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Friday, May 18, 2012

National Socialist Art - 9

National Socialist Art - 9

München


        Hitler had decided quite early to make München the capital of the National Socialist Movement. In 1927 he had enthusiastically shown Otto Strasser plans for the new München. Two years later, the National Socialist German Worker's Party bought the Palais Barlow, a purchase financed with private funds, mostly from the powerful industrialist Fritz Thyssen. Hitler engaged the architect Paul Ludwig Troost for the alterations to this three story neoclassical building. The one time palace became the Braunes Haus -- Brown Housebrown taking its cue from the brown shirts worn by the Storm Troopers.
Braunes Haus -- Brown House, formerly the Palais Barlow, München. Renovation: Paul Ludwig Troost

        Troost (1878-1934) was a successful southern German architect. He had built several villas for upper middle class Bavarian society in the much loved traditional style of the region: a vernacular architecture with gabled roofs and shuttered windows, as well as some Neoclassical houses. He was also an interior designer, mostly known for the decoration of luxury liners for the Hapag Lloyd Shipping Line. It was Troost's love of neoclassicism and his distaste for anything modern that made him the ideal architect for Hitler. Troost was not an outspoken National Socialist, but had joined the Party as early as 1924.

        Many features of the 
Braunes Haus, especially the decoration of the rooms, were based on Hitler's ideas. The standard for future Party buildings was to be set here. Hitler's enthusiasm was total.

        The flamboyance of Hitler's and Troost's plans, for a Party not yet in power, was incredible confident. There was much earnest wood paneling on walls and ceiling, extolling the German virtues of solidity, dignity, and clarity. A large Hall Of Honour displayed the 
Blood Bannersof the National Socialist Movement. A vast staircase led to Hitler's office, with its portrait of Frederick The Great over a large desk. There were also pictures of Prussian battles. The link between Hitler and the great Prussian tradition was clearly evident. A Senate Chamber was constructed, decorated with Swastikas, sixty chairs in red leather, with Swastikas on their backs, for sixty Party Senators around a vast conference table.

        The 
Braunes Haus was never large enough for the needs of the great National Socialist German Worker's Party. Hitler and Troost immediately set to work on model buildings, a house for The Leader and an administration building for the Party. In 1931-32, Troost and Hitler had already made tentative plans for these two big projects.

        But first the 
Königsplatz, one of München's most attractive and characteristic city squares, which was to become the setting for the new Party buildings, had to be restructured. The Königsplatz, with its neoclassical buildings -- Leo von Klenze's Glyptothek (1816-30) and thePropylaum (1846-62), and Georg Friedrich Ziebland's (1800-1878) Exhibition Building (1838-48) -- was the creation of King Ludwig I (1825-1848), who had marked the architecture of München more than any other monarch.

        Hitler was the enlightened successor of this great king. He often stressed a comparison with kings, as did others. If in earlier years of his tenure of office Hitler emulated King Ludwig, the great builder king, in his later years, Hitler was constantly compared to the great War King Frederick The Great Of Prussia. The comparison did not stop at royalty. Hitler was also the Messiah, as Leni Riefenstahl portrayed him -- emerging from the clouds in an aeroplane -- in her remarkable film about the Nürnberg rallies, 
Triumph Of The Will.

        The 
Königsplatz was also the square where the National Socialists had often assembled at their early rallies. It was an obvious choice. Hitler had the lawn paved over with 2,250 square metres of granite, quarried from all over Germany to underline the community feeling. Vehicular traffic was banned.

      
  It needed The Leader to give the chaotic urban development a new order and direction. With his ingenious philosophical foresight he has recognised the new possibilities. Despite his other great tasks he finds time to supervise architectural developments ..... a monumental ceremonial square for his Folk ..... In no other creation can one see the heroic character of the Movement, in its clear and cultural aspect. (Dr. Adolf Dresler, Das Braune Haus und das Verwaltungsgebäude der Reichsleitung der NSDAP in München, München, 1937, page 9.)

        A great number of public spaces were created or altered to become the architectural settings of mass meetings for the Government's ritual celebrations. Open spaces appeared free of plants or ornaments, symmetrically paved. They were to be magical places for indoctrination.

