We said farewell to the Rhine and its castles and headed east from Wiesbaden on E45, the Interstate 40 of Europe. It was full of big trucks with German, Polish and Romanian tags. Driving was a bit harrowing as there were several spots where they were doing road construction (it’s summer, the best time for this in northern climates) and we were squeezed into some very narrow lanes with some big semis. What I learned is to always stay in the right lane – the left lane in these construction zones looks tempting, but it’s only 2.1 meters wide in spots. My Sprinter is 2.02 meters wide. I’m not that good a driver. I didn’t want one of those semis to squeeze me into the left guardrail, so I took my time and stayed in the right lane with the trucks.
We climbed up to about 1500 feet coming out of the Rhine valley, across rolling terrain as we headed toward Bavaria, the southeastern corner of Germany. We were going to Nuremberg, the site of the Nazi Party’s rallies from 1933 to 1938, and the Nuremberg Trials after the war. Our destination was a campground situated right on the site of the 11 square kilometer Rally Grounds, among the ruins of the buildings that comprised the Nazi propaganda machine.
We got situated in the campground and waited out the rains as the 80 plus summer weather transistioned to 60ish fall showers, promptly at the end of August. Growing up in the south, September always looked like August to me, but in these northern climates fall arrives promptly on Labor Day, letting you know it’s time to be back in school. As soon as the weather permitted, we went out to the Zepplinfeld, the giant reviewing stand familiar to everyone who has seen photos of the Nuremberg rallies. You can park and walk right up on it, the hasty construction showing wear and tear as the stone facing is coming off the concrete core. The city is in the process of deciding whether to let these structures go, or preserve them as a reminder and for educational purposes.
People like to stand on the podium and look out over the field, which now contains an American football field, complete with goalposts, and whose only occupants were a flock of geese more interested in scrounging some nutrition from the lawn than listening to any oratory. Behind the far grandstands are the lights of a modern soccer field, where our campground is located. Wildflowers are growing in the stands surrounding the field.
After another day or two of sitting around, we headed for the Nuremberg Trial Museum, which was also very impressive, since these trials established from scratch the system of international law we know today. The courtroom is still a functional courtroom Monday through Thursday, but we timed our visit for the weekend and Sharon was able to go into the actual courtroom, as well as seeing the museum exhibits. The old switchboard equipment that carried the translation audio is on display, along with the boxes they shipped the paperwork in from Army headquarters.
The courtroom has amazing wood paneling and marble door frames, but it’s the history which speaks loudest here. Sharon has always had a fascination for events surrounding the Nuremberg trials and it was a real highlight of the trip to be able to go in and experience the atmosphere of this museum.