Geoff Walden


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Nürnberg (Nuremberg)

   The Nazis saw Nürnberg as a classic example of a city rich in Germanic and imperial history; indeed, Hitler agreed with the mayor who once called it the "most German of German cities." Wishing to capitalize on this, the Nazi hierarchy turned Nürnberg into the city for Nazi Party rallies, and every September from 1933 to 1938, the NSDAP held its annual rallies in Nürnberg -- huge week-long gatherings that brought hundreds of thousands of people to the city to view the nationalistic and militaristic extravaganza.

   To better accommodate these massive rallies, Hitler turned to his favorite architect Albert Speer (designer of the New Reichs Chancellery in Berlin, and later the Nazi Minister of Armaments) to design and build a suitable site, which became the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, southeast of the city center. This site eventually featured some of Speer's largest and most monumental works, with plans for an immense Olympic-style stadium with seating for 405,000 that would have dwarfed all else (this building never progressed much beyond the ground-breaking stage). Wartime necessities brought a halt to the Party Grounds, which were never finished, but most of what was built is still there, in a somewhat ruined condition.

   The Party Rallies featured large numbers of the SS, SA, Labor Service, Hitler Jugend, and the Wehrmacht, parading through the old walled town of Nürnberg and standing in mass formations on the several parade grounds, paying homage to their Führer and deceased Nazi heroes. Hitler made several speeches during the week, and viewed military demonstrations on the large exercise grounds.

   Following the end of World War II, Nürnberg was the site of war crimes trials conducted by the Allies against former Nazi leaders.  Click here for a MapQuest map link to Nürnberg.

 

While in Nürnberg, Hitler stayed at the Deutscher Hof Hotel, near the Bahnhof (train station). He had a large room on the first floor (second floor to Americans) with windows from which he could review marching columns. An addition to the hotel was built in 1936 (to the right in the period view), and afterwards Hitler stayed on this side, which had a special Führer balcony. The building has changed a little but is still easily recognizable, although the hotel has been out of business and vacant for several years (as of January 2014, the interior of the hotel has been stripped to the bare bricks, and the rear side of the hotel is being demolished. Reportedly, the historic front part shown here will be preserved and renovated).  ("Nürnberg, Die Stadt der Reichsparteitage," Berlin, Struck Verlag; 1938 postcard)

 

Hitler at his window in the Deutscher Hof Hotel in 1934. Note the lights below the window, which spelled out HEIL HITLER.  ("Adolf Hitler - Bilder aus dem Leben des Führers," Cigaretten-Bilderdienst, 1936)

 

Hitler Jugend pass in review before Hitler on his special balcony in the new section of the Deutscher Hof in 1937. This side of the building has seen more extensive changes during renovation, and it is no longer part of the hotel.  (U.S. National Archives RG 242)

 

Further views of Hitler on his Deutscher Hof Hotel balcony.  (above - "Nürnberg, Die Stadt der Reichsparteitage," Berlin, Struck Verlag; "Illustrierter Beobachter" newspaper, 17 Sept. 1936; below - period postcards)
                                                 

 

On the left, a 1936 view of the hotel, showing the special Führer balcony of the new section. The dome of the opera house is in the background.  (period postcard)

 

Another hotel in the area, the Fränkischer Hof (built 1938-39), housed the Nazi press corps during the Rallies, and was open to the public otherwise. Exterior decorations included five coats-of-arms shields, one bearing the Eagle and Swastika insignia, by Phillip Widmer (seen above the doorway in the period view). The hotel was extensively remodeled in the 1990s, drastically changing its appearance, and is now the Sheraton Hotel Carlton. The shields were reinstalled on the front wall, including the Nazi emblem with its swastika not completely chipped out.  (period postcard)

 

Hitler (with Himmler behind) reviews the honor guard from the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler, in front of the Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof (main train station).  (National Archives RG 242)

 

On the left, a 1941 postcard view of the Hauptbahnhof. On the right, SA leader Horst Wessel marches his unit past the Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof about 1929.  (right -"Deutschland erwacht - Werden, Kampf un Sieg der NSDAP," Hamburg, 1933)

 

Along the main route for the marching columns to reach the center of town was the Fleischbrücke bridge. The St. Sebalduskirche church just beyond the main square is in the background.  (Life collection)

 