       
 On the Königsplatz, new Party buildings and old museums form a marching ground. What is their style? To call it classicist is not enough. Something new has been created. A political credo, in its deepest sense. One understands the decisive difference when one sees how the German Folk assemble ..... on these giant squares of granite, filled with thousands of uniformed soldiers. (Rolf Badenhausen, Betrachtungen zum Bauwillen des Dritten ReichesZeitschrift für Deutschkunde, 1937, page 222.)

Paul Hermann: But Victory Is Yours -- showing the Monument To The Dead Of The 1923 Attempted Uprising inside the Feldherrnhalle, designed by Paul Ludwig Troost and Kurt Schmid-Ehmen

        On November 9th, Hitler had unveiled a monument by Troost and Schmid-Ehmen, with a socle of marble, to the memory of the dead of the Attempted Uprising of November 9th, 1923. It was erected inside the nineteenth century Feldherrnhalle, thus providing a historical continuum. Like the 
Blutfahne, the flag dipped in the blood of the victims, it became almost a relic. There in great ceremonies, flags were touched by the sacred cloth, turning each flag into a blood flag.

Temple Of Honour, Königsplatz, München. Architect: Paul Ludwig Troost


Temple Of Honour, Königsplatz, München. Architect: Paul Ludwig Troost

        Soon after taking power, Hitler commissioned Troost to erect on the Königsplatz two Temples Of Honour dedicated to the victims of the 1923 Attempted Uprising. Each of them was incorporated in the plan for the Party buildings by joining them to a common garden at the rear. In their architecture and in their role, they are a sacred blessing.

        The two temples became a central place of National Socialist ritual worship, the altars of the new Movement. Their fascination for the masses lay in their mixture of religious and secular architecture. Hitler used them in the same way. Each temple displayed eight coffins of the attempted uprising martyrs under an open sky on a dais framed by twenty pillars of yellow limestone. Huge braziers glowed.

        The two temples were inaugurated, or perhaps almost consecrated, in 1935 in a spine chilling ceremony of pseudoreligious and military fervour. The ceremony began on the night of November 8th, 1933, in the darkened city. Hitler and his followers passed pylons draped in blood red, imprinted with the names of the fallen heroes. The cortege moved solemnly to the Feldherrnhalle for the last rollcall in front of the coffins. The names were called out and the crowd shouted 
Present! The next day the coffins were transferred to their last resting place to hold the eternal watch, a permanent example and reminder to a whole Folk of the duty, the need for readiness to fight, and for sacrifice. (Bauten der Gegenwart, page 32.)

Leader Building, Königsplatz, München. Architect: Paul Ludwig Troost

        In the same year the two new Party buildings were built. Troost had chosen a neoclassical style, which was to echo the older buildings on the other side of the square. 
Pillars have again become an important element; they are not, as in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mere decorative elements but are an integral part of the architecture. The spirit of the Gothic, which lives in the German character, with its emphasis on the vertical, has been married to Greek horizontal harmony. Verticality and the horizontal share the reign. (Hans Sebastian Schmid, Kunst und Stilunterscheidung für Laien, Kunstfreunde und Gewerbetreibende und für den kunstgeschichtlichen und stilkundlichen Unterricht, Leipzig, 1938, page 67.)

        Hitler was totally involved in the building, right to the smallest detail. 
At Troost's, plans for Königsplatz, monumental. Leader in his element, noted Goebbels in his diary for January 27th, 1935. And August 19th, 1935, Goebbels wrote: With the car to München ..... Immediately to the Party buildings ..... Here Hitler has truly written his will in stone ..... We climb through cellars and attics. Everything is supposed to be ready in a year's time. The Leader is proud and happy.

Entrance to the Leader Building, Königsplatz, München. Detail of the balcony. Architect: Paul Ludwig Troost

        Almost identical, the two Party buildings consisted of three stories of massive limestone with porticoes, eagles, and wreathed Swastikas. Both had Leader balconies from which the great statesman and architect could, above the crowd, look down on his work: his Folk and his buildings. The critics spoke about 
distinguished simplicity and restrained dignity.

        
What characterises this noble building, from the outside alone, is its readability, its inbuilt harmony and beautiful order. (Alex Heilmeyer,Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, October, 1938, page 296.)

        The heavy facade was marked by a severe line of windows spaced out in regular intervals of 3 metres. They were deeply set in the frame, often under a semicircular architrave. The heavy cornice emphasised the horizontal lines of the buildings.

