Fascination and Terror

Aerial view of the Congress Hall, summer 2001.

The remains of huge structures at the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds in southeast Nuremberg bear witness even today to the megalomania of the National Socialist regime. This eleven-square-kilometer site – four and a quarter square miles – was intended as a monumental backdrop for the grandiose events orchestrated by the Nazi Party.

The north wing of the Congress Hall – designed by the Nazis for a capacity of 50,000 but never completed – has housed the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds since 2001. A glass and steel "stake" spears its way through the north wing and is also visible from a distance, making the Documentation Center a striking contemporary architectural statement even from the outside.

Here a permanent exhibition covering 1,300 square meters – nearly a third of an acre – titled "Fascination and Terror" explores the causes, contexts and consequences of the Nazi tyranny. The 19 chronologically organized exhibition areas focus on aspects directly related to Nuremberg: the history of the Nazi Party Rallies, the structures at the Rally Grounds, the "Nuremberg Laws" of 1935, the Nuremberg Trials of the principal culprits for Nazi crimes during 1945-46 and the twelve successor proceedings, and the difficulties of what to do with the Nazi architectural legacy after 1945.

Up-to-date media like computer animations, films and touch screens, not to mention photos and other documents, offer visitors an immediate key at this historic location to the site’s buildings and the history and background of the Nazi Party Rallies. An audio guide provides texts and commentaries in seven languages, with special additional options for young people.

Inside the "Fascination and Terror" exhibition.

Conception

Academic Advisory Board

The academic and curatorial organization of the exhibition at the Documentation Center was assisted by an academic advisory board all the way through to its opening in 2001. The board included leading representatives of contemporary historical research:

  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Benz, Anti-Semitism Research Institute, Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Horst Möller, Institute of Contemporary History, Munich
  • Prof. Dr. Reinhard Rürup, Topography of Terror Foundation and Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften, Munich Technical University
  • Prof. Dr. Gregor Schöllgen, Erlangen-Nuremberg University (Spokesman of the Advisory Board)

The board also included prominent specialists in museum studies:

  • Dr. Judith Belinfante, former President of Amsterdam's Association of European Jewish Museums and member of the Dutch parliament
  • Prof. Dr. Hermann Schäfer, Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn
  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Stölzl, German Historical Museum, Berlin
  • The Ministry of Culture of the Free State of Bavaria was represented by Dr. Peter März of the Bavarian State Agency for Civic Education, Munich.

Conception

Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Project Head

Hans-Christian Täubrich

Design

Müller+Müller-Rieger, Munich

Exhibit texts

Dr. Volker Dahm (Institute of Contemporary History, Munich)
Dr. Friedrich Kießling (Institut für Geschichte der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Prof. Dr. Horst Möller (Institute of Contemporary History, Munich)
Prof. Dr. Gregor Schöllgen (Institut für Geschichte der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Dr. Eckart Dietzfelbinger (Nuremberg Municipal Museums)

Films und animations

AV-Studio Nürnberg; Ernst-Gortner-Film; Reiner Holzemer Film; Max-Studio, Erlangen.

Projection equipment

SevenM, Nuremberg

Historical research

Dr. Eckart Dietzfelbinger, Frank Gutermuth, Torsten Halsey, Wolfgang Meyer, Dr. Ute Steinfels

Audio guide

soundgarden audioguidance, Munich