeppelin Grandstand (“Norisring”) annually serves as the venue for motor sport events. Between 2005 and 2011 the City invested over one million Euros to safeguard access to the Zeppelin Grandstand with an additional three million Euros spent on infrastructure such as paths and roads in the immediate surroundings. Nevertheless, in spite of all the repairs the Zeppelin Grandstand is collapsing. Since 2010, access for visitors to various areas has been prohibited for safety reasons with the current assumption being that sooner or later the spectator steps will have to be blocked off. According to building experts, the site cannot not be preserved without a general refurbishment with initial estimates putting the costs at between 60 and 75 million Euros. 
 Himmler and other high-ranking officials at the 9th Nazi Party rally, dubbed the "Reich Party Congress of Labour” (Reichsparteitag der Arbeit), held from September 6–13, 1937. On September 10 in a speech before these political leaders, Hitler explained the reasoning behind his choice of the above title for the congress: “Now that we have freed Germany within the last four years, we have the right to enjoy the fruits of our labour.” This wording apparently signalled that Hitler had no extraordinary decisions to announce for the future, but would self-complacently contemplate the past. Indeed, the Party Congress was remarkable only for its unusual tranquillity, reflecting the mood of the entire year 1937. With the exception of his customary verbal assaults upon world Bolshevism, not even Hitler’s words could disturb the apparent peace. Rather, in every one of his speeches, Hitler relished in eulogies of his successes in the past and his ambitions for the future. The word “gigantic” crossed his lips quite easily during those days.
Nuremberg rallies then and now As Germany copes with mass migration and blows to its economy, like the Volkswagen scandal, and to its pride, like the allegations it paid bribes to secure its hosting of the 2006 World Cup, it also continues to deal with vestiges of its problematic past. In few places are those questions more vivid than in Nuremberg. Should public money be spent to preserve these crumbling sites? Is controlled decay an option for anything associated with the Nazis? Or have Hitler and his architect, Albert Speer, locked future generations into a devilish pact that compels Germans not only to teach the history of the Thousand Year Reich the Nazis proclaimed here but also to adapt it for each new era?
GIF: Zeppelin Grandstand then and today
The Zeppelin Grandstand was constructed under Albert Speer's management between 1934 and 1937. Hitler intended the buildings at the Party Rally Grounds to stand for thousands of years, similar to the great cathedrals of the past. The overall ensemble was constructed in various building stages between 1934 and 1938, with remaining works extending well into 1939. The grandstand’s interior was never completely finished. Building was not only regularly interrupted for the party rallies, but the entire structure had to be usable and presentable during this time each year. This can be retraced using old photographs, where the grandstand’s exterior changed from year to year which is why the grandstand construction is so heterogeneous as it literally developed over the course of years.
Göring, Generaloberst Werner v. Fritsch and Generaladmiral Raeder at the Tag der Wehrmacht on September 14, 1936. 

Blomberg was fifteen years older than Göring; he had passed through Lichterfelde when Göring was still an infant. Since 1933 he had grown closer to the party - allowing army officers to accept the Nazi “blood medal” (Blutorden) for their part in the 1923 putsch, for example - but not close enough. Several times since 1935 Karl Bodenschatz had overheard Göring and Hitler discuss the possibility that the top army generals might be plotting against the regime, and in the autumn of 1937 Göring asked Blomberg outright whether his generals would follow Hitler into a war. It is clear that by December 1937 Göring had begun to indulge in fantasies of taking supreme command of the armed forces himself in place of Blomberg. The only other candidate would be General von Fritsch. At fifty-eight, Fritsch was not much younger than Blomberg, and Göring felt it unlikely that Hitler would feel comfortable with him. Promoted to colonel- general on April 20, 1936, Fritsch came from a puritan Protestant family. His upright bearing suggested he might even be wearing a lace-up corset. With a monocle screwed into his left eye to help his face remain sinister and motionless, he was an old-fashioned bachelor who loved horses and hated Jews with equal passion.
Irving (281) Göring

American flag being hoisted over the swastika, Grandstand
The American flag being hoisted over the swastika on April 21, 1945 and my students from the Bavarian International School today. Four days after Nuremberg fell, the US Army blew up the swastika which had been installed at the centre of the Grandstand.