        Like all of Hitler's buildings, however much they reflected traditional styles, they were built using the most modern techniques. They also had air conditioning and huge airraid shelters that linked the two buildings beneath the road.

        Gerdy Troost, the widow of Paul Troost and one of Hitler's confidantes, who continued to head Troost's architectural office, wrote that these first monumental community buildings were the 
symbol of the fundamental strength that is renewing the German Folk. (Gerdy Troost, editor,Das Bauen im neuen Reich, Bayreuth, 1943, I, page 20.)

        Since the Leader Building was for official receptions, its interior was much richer than that of its twin, the Administration Building. Two large atrium halls, in red marble, were crowned by a broad staircase.

Hall Of Torches In The Leader Buildings, Königsplatz, München.

        It led the visitor in one giant sweep to the first floor, which contained the reception area and Hitler's offices. A large hall destined for receptions was paneled in precious wood and hung with nine large tapestries representing several of Hercules's deeds. The walls of Hitler's own office were covered in red leather. They displayed some of Hitler's favourite painters of the nineteenth century -- Franz Lenbach, Arnold Böcklin, Franz Defregger, Anselm Feuerbach, and Adolf Menzel. In this room the historic meeting of Neville Chamberlain, Edouard Daladier, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler took place in 1938, the meeting that dealt with the arrogant and endlessly provocative entity known as Czechoslovakia.

        Hitler's very large living room had a gilded ceiling. Over the doors were golden emblems representing the arts: Theatre, Music, Painting, Sculpture. In the centre a giant fireplace, crowned by Adolf Ziegler's painting 
The Four Elements.

Living room, Leader Building, München. Designers: Leonhard Gall and Gerdy Troost. Over the fireplace: Adolf Ziegler: The Four Elements

        Its colours were echoed in the furniture, curtains, and wall hangings. There was a dining hall with chairs in grey blue leather. The lamps were gilded. The doors were framed in local marble. Instead of being painted, the walls were decorated with stucco reliefs with scenes of the Storm Troopers, Hitler Youth, and League Of German Girls. The furniture and the interior were the work of Gerdy Troost and the architect Leonhard Gall.

        München became the capital of the arts also. In order to demonstrate publicly the importance he gave to the city, Hitler began, in his first year, to plan for a new art gallery, a House Of German Art. Troost was again the chosen architect. Hitler laid the foundation stone in October 1933 on the first Day Of Art.

House Of German Art, München. Architect: Paul Ludwig Troost

        Troost did not live to see his new House of German Art completed. The work was finished by Leonhard Gall and Troost's widow, Gerdy. Hitler also took an active part in this project. It was a neoclassical structure, a heavier version of Schinkel's
 Old Museum in Berlin (1823-1830). Constructed of the same stone as the Regensburg Walhalla and the Kelheim Befreiungshalle, the House Of German Art took its place self consciously in German tradition.

Walhalla near Regensburg, 1830-1842. Architect: Leo von Klenze


Befreiungshalle near Kelheim, 1842-1863. Architect: Leo von Klenze. Hitler speaking here on October 22, 1933

        In 1935, midway in the building process, a critic wrote:

       
 It is no accident that the new House Of German Art is not built in the style of German Gothic or Baroque. It has a classical character, the classical as a counterpoint to the Germanic Nordic. There is a deep spiritual necessity for a Movement that also fights in its politics the shadows of German individualism and particularism, which also chooses in its artistic expression a form that embodies discipline and order, as well as simple functionalism and objective clarity ..... The new character of the building manifests itself in its attempt to combine, harmoniously, the Nordic idea of race with that of Greece. (Georg Weise, in Zeitschrift für Deutschkunde, 1935, page 407.)

        The building was gargantuan in scale; the portico measured 175 metres in length. Two large braziers stood on a pylon at each end of the facade. It was praised as a 
Temple Of German Art, one of the new monuments of a new time, and indeed the temple form announced a noble art, reaching back to antiquity. Hitler said of it: The building is as notable for its beauty as it is for the efficiency of its services ..... but it is a temple of art, not a factory ..... the result is a house fit to shelter the highest achievements of art and to show them to the German Folk. Here the Nation was to display the most noble and heroic in art. As usual, it was built using the latest engineering techniques, including a complex air conditioning system and an airraid shelter.

