An insight into the rise of National Socialism in Germany and onto the Romantic Road.......a real contrast!

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July 30th 2013
Published: August 7th 2013
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The weather has brightened up since yesterday and no sign of any rain so it should be a dry drive today.

The reception staff seemed a bit surprised when we emerged and at checkout time told them we hadn't required their €11 each breakfast.That must have been the most expensive breakfast offered to us on the BBA V2 and a quick look inside the breakfast room gave no indication that there would have been anything like €11 each value with what we saw.

So with a BBA V2 €1 each breakfast we loaded up and headed for the Nazi Rally Grounds a short drive away to take in what is left of this piece of 20th century history.

However,before we drove out of the hotel car park we took a look at the monolithic concrete/stone almost square building next to the hotel.The building now being used by Burger King was constructed in 1936 as an electricity transformer building for the Rally Grounds such was the amount of electricity used when the Nazi Rallys were taking place and in particular an event known as 'The Cathedral of Light' when 130 anti-aircraft searchlights lit the Nurnberg sky.The building designed by Hitlers favoured architect still had the outline of where the Reichsadler eagle had been attached to the building although the actual symbol was no longer there.

The area that had been the vast Nazi Rally grounds was just a short drive away and we joined people off 4 or 5 tourist buses who were spread over several groups getting the history from tour leaders.

The grounds which could hold upwards of 200,000 people during a rally was now given over to various activities including motor racing and outdoor concerts.

The main stand and dais that Hitler would address the crowd from are still intact although there are warnings everywhere that you climb the steps to the top at your own risk. It seemed the stand is used for the spectators when motor racing is held.

We didn’t actually get to stand on the dais from where Hitler gave his addresses as the groups were very slow in moving on and we were a bit pressed for time if we were to look in at the Documentation Centre as well before leaving the city. Never mind as we still got that feeling of what it might have been like to have been there in the 1930’s from the top of the stand.

We then moved onto the Documentation Centre which is housed as part of the unfinished Congress building styled on the Colusium.It was to be an indoor auditorium where Hitler would address politicians, such as they were in those days under Nazi rule. The outside walls of brick were built to a height of 30 metres which was only half of what the completed height was to be. The insides of the round building were never completed and today it is used for storage.

While the Documentation Centre was completed only a couple of years ago, the Rally grounds especially the remaining stand and concrete structures that were the surrounding walls and entranceways as well as the Congress building have yet to have any appreciable money spent on restoring and maintaining them and it may be that they will fall into disrepair to be dangerous if the officials of the city and country don’t decide to spend some serious money. Perhaps restoring something to remind Germans of those dark, evil days is too hot an issue to be easily decided

The Documentation Centre was well laid out with exhibits, video etc following the rise of National Socialism especially as to how it affected the city of Nurnburg and then the subsequent trials of those who were charged with war crimes. We wished we had had more time to spend and even though we had set ourselves an hour and a half for the tour around the building we ended up spending over two hours and still didn’t manage to quite take it all in.

The tour ends by taking you out onto an elevated platform on the edge of the unfinished Congress Hall where you can get some idea of the immensity of what would have been had the building ever been finished. As you walk out to the platform you pass tall gothic like columns that would have formed rooms including one that was designed for Hitler and his entourage to prepare for his addresses and to meet and greet invited guests.

With minds full of history and facts of those dark days of the 1920’s to 1940’s we set off out of the city taking a scenic road through Windsbach and Ansbach to Rothenberg ob der Tauber(that is a mouthful of a name and we are sure the locals must shorten it to good old Rothenberg!).

Our lunchtime stop and boot lunch was beside a rather unique discovery,a public garden on the outskirts of a small town where anyone could come along,pick flowers for your home etc for a small fee.They even supplied secuturs.While we were stopped two cars pulled up and cut what they wanted.What a great community idea!

What a gem of a find this place was with ancient walls ringing the old part of the town and restored medieval buildings inside.

Everything inside the walls had a genuine feel to it from the beautifully maintained buildings to the cobbled streets. As you would expect there were tourists everywhere and for the first time on the BBA V2 there were more American voices around us than any other. It was easy to see why RodT was a magnet for tourists wanting a feel of the real Bavaria and old Germany.

We went inside the cathedral and although we don’t usually like paying money to go inside churches we succumbed for a look inside St Jakobs and were not disappointed by its magnificence and design. Although as Gretchen pointed out they could have avoided printing postcard type entry tickets and saved money from the entrance fee!!

We had only about 50km to drive to our overnight stop in the rural village of Zipplingen, which was so small in size as not to appear in our atlas although Vicky had it in her memory!

The ‘Romantic Road’ as the scenic route from Wurzburg in the north to Fussen in the south is called is promoted as a drive through the German countryside.

We got about half way on our journey south from RodT to Zipplingen following the R25 when roadwork’s started to divert us this way and that and at times we were driving on one lane roads with thankfully nothing coming in the other direction towards us. We wondered whether we had followed the ‘Umleitung’(German for redirection of route due to roadworks) correctly although none of the villages we passed through appeared on the atlas. We could have given up and got ourselves onto the Autobahn #7 to get to our destination but where was the adventure in that and so we persisted and in the end the last ‘Umleitung’ took us to Zipplingen.

The Gastehaus owner told us as we checked in that his restaurant was closed tonight although that wasn’t a concern to us as we had purchased dinner to be cooked in the microwave tonight at the last town we had passed through where there was a regional supermarket.

After dinner we took a walk through the half dozen streets that made up the village of Zipplingen where almost every house had a barn attached in which animals were kept, mostly cows and pigs as far as we could tell. The smell emanating from the barns was serious stuff and you have to wonder why the animals are not farmed in the open fields where there was plenty of room during the summer at least.

Smoking is not being discouraged in most of the countries of Europe if the cigarette machine located in the main street is anything to go by.There is no shop in Zipplingen but the locals don’t have to go far,like the town about 5km away where we purchased our microwave dinner,to buy their cigarettes.From what we have observed cigarettes are still prominently displayed in supermarkets and in these machines in most towns and villages and the price in NZ dollar terms is only about one third of the cost back in NZ.On the other hand we have had on smoking rooms in almost all of our accommodations that are true to their word and smoking is discouraged in public places.

With no air conditioning in the room it was going to be a trying night for sleep as the heat had built during the day and we estimated that it was still in the high 20’s as night fell. The smell of animal poo from the barns of the village was just too much to have the window open despite the warmth.

It had certainly been a day of sharp contrasts.

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