January 23: Our final city destination was Nuremberg, Germany- one of the most important cities in the era of World War II. 1945 is remembered as an important year in our world history. World War II ended, the concentration camps were liberated, and the first trials convict crimes against humanity were held. These proceedings were held in Courtroom 600 of the Hall of Justice, one of the last-standing German court houses left in the rubble of WWII. Today, the Hall of Justice is still used as an acting court house and a museum has been constructed on the top floor.
Perhaps museum is the wrong word. To be honest, the room was more of a visual library. The information about the trials and how they were constructed is endless and so interesting. It was so extensive; someone could stay and learn about these trials for days. Everything action, from choosing the prosecution, hiring translators, building the media gallery, selecting witness testimonies, and actually trying the criminals, was documented thoroughly and explicitly. A total of twenty-four men were indicted. Two never stood trial because one committed suicide and the other fled before he could be captured. Of the twenty-two that were tried, three were acquitted, twelve were sentenced to death and seven were sent to prison. Defendants were tried convicted on a mixture of four counts: Conspiracy to Wage War, Crimes Against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity.
The Hall of Justice was fascinating, but our class was a little peeved when we found out that we couldn’t go into Courtroom 600. Lucky for us, the courtroom was closed and the overhead windows that they allow visitors to use when court is in session were “under construction.” Although, I did get a nice picture of the door that leads to the door of the courtroom. That’s something, right? Nevertheless, it was cool to be in the presence of such an iconic building.
After our Hall of Justice tour, we went to the Nazi Rally Grounds, also in Nuremberg. The Nazis would hold festivals and marches in many times at these rally grounds, and many of the images we have of the Nazi Party gathered together come from this plot of land. The space was massive and included things like the Great Road, a Stadium, a Coliseum-like structure, and large zeppelin fields to rally. There is now a Document center on the grounds that goes through the history of the Nazi power, how they rose to power, and how they were eventually dismantled. Walking around the park was like walking around an abandoned Olympic complex. However, the most interesting experience was standing in the spot where Hitler gave his speeches to the masses. That was freaky, but the view of the entire complex was incredible. It’s amazing to me how many resources went into these structures, even into the concentration camps, and how people were so moved by this party. The Nazi Party wanted to prove their power based on their appearance and sway, and boy did they do that.