        Several more buildings were built in the new style, most notably the House Of German Law, designed by Oswald Bieber, and the House Of German Medicine, designed by Roderich Fick. There were many other buildings planned for München but most were never started. Opposite the House Of German Art Hitler wanted an even larger House Of German Architecture. It was planned by Troost.

        After Troost's death, Hitler appointed Hermann Giesler (born 1898) as the Architect of the new München. The new 
counsellor for the capital of the Movement, a devoted follower of Hitler, set to work on some of The Leader's plans. There was to be a giant new railroad station, the largest steel construction in the world. Its new system was to link München with Istanbul and even Moscow. A 110 metre wide, 6 kilometre long East-West axis road was also planned.

        On this avenue the official buildings were to rise, among them a skyscraper for the National Socialist Eher Publishing House, which was to be the largest publishing house in the world. As no roads would cross this avenue, intersecting roads were to be put underground. It would have a broad centre strip for marches. The road was to end at a 215 metre obelisk, a monument to the Movement, again sketched by Hitler himself. With its diameter of 25 metres and an eagle 33 metres high, it was to be one of the greatest of many giant monuments planned for the Third Reich.

        Hitler also wanted a new opera house with over 3,000 seats (outdoing Paris and Wien). It was planned by Waldemar Brinkmann with a huge entrance, marked out by eighteen marble columns. Hitler intervened personally in the plans. 
Examined plans for new opera house according to Hitler's own plans. Now they make sense and have form, notes Goebbels in 1937 in his diaries.

        Hitler's projects for München also included a Forum for the Party linked by a bridge with a mausoleum for himself, designed by Giesler. The cost for all these plans was gigantic; six billion Reich Marks was the estimate.

        Hitler easily justified the size of the buildings by pointing out that he built for many people. He ridiculed the protestant church for building a church in Berlin for merely 2,450 people, when there were 3,500,000 protestants in Berlin. It should have provided for 100,000, he declared. A theatre, built with only 1,200 seats, did not fare better.

        Few of these plans materialised. All nonessential building came to a halt with the outbreak of Churchill's war.

        The National Socialist buildings that had been build now serve other purposes: The Leader Building today is the Academy Of Music; the Administration Building is an art school; the House Of German Law belongs to the university; the House Of German Art is now the House Of Art.

Nürnberg


        Nürnberg was (until its wanton destruction by the swine who committed the greatest crimes against humanity by submitting Germany to a sickening terror bombing campaign, by the same swine who jumped into bed with Stalin, a lowlife scum infinitely worse in every respect than they accused Hitler of being) one of the best preserved medieval cities in Germany. Its appropriateness to Hitler's idea of patriotism was obvious. It was here that Hitler planned his giant meeting sites. The existing sports field was enlarged to five times its original size, and a huge area of 28 square kilometres, the size of a small town, was planned by Troost. On Troost's death in 1934, it was handed over to Albert Speer (1905-1991).

        If Hitler's relationship with Troost was that of pupil to master, in Speer, Hitler saw a much younger, talented, but inexperienced architect, one he could form to his will. Speer willingly cooperated. A fervent believer in neoclassicism, he became the best known architect of the Third Reich. He attended several technical universities before graduating from the university in Berlin. He became an assistant of the famous Berlin architect Heinrich Tessenow, who pleaded for a modern style based on regional characteristics.

        Speer's conversion to National Socialism was easy and quick. After hearing Hitler speak at Berlin's Technical University in 1931, he joined the National Socialist Party. The following year, the Party asked him to redesign its Headquarters in Berlin. The plan faltered because of lack of funds, but in 1933 Speer became Commissioner For The Artistic And Technical Organisation Of The Party Rallies And Mass Demonstrations. Speer was a man of the theatre, and his display of flags and standards became an essential element at these events. For the May demonstration at Tempelhof Airfield in Berlin, he designed his first light spectacle: a cathedral of lights created by 150 searchlights throwing their beams 16 kilometres into the sky.
        Other mass meetings organised by Speer were the memorial service for President Paul von Hindenburg at Tannenberg in 1934:

Tannenberg Memorial near Hohenstein, East Prussia, during the state funeral for President Paul von Hindenburg

and the National Socialists' first giant Harvest Festival in Bückeburg.

        Hitler was tremendously impressed. Here was a man able to design the theatrical backdrops he needed to gain the masses. 
In the festive hour of the night the dignified tribunes, the flags strung between the pillars, and the wreathed Swastikas glow in the lights. Hitler, the Folk Community, and the symbols are forged even more closely together when the light dome created by hundreds of spotlights surrounds them.(Bauten der Gegenwart, page 53.)

