Nuremberg was never on the list of places Blonde thought of visiting. But then Viking River Cruises extended an invitation to join their Romantic Danube itinerary which began in Nuremberg. So Nuremberg moved way up the list! That turned out to be a good thing.
The trip was in December and Nuremberg has what is reputed to be the oldest and largest Christmas market.
OK, fine, but what about its Nazi past?
Well, what about it? It was tremendously important and will always live in deserved infamy but was barely 20 years in this city that has existed since the 11th century.
Hitler chose Nuremberg in large part because it was viewed as an example of the best of Germany. Nuremberg has been described as being the “unofficial capital” of the Holy Roman Empire and the center of the German Renaissance.
Nuremberg is very proud of its stature as a city from the Middle Ages and has worked hard to protect that heritage. But it has also been forced to come to terms with its role in the Third Reich and struggles mightily to embrace modernity.
Our local guide made the apt and wry observation that short, dark-haired Hitler and Hermann Goring, an obese man known as “Iron Fatty” both touted (to be generous about it) the importance of the blonde-haired blue-eyed “Aryan race”. They wouldn’t exactly have been eligible for membership.
You may have heard that Hitler lost the war.
At the end the United States bombed the gigantic swastika off of the stands of Zeppelin Field.
The war trials to try Nazi war criminals were held in Nuremberg from 1945 to 1949.
Since that time Nuremberg has moved on but not without continuing and often rancorous debate about what to do about its Nazi past. The current “discussion” is over whether to invest in the Nazi properties in order to preserve their history or to demolish them and create something new.
Nuremberg itself is almost 80% reconstructed to its pre-World War II bombing appearance. Some residents feel this shows that Nuremberg prefers to live in the past. One thing Nuremberg does not seem to lack is strong opinions!
Now, in a far from seamless transition, we move on to the Nuremberg Christmas market or “Christkindlesmarkt”. It began long before the Nazi party and has long succeeded it.
The market’s first recorded appearance was in the mid 16th century. It’s probably safe to assume that it has grown significantly as it now has nearly 200 stalls. The market is a major tourism draw and one reason the winter river cruises are so popular.
The beverages at the market are hardly irrelevant to its popularity!
Bratwurst is also readily available and Nuremberg, along with an alarming number of other cities in Germany, asserts that their bratwurst is the best. Someone must be right but our sophisticated culinary tasting process is still underway and a final ruling has not been issued!
And, not surprisingly, every conceivable Christmas ornament is available for purchase. Many (although not all) are handmade in Germany. The Christmas Market is a one month event that can provide the bulk of many a stall owner’s annual income.
Nuremberg proved to be a very interesting city to visit. The lengthy pre-Nazi history has much to be proud of but the stain of the notorious Third Reich certainly must never be forgotten. The present day city is torn between clinging to the past and figuring out how to modernize while preserving their heritage. (Blonde can relate to that.)
At least while the citizens of Nuremberg try to reconcile their variety of “spirited” opinions they can enjoy some wine, sausage and overly-decorated Christmas trees! It could be a lot worse; (and it was).
Disclosure: BlondeBrunetteTravel was hosted by Viking River Cruises