Plans to use Nuremberg's rally ground as opera venue come under fire

The discussed use of the Reichsparteitag grounds in Nuremberg causes protest.

 Documentation centre of Nuremberg Rally area 'Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelaende' is pictured in Nuremberg, Germany. (photo credit: REUTERS)
Documentation centre of Nuremberg Rally area 'Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelaende' is pictured in Nuremberg, Germany.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

The German city of Nuremberg has been the scene of heated debate for several weeks, on the topic of the renovation of the Nuremberg Opera House. In four years, its operating license will expire due to inadequate fire protection. 

The renovation will take ten years and consume a great deal of money; there is talk of 500 to 800 million euros. The historical Congress Hall built on the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg is being considered as an alternative venue. Large-scale party conventions of the Nazi party NSDAP were held there from 1933 to 1938. 

Employees of the State Theater in Nuremberg have now spoken out explicitly in favor of using the site in an open letter. "We are not part of the entertainment industry, but have a cultural-political educational mandate," writes the staff representatives of the Nuremberg State Theater. The theater people want to "fulfill this mandate particularly effectively" in cooperation with experts from the fields of history and remembrance culture.

The association "History for All" disagrees, also in an open letter. The plans of the city would interfere with the education about the demonstration of power, ideology, and propaganda of the Nazis. 

"In this context, the unobstructed view of the authentic facades and into the inner courtyard of the Congress Hall as a sensually tangible symbol of megalomania, but also of its failure, is an important part of the educational concept of our guided tours."

The Congress Hall was originally intended to be 80 meters high and seat 50,000 people. But with the start of the war, construction came to a halt. What remains is a 38-meter-high shell of a listed building that is empty except for a few warehouses.

Adolf Hitler salutes, standing in a Mercedes-Benz vehicle  as SA troops parade past him in Nuremberg, Germany, 1935 (credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CHARLES RUSSELL COLLECTION NARA)Adolf Hitler salutes, standing in a Mercedes-Benz vehicle as SA troops parade past him in Nuremberg, Germany, 1935 (credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / CHARLES RUSSELL COLLECTION NARA)

A decision on the interim use of the Congress Hall is expected to be made by the Nuremberg City Council on December 15th. One argument in favor of the Congress Hall is that it is owned by the city, meaning that no rent expenses would be required. In addition, the alternative locations, the Schöller Industrial Hall and the trade fair center would require expensive conversion work.