| History of Nürnberg
First mentioned in 1050 as "Nourenberc", Nürnberg received a charter in 1219 and was made a free imperial city by the end of the 13th century. The city was independent of the burgraviate of Nürnberg, which included a large part of Franconia and which came under the control of the Hohenzollern family in 1192. Nürnberg soon became, with Augsburg, one of the two great trade centers on the route from Italy to Northern Europe.
The cultural flowering of Nürnberg in the 15th and 16th century made it the center of the German Renaissance. Among the artists who were born or lived there, the painter Albrecht Dürer (self-portrait at right) was the greatest; others, such as the sculptors Adam Kraft, Veit Stoss and Peter Vischer, and the painter and woodcarver Michael Wolgemut, adorned the city with their works, which brought together the Italian Renaissance and the German Gothic traditions. The city was also an early center of humanism, science, printing, and mechanical invention. The scholars Pirkheimer and Celtes lectured in the city, Koberger set up a printing press and Regiomontanus an observatory, and the first pocket watches, known as Nürnberg eggs, were made here around 1500. An interest in culture on the part of the prosperous artisan class found expression in the contests of the meistersingers (mastersingers), among whom the shoemaker-poet Hans Sachs (1494–1576) was the most prominent.
In 1525, Nürnberg accepted the Protestant Reformation, and the religious Peace of Nürnberg, by which the Lutherans gained important concessions, was signed here in 1532. In the Thirty Years War, King Gustavus II of Sweden was besieged in Nürnberg by Wallenstein in 1632. The city declined after the war and recovered its importance only in the 19th century, when it grew as an industrial center. In 1806, Nürnberg became part of Bavaria. The first German railroad, from Nürnberg to nearby Fürth, was opened in 1835.
After Adolf Hitler came to power, Nürnberg was made a national shrine by the National Socialists Party or Nazis, who held their annual party congresses nearby from 1933 through 1938. The city was the home of the Nazi leader Julius Streicher and became a center of anti-Semitic propaganda. At the party congress of 1935 the so-called Nürnberg Laws were promulgated; they deprived German Jews of civic rights, forbade intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews and deprived persons of partly Jewish descent of certain rights.
Until 1945, Nürnberg was the site of roughly half the total German production of airplane, submarine, and tank engines; as a consequence, the city was heavily bombed by the Allies during World War II and was largely destroyed. After the war, Nürnberg was the seat of the international tribunal for war crimes. Some of the top Nazi's were put on trial here for crimes against humanity. Among those on trial was Julius Streicher, who was found guilty and later hanged.
Today, Nürnberg is a modern city, the 14th largest in Germany, with 493,553 people, and the second largest in Bavaria. Like everywhere else in Germany, football or fußball (soccer) is the main sport. The local professional fußball team is FC Nürnberg (Fußball Club Nürnberg), who wear red shirt and black shorts and play in the 44,600 seat Frankenstadion. Built in 1928, the stadium was called "Stadion der Hitler-Jugend" (Hitler Youth Stadium) between 1933 and 1945. Begun in 1900, FC Nürnberg, also known as "der Club", had been one of Germany's more successful clubs. They have won nine national titles, however, six of them were between the wars and another right after. Their last title came in 1968 after which their coach Max Merkel dismantled the team which started a long period of decline. Today, FC Nürnberg plays in Germany's top division, but doesn't see much success, sometimes even dropping (relegated) to the second division. One of Germany's top goaltenders Andreas Köpke played for FC Nürnberg.
Nürnberg also has a professional hockey team, the Nürnberg Ice Tigers. Professional hockey in Germany is not as well organized as it is in many other countries. The Ice Tigers, originally called the EHC 80 Nürnberg (established in 1980), play in Germany's top league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga or DEL (established in 1995) being one of the original 18 founding members (today the league has 14 members). They play in the modern 8,200 seat Arena Nürnberg (opened in 2001). They used to play in the old Linde Stadion which hosted the 1936 Olympic hockey games (torn down in 2001). In the 1990's, they didn't finish well and never won a championship. However, in 1999, they finished in first place, unfortunately they lost in the finals to the Adler Mannheim Eagles. Since 2001, they have been doing very well, but somehow lose every year in the quarter-finals.
| The Bombing of Nürnberg
Since Nürnberg was the national shrine of the Nazi Party, it naturally became a target of Allied bombings during the Second World War. This caused massive destruction of the old Medieval city. The citizens of Nürnberg suffered through 38 air raids during the war. One of the worst was on the night of January 2, 1945, when 525 British Lancaster bombers destroyed or damaged most of the old city, including the medieval walls, castle and 13th century Gothic churches. At that point in the war, it was the most devastating air-raid attack on a civilian population and only the bombing of Dresden, a month later, caused more damage and civilian deaths in Germany. In just one hour, they dropped 6,000 high explosive bombs and one million incendiary bombs. 2,000 citizens lost their lives that night and another 100,000 were homeless. The old sections of Nürnberg were completely destroyed (39% of all buildings completely vanished and another 52% were heavily damaged). The castle and old churches were bombed out. Overall Nürnberg was the most destroyed city in all of Germany after Dresden. After the war, the people of Nürnberg set out to rebuild their city. The Frauenkirche is in the right of the picture next to the Hauptmarkt on April 20, 1945, with the U.S. 45th Infantry Division reviewing troops after capturing the city. You can some tanks in the background near the church. This was also Hitler's birthday and ten days before he would commit suicide. My photo above shows what it looks like today.
| Nürnberg War Trials
From November 20, 1945 until October 1, 1946, the International Military Tribunal convened in room 600 in the Nürnberg Palace of Justice. United States Of America Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson, who was the chief prosecutor at the trials, recommended Nürnberg as the site for the trials for several reasons. The Courthouse was big enough to accommodate many people, 530 offices and about 80 courtrooms. It was well preserved after the war when most of the city was destroyed. Each of the four Allied Powers (France was now included ) provided one judge and an alternate; they provided the prosecutors, too. Among the defendants were Nazi leaders as Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Julius Streicher, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Jodl, Joachim von Ribbentrop and the architect Albert Speer.
On 218 days of trials, testimony from 360 witnesses was introduced, some verbal, some written and some (236 witnesses) from the court itself. The verdicts were announced on September 30, 1946; three acquittals, 12 sentences to death by hanging, 7 sentences to life imprisonment or to lesser terms. Those sentenced to death were executed in the early morning of October 16, 1946, in the old gymnasium of Nürnberg prison, which was torn down in 1987 as part of a modernization project. The bodies were subsequently cremated in Munich and the ashes were strewn in an estuary of the Isar River. Those sentenced to imprisonment were transferred to the prison in Berlin-Spandau, which the Allies had chosen for this purpose. The last of the prisoners, Rudolf Hess, committed suicide there in August, 1987. Hermann Göring, who had received a death sentence, committed suicide in his jail cell before the sentence could be carried out.
Contrary to the original plans, no subsequent international tribunal took place. From 1947 to 1949, twelve U.S. military trials involving politicians, military personnel, businessmen and industrialists, doctors, lawyers, members of the Foreign Office, etc. were held in Nürnberg. Similar trials were also conducted in the French, British and Soviet occupation zones.
Link to: The Nuremberg Trials