The goal of the marching columns was the Hauptmarkt, or city square, which was named Adolf-Hitler-Platz from 1933-1945. Here Hitler reviewed the SS, SA, Hitler Jugend, and other marching groups. Below is a panoramic view of the same scene today. Just to the left of center is the famous Nürnberg Fountain. The St. Sebalduskirche can be seen in the background behind the fountain, with the Frauenkirche on the right. (See bottom of this page for a view taken in April 1945 after the fall of the city to the U.S. Army.)  (National Archives RG 242)

 

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Hitler salutes from his car, stopped in the Adolf Hitler Platz near the fountain, as his followers march by during the 1933 Parteitag rally. The old Rathaus (Town Hall) in the background was damaged by bombing during World War II, and was not rebuilt in the same style.  (period postcard)

 

On the left above and below, SA units perform a march-by in the 1934 and 1935 Party Rallies. The style of the old Rathaus shows clearly in these views. On the right above, SA units march past Hitler's car in the 1934 Rally, with the Frauenkirche seen in the background. On the right below, Hitler is reviewing the marchers - in the left foreground is SS-Standartenführer Jakob Grimminger holding the Blutfahne (Blood Banner) of the 1923 Munich putsch(left above - Baldur von Schirach, "Das Reich Adolf Hitlers," Munich, Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1940; right above - National Archives RG 242; right below - Münchner Illustrierte Presse, 8 Sept. 1938)

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Crowds in the grandstands before the Frauenkirche during the Party Rally of 1933, and a similar view today.  ("Deutschland erwacht - Werden, Kampf un Sieg der NSDAP," Hamburg, 1933)

 

The Gauhaus (1937, architect Franz Ruff) on the Marienplatz (Schlageter Platz during the Nazi period) was the headquarters of the Nazi Party in Nürnberg, and of Gauleiter Julius Streicher, the "Frankenführer," or Nazi leader of Franconia. Although damaged by fire in 1945, the building was rebuilt and is practically unchanged today (located now on Willy-Brandt-Platz). The name of a newspaper replaces the eagle and swastika on the façade. Below - the Gauhaus still smolders when photographed by the U.S. Army Signal Corps on 27 April 1945. The eagle and swastika can be faintly seen through the smoke.  (above - Frau Prof. Gerdy Troost, "Das Bauen im neuen Reich," Vol. 1,  Bayreuth, 1938; below - National Archives, Record Group 111-SC, 205453)

 

  The fire-damaged Gauhaus in 1945.

 

In September 1938, following the Austrian Anschluß, the Nazis moved the imperial regalia of the Holy Roman Empire (the "First Reich") from Vienna to Nürnberg, where they were housed in the Katharinenkirche. St. Katharine's Church was severely damaged in the 1943-45 bombing, and never rebuilt. Its ruins can be seen today in the old part of the city. The regalia are now held in the Imperial Treasury in the Vienna Hofburg.  (Fritz Maier-Hartmann, "Dokumente des Dritten Reiches," Vol. 2, Munich, 1943 (5th Ed.)

 

Nürnberg had Nazi decorations at other times as well as during the annual Party Rallies. Bergstraße street is decorated during a celebration. The Tiergärtnertor gate tower is in the background.

 

Two National Socialist buildings on the Bahnhofplatz, near the train station, were the main post office (1935 - above), and the Gästehaus der NSDAP (a converted hotel - below). Hermann Göring stayed in the Party Guest House (below) during the Nürnberg Party Rallies. This hotel, completed in 1936, was so modern that it sported air conditioning (rare in German hotels even today). Both structures remain in largely unchanged condition.  (Bauen im Nationalsozialismus)

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The Hermann-Göring-Schule was built on Oedenberg Straße in 1936-1940. This was one of the largest public schools built during the Third Reich. Trees prevent a good comparison view today, but the school mostly retains its original form, and is now the Konrad-Groß-Schule.  (Frau Prof. Gerdy Troost, "Das Bauen im neuen Reich," Vol. 2, Bayreuth, 1943)

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An SS Kaserne was built near the Party Rally Grounds, southeast of the city center. The U.S. Army used this facility as Merrell Barracks after the war, headquarters for the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (border guards). The facility was returned to the German government in 1995 and is now a documents center (only the front/main building remains).  (National Archives, RG 242)

 

In common with other large cities, Nürnberg erected air-raid shelters when the bombing of the Reich became a reality in 1943-44. This was the Grübel-Bunker, located on Grübelstraße in the old part of the city (on the left, seen in 1945). It was designed to shelter 200 people and was built to resemble a normal civilian building. In recent years the bunker was converted to apartments by cutting windows and doors through the thick concrete sides. Click here to see three air-raid shelters in nearby Fürth.

