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The Hitler Figurine from the Nazi period with a moving right arm for sale in a store in Nuremberg.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

The Nuremberg Market Square which is on the site of the Jewish Quarter destroyed that was in 1349. Hitler's Nazi troops would march to the square
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

The Fruankirche (Church of Our lady) in the central market square in the old city of Nuremberg which is on the site of a synagogue destroyed in 1349
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

The Star of David on the "bimah" of the Frauenkirche church in the central market square of Nuremberg. The Editor is not clear as to the origins of this and why it was put there.
Photo by Rhonda Spivak


By Rhonda Spivak, July 1, 2013

Outside the Hotel Deutcher Kaiser in Nuremberg, where Adolf Hitler used to stand on the balcony and inspect the passing Nazi troops and wave to adoring fans, I took a stroll down the street to a nearby artisan area.

There a store that sold toys and other items caught my eye. I wandered in and noticed it had a lot of old toy cars for sale. I walked in further and there on a shelf in a glass case I saw some small figurines--one was a soldier with a Nazi flag with a swastika. Next to him were some Adolf Hitler figurines. There were one, two, three of them.

I was the only one in the store and motioned over to the older woman behind the cashier who spoke only German. She came by with a key to open the glass case. I was a little shocked to see Hitler figurines, “collectors” items from the Nazi period out on display just like anything else.  I pointed to the Hitler one, telling her I wanted to see it.   

She motioned with her hand to show me that the mustache on the figurine meant it was a Hitler (I had already figured that out).

Then her eyes lit up as she pulled one of the Hitler figurines from the shelf, turned to me, held up the Hitler figurine and   said "'De Fuhrer, De Fuhrer" (Fuhrer means leader).

I was taken aback to hear her in 2013 still referring to Hitler as the "Fuhrer." Why use that word? (Somehow I began thinking it was very possible that she had come from a family that had rather liked Hitler.) 

One of the Hitler figures, which was about the height of my index finger, cost 89 Euros. The other figure was more expensive--98 Euros.  The added feature that it had was that Hitler figurine's right arm could go up so that a salute could be given. It was arresting to see it. 

I hadn't known what I would buy as a souvenir from Nurnberg and this was much more expensive than I had considered.  But then I began to think of the educational value to show students who study the Holocaust. It makes for quite a classroom exhibit. I intend to donate it. (Everyone in Israel I have shown it to is quite taken aback to see it and to note that I could find it in Nuremberg in 2013). Besides it makes for a much better story than buying an ‘I love Nuremberg’ coffee cup.

And hearing the woman say "De Fuhrer" will probably be seared into my consciousness for a long time.

With my little Hitler figurine in my bag, I walked to the main central market area of Nuremberg , the Hauptmarkt, which is another story in itself, because  the main Church in the central square  is in fact built over the site of what was once a synagogue, and the central market area ( which is in all the postcards) is built on the area of the destroyed Jewish quarter.  As my  Czech guide explained, when Nuremberg was a medieval capital and trade centre, Jews arrived and were allowed to  settle in this area originally because it was marshland and more difficult to settle than the north or south of Nuremberg. But then came the black plaque and Christians blamed the Jews for it (even though the percentage of Jews who died was as large as the percentage of Christians). In 1349, German emperor Karl IV ordered the destruction of the Jewish quarter to make the area into a market place: there was a pogrom and 562 of the 1500 Jews were burnt.  

I raised my eyebrows as I read how the current Nuremberg city guide book I bought describes the pogrom:

"In 1349 Emperor Karl 1V supported the city council in its request to establish a marketplace... instead of the Jewish quarter that existed there. At the same time, Nuremberg's inhabitants availed themselves of the opportunity to get rid of their unpopular fellow citizens. [Emphasis added]"

According to George, my Czech tour guide "many of the Jews who survived went to live in Fürth, Bavaria, Germany, which is where Henry Kissinger's family was from."  (Furth is 7 kilometers away from Nuremberg and Heinz [Henry] Kissinger, who was born there in 1923 fled with his family in 1938 to the US).

Now when I see old photos of Hitler with the Nazi troops in the central market place in Nuremberg,  I understand that it would have been clear to the Nuremberg citizens there that they were congregating on the  destroyed Jewish quarter of 1349.

Today Nuremberg's Hauptmarkt, ( the destroyed Jewish quarter), is  where  Germany's most famous Christmas market , the "Christkindlesmarkt" is held, and tourists from all over gather to see it.

When I got to the Hauptmarket, my guide George who is originally from Czechoslovakia  pointed to the large Frauenkirche church that dominates the square, a church which is in all the postcards and on many souvenirs and said, "The church was built on the site where the synagogue in the destroyed Jewish quarter was. " He then told me that on the floor of the church there is a big Star of David.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.