Jewish Music in a Nazi Building
By Aimée Kligman, née Dassa
The Nuremberg Congress Hall was the most ambitious building project attempted by the Nazis. It was set to reopen Friday, March 7 with a concert starring clarinetist Giora Feidman playing Jewish klezmer music.
Is this poetic justice? Are nazis turning in their graves? Better yet, are the ones that are still alive writhing with despair? My mean streak is showing this morning, but no matter...it's good. La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid, as they say in French.
Apparently, the building was erected to simulate the Roman coliseum, so that Hitler could hold his invigorating speeches there and watch from his high chair the huge parades that used to warm his intestines (he was missing a heart).
Part of this was renovated in 2000 to house a museum of Nazi horrors, which must have been relatively easy to put together, as there are certainly enough of them. The other part was turned into a concert hall to the tune of (no pun intended here) 4 million dollars. Chump change, as they say in America.
Monumental Nazi Building to Fill With Sound of Klezmer Music
The Congress Hall
Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The building was never finished
The Nuremberg Congress Hall was the most ambitious building project attempted by the Nazis. It's now set to reopen Friday, March 7 with a concert starring clarinetist Giora Feidman playing Jewish klezmer music.
The foundation stone was laid in 1935, but the gigantic oval building on Dutzendteich Lake, modeled on the Coliseum in Rome, but 25 percent bigger, was never finished.
Leni Riefstahl filmingBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Leni Riefenstahl filmed "Triumph of the Will" in Nuremberg
The building was part of the Nazi rally grounds where Hitler held his massive military parades during the Third Reich. It memorably featured as a backdrop in Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda documentary "Triumph of the Will," which was commissioned by Hitler as a chronicle of the 1934 Nazi Party Congress.
Today, its outer walls surround a field of weeds, which Nuremberg kept as a warning against fascism for future generations.
But two completed annex buildings have since been remodeled, both symbolically broken open with walls and ceilings of glass.
One opened in 2000 as a museum documenting the atrocities of the Third Reich.
A venue reborn
The other has been revamped as a concert hall with over 500 seats in a redevelopment which took 14 months and cost some 2.5 million euros ($3.9 million).
It is set to open Friday with an inaugural performance by the clarinetist Giora Feidman, who specializes in Jewish music.
Giora FeidmanBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Giora Feidman
In 2010, the venue will become the new home of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra. Until then it will serve as a temporary venue for the city's state theater while its own premises are redeveloped.
The orchestra has been using the southern wing of the building, which has not been renovated, since 1963 for its rehearsals.
The burden of history
The city has spent years debating whether to keep the vast neo-Classicist park built by the Nazis for displays of mass loyalty to dictator Adolf Hitler or to tear it down.
Ultimately, it was decided to use one annex for music as a deliberate counterpoint to the Nazi cult of violence.
In German history, the city is inextricably tied to the Third Reich. Nuremberg was chosen by the Nazis as the center of their "Aryan" world, with Hitler conferring upon Nuremberg the title "City of the Party Rallies."
Up to a million Party members would travel to Nuremberg for the week-long rallies, and it was here that "der Führer" gave many of his speeches on the supposed superiority of the Aryan race.
The city was also home to the Nuremberg Trials, which tried Nazi leaders for crimes against humanity after World War II.
The building todayBildunterschrift: Banishing the ghosts of the past