The past few days have been a whirlwind of learning and new experiences. We have been fortunate to have been to many important places in Berlin and the surrounding area, including Sachsenhausen, Track 17, and the Wannsee Conference. After seeing the Nuremberg laws written on signs on the streets of Berlin and then pages and pages of the laws on display in the Jewish Museum, we were eager to see the place where the trials and justice was served…or was it?
Today was our day to venture from Berlin to Nuremberg. We woke up bright and early and made our way to the train station. After a 3.5 hour journey passing windmills and rolling green fields, we finally arrived in Nuremberg. After a short walk to the hotel, we took the subway to the Old City.
We strolled through the old Jewish quarter of Nuremburg. We were surprised to learn and see many forms of antisemitism that had roots from at least the 1300s. A large church stands today where a synagogue once stood. We also learned that a Jewish man was the only person who was sentenced to death under the Nuremburg laws after a judge conveniently contorted the law for his sentence. We then walked over to another enormous church where our tour guide, Anne, pointed out two antisemitic carvings. None of us have ever seen such hateful imagery on a church before or perhaps ever noticed.
We climbed to the top of the medieval castle which has always been surrounded by a dry moat. The castle’s tower was built in 1313 and was one of the structures of the city that survived the war.
We ended our day by going to the courthouse to learn about the trials from 1945-1949. We learned about the complexities about approaching these trials and how each of the countries had differences of opinions about who should face charges. We learned about several of the defendants, their counsel and arguments in their defense. The trial included 12 interpreters and ultimately 4 transcripts in different languages – English, German, French and Russia. With the addition of video recording, it was the best documented trial at the time.
Although most of the defendants were found guilty of their crimes, we left feeling unfulfilled. Many were given sentences that were thought were too lenient, several were found not guilty, and none of the people with direct blood on their hands were tried. So again we must ask, was justice served?