Geoff Walden

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Nürnberg Part 3

The Nazi Party Rally Grounds, cont.

Kongreßhalle, Deutsche Stadion, Großestraße, Märzfeld, Langwasser Camp, Misc. Buildings and Sites

Click here for a MapQuest map showing the Reichsparteitagsgelände area.

 

The Kongreßhalle, or Kongreßbau, under construction. Designed by architects Franz and Ludwig Ruff to have seating for 50,000, and influenced by the Coliseum in Rome, the building beside the Dutzendteich lake was never fully completed.  (Albert Speer, "Neue Deutsche Baukunst," Berlin, 1943)

Above right - the Kongreßhalle today. In the past, the building was used for storage, offices, a concert hall, and a fire station. Since 2001, the principle building occupant has been the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände museum (replacing the display that used to be inside the Zeppelintribüne).

Below, a view of the initial construction of the Kongreßhalle in 1937. The structure at the left of the site was a full-scale wooden model of a portion of the building, to give the public an idea of what the completed hall would look like.  (original photo in author's collection)

 

Hitler dedicates the cornerstone for the new Kongreßhalle in a ceremony on 11 September 1935. Also attending were Rudolf Hess, Julius Streicher, Adolf Wagner, and Franz Schwarz.  (Bundesarchiv)

 

The Kongreßhalle during construction in the summer of 1938. The full-scale model can be seen at the far left of the left-hand photo.  (left - from "Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung erlebte - Adolf Hitler und sein Weg zu Großdeutschland," Heinrich Hoffmann, 1938; right - from Fritz Maier-Hartmann, "Dokumente des Dritten Reiches," Vol. 2, Munich, 1943)

 

Models of the Kongreßhalle, showing its planned completed state, with the roof that was never installed.  (left and below - period postcards; on the right from "Adolf Hitler, Bilder aus dem Leben des Führers" (Altona, 1936)

 

Hitler views a model of the completed structure.  (period postcard)

Recent aerial view - the museum is in the upper corner (the structure jutting out toward the top).  (Bayerische Vermessungsverwaltung)

 

Exterior views of the Kongreßhalle today. The Kongreßhalle is the second largest remaining building of the Third Reich (the largest being the Kraft durch Freude (KdF) vacation hotel complex at Prora, on the Baltic Sea island of Rügen).

 

These views show the monumental Romanesque style of architecture in the Kongreßhalle.

 

Interior of the Kongreßhalle under construction. On top is a partial model of what the finished upper area would have looked like. The modern photos show the interior of the main entrance side. The steel bridge-like structure seen jutting out in the photos below is a feature of the Dokumentation Zentrum museum, installed in 2001.  (National Archives RG 242)

 

Interior of the Kongreßhalle under construction, and as it appears today.  (Albert Speer, "Neue Deutsche Baukunst," Berlin, 1943)

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The interior and seating areas were never completed. These views show the brick base that underlies the exterior marble blocks.

This exterior wall shows damage from the impact of a high explosive round, presumably fired in 1945 (see also similar damage to the Zeppelintribüne).

 

A worker places blocks on one of the exterior archways, seen finished on the right.  (Münchner Illustrierte Presse, 8 September 1938)

 

Two unfinished areas inside the Kongreßhalle - the Pfeilerhalle (colonnade) on the left, and a smaller columned hall on the right. A model of the Deutsche Stadion can be seen on the floor of the Pfeilerhalle.

 

Inside the second story of the Kongreßhalle (the story just above the large archways). This area was never finished, and has been used mainly for storage over the years.

 

Two views of the Kongreßhalle taken in July 1945 by American soldiers, showing the construction scaffolding still in place.  (author's collection)

 


Deutsche Stadion

By far the largest structure on the Party Rally Grounds would have been the Deutsche Stadion. Albert Speer designed this to be the largest sports stadium in the world, with a seating capacity of 405,000. This photo shows Adolf Hitler dedicating the foundation stone on 9 September 1937.  (U.S. National Archives, RG 242H)

Except for some excavations, work on the Deutsche Stadion did not proceed beyond this granite foundation stone, which could be found near the Großestraße. In 2001 this stone was removed for the construction of a parking garage. In the summer of 2007, the Deutsche Stadion foundation stone was returned to the planned stadium site, but without its original brick base and not in its original location. It now has an interpretive marker next to it (above). The photo below shows the foundation stone in its original site in the woods just off the Großestraße.

The planned Stadion site is occupied today by the Silbersee, a lake formed by the excavations, and the Silberbuck, a hill made of rubble from the bombed city.

 

A scale model of the stadium was on display at the foundation stone dedication. On the right above, Hitler views the model with architect Albert Speer and others.  (left - from "Wie die Ostmark ihre Befreiung erlebte - Adolf Hitler und sein Weg zu Großdeutschland," Heinrich Hoffmann, 1938; on right from Fr. Prof. Gerdy Troost, "Das Bauen im neuen Reich," Bayreuth, 1938)

 

Further views of the Deutsche Stadion model. (views on left from "Bauten der Bewegung," Vol. 1, 1938; on the right from Albert Speer, "Neue Deutsche Baukunst," Berlin, 1943)

To test the proposed view from the upper levels, a partial full-scale model of the seating area was built of wood on a hillside east of Nürnberg. Click here to see the remains of this site today. 

