The National Socialist (NS/Nazi) Party Rally Grounds are located on the old Nuremberg Zoo grounds. In the 1930s it was along the outskirts of the city, but now it is fully within the city limits. The party grounds are a set of buildings and open areas built and continuously expanded during Nazi Germany to accommodate for their huge annual party rallies, called the Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally (Reichsparteitag). The results of the constant construction, however, with the beginning of the war was a set of largely incomplete building projects. As time has passed, some parts were demolished by the allied troops, some were taken over by nature and others were repurposed. Now, it serves to document the historic past and as a recreational area for all. No political activities are allowed.
At the height of the construction plan there was a plan for up to 12 building projects including a huge German Stadium, a new colosseum-lookalike Congress for the Nazi Party, and a massive field for rallies. The previous rally center, the Zeppelin Field palled in comparison to the Marchfield planned at about three times its size.
This initial guide will walk you through the main stations set up by the Documentation Center to see and learn about the rally grounds and their role pre-1933, from 1933 till 1945 and post-war.
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Part I: Main Nazi Party Rally Sites
Station 1: Documentation Center
The Documentation Center, unveiled in 2001, presents the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany and the history of their time in power and downfall. It also deals specifically with Nuremberg’s role in the Nazi party and government and the city’s role in its history. They also set up the information stations along the Party Rally Grounds for visitors. Important to keep in mind is, the Documentation Center is not a museum, it does not have a lot of original artifacts, but it has a great gallery of photos and its goal is to explain the history and contribute to not forget the history and horrors of the Nazi government.
Station 2: Inside the Party Congress Hall (Kongresshalle)
The architect of the Rally Grounds Albert Speer designed the building in similar fashion to Rome’s Colosseum. Although its construction began before 1939, once the war began they were no longer able to continue the construction and the building has forever stood incomplete. Within it, as mentioned, is currently the Documentation Center and from it you can see the inside of the building. In the original designs they wanted to double the height of the building as it stands today.
Station 3: The Volksfest field (Volksfestplatz) and Great Road (Große Strasse)
Upon exciting the Congress Hall take a left and walk around the building till you run into a large open area. You are now in the Volksfest field and as you continue walking you will get to the Great Road. On the left side of the road you will find the information station. In the original plan, the Great Road was meant to be the pathway leading straight through the rally grounds from the March Field to the Congress Hall. Now, the great road is used partially as a road, a walking area and a parking lot. Some of the stone bleachers are still laying along the sides of the road.
Station 4: Foundation Stone for the German Stadium (Deutsche Stadion)
Continue walking along the Great Road and cross to the other side. Once on the other side look at the lake on your left-hand side (once you are viewing Station 4). It is a man-made lake. The hole originally was meant to be the foundation for the German Stadium. The construction never quite began since the materials were needed for the war effort. The foundation stone is also there.
Station 5: Dutzendteich Lake and Recreation Area
As you probably know by now, the grounds have been turned into a walking, exercise area. A great place for leisure walking or serious running. Take a left away from the Great Street to move away from the German Stadium and on the other side you will find lake Dutzendteich used for kayaking and many other water sports. Halfway you will find another information station. This area, even before 1933 has always been considered a great place for outdoor activities.
Station 6: Franken Stadium
After the information station, take a right. You should be walking between the Hockey stadium and a row of white stone pillars. The stone pillars on your left are from the Zeppelin Field, which we will cover a bit later.
As you continue straight you will run straight into the Franken Stadium (Frankenstadion). It currently is the main stadium for the local football team, 1. FC Nuremberg, and was also one of the host stadiums of the 2006 World Cup in Germany. During the Third Reich many sporting events were played here, as well as military parades and events viewed by Hitler and his government. Continue walking around the Zeppelin Field.
(if interested: Station 17: Stadium Pool. To find it continue walking around the soccer stadium.)
Station 7: Zeppelin Tribune
Be careful, the walk from the stadium to the Zeppelin Tribune can be a bit perilous with no clear sidewalk. The Zeppelin Tribune will come into view once you make it to the end of the white columns, it is on your left. It is one of the most well-known and visited sights in Nuremberg. As you compare it to historical photos you will see that two walls on either side of the back podium have been demolished, as well as a huge swastika that adorned the top of the tribune. It was here where Hitler stood for the 1933 Nuremberg Rally, with SA and SS troops marching and displaying their force, as well as where Albert Speer’s Cathedral of Light was first seen. It is open, you can enter and walk up and around the tribune. The City of Nuremberg does advise, however, that you enter at your own risk.
Station 8: Zeppelin Field (Zeppelinfeld)
Right across the Tribune is the field we have been walking around, the Zeppelin Field. It is here where the SA and SS members rallied and marched in from where Hitler stood on the Zeppelin Tribune. Now, it is used for concerts or weeklong festivals. The pillars and steps are still original.
(if interested-Station 13: Old Dutzendteich Train Station, Station 14: Zeppelin Tribune back side. You will find Station 14 directly behind the Tribune, and Station 13 across the road walking a bit)
Station 9: Wanner Inn & Café
The Wanner Inn and Café was located on the walk farther along the Dutzendteich Lake till you are right across from the Congress Hall. It was a location for leisure activity during the Third Reich. It was destroyed during World War II and no longer stands. An information station stands here as well to further explain the importance of the location.
