Dateline: Nuremburg Germany and points south east:
We’re in the process of navigating the last of the locks that lift us up and over the European continental divide to the Danube river. We should be done and on the downhill slope sometime after midnight our time. We arrive in Regensburg in the morning, then it’s on to Passau and Austria. That makes this roughly the half way point of this vacation. It’s been a good one and it’s giving me some ideas for what to look for in a 2020 trip but that won’t happen until next April at the earliest so there’s plenty of time to make plans.
I awoke this morning with the ship tied up to the pier in Nuremburg. I was a bit discombobulated as the first thing I saw when I looked out the window was a replica Mississippi river boat entitled ‘Mississippi Queen’ with a home port of New Orleans. I couldn’t figure out what it was doing in Germany. It wouldn’t be able to travel the waterways very well as the smoke stacks were much to high for the multiple low bridges. Perhaps they are retractable. I had breakfast (my Scottish grandmother would be happy with the amount of oatmeal I’m eating at the breakfast buffet) and then it was everyone on the bus for the ride into Nuremburg, about 20 minutes away. There were two choices this morning: one a tour focused on the medieval past of the city as a seat of the Holy Roman Emperor and one focused on its peculiar role in Hitler’s Third Reich. I have had enough of madonnas and churches so I opted for the latter.
We had a drive through town, past a number of the historic sites and then headed out into the suburbs into the area where the Nazis had constructed their parade grounds and stadia for their annual rallies. Many of the original structures planned had never been built or did not survive the war but enough were left to get a sense of the scale of that the Nazi’s were trying to achieve with their massed forces, torchlight parades, and war games. It was all very Triumph of the Will. The famous zeppelin field was closed for some sort of car racing but we did go to the huge stadium, designed to seat 50,000 that is now mostly in ruin. It’s too expensive to tear down and too expensive to repair and when you look at this monumental brick edifice and realize that most of the bricks required slave labor, it’s hearbreaking. The city has had the good sense to put their museum about the history of Nuremburg and how it intertwines with Nazism in part of it so we spent a couple of hours there. It’s intense. Not as devastating as the Holocaust Museum in DC as the focus is more on the social conditions in Bavaria that enabled Hitler’s rise to power and how he kept returning to Nuremburg for his big annual rallies and gatherings of the brain trust. (Think the Nuremburg laws). We also went to the palace of justice which contains the famous courtroom 600 where the Nuremburg trials were held after the war. To stand in the same place where the evils of the Nazi regime were exposed on the international stage and the foundations for international law were placed was quite moving.
After that, we had a couple of hours free in the old quarter of the city. I used it to climb up to the old imperial palace, with its commanding view of the city from it’\s verandas, and then to descend back into town via Albrecht Durer’s house and finally the toy museum. This latter was the perfect anecdote to a surfeit of Nazism from earlier in the day. Germany has long been a leader in the production of toys and games and the industry has been centered in Nuremburg since early in the 20th century. Displays of toy soldiers of various types, model railways, doll houses dating back to the mid 1800s (my favorite being a doll millinery shop from about 1870 with the most savage looking proprietress who looked like she would as soon bite her doll customers as outfit them with a new picture hat). The post war galleries were a bit disconcerting as I saw a few things that I have owned or still owned lovingly preserved behind glass. I guess I am aging into a museum piece.
Then, it was time to bus back to the ship, ooh and aah at the last three locks on the Main-Danube canal which lift the ship about 80 feet apiece (and look like the entrance to a particularly dreary level of hell as you sail up to them), and have a lovely dinner and one too many cocktails. (Which is why there is no story tonight. Maybe tomorrow. We continue to sail all night but I shall be asleep (hopefully for all of it).