 Photos taken in 1955

The US army conducting a military ceremony around the time West Germany joined NATO, just a decade after the Germans were finally stopped from continuing their campaign of genocide and world conquest, which led in large measure to the formation of the Warsaw Pact in retaliation. In 1967 the colonnade of the Grandstand was blown up because it had become unstable. The height of the side towers was also reduced by half in the 1970s.
Nuremberg Zeppelin rear 
The rear
A visit to the Nuremberg Zeppelin field as it exists today supplies evidence of a healthy disrespect for the few remaining monuments of National Socialist architecture. On Sundays, Turkish Gastarbeiter and their families picnic in the shade of trees flanking Hitler’s ‘Great Road’, the grand thoroughfare which was intended to link the ancient Nuremberg, the ‘City of Imperial Diets’ with his modern ‘City of the Rallies’. Tennis is played against the walls of the Zeppelin tribune, and teenagers tryst on the steps. However, this reclaiming of Nazi architecture for leisure activity is frustrated by the neo-Nazi swastika graffiti which must constantly be removed from the tribune towers and entranceways. This is also the case at the Olympic stadium in Berlin, where the bronze swastikas which have been partially erased from the ceremonial bell reappear in graffiti on the lavatory walls, contesting with the countering phrase ‘Nazi raus’
Spread out are these flag supporters during the Nazi era, and whilst guiding my students. There were 34 of them mounting six flag poles which surrounded the Zeppelinfeld, dividing the seating areas and providing toilet facilities.

Albert Speer designed the Märzfeld (March Field) as an arena for Wehrmacht manoeuvres (with 955 x 610 metres interior area, making it larger than 80 football pitches) planned as the south-eastern end of the grounds. The Märzfeld was named after the ancient God of War, Mars, and to commemorate the re-introduction of conscription in March 1935. Up until 1939, 11 of 24 planned Märzfeld towers had been finished. They divided the visitors‘ stands surrounding the Märzfeld. The entire complex was to provide space for about 250,000 people. A group of colossal statues, incorporating a Goddess of Victory and warriors, was planned for the central grandstand.
Constructing the Märzfeld; on the right is Speer.
Blowing up Märzfeld towers
Blowing up the eleven towers on March Field in 1966 and 1967. Thousands of homes were needed because of the destruction caused by World War II. Starting in 1957, the city began to build the new suburb of Langwasser on the south-eastern part of the former Party Rally Grounds which was then the largest building programme for any city in the Federal Republic.

Former transformer building
GIF: transformer building   GIF: Nuremberg transformer building
Located behind the Grandstand on Regensburger Straße, the Transformatorenstation was built in 1936 by Albert Speer for the power supply to the Party Rally Grounds and the so-called 'Cathedral of Light.' The energy demands of lighting and the general running of the grounds was extremely high and the transformer station could handle the power supply for a major city. One can still see the faint outline of the Nazi eagle which apparently does not cause concern to Burger King. After 1945 the building passed into the possession of the city of Nuremberg. The local power supply company N-ERGIE used the technology for power supply until 1998, after which the technical modification of the transformer lost its purpose.

By way of comparison, a McDonald's in Paris along the Rue de Rivoli of all places seventy years after they had first flown, when even the Wehrmacht thought not to parade under the Arc de Triomphe out of respect for French sensibilities....