        
The actual effect far surpassed anything I had imagined, wrote Speer. The hundred and thirty sharply defined beams, placed around the held at intervals of 12 metres, were visible to a height of 6,000 to 7,500 metres, after which they merged into a general glow. The feeling was of a vast room, with the beams serving as mighty pillars of infinitely high outer walls. (Albert Speer, Inside The Third Reich: Memoirs, page 59.) And the British Ambassador, Sir Neville Henderson, wrote that the effect, which was both solemn and beautiful, was like being in a cathedral of ice.(Neville Henderson, Failure Of A Mission, New York, 1940, page 72.)

        In 1934 Hitler made Speer the Head Of 
Beauty Of Work -- Schönheit der Arbeit, a branch of the German Labour Front -- Deutsche Arbeitsfront. Its task was to improve working conditions in factories.

        But, although only twenty nine, Speer was asked to design architectural plans, and to take over the building of Nürnberg from Troost.

        Following the tradition of Schinkel and his shortlived contemporary Friedrich Gilly, Speer liked to use simplified colonnades, porticoes, and heavy cornices in his buildings. He even considered himself a second Schinkel.

        Speer rose fast within the ranks of the German cultural elite and was given a preeminent role in the Reich as the Nation's Chief Architect and as the Minister Of Armaments.

        Hitler had held his early Party rallies of 1927 and 1929 in Nürnberg. In 1933 he delighted the city fathers when he expressed his wish to enlarge the existing Luitpold Arena, and received 10 million Reich Marks from the town. He also produced several drawings, and in 1934 he sent Speer to Nürnberg to begin the enlargement.

        Nürnberg, too, was constructed according to Hitler's plans, many drawn during his imprisonment in Landsberg. Some of them Speer incorporated into his final plans. Hitler had asked for 
living space for a Folk Community. He wanted a forum for the Party, an agora for the highest feast days of the Nation. It was to be the largest complex of its kind in the world. This calls for a gigantic field, because it is for large armies, for the soldiers of the Political Army Of The Leader. (Wilhelm Lotz, Das Reichsparteitagsgelände in Nürnberg, Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, 1938, page 264.)

Entrance to the Zeppelin Field, Nürnberg. Architect: Albert Speer

        A few figures suffice to give an idea of the size of this stupendous undertaking. The building site spanned 1,600 square kilometres! An area 1,030 metres by 730 metres was set aside for the Army to practice minor manoeuvres. The Luitpold Arena was redesigned by Speer in the shape of a crescent around which a wall of banners would hang. At each end was a large stone eagle. But the old arena, capable of holding 200,000, was not large enough, and so Speer was commissioned to build the Zeppelin Field Stadium, which accommodated 340,000 spectators. Hitler approved immediately. Speer's plan for the Zeppelin Field was presented in a huge plaster model, which was revealed to the public in München on the occasion of the first architectural exhibition, and building began at once in order to have the first platform ready for the next Party Rally. At one end of the Zeppelin Field there was to be a large Hall Of Honour with a Memorial Chapel within. It reminded people of the Tannenberg Memorial in East Prussia, which predated the rise of the National Socialists. The tribune was flanked by two pylons decorated with the wreathed Swastika and crowned with large bronze braziers. In the center of its pediment was a huge Swastika. The tribune gave the impression of a fortress.

Performance for the Youth Organisation For Girls during a Party Rally, Zeppelin Field, Nürnberg

        In 1938 a third field was begun, the March Field, a huge parade ground for 500,000 people. It took its name from Germany's Rearmament Day in March, 1933. Its tribunes were to be punctuated by 24 travertine towers 40 metres in height, crowned by eagles, of which 9 were actually built. On the centre platform the figure of a giant woman was planned, 60 metres high, surpassing the Statue Of Liberty by 15 metres. The March Field opened out onto a processional avenue 2 kilometres long and 50 metres wide. Paved in granite, it was a model for streets to come. Here the military displayed their tanks, Stukas, and troops in rows 50 metres wide. This was less the celebration of a national cult than the display of absolute power.

