Nazis on trial in Nuremberg, Germany – Grand European tour part XVII

To start off, I think I might have mentioned that I initially went to Nuremberg so that I could go to Dachau. Well, that didn’t end up happening, simply because I found more than enough things to do in Nuremberg.

Like shopping. Seriously, a sale at H&M? Two shirts and a pair of shorts for 17 Euros? Yes please.

Even though it may appear that I’m a shopping addict, I’m actually not. I detest shopping for clothes, especially if it takes a long time and there are hordes of people everywhere. The only kind of shopping I love and am addicted to is shopping for books, but that’s a whole other story. I only bought clothes in Germany because I accidentally destroyed one of my shirts by way of chocolate and I left something in the pocket of my shorts when I washed them, staining them beyond repair. These clothes were a necessity, and I won’t pass up cheap clothes.

Anyways, on my last morning in Nuremberg I headed over to the courthouse for the museum about the Nuremberg Trials. Some people in my hostel room told me about it the night before, and they said it was interesting and worth my time.

I started out in the exhibit since Courtroom 600, the main courtroom where the major Nazi war criminals were tried, was not open at the time. The exhibit gave some background information on the origins of international military tribunals, why Nuremberg was chosen as the site of the trials, how Great Britain and the US were involved, etc., which I mostly skipped since I ended up tuning it out and my eyes glazed over.

Next the exhibit introduced the Nazi leaders who were tried, which I found considerably more interesting. The exhibit detailed the outcome of the trials (in other words, whether those tried were found guilty and if so, on which counts), what the punishments were, and when the punishments were executed. Of the twenty-four accused, twelve were sentenced to death, three were acquitted, four were sentenced to twenty or fewer years of imprisonment, and three were sentenced to life imprisonment. Now if you’re good at math, you just noticed that I said twenty-four leaders were accused, yet I only stated the penalty for twenty-two of them. One of the accused (Robert Ley) committed suicide before the trial began, and the other (Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach [great German name]) was in ill health and died before the trial began. A number of the accused also expressed regret or repentance for what they did during the war, which was interesting to me. Saying “sorry” after the fact doesn’t make what you did any less awful, and I don’t know how many were actually sincere in what they said.

Of the twelve sentenced to death, only eleven of them were actually put to death. Hermann Göring managed to escape his execution by committing suicide the night before. Seriously, what is it with the Nazis and committing suicide?! You did horrible things, now stand up and take your punishment for what you did. Sheesh.

Throughout the exhibition were a few film clips from the trials. One such clip showed one of the Nazi leaders being questioned. It was interesting to see because he tried in several ways to make it seem like what he did wasn’t actually as bad as everybody thought it to be. For example, he wouldn’t answer the questions with a direct “yes” or “no”; he wove long stories with explanations why he did this or that, or who said he should do this or that… etc. Basically, he was trying to get himself off the hook, which is exactly what I expected to see.

In another section of the exhibit they showed a film of the condition of the concentration camps after the US armies liberated the camps. This sixty minute film was played during the trial as evidence of the atrocious acts the Nazis executed. The exhibit showed this film in its entirety as well. The film showed many concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dachau. I watched about ten or fifteen minutes of the film before it became too much for me and I had to walk away. I told my mom about this and she asked me what was so disturbing about it, but I can’t completely express why it made me so upset. You can’t understand it unless you see it. I can tell you about the living people who are hardly more than skeletons and the hundreds of bodies being thrown into mass graves, for each and every single concentration camp that they showed, over and over again, but you can’t fully comprehend how disgusting and wrong it is until you see it yourself.

So anyways, that was depressing. I tried to go back a few minutes later to watch more of the film, but again I had to leave because I just became too upset.

After wandering through the rest of the exhibit, I went into Courtroom 600, the courtroom in the courthouse where the trials took place. For the Nuremberg Trials, the courtroom was renovated to make it bigger; after the trials were over, it was reverted to its original appearance. In other words, the Courtroom 600 you can see and sit in today does not look the same as it did during the trials. A model can be found in the exhibit that shows how Courtroom 600 looked during the trials and it’s explained where all the groups of people sat, which I thought helped a lot for picturing how the room looked.

I sat in Courtroom 600 for some time, just absorbing the atmosphere, and then afterwards I wandered back towards my hostel. I stopped to eat some currywurst (mmm, currywurst) and buy some candy for the train ride, then I collected my things from the hostel and jumped on a train to Munich.

At Munich I switched to a night train heading towards… well, I’ll tell you in the next post. The important thing is that this night train was completely full, which meant less room for me to take over while sleeping. Also, one guy in my compartment was not wearing deodorant. Excuse me, sir, but it’s summer and thus completely unacceptable to refrain from wearing deodorant. Nobody wants to smell you from a mile away.

Gross. Some people.

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