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Nürnberg was taken by the U.S. Army on 17-20 April 1945. Following the fall of the old walled part at the heart of the city, on the evening of 20 April 1945 (Hitler's birthday), the 3rd Infantry Division held a formation in the newly renamed "Eiserner-Michael-Platz," under the direction of division commander Maj.Gen. John "Iron Mike" O'Daniel. Compare the left-hand photo to the 1933 view above.  (Donald G. Taggart, "History of the Third Infantry Division in World War II," Washington, Infantry Journal Press, 1947)  (Watch a film on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEAo7JnDm_I - thanks to Willem Oosterhof for the link.)

 

Soldiers of the other divisions of the XV Corps also entered Nürnberg. These soldiers belong to the 45th Infantry Division (left) and 42nd Infantry Division (right).  (42nd "Rainbow" Infantry Division. Baton Rouge, LA, Army & Navy Publishing Co., 1946)  Signs of the changing times in Nürnberg ... a GI replaces the Adolf-Hitler-Straße sign with one honoring President Roosevelt, 20 April 1945.  ("Yank," 1 June 1945)

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The 42nd Infantry Division had previously taken the Franconian cities of Würzburg and Schweinfurt, then moved southeast toward Nürnberg. On the way they passed through Neustadt on der Aisch before capturing Fürth, just outside Nürnberg. The photos above and below were taken in the main square of Neustadt on 6 April 1945. The buildings have changed very little since 1945.  (National Archives, RG 111-SC 421390; courtesy Digital History Archive)

 

The building on the left of the square in the photos above was Neustadt's Sparkasse savings bank, built during the Third Reich with a classic Franconian design. The building serves the same purpose today.
(Frau Prof. Gerdy Troost, "Das Bauen im neuen Reich," Vol. 2, Bayreuth, 1943)

 

Leaving the main square in Neustadt, the soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Division moved up Nürnberger Straße, with several white flags displayed, and through the Nürnberger Tor city gate (below).  (National Archives, RG 111-SC 271390 and 336322; courtesy Digital History Archive)

 

Just before entering Nürnberg, the 42nd Infantry Division passed through Fürth. This photo was taken on Gustavstraße in Fürth in mid-April 1945. This area of Fürth is practically unchanged today, and the Gasthof Grüner Baum, seen just beyond the soldier in the foreground, is still in business.  (42nd "Rainbow" Infantry Division. Baton Rouge, LA, Army & Navy Publishing Co., 1946)
Click here to see other sites in Fürth.

 


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From 1945-1946 the Palace of Justice on Fürther Straße housed the Allied Military Tribunal for the war crimes trials of former Nazis (which continued under U.S. jurisdiction into 1949). The primary proceedings were held in this side wing, in the courtroom with the large windows. The photo on the left was taken shortly before the verdicts were announced for the original defendants.  (photo from the U.S. Army in Germany site)  (MapQuest Map Link)

 

The primary proceedings took place in Courtroom 600, which had an elevator that connected directly with the adjacent prison where the defendants were held. The courtroom is still in use today, but can generally be visited from the adjacent exhibition area. There have been several changes since 1946 - the room is now smaller (as is the dock area where the defendants sat) and the spectator/press gallery from which this period photo was taken no longer exists. The original defendants were (first row, left-right) Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Wilhelm Keitel, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Julius Streicher, Walther Funk, Hjalmar Schacht; (back row, left-right) Karl Dönitz, Erich Raeder, Baldur von Schirach, Fritz Sauckel, Alfred Jodl, Franz von Papen, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Albert Speer, Konstantin van Neurath, Hans Fritzsche. Martin Bormann was tried in absentia(U.S. National Archives)

Click here for further info and links about the Nürnberg War Crimes Tribunal.

 

Rstone.gif (1273 bytes)   Continue to Nürnberg Part 2  --  the Nazi Party Rally Grounds

 


Tour Guide service is available to the Third Reich and WW2 sites in Nürnberg - see the Tour Guide page.


 

Third Reich in Ruins, http://www.thirdreichruins.com/

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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