        The German Stadium, which was never built, was to have had seating capacity for 400,000 spectators, who would be armed with binoculars so as not to miss a trick of the gigantic display Hitler would stage for them. One entered the stadium through a templelike hall built of reddish grey granite to last centuries. Thorak's giant bronze statues, 25 metres high, were to be erected here on 18 metres high pedestals, which would reach a combined height of 43 metres. There were also 100 metres towers with the eagles of the Reich. The entire complex was, as Gerdy Troost wrote, 
a shrine for the whole Nation. Another writer proclaimed proudly that now the communal experience of The Leader and his Folk was possible.

Model of the German Stadium, Nürnberg. Architect: Albert Speer

        The arenas and large avenues were geared for the stage management of mass demonstrations. The marches were arranged in a way that complemented the architecture. 
When in future decades, even centuries, people write the history of the architecture of our Folk, they will see that, with the year 1933, a new chapter has begun ..... Architecture singles out the place ofhe Leader is the result of his po The Leader, which is always in front of the assembly ..... This eye to eye position of The Leader with his Folk is always the underlying principle. The elevation of Tsition, a man who with all his deeds is always The Leader of his Folk. He forms the center of the great picture. (Wilhelm Lotz, Das Reichsparteitagsgelände in NürnbergDie Kunst im Dritten Reich, 1938, page 264.)

        The idea of the sacrosanct central position of The Leader was often stressed. It underlined the godlike image of The Leader. 
The Gothic man knows only one leader, God ..... But the fight between pope and emperor is over ..... There is a change now. The altar, so long elevated as the place for the priest, has been taken over. Distance and separation from the crowd is still granted to The Leader. But only an alien Leader needs the throne, the artificial elevation. The good German wants his Leader to stand out by his wisdom, knowledge, and most of all, by his character. But he wants his Leader to stand, for all eternity, on the same ground, as he does. The ground, which is the source of our blood and our existence.(Johannes Eilemann, Deutsche Seele, deutscher Mensch, deutsche Kultur und Nationalsozialismus, Leipzig, 1933, page 14.)

        Hitler also requested a large Congress Hall. Nürnberg had in 1927 commissioned such a hall from the architect Ludwig Ruff. Hitler approved the old plans but asked Ruff and his son Franz to enlarge it, to create seating capacity for 50,000 spectators. They would face a stage able to seat 2,400 people and 900 standards. It was to house a huge theatre and assembly room. The latest technology in lighting and heating was to be used. The giant roof was to be suspended without supporting pillars. A huge window was to be open to the sky. Hitler also decided that the original material, concrete, should be replaced by granite. It was to have an arcade running around its curved length. Two rows of arched windows above were to strengthen the massive feeling of permanence. Building on this site continued from 1937 to 1939. 
Quarried from German soil, mastered by Germany's inherited knowledge, formed after the idea of The Leader, this is a testimony of German willpower, German strength, and German determination. (Wilhelm Lotz, Das Reichsparteitagsgelände in NürnbergDie Kunst im Dritten Reich, 1938, page 264.)

Hitler at the Party Rally, Zeppelin Field, Nürnberg, September, 1934. Still from Leni Riefenstahl's film Triumph Of The Will

        After Britain had again criminally forced another war onto Europe with its absurd guarantees of protection of Poland, all work stopped.

        The German Pavilion for the 1937 International Exposition in Paris was designed by Speer. French officials had decided that it should be built right opposite the Soviet Pavilion, designed by B. M. Iofan in a mere copy of the German one. This enraged Hitler, but Speer found a solution which appeased him. Discovering a secret drawing of the Soviet Pavilion which featured a group of sculptures 30 feet tall astride a high platform triumphantly facing the German Pavilion, Speer wrote,
 I therefore designed a cubic mass, also elevated on stout pillars, which seemed to be checking this onslaught, while from the cornice of my tower an eagle with the Swastika in its claws looked down on the Russian sculptures. I received a gold medal for the building; so did my Soviet colleague. (Speer, Inside The Third ReichMemoirs, page 81.)

