Venturing Underground in Nürnberg

World War II exacted a toll not just on people and cities, but on great works of art — countless were plundered, and many were destroyed. I just toured an underground museum in Nürnberg that tells the story of some priceless masterpieces that survived.

Nürnberg’s Historic Art Bunker is a series of cellars used by the Nazis to store art plundered from conquered lands and evacuated from its own great buildings in anticipation of bombing. The only way to visit this claustrophobic underground space is with a tour (daily at 14:30, €5, 75 minutes, headphones for English-speakers). The theme of the tour is “How what was called ‘the treasure chest of the German Empire’ emerged from the devastation of WWII.”

Nürnberg was bombed only late in the war. As German officials saw it coming and knew how northwestern cities were devastated, they were better prepared, and more of the city’s treasures survived. (Many wonder why bombed German cities didn’t just relocate. Because the subterranean infrastructure of great cities survived the bombs of WWII — as you’ll see on this tour — it made sense to rebuild on the same footprint.) In this little video clip, I’m following my local guide deep under the city.

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