Thomas Schmitt

Prof. Dr. Thomas Schmitt teaches cultural heritage and the protection of cultural property at the Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage (HCCH), University of Heidelberg.

He is a trained cultural, social and political geographer and has worked, among other things, on the governance of the World Heritage system and, most recently, on urban cultural policies in Germany, mainly based on qualitative ethnographic research methods. He has conducted research in Germany, Morocco, Algeria and France.


The former Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg: How to deal with a contaminated urban landscape?

(co-presented with Jonas Lendl)

During National Socialism, Nuremberg bore the title “City of the Reich Party Congresses (or “Party Rallies”). Even before Hitler’s rise to state power, two of the Nazi mass events, usually referred to as the “Nuremberg Rallies”, were held there. After 1933, the Nazis began to develop a site in the south of the city with megalomaniac buildings, including the Zeppelinfield Grandstand and the Congress Hall. From 1945 onwards, the site was used for a wide variety of purposes. A first exhibition was established only in the mid-1980s, followed by the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds that opened in the north wing of the unfinished Congress Hall in 2001. The use of the site for forced labor and deportations from 1939 onward is still a side issue. In recent years, however, the discussion about the appropriate way to deal with Nazi ruins has gained momentum again: Should the grandstand be overhauled for at least 85 million euros? Is transforming parts of the Congress Hall into a creative space the right way to go?

We would like to introduce the state of the discussion and at the same time expand it with the international participants of the Summer School: How do they view the debate from their different international and academic perspectives? What positions do they take on the future of these Nazi ruins? Do they think an international discussion is relevant at all? In the section, we would first like to give an overview of the history of the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds and the current controversial issues, with the aim of stimulating an exchange of perspectives and positions.