 

Several views of models of the Deutsche Stadion from different perspectives. At the bottom are copies of architectural drawings (from Der Baumeister, Vol. 35, November 1937).  (from period postcards, "Kunst im Dritten Reich;" "Bauten der Bewegung," Vol. 1, 1938; "Die Stadt der Reichsparteitage Nürnberg und die MAN"

 

This model of the Deutsche Stadion, a faithful replica, was built for the filming of the German TV series "Speer und Er" (2005), and has been on display in the Kongreßhalle museum.

 

This U.S. Air Force reconnaissance photo was taken on 10 September 1944. At top can be seen the Kongreßhalle, with the Franken Stadion at lower right, and the Große Straße running through the center (camouflaged to try to disguise it as a road). The construction site of the Deutsche Stadion is the U-shape at the left. The site is occupied today by the Silberbuck (below left), a hill formed by dumping rubble from the bombed city on the site after the war, and the Silbersee lake (below right), where water has filled up one side of the excavation. The Silbersee is off-limits to swimmers due to the chemicals leaching into it from the rubble in the Silberbuck hill.

 


Großestraße

To link the major buildings of the Party Rally Grounds, a Großestraße (Great Road) was built from the Märzfeld to the Kongreßhalle. This Great Road was 2000 meters long and 80 meters wide, and contained 60,000 granite slabs, quarried by forced labor at various concentration camps. It points directly to the famous castle on the hill in downtown Nürnberg.

 

The sides of the Großestraße were lined with grandstands; some of the steps still remain today. In the right distance in the 1938 photo can be seen the partial model of the Kongreßhalle(Ausstellung "Faszination und Gewalt")

 


Märzfeld

The largest open field structure of the Party Rally Grounds was to be the Märzfeld (Mars Field), designed for the display of military maneuvers and war games (to replace the much smaller Zeppelinfeld for this purpose). The field was to be surrounded by 24 fortress-like towers connected by grandstands, with seating for 150,000, and decorated with sculptures by Josef Thorak(Albert Speer, "Neue Deutsche Baukunst," Berlin, 1941)

On the left, the Märzfeld under construction. Work was mostly halted after the beginning of World War II, and only about half of the towers were built. The towers were demolished in 1966-67 to make way for construction of today's Langwasser subdivision. Only a few remains of the tower foundations can be found today, at the north end of Hermann Thiele Weg.

 

Above, models of the completed Märzfeld. Below, an architectural drawing, and a photo of the partially-completed site.  (Hubert Schrade, "Bauten des Dritten Reiches," Leipzig, 1937; (Exhibition Catalog of the 1. Deutsche Architektur-und-Kunsthandwerkausstellung, Munich, 1938; Ausstellung "Faszination und Gewalt")

 

 The Märzfeld under construction (left), and a photo of a partially-completed tower taken in August 1945 by a U.S. soldier.  (left - Bundesarchiv; right - author's collection)

 

The Märzfeld in July 1945, as seen through the lens of a GI's camera.  (author's collection)

 


Langwasser Camp and Misc. Buildings

Permanent camps for the SS, SA, HJ, and RAD were built near the Rally Grounds. The Langwasser camp, with space for 200,000, was the largest of these. These camps had their own  water supply, from a tower built on an overlooking hill (the tower can be seen on the ridgeline in the right distance). The water tower still serves its original purpose (although no longer for a Nazi camp), from a hill overlooking Oelserstraße and Breslauerstraße. The original eagle and swastika have been removed from above the doorway.  (Stoja-Verlag, Nürnberg)

 

The Langwasser camp complex was served by a specially-built train station between the camps and the Märzfeld. The ruins of this Märzfeld station exist today beside the Langwasser rail line (the station was never completed to the state seen in the architectural models below).  (Exhibition Catalog of the 1. Deutsche Architektur-und-Kunsthandwerkausstellung, Munich, 1938)

 

Another train station designed to serve the Party Rally Grounds was the Bahnhof Dutzendteich. This existing station, adjacent to the Zeppelinfeld, was remodeled and enlarged in 1934. Today it houses a popular restaurant serving Gut Bürgerliche Küche, or down-home style cooking.  (above - period postcard; below - Bundesarchiv)

 

Yet another train station built to serve the crowds visiting Nuremberg during the Party Rallies was in the town of Fischbach, southeast of the city center and Party Rally Grounds. This original Bahnhof building still serves as the town station.

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A Flak (anti-aircraft) battery was placed on the outskirts of Fischbach, one of several batteries emplaced around Nürnberg to protect the city from Allied bombing attacks. The remains of this battery position include a concrete mount (possibly for a radar system or searchlight) and underground bunkers for battery personnel air-raid protection.  (Google Maps Link)

 

A large Lager, or housing complex, was built for the Deutsche Arbeits Front (DAF - German workers organization) visitors to the Party Rallies. This complex still exists on Regensburgerstraße, southeast of the Zeppelinfeld area, and is now used as a home for the elderly.

 

More info on the Dokumentationszentrum Museum - http://www.museen.nuernberg.de/english/english/reichsparteitag_e/index_reichsparteitag_e.html

http://www.kubiss.de/kultur/info/kpz/Schule/29_1_10.htm

 

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

 

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This page initially uploaded on 20 July 2000.


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