On July 27, 2007, I had an enjoyable solo traveling adventure. I was the invited guest of Jeffrey, Justina and Henri Skinner on a river cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam, and on the above-mentioned day the Skinners opted to stay on the boat when it docked in Roth.
I joined the bus tour to Nuremberg where the ship would catch up with us that evening. In my notes I mentioned seeing skinny trees, a hay rake, a Gasthof pond, gladioli, a roundabout, and more trees with some evergreens and birch among the skinnies.
Arriving in the city, our tour guide was Ruth Hafka, who had moved to Germany from northern Minnesota. We saw the Congress Hall, similar to the Coliseum in Rome. In 1933-1938 Hitler held giant rallies in Nuremberg. He was building the Coliseum as part of his plan to make Nuremberg his capital when he had conquered the world. He saw himself speaking to 50,000 people there, but it was never finished. There was talk of tearing it down after the war, but instead it was left as a historic reminder. There is a “Documentation Center” in a part of the construction where groups of adults and school children are taken to see how propaganda was used to lead the nation astray. They hope these presentations will prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. Some of the rooms in the gigantic Coliseum are now used for storage for a mail order business and possibly for storage for props for theater presentations in the city.
We were then taken to a stadium, not far from the Coliseum as I remember, and were told that Count Zeppelin’s aircraft landed on the big field there in 1909. As we stood looking at the field and the bleachers, we were told how Hitler used different features of light as an element of propaganda and of religion to touch emotions.
For instance, April 20 was Hitler’s birthday, and at least once on that date there was a Victory Parade. The potbellied leaders of the movement did not appear until night, kind of behind the scenes and in the dark, after hundreds of neatly dressed disciplined Nazi youth marched by. All of the lights came on at once when Hitler came on the platform. To make the magic, all they needed was a PA system, lights, and a speaker. A British visitor who attended one of those presentations was carried away by the emotion-filled scene and said, “For several hours I became a Nazi.”
That stadium is now used for concerts and races. Bob Dylan performed there and Billy Graham spoke there, but whatever the event, the emphasis is on the action, not on the speaker in the stand.
We rode around the city another hour or so and saw the place where the Nuremberg trials were held, four big towers called the “Fat Boys,” and the 101-year-old train station. We were shown the Nuremberg castle where there is a nice youth hostel, and were told there was hardly a building standing in the city after World War II.
The bus dropped us off at the heart of Old Town to gather around Beautiful Fountain, “located smack in the middle of Market Square.” A large stage was being constructed in the square in preparation for a world-wide music contest of some kind.
And there I left the group to go buy myself a phone card and an inexpensive backpack for a train trip to Lörrach the next day. I found the tobacco store where phone cards were for sale right near the square, but the shopping center was several blocks away in a diagonal direction through a large U-Bahn station. In Müller’s bargain basement, I found exactly what I wanted for only 5 Euros and I still use that backpack on my bus trips to El Centro from Escondido.
I had a moment of panic when I lost my sense of direction and could not discern which of the U-bahn entrances would lead me back the way I came. But at the precise moment of decision I recognized a couple from the ship who showed me the right way to go.
I met our tour group again by the fountain and we were taken to the ship which had docked there to take us on board. The next day, in Bamberg, a taxi met me at the ship and took me to the train station where I bought my ticket and boarded the train for the ride to Lörrach. I had two or three full days with Lois and her family and they drove me to Mainz where we met up again with the “River Duchess” and the Skinners.