Part II: The Luitpold Grove and War Memorial
Station 10: Luitpold Hall
The second part of this guide begins at Station 10. To arrive there, walk past the Documentation Center, as we did in Part 1, but this time continue going straight up a hill and then turn right to cross the street over a walking bridge. Where you are now was the Luitpold Hall. It was built in 1906 by MAN as an exhibition hall. During the Party Rallies it was used as a convention center. Around 16,000 people could fit inside it.
Station 11: Luitpold Grove
Built in 1906 along with the Luitpold Hall, the Nazi Party began having rallies here as early as 1927 and 1929. Between 1933 and 1945 it was built up as a parade center for a capacity of 50,000 spectators and up to 150,000 parade participants. It became one of the epicenters of the whole rally. Now, most of the stonework and buildings of the Luitpold Hall and Grove have been destroyed and instead there is a park now. Along one side, however, there remains a war memorial for victims of World War I and World War II. This is Station 12.
Station 12: Ehrenhalle – Hall of Fame
This is a memorial inaugurated around 1927 by the Weimar Republic in memory of soldiers who died in the First World War. It became a crucial part of most of Hitler’s rallies from 1927 onwards. He used it to glorify the dead and prepare the German people for the re-militarization and the coming war. After 1945, it was altered and now stands in memory of the soldiers who died in both wars.
(if interested – Station 23: Previous SS-barracks, now Office of Migrants. To reach Station 23 continue walking on the street past the Volksfest area for about two blocks. The building will be on your left-hand side.)
Part III: Silver Lake and Silverbuck Hillside
This section is an extension of the initial tour covering two more sections of the historic grounds. It is also a very nice, scenic walk. Beware, this section does include walking up a small hill. To approach Station 22, you can either walk around one side of the Dutzendteich lake or take a right from the great road as it slices the lake in half.
Station 22: Construction Pit - German Stadium (Deutsche Stadion)
What is now the Silver Lake was previously the construction of Albert Speer’s “German Stadium.” Meant to be the world’s largest stadium. The work was discontinued after two years upon the start of the war in 1939. You can nowadays get to know the lake, inspect it and walk around it. On the other side we will encounter a small hill: the Silverbuck hillside.
Station 21: Silverbuck Hillside
After you circle the lake you want to make your way to the top of the hill. It has a great viewpoint towards the city, and the information station is located at the top. This hill is an artificially created hill. It was the location for all the rubble from the city’s old town as well as from the German Stadium construction sight.
Part IV: Great Street, March Field Foundations, Old Train Station
Continuing into more areas of the grounds, there is an additional section.
Station 18: The Great Street (Grosse Strasse)
The Great Street was covered earlier, however, this section begins at the other end of it. If you walk along the Great Street from Station 4 or 22 you will see that certain sections of it remain on either side of it, but you will also be able to get a grasp of the huge dimensions planned for the party ground construction.
At the end of the Great Street, where it intersects with the Karl Schönleben Street, is another information plaque explaining how in four years of construction led by architect Albert Speer the road became 1.5 km long although it was planned to be 2km long. It explains its usage post-1945 and how the street was never actually used for marching since after 1939 no more party rallies were held.
Station 19: Foundation Pillars – March Field (Märzfeld)
Once you reach the Karl Schönleben Street take a left and a quick right at the first intersection, just a few meters away. On the left-hand side, you will find the small leftover foundation of the field as well as another information board.
The field, according to the information board, was meant for military maneuvers and named after the March 1935 re-introduction of conscription as well as the ancient god of War, Mars. It was meant to have 24 towers, but they were never completed.
Since the end of the war this area, along with its surrounding area, has become the district of Langwasser.
Station 20: Previous March Field Train Station
Continue along the road and you will reach a park as well as housing community. The next stop is a bit tricky to find, but it is a very interesting sight. Walk straight through the housing community to the other side. Once you find a public road, called Thomas Mann Straße, take a left. On you right hand side you will find a path meant only for bikes and pedestrians. Continue walking and you will be right below the train tracks and location of the previous March Field Train Station. It was used by participants of the rally up to 1939. During the war, it transported Prisoners of War and had a camp nearby where they were imprisoned. It was also from where many of the Nuremberg Jews were deported from in November 1941 and March 1942.
Part V: Electricity Generators, Previous KdF City
This section is not recommended to be directly after Part IV, but as a separate trip or after Part I.
For this section, it is recommended to arrive by S-Bahn to “Franken-Stadion” stadium, or to walk from the Zeppelin Tribune area. Begin by walking along the Hans Kalb Straße away from the Party Grounds. At the left corner of its intersection with Regensburger Straße stop.
Station 15: Electricity Generator Station
On this corner is the energy station architect Albert Speer set up to monitor and control all the electrical power for the Party Grounds. It still stands; however, it now contains a fast food restaurant. Along one side you can still see the shadow where the Nazi Germany eagle was above the door.
Afterwards, cross the road and continue along the Valznerweiherstraße. It will veer left.
Station 16: KdF (Strength through Joy) City
After the roads left swing, you will find the entrance to the previous KdF or Strength through Joy City on your right-hand side. The location is still there, however, the city was destroyed in 1942 during an air raid. The ‘city’ was built out of all wood and was a recreational retreat area of the Nazi’s for their program, “Strength through Joy.”
Written by John Shorack