My time in Regensburg is coming to an end; this is the last proper weekend that I’ll spend here. Most of my flatmates go home every weekend, so often I am the only one who is in the flat. Being the only Erasmus student in my halls, I’ve spent quite a bit of time solo. The key, I’ve found, is to make plans and live. One of the things that everyone has recommended that I do is visit The Walhalla, a hall of fame for notable Germans, about three quarters of an hour away from Regensburg by bus.
I didn’t know anything about the Walhalla, and had some difficulty in even finding the bus that went there! After some slight confusion and a long, hot bus journey, I found myself at the base of the hill that led up to the monument.
The walk up was steep, and took about half an hour. The higher I got, the more I could see of the grey sky. This was not ideal, I’d rather grey than rain, but sun would have been welcomed. To my disappointment, meteorological change was not forthcoming.
As I reached the top, I began to see the pillars of the Walhalla. It was like nothing that I’d seen before in Germany. A great temple, set into the face of a hill, overlooking the city. I learnt that the building was constructed between 1807 and 1842, to house busts, plaques and memorials of famous and influential German figures. It looked quite out of place, not just against the sheer greyness of the sky, it’s architecture more fitting of Rome than Regensburg.
Every now and then, a ship or yacht could be seen passing down the Danube, toward the city. It must have been quite a sight when passing almost two centuries ago.
The Walhalla was a stunning building, and a lavish memorial to some of the most notable people in Germany. However, it’s remote location, while picturesque, felt lonely, isolated; cut off from the rest of society. On hearing stories of some of it’s incumbents, it felt a juxtaposition to their lives.
On Sunday I decided to visit Nuremberg. Nuremberg is the second largest city in Bavaria, after Munich. I had heard of it briefly in school, only by association to Hitler, who declared it ‘the city of the Nazi party’. It was the site of the Nuremberg Rallies; yearly public events to show support for Hitler which occurred up until the outbreak of war in 1939. It was also the location of the Nuremberg Trials, where prominent Nazi figures were tried and excited for their crimes after the war.
On researching online, the site of the Rallies had been preserved while some parts were a local park. I wanted to visit, to see what it was like, and what the city had done with the site to mark such a prominent piece of history. I started the day by walking round the city, to explore the sights and to get breakfast. The city itself was beautiful. It was on the banks of the Pegnitz river. It had a modern feel to it, with plenty of vintage shops and trendy cafés, which I really liked. In fact, it was not dissimilar to Hamburg. The city bustled with tourists, beer gardens and restaurants.
After spending an hour walking round, I eventually found myself following Regensburger Street, which led to the Rally Grounds. The site was vast – the first thing to see was the unfinished, yet giant, stadium (The Congress Hall) that had been built for speeches and sporting events. It was to have a capacity of 50,000 people.
Inside was a museum, which told the story of the site and was home to a memorial to the millions of people who were murdered by the Nazi party.
Behind this, the site of the ‘German Stadium’ an even bigger arena with a capacity of over 400,000 could be seen. The remains of this uncompleted stadium were demolished and is now a green space.
The sheer scale of the complex was unimaginable. The quantity of people that these buildings were designed to hold was only further emphasised by the so few people present.
This was the site of the Zeppelin Field. It could hold 200,000 people and was the main site of the Nuremberg Rallies. I remember seeing this in school; it was surreal to see in real life.
I’m glad I had the chance to see the remains of these grounds. There is currently debate as to what should be done with them, with some Germans wanting them to continue to fall into disrepair. However, the local council are seeking money to restore the buildings, so act as a memorial of the events that took place there.
It’s hard to find the words to describe the trip to Nuremberg. The city itself was beautiful, but it was impossible to ignore the mark that the Nazi party left on the city. It was surreal to see places that I’d seen in textbooks and heard about in school, in person. It was impossible to comprehend the significance of the events that took place in these buildings, the lives that were changed irreversibly, and with them the history of the last century.