Zeppelin Field – Nazi Party Rally Grounds And Site of the Nürnberg Rallies:
Standing on the main grandstand of the Zeppelin Field (Zeppelinfeld in German), and seeing the rows of trucks and vans that are parked in front of us, it’s hard to imagine what this deployment area must have been like during the period when Nürnberg was the “City of the Reichsparteitage (Reich Party Congresses)”. Measuring the size of 12 football fields, the Zeppelin Field provided space for 200,000 people and it’s only with the help of old pictures or film footage that we can fathom how huge these Nürnberg rallies were.
Nazi Party Rally Grounds
The Zeppelin Field was part of the vast Nazi Party Rally Grounds which included deployment areas, congress halls, stadiums and parade roads. Measuring 312 x 285 metres, its design was based on the Pergamon Altar.
As one of the few structures that was actually completed, the Zeppelin Field was the site of many Nazi party rallies and military parades. It was here that the mass parades of the German Labour Service, the Wehrmacht, and the “political leaders” of the NSDAP were staged and where the masses assembled before the “Führer” Adolf Hitler. The “Cathedral of Light” provided spectacular effects where over 150 strong floodlights beamed from the ground right up into the sky.
The Congress Hall which was meant to be the focal point of the Party Rally Grounds, at a planned size of 1.5 times the size of Rome’s Colosseum, was never finished. Known as the “Coloseum of Nuremberg” in Germany, it now houses the documentation centre, where visitors can see many pictures of Nuremberg during the time of Nazis.
The Blowing Up of the Swastika
During WWII, the Zeppelin Field remained largely intact and on 22 April 1945, the US Army held its victory parade at the main grandstand. After the ceremony, the swastika at the top of the structure was blown up, a scene that made the Zeppelin Field grandstand famous around the world.
In 1967, the City of Nuremberg had the pillar galleries demolished because they were unsafe. Some years later, the side towers were also taken down to half their previous height. Today the remaining structure of the NS Buildings are used as spectator stands.
A visit to the Zeppelin Field is on the itinerary of many Nürnberg sightseeing tours, however at times the area is cordoned off when there is a event happening, such as the motor racing rally. We were fortunate this time round that there wasn’t a race on.