Outwardly, it and its sister ship Leipzig differed from their predecessors in the Königsberg class in that they only had one chimney and the two rear 15 cm tripple towers were no longer offset to the side, but rather placed one behind the other. This was made possible by the improved machine system, which worked on three shafts instead of - as with the predecessors - only on two. The march diesel acted on the central shaft , while the outer shafts were driven by the turbines .
In the Second World War, after the attack on Poland , the Nürnberg was relocated to the North Sea in order to secure mining operations there. On the night of December 12-13, 1939, both the Nürnberg and Leipzig were torpedoed and damaged by the British submarine Salmon . Then the Nürnberg came to the shipyard between December 1939 and May 1940. After the repairs were completed, the cruiser was relocated to Trondheim , where the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper were already located. On July 25, 1940, the ship escorted the damaged Gneisenau to Kiel and then stayed in German waters between August 1940 and November 1942. The cruiser then moved to Norway and arrived in Narvik on December 2, 1942 . From May 1943 he was back in local waters. On the way home near Stavanger he came across two British speedboats , which he was able to fend off. From mid-1943 the Nürnberg was used in the Baltic Sea , and then in 1945 in the Skagerrak with a mining company. After that she was moved to Copenhagen . Here the cruiser fended off attempts by Danish partisans to board the ship in the last days of the war . Many partisans and four crew members died.
From May 26th to 29th 1945 the ship sailed to Wilhelmshaven together with several minesweepers, the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and the two British cruisers Devonshire and Dido . 500 members of the crew were taken prisoner of war there and the ship was handed over to the Soviet military. The remaining 250 German crew members transferred the ship to the Soviet Union .
Awarded as spoils of war to the Soviet Navy after the end of the war, the ship was entered on the Soviet Navy List on November 5, 1945 and assigned to the Baltic Fleet . At the beginning of January 1946 it sailed to Libau together with five other formerly German ships (the destroyer Erich Steinbrinck , the torpedo boat T 33 , the old torpedo boat and now the torpedo catch boat T 107 , the old ship of the line / target ship Hessen and its control boat Blitz ) . There the cruiser was renamed Admiral Makarow ( Адмирал Макаров ) on January 5, 1946 , in honor of Stepan Osipowitsch Makarov . Until 1955, the Admiral Makarow served as the flagship of the 8th fleet in the Baltic Sea, with home port Tallinn (Reval). After the main boilers suffered serious damage in February 1957, the Admiral Makarow was converted into a training ship and stationed in Kronstadt until it was finally decommissioned in February 1959. The ship was removed from the list of warships on February 15, 1961 and then scrapped.