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Sunday, 4 November, 2001, 17:53 GMT
Nuremberg revisits Nazi era
The Reichsparteitag building in Nuremberg, Germany
The old rallying building was never completed
A permanent exhibition on the Nazi era has opened in the German city of Nuremberg, at the site where infamous rallies glorifying Adolf Hitler were held.

President Johannes Rau called on Germans to re-examine the darker elements of their history as he opened the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände museum in the Bavarian city.

"This should not be out of a sense of guilt and responsibility, but because we wish to reaffirm our basic values," he said at the inauguration ceremony.

"Because of these basic values we must also combat terrorism worldwide with determination."

Architecture

The museum includes a permanent exhibition entitled "Fascination and Violence," which attempts to explain the powerful hold the Nazi party held over its people.

Part of the exhibition 'Fascination and Violence'
For Nuremberg the museum is a step towards accepting the grim past

It also looks at the use of propaganda in spreading the Nazi message and its role in the Holocaust against the Jews.

It is held in a three-storey, purpose-built structure that cuts a swathe through an unfinished congress hall called the Reichsparteitag, an old, unfinished rallying ground in the heart of Nuremberg.

Adolf Hitler had intended to use the gigantic 45-metre-high hall, designed by then chief state architect Albert Speer, for rallies attended by as many as 50,000 people.

But Austrian architect Guenther Domenig, who won the design contest for the new project, said he attempted to contrast his work with that of Speer.

"I had the immediate flash: I will do exactly the opposite," he said.

Hence, in contrast to Speer's granite and concrete structure, Mr Domenig has inserted a glassy, three-storey construction, more light and airy than its counterpart.

Acknowledging history

Nuremberg was the site of many anti-Jewish rallies. It was also the place where, in 1935, the infamous "race laws" were announced.

A museum worker adds the finishing touches to one of the exhibitions
The city authorities are struggling to find a use for Nazi monuments

In 1945, American soldiers held a victory parade in Nuremberg and blew up the enormous swastika on top of the grandstand.

The city's mayor, Ludwig Scholz, said that the exhibition was a more concerted attempt to acknowledge Nuremberg's part in the Nazi regime.

"We cannot and will not throw out the past," he said.

However, he acknowledged that there had been "bafflement" in the city over what to do with all the monuments.

The citizens of Nuremberg have been invited to donate their family mementos of Nazi rallies to the museum, where they will be displayed.

Others will be kept in the centre's immense archives for posterity.

See also:

09 Sep 01 | Europe
Berlin's Jewish Museum opens
11 Oct 01 | Europe
Swiss banks return Holocaust cash
06 Oct 01 | Scotland
Gallery faces Nazi art claim
22 Jun 01 | Europe
Russia remembers Nazi invasion
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