Hall of Honour (Ehrenhalle)

Ehrenhalle einst und jetzt
Standing in front today. During the Weimar Republic, Nuremberg erected this monument to commemorate the 9,855 Nuremberg soldiers killed in the Great War. The design was by architect Fritz Mayer. A rectangular yard is adjacent to the arcaded hall, with a row of pillars carrying fire bowls on either side. Lord Mayor Hermann Luppe officially opened the hall in 1930. During the 1929 Party Rally, the Nazis for the first time incorporated the then unfinished Hall of Honour in their staging of the cult of the dead and where Hitler commemorated the fallen soldiers of the First World War and the “Martyrs of the National Socialist Movement”. The ritual was intended to commit the “party soldiers” present to sacrificing their lives for the “Führer” and for National Socialism. In 1933, Hitler had the Luitpold Grove park re-modelled into the Luitpold Arena for the Party Rallies. During the Party Congress of 1929 the then unfinished "Hall of Honour" was used for the enactment of a cult of the dead by the National Socialists the first time. 
During the Third Reich the Nazis used the site primarily as a commemoration for the fallen soldiers of the Great War and commemoration of the sixteen dead of the "Hitlerputsch" (the so-called "Martyrs of the Nazi Movement") of November 9, 1923 in Munich. Hitler, accompanied by ϟϟ-leader Heinrich Himmler and SA-leader Viktor Lutze, strode through the arena over the 240 meters long granite path from the main grandstand to the terrace of the Ehrenhalle and showed the Nazi salute there. The ritual was the climax of the celebration.
Hitler, Lutze and Himmler walking in front of  Ehrenhalle
Hitler reviewing the SA at the 1935 rally from the rostrum of the Grandstand. It was at this, the 7th Party Congress from September 10–16,  that the Nazis introduced the Nuremberg Laws. Proclaimed as the "Rally of Freedom" (Reichsparteitag der Freiheit), the  "freedom" referred to the reintroduction of compulsory military service and thus the German "liberation" from the Treaty of Versailles. Leni Riefenstahl made the film Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht at this rally in response to several generals in the Wehrmacht protested over the minimal army presence in the earlier Triumph of the Will. The film itself depicts a mock battle staged by German troops during the ceremonies at Nuremberg on German Armed Forces Day as the camera follows soldiers from their early-morning preparations in their tent city as they march singing to the vast parade grounds where a miniature war involving infantry, cavalry, aircraft, flak guns and the first public appearance of Germany's new forbidden tank is presented before Hitler and thousands of spectators. The film ends with a montage of Nazi flags to the tune of the "Deutschlandlied" and a shot of German fighter biplanes flying overhead in a swastika formation.
It can be seen in this 1965 photo beneath the Congress Hall with the Great Street at the top-right. The inscription inside reads: "To the victims of the wars 1914 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945 and to the tyranny 1933 to 1945 city of Nuremberg".

Illustration by Georg Fritz from the book Strassen und Bauten Adolf Hitlers published by the German Labour Front in 1939 and the same scene on April 27, 1945.
The Luitpold Grove was created on the occasion of the 1906 Bavarian State Exhibition and as early as in 1927 and 1929, the Nazis held their party rallies here and in the inner city.
The Golden swastika on the rostrum at Luitpold arena was later taken as war booty by General Patton and, with this Luitpold eagle, is now exhibited at the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana

In the September 5 entry of his Berlin Diary, Shirer wrote
I’m beginning to comprehend, I think, some of the reasons for Hitler’s astounding success. Borrowing a chapter from the Roman church, he is restoring pageantry and colour and mysticism to the drab lives of twentieth-century Germans. This morning’s opening meeting in the Luitpold Hall on the outskirts of Nuremberg was more than a gorgeous show; it also had something of the mysticism and religious fervour of an Easter or Christmas Mass in a great Gothic cathedral. The hall was a sea of brightly coloured flags. Even Hitler’s arrival was made dramatic. The band stopped playing. There was a hush over the thirty thousand people packed in the hall. Then the band struck up the Badenweiler March, a very catchy tune, and used only, I’m told, when Hitler makes his big entries.
Nazis marching
Then and now (photo taken 2007).
GIF: Luitpoldhalle   Luitpoldhalle
Dating back to the Bavarian Exposition, the former machine hall was renovated and first used by the Nazis for the party convention party congress of 1934. Its monumental neo-classic façade featured a shell limestone facing with three enormous entrance portals. It was in this building during the party congress of 1935, that the Nuremberg laws were adapted which deprived German Jews and other minorities of their citizenship.

