Restoring Nazi ruins: Nuremberg opts to preserve relics of dark past

It was infamous as the site of the vast marching grounds and torch-lit parades of Adolf Hitler's Nazi party, but now many of the vast structures built by the Nazis at Nuremberg are crumbling. Following decades of debate, the city of Nuremberg has decided to preserve the buildings, a vast conservation effort set to cost €85 million.

A view of Congress Hall, one of the Nazi-era buildings in Nuremberg, Germany.
A view of Congress Hall, one of the Nazi-era buildings in Nuremberg, Germany. © AFP, FRANCE 24

The fate of the buildings of Nuremberg, which include the Zeppelin grandstand from where Hitler delivered speeches to followers and the vast and unfinished Congress Hall, raises long-standing questions in Germany about how to preserve physical reminders of the crimes of the past without turning them into possible shrines for neo-Nazis.

Some, like Hitler's bunker in Berlin, have been demolished for this reason.

But the City of Nuremberg decided conserving the buildings would act as a way of demystifying the Nazi regime while not letting the city's dark past be forgotten.

"It's important for us to make the stones talk," Julia Lehner, Nuremberg's chief culture official, told AFP.

"This means explaining the history behind them, being transparent and always insisting on the 'never again!' in this history and finally guiding people by giving them all the information."

The work will take until 2025 to complete and has been backed by leaders of the city's Jewish community.

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