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Nazi tourist attraction to get $90 million makeover
To demolish or do up? Backdrop to infamous propaganda film to become learning center
It was the staging ground for one of the most notorious pieces of Nazi propaganda.
Leni Riefenstahl’s film "Triumph of the Will" -- simultaneously reviled for glorifying an evil ideology and, later, reluctantly admired for its cinematic mastery -- owed some of its power to its setting, the vast Nazi party rallying grounds in Nuremberg.
Although left to disintegrate since World War II, the site is still visited by more than 200,000 tourists a year.
Now, the Nuremberg city government is to spend €70 million ($92 million) on its restoration, the Independent reports.
Inevitably the plans will raise controversy about the wisdom -- or morality -- of preserving sites associated with the murderous National Socialist regime.
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Are such monuments a necessary reminder of a period of human depravity, whose preservation might help to prevent something similar from happening again?
Or should they be left to crumble into dust -- disappear, just as the murderous regime responsible for them was destroyed?
Remains such as the site of Hitler’s Bunker and the Gestapo headquarters in Berlin, and the Nazi rallying grounds in Nuremberg, are important stops on the tourist circuit in Germany.
The Nuremberg grounds, including 24 towers and an imposing, stepped stage -- the “Zeppelin Tribune” -- from which Hitler liked to rant at his massed followers, was designed by the Nazi party’s house architect, Albert Speer, but never completed.
Nuremberg’s mayor, Ulrich Maly, described the dilemma the city faced in deciding what to do with the sweeping, 11-square-kilometer ex-National Socialist site.
“Demolishing the buildings would provoke international outrage -- so we are going to renovate the complex, but this does not mean that we are sprucing it up,” Maly said.
The mayor acknowledged that many Nuremberg residents would like the grounds to disintegrate, as the symbol of a passed era.
Yet, he pointed out, that would oblige the city to fence off the grounds or otherwise prevent the public from visiting.
“So we have decided to renovate to a certain degree,” Maly told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The renovation will include preserving postwar graffiti left by allied soldiers.
Nuremberg's long-term plan is to turn the rallying grounds into a site of historical learning, reports the German English-language news the service The Local.
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The parade ground is not the only Nazi relic and tourist site to have been promised a cash revival.
Hitler’s Bavarian mountain retreat, the Eagle’s Nest, is to receive a $22.5 million upgrade, partly to improve its historical information center.
Would you renovate Nuremberg's rally grounds or demolish the remnants of the Nazi party? Let us know in the comments section.