Hitler's car in front (centre) and him leaving in 1935. The last photo shows Rudolf Hess opening the 1936 party congress inside. The Luitpoldhalle had an extension of 180 x 50 metres and offered space for up to 16,000 people. Within it the party congress took place during the Reichsparteitages. From 1933 to 1936 the largest organ in Europe with 5 manuals and 220 registers was installed within the hall.

The structure was severely damaged by allied bombs in early 1945 and a few years later replaced by a parking lot. The granite staircase leading to the building remains intact today.
This monument to the pilots killed in the Great War was designed in 1924 by Walter Franke for the fallen German pilots of the First World War and is located directly behind the Ehrenhalle. It presents a crashed, upside-down plane. It was originally located on Dutzendteichstraße, but was relocated to Marienbergstraße on the occasion of the opening of the new Nuremberg airport on Marienberg. During the Second World War it had been severely damaged and restored in 1958.

Großen Straße
Großen Straße
Speer designed the Great Street to be the central axis of the Party Rally Grounds aligned with the Imperial Castle in the Old Town to create a symbolic historic link. It is 60 metres wide and was to be two kilometres long. Between 1935 and 1939, only 1,5000 metres were actually built, with 60,000 granite slabs. On its concrete foundation, granite slabs were laid in two different colours- light and dark grey- so that marching groups could more easily follow the orientation. The light grey, square plates have an edge length of 1.2 metres, which corresponds to the length of two Prussian spikes serving to further facilitate the maintenance of the formation during parades.

