Courtroom 600, Nürnberg
We had been to Nürnberg several times before we made it to the courtroom where the famous post-World War II Nürnberg Trials were held. The courtroom, still in use today, is only open on the weekends for tourists, although the accompanying museum is open every day except Tuesday. Audio guides help guide you around to understand what you are seeing.
The courtroom, named Courtroom 600, made famous as Nazi criminal hearings occurred here, looks different than it did in the late 1940s, when the room was transformed to accommodate more than one person at a time on trial, multiple judges from other countries, translators, the press corps, and those watching the trials. There are photos which help you see the transition of the room.
The museum is interesting, although it can be overwhelming at the level of detail about each of those who were tried in the courtroom. It does not focus as much on the events of the war as much as it focuses on the trial and results. This is a good thing since there are other good museums covering the war itself. However, this is a good completion to any historical tour of World War II in Germany.
My photos show actual benches from the court room, a model of the courtroom, and a photograph from the trial period.
Price was €5/adult which includes the audio guide.
This is the courthouse where the "Nuremberg Trial" was held from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946. On trial were 21 high ranking representatives of the Nazi regime, charged with conspiracy, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity. At the end of this marathon trial twelve defendants were sentenced to death by hanging, three to life imprisonment, four to imprisonment from 10 to 20 years, and three of the defendants were acquitted.
This trial was held in Nürnberg not so much for symbolic reasons as for the practical reason that this large courthouse with a large adjoining prison had been only very slightly damaged during the war, so it was the best place in Germany to hold such a large trial.
On weekends it is possible to have a look at Courtroom 600, where the trial was mainly held. Tours are at 2.00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. They are advertised as being in German, but when I was there only five or six of the thirty people present were German speakers, so he did it in German and English.
Update: In addition to the tours, audio guides are now available in German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Polish. The use of the audioguide is included in the entrance fee.
Admission is EUR 5.00 for adults or EUR 3.00 for those who get a reduction. For an extra EUR 2.50 you can also use your entrance ticket as a day ticket which permits you to visit all other municipal museums free of charge on the same day. (Prices as of 2013.)
Sounding like something taken straight from the novel 1984, Courtroom 600, housed in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, was the scene of the most famous court case in history: the Nuremberg Trials. Here the Nazi elite got their comeuppance, but perhaps more importantly the precedent was set by which a government could no longer escape punishment for its actions because there was no court high enough to try them. Here the world established the first international court, and gave us a legal framework for dealing with future mass murderers.
Here in the rubble of post-war Nuremberg 12 Nazis were sentenced to death, mostly for their crimes against humanity. If you visit the Palace of Justice today you can actually sit in the very courtroom that these men, some of the most evil in history, sat in while being tried and convicted. It is an awesome feeling of being in touch with history, because of its importance to humanity and its recency, and looking out from your seat in the Allied prosecutors pews at where these men spent their last days on earth should leave you touched, unless you have no emotional connection to the world at all.
You can only visit the courtroom through a guided tour. By default this tour is in German, but if there are enough English speakers they will repeat everything in English for you. If not, the film they show has English subtitles and covers most of the basics about the trials.
I wanted to visit courtroom 600 during my trip to Nuremburg, where the trial of some top Nazis took place after WW2. Unfortunately I picked a time when the courtroom was being renovated. The Palace of Justice is a large imposing building, but you could almost be in the middle of no where. It is not like the usual courts that are normally close to town centres and close to public transport. I understand that the building work is now complete and an exhibition giving comprehensive information of the Nuremburg Trials. The exhibition is open daily except Tuesdays and you can visit the courtroom at the same time if it is not in use. A guided tour of the courtroom takes place in English at 11am on Sundays. The trials were historic as this was the first time there had been an International Military Tribunal to dispense justice. But given the horrendous nature of the crimes that were committed by the Nazis the majority escaped justice.