Friday, August 20, 2010
Nuremberg: Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds
Hiroshima. Nagasaki. The Killing Fields. Auschwitz. The list goes on and on. Places of terrible human death and suffering now turned into war memorials, peace museums and the like. All reminders of the horrors of war. These are not fun places to visit, but it is necessary that we visit such places so such awful things don't happen again. I really didn't realize it before my visit, but Nuremberg belongs to this list. My friend Lothar from the Deaf Museum in Frankfurt was kind enough to invite me and take me on a trip to the Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg. He has done much research about the Nazi era, especially pertaining to Deaf people. I had studied about WWII, Nazis and Hitler in school, but I had no idea the impact the Nuremberg Museum would have on me. I figured it was yet another important cultural place to visit in Germany and another opportunity to take some interesting photos. It was that, and much more. I had no idea about the monumental architecture Hitler was creating to justify and reinforce his power. Nuremberg was to be Hitler's Rome.
The museum exhibitions were in German, but audio guides were available in multiple languages (no sign language, but the visual images spoke for themselves). The museum explains Hitler's rise to power and the monumental architecture he was creating. It shows the incredible support from the people Hitler received and the prejudice against Jews and other undesirables the Nazis instilled into men, women and children. It also shows the violence against these people as well. It concludes with the Nuremberg Trials and executions of German war criminals.
Link to Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds web page:
The museum is an excellent example of the power of the visual to do more than merely illustrate but explain and evoke. One can study about these things on the internet, but it is much more power and important to actually visit and experience these places. One of the most interesting exhibitions was about the propaganda film, Triumph of the Will, made by Leni Riefenstahl. The film documents the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in 1934. Despite the problematic nature of the film, it is incredible. The access to events and places that Riefenstahl had, along with spectacular filmmaking techniques, makes the film one of the most impressive documentary films in history. It is another stark reminder of the power of the visual that remains timeless.