The Congress Hall (Kongreßhalle)
The Congress Hall is currently  under monument protection. The cantilever roof was designed by Nuremberg architects Ludwig and Franz Ruff and the hall was planned as a conference centre for the NSDAP with room for up to 50,000 people. From the intended height of about 70 metres today it reaches only to 39.The largest part of the building is its brick walls; the facade was clad with large granite slabs "from all the Gaus of the Reich. The architecture, in particular the exterior façade, was based, among other things, on the Colosseum in Rome. The U-shaped building ends on the east side of the dozen pond with two head buildings. The foundation was laid in 1935, but the construction remained unfinished; in particular it was no longer possible to roof it. The dimensions of the U-shape exterior is 240 × 200 metres and within 175 × 155 metres. 
The Congress Hall was based on the Colosseum and was intended for Nazi party congresses. It is the second largest remaining Nazi structure, the largest being a former KdF holiday resort complex at Prora, on the island of Rügen in the Baltic Sea.
Bavarian International School at Kongreßhalle 
Taking my students from the Bavarian International School on tour
BIS students and Hitler in front of Congresshalle
A domed hall was to be erected a hundred feet high to seat 100,000. Among the party buildings designed to give the city of Nuremberg ‘its future and hence everlasting style’ was a congress hall for 60,000, a stadium ‘such as the world has never seen before’, and a parade ground for a million people. The excavations alone would have called for 40 miles of railway track, 600 million bricks would have been required for the foundations, and the outer walls would have been 270 feet high. Hitler paid particular attention to the durability of the bricks and other materials, so that thousands of years later the buildings should bear witness to the grandeur of his power as the pyramids of Egypt testified to the power and splendour of the Pharaohs. But if the movement should ever fall silent,’ he declared as he laid the foundation stone for the congress hall at Nuremberg, ‘then this witness here will still speak for thousands of years. In the midst of a sacred grove of ancient oaks men will then admire in reverent awe this first giant among the buildings of the Third Reich.’ And he remarked effusively to Hans Frank, "They will be so gigantic that even the pyramids will pale before the masses of concrete and colossi of stone which I am erecting here. I am building for eternity, for, Frank, we are the last Germans. If we were ever to disappear, if the movement were to pass away after many centuries, there would be no Germany any more."
Part of the building is used for a museum about Hitlerism in Nuremberg entitled Documentation Centre Nazi Party Grounds Nuremberg which deals with the time from the end of the Great War to the end of the Nuremberg trials of October 1946. Since 2000, the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände, with its permanent exhibition Faszination und Gewalt (Fascination and Terror), has been located in the northern wing. Photos of some of the exhibits can be found below.
At the end of the war the structure was used to store American military equipment.
Since 2000, the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände (Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds), with the permanent exhibition Faszination und Gewalt, has been located in the northern wing of the Congress Hall. In 1998, an architectural competition was held for the Dokumentationszentrum with the Austrian Günther Domenig winning with a plan for a museum that slashed through one corner of the Kongresshalle. His design emphasised the disparity between the fragmented steel and glass museum and Ruff’s monumental stone Kongresshalle. Reporters and politicians widely commented on the new structure’s asymmetrical cut into the side of the Kongresshalle seen behind me as a symbolic rejection of the Nazi past by a democratic present. Here, too, officials proclaimed that the aesthetic choices antithetical to the monumental masonry and axial plans at the site were transparent to historical critique. The federal government initially dismissed the plans (citing the need to channel any cultural funds to the new states in the East), but, by 1999, it had agreed to help fund the project.
Then and now; unchanged within 
Faszination und Gewalt
Various permanent exhibitions deal with the causes, connections and consequences of the National Socialist tyranny. Topics that have a direct connection to Nuremberg are particularly taken into account.  The concept began in 1994 when the city council of Nuremberg decided to set up the documentation centre. On November 4, 2001 it was opened by the then-Federal President Johannes Rau. The Austrian architect Günther Domenig won the international competition in 1998 with his suggestion to drill the northern head building diagonally through a walk-through "pile" of glass and steel. The permanent exhibition inside entitles Fascination and Violence deals with the causes, connections and consequences of national socialism. Aspects with a clear connection to Nuremberg were highlighted. Nuremberg was the city of the Reichsparteitage during the Third Reich and was often used for propaganda purposes. The history of the Reichsparteitage, the buildings of the Reichsparteitagsgelände, the Nuremberg Laws, the Nuremberg trial against the main responsibility of the Nazi crimes in 1945-46 and its twelve successor processes as well as the handling of the National Socialist architectural heritage after 1945. Since May 2006, the exhibition in the Documentation Centre has been supplemented by a bilingual information system with 23 stelae in the historical area, which allows an individual tour of the former Reichsparteitagag grounds. exhibits range from historical topics such as the power of images, youth between adaptation and resistance, or the system of concentration camps through railings to human rights work or social learning.
Inside is a model of the proposed Deutsches Stadion which Hitler can be seen reviewing before the foundation stone is laid at the 1937 Nuremberg Parteitag der Arbeit.
Deutsches Stadion
The Deutsches Stadion was a monumental stadium designed by Speer for the Nazi Party Grounds which was begun in 1937 but interrupted two years later by the outbreak of the war and never completed.
Speer at Nuremberg
Hitler and Speer visiting the test construction site, and as it appears today. The design was, as Speer himself said, inspired not by the Circus Maximus, but by the Panathinaiko stadium which had impressed him greatly when he visited Athens in 1935. Speer's stadium in Nuremberg was planned as a gigantic expansion of the Graeco-Roman model, from which he adopted the Horseshoe design and the Propylaea, but transformed into a raised, pillar-built structure with a large colonnaded courtyard leading to the open end of the stadium Pillared inner courtyard.  The planning for the stadium in Nuremberg could not be as if at the Panathinaiko stadium in Athens on a location at the bottom of a canyon, but had to be aligned on a flat piece of land (24 hectares) which is why his five rows of seats for 400,000 spectators had to be supported in the usual Roman way by massive barrel vaults. Pink granite blocks were provided for the outer facade, which would have been raised to a height of about 90 meters: a row of 65 metre high arches should rest on a substructure of dark red granite.  The arcade and the pedestal again indicate a Roman round or stadium and not a Greek one, which, according to tradition, did not necessarily rest on a substructure. To bring a wide mass of spectators quickly to their ranks, express elevators should be installed that carry 100 spectators simultaneously to the seats on the upper three ranks. Once again, Roman construction served as a model.  Speer apparently chose a horseshoe shape for his building after rejecting the oval shape of an amphitheatre. The last-mentioned plan would have intensified the heat after Speer's assertion, as well as a psychological disadvantage - a comment which he did not elaborate. When Speer mentioned the enormous cost of the building, Hitler, who laid the foundation on September 9, 1937, replied that the construction would cost less than two battleships of the Bismarck class.  Wolfgang Lotz, who wrote about the German Stadium in 1937, commented that it would take twice the number of spectators who would have found a place in the Circus Maximus in Rome. Inevitably at that time, he also highlighted the community feeling that would create such a building between competitors and spectators:   
 As in ancient Greece, the elite and highly experienced men are chosen from among the masses of the nation. An entire nation in sympathetic astonishment sits in the ranks. Spectators and contestants go into one unit.
The idea of organising Paneuropean track and field athletics contests was perhaps inspired by the Panathenes, but Speer's stadium was stylistically more committed to ancient Rome than the Greeks; With its huge vaulted base and the arched exterior façade, it was more like the Circus Maximus than the style of the Athens Panathinaiko Stadium. Once again, a Nazi building represented a mixture of Greek and Roman elements, with a predominant portion of the Roman. But Hitler did not want such a stadium to be the center of German athletics. The restored Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens had been used for the Olympic Games in 1896 and the Olympic Games of 1906. In 1936 the games were held on the Reichsportfeld in Berlin, but Hitler insisted that all future games in the German stadium should take place after 1940, when the games were planned in Tokyo. This stadium was in all measure much larger than the Berlin Olympiastadion, which had a capacity of 115,000 spectators. Hitler's assumption is undoubtedly that after his victory in the Second World War the subjugated world would have had no choice but to send all athletes to Germany every four years to the Olympic Games. Pangermanic games should be of equal importance with a worldwide competition, in which the winners would have received their reward from the Fiihrer, surrounded by the loyalists of the party, who were to be placed in the straight transverse axis of the stadium, referring to ancient gods. As a result, this stadium design in Nuremberg had already anticipated Hitler's desire for the World Cup (like the Volkshalle, Berlin), long before this goal was put into words.
Hitler, as late as July 6, 1942, enthused about the prospects of the Reichsparteitagsgelände and the proposed Deutsches Stadion:
The Party Rally has, however, been not only a quite unique occasion in the life of the NSDAP but also in many respects a valuable preparation for war. Each Rally requires the organisation of no fewer than four thousand special trains. As these trains stretched as far as Munich and Halle, the railway authorities were given first-class practice in the military problem of handling mass troop transportation. Nor will the Rally lose its significance in the future. Indeed, I have given orders that the venue of the Rally is to be enlarged to accommodate a minimum of two million for the future—as compared to the million to a million and a half to-day. The German Stadium which has been constructed at Nuremberg, and of which Horth has drawn two magnificent pictures, accommodates four hundred thousand people and is on a scale which has no comparison anywhere on earth.

Trevor-Roper (565-6) Hitler's Table Talk
Dutzendteich Lake Station

GIF: Dutzendteich Lake Station  
Built in 1871, between 1934 and 1936 this nearby station accommodated tens of thousands of Party Rally participants. Today the site serves as the Gaststätte "Bahnhof Dutzendteich."
Near the grounds was the Langwasser camp which could serve 200,000 visitors from the SA, ϟϟ, HJ, and the RAD. This remaining water tower was built in 1936 according to Albert Speer's plan.

ϟϟ Barracks

GIF: ϟϟ Barracks Nachrichten-Ersatzabteilung (Nuremberg)
The ϟϟ-Barracks were built by architect Franz Ruff between 1937 and 1939 on the western outskirts of the Party Rally Grounds. Although referred to by the Nazis as the "Gateway to the Rally Grounds," it was not actually used until after the war had actually commenced and not during the years of the rallies. Its construction demonstrates how the ϟϟ sought to be represented in Nuremberg by its own units right next to the rally grounds. In 1936 no barracks were planned for the Reichsparteitagitagsgelände but the ϟϟ, which had set up the guard service for the grounds, wanted one and in so doing expand its responsibilities and to set up its own troops. Thus in March 1936 ϟϟ-Gruppenführer Ernst-Heinrich Schmauser began the planning for its construction. By the following year the Nuremberg City Extension Office selected an area on the Frankenstraße. In July, Reichsführer ϟϟ Heinrich Himmler commissioned Albert Speer to submit blueprints in three months. Because of the rapid planning, the additional effort required such as the laying of companies, supply lines, roads and tracks was not checked. After an inspection of the construction site by Himmler together with Speer and the Mayor of Nuremberg, Willy Liebel , an expansion of the plans was decided and Franz Ruff was commissioned as an architect. Ruff was also responsible for the construction of the neighbouring Reichsparteitagsland. Hitler also interfered in its chaotic construction planning, ordering in September 1937 an immediate start of construction, and the accommodation was due to be ready by 1938, although the work was not started until October 20. On Hitler's request, the streetcar tracks running in front of the building were laid underground. On June 2, 1939, the topping-out ceremony of the main building was celebrated and by 1940 the building complex was largely completed. Officially, it was always described as ϟϟ accommodation and never barracks. 175,000 m² of space was built and 4,500 windows and 3,500 doors were installed. In addition to the main building with two side wings, there were some secondary buildings around the central parade ground: a kitchen building (no longer present), a team building (today's H-Bau), a horse stable and garages. The main building alone (with basement, ground floor, two upper floors and a top floor) had a thousand rooms. Above the main entrance hung a large eagle and the ceilings were covered with mosaics designed by Max Körner whilst the floor of the festival hall consisted of marble mosaics in the form of hooked crossbars. This was among the largest barracks buildings erected by the National Socialists and the entire complex consisted of the central main building with a “Portal of Honour”, and two side wings, both built around a courtyard, as well as several additional buildings. 
During the war radio operators for the Waffen ϟϟ were trained here, some of whom took part in the siege of Leningrad. During the Second World War radio operators were trained for different units. In addition, the ϟϟ Barracks Nachrichten-Ersatzabteilung (Nuremberg) had its seat here. From May 1940, police were also stationed, the police division news department was taken over 1942-43 into the Waffen-ϟϟ. In May 1940, prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp came to the barracks for construction and other work. When Nuremberg was conquered by the Americans in April 1945, German troops from the ϟϟ barracks attempted a final resistance although, apart from bullet holes at the main building, the barracks were scarcely damaged during the war. In April the building complex was renamed Merrell Barracks after a fallen soldier of the 3rd US infantry division and the empty buildings held foreign forced labourers. From the beginning 30,000 in June 1945 13,300 were still in Nuremberg and half lived in the ϟϟ-barracks. After the last inhabitants had left the barracks in 1946, the city wanted to use the buildings, but in 1948 American soldiers moved into the barracks. Through 1944-45, a small section of the building was used to provide accommodation for roughly an hundred prisoners from the Dachau and Flossenbürg concentration camps. After 1945 the barracks were occupied by the American Army and today houses the Federal Department for the Recognition of Foreign Refugees.
Click for Nuremberg old town