The German Pavilion, International Exposition, Paris. Architect: Albert Speer

        Speer's pavilion was conceived as a monument, another symbol of German pride and achievement. It was to broadcast to the international world that a new powerful Germany and its technical achievements were the result of a mass will and restored national pride. Although it was intended only as a temporary exhibition hall, no cost or effort was spared in its building. 1,000 railway cars brought 100,000 tonnes of building material to Paris for the pavilion. It stood on the right bank of the Seine River, in front of the Palais de Chaillot. The square tower, 65 metres high, was surrounded by 9 pillars, some with gold mosaics and red Swastika patterns. Spotlights were cleverly hidden behind the pillars, which at night gave the impression of a huge crystal rising into the sky. Metal braziers in an antique style strengthened the sacred nature of this architecture. Thorak's 7 metres high statues of The Family and Comradeship, and the obligatory giant eagle, were complemented by another Swastika over the door to make sure that the National Socialist symbols and message were understood. The display of noble National Socialist symbols continued inside on wallpaper, railings, and stained glass windows.

        Like his friend Arno Breker, Speer kept in close contact with some of the French artists, dining with Jean Cocteau and Charles Despiau at Maxim's. Part of the history the French also like to forget is an article that appeared in 1939 in the distinguished magazine 
L'Architecture d'aujourd'hui: It is impossible to describe German architecture of today without referring to the one man who directs building and urban planning with passionate interest. The man is Adolf Hitler. Indeed The Leader who leads Germany to a new destiny is also the architect who started his life modestly as a student in the Architecture Department of the Viennese Academy. The intellectually honest author, Maurice Barret, continues: Under the guidance of Adolf Hitler architectural and urban masterworks are being built everywhere. Their grandeur and technical perfection cannot be denied. (Cited in Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, August, 1939, page X.)

        Speer also redesigned the German Embassy in London. But his biggest task, the rebuilding of Berlin, was yet to come.

        Speer was ambitious and German to the core. His attitude sums up that of many prominent artists like Breker, Thorak, Riefenstahl: 
I felt myself to be Hitler's architect. Political events did not concern me. My job was merely to provide impressive backdrops for such events ..... I felt that there was no need for me to take any political positions at all. National Socialist education, furthermore, aimed at separatist thinking; I was expected to confine myself to the job of building. (Speer, Inside The Third Reich: Memoirs, page 112.)

Berlin


        Hitler hated Berlin: it was not Wien or Paris; it was a modern city with modern horrors built by Bruno Taut, Erich Mendelsohn, and Walter Gropius. If Berlin suffered the same destiny as Rome did, then our future generations would consider the department stores of a few Jews and the hotels of a few societies the monumental buildings which characterised the culture of our days, Hitler had written in My Struggle. Berlin was to be totally reformed. With its five million people it was to become the biggest and most beautiful capital in the world. Large, green, generous, and airy. In 1933 he listed the buildings he especially wanted for Berlin: an Olympic Stadium and giant axis roads running from east to west and from north to south.

        With increasing control and power, his interest in individual buildings was overshadowed by an appetite for large construction schemes, which entailed the restructuring of entire towns. In most of these Hitler planned a central axis and a large square designed as a parade ground.

        Hitler's involvement with the architectural plans for Berlin was again total. He visited the sites and took control. In 1934, his second year in power, he had mentioned for the first time a giant triumphal arch and an assembly hall for 180,000 people, both based on plans he had drafted in the late 1920s. In the same year he also initiated the building of Tempelhof Airport, which was to be the most beautiful and largest in the world. The work of Ernst Sagebiel, it was a gigantic structure with over 2,000 rooms, built in only eight months. It was opened in 1935. Its facade, with a near total absence of decoration, is military to the core. Panels of stone reliefs record the military heroes of the past. As the loyal Mrs. Troost reported, it had
 grown out of the spirit of the German Airforce, tough, soldierly, disciplined.

Model of Tempelhof Airport, Berlin. Architect: Ernst Sagebiel

        On the whole, Tempelhof and, even more, the second Berlin airport, in Gatow, are modern in design. The hangars were the best examples of modern technology and architecture at the time they were built. The German Airforce, which considered itself the aristocracy of the Services, saw to it that their buildings were modern in outlook.

Hall Of Honour, Ministry Of Aviation, Berlin, with an eagle designed by Douglas Hill. Architect: Ernst Sagebiel

        Hitler had visited the Olympic site in 1933. In one of the suburbs of Berlin, the Grünewald Stadium had been built by Walter and Werner March between 1925 and 1928. It was in a neoclassical style. Hitler decided immediately to enlarge it, and in 1934 he commissioned Werner March to draw up plans for a stadium for 100,000 spectators. Money was again no obstacle. Hitler laughed at the 1.5 million Reich Marks set aside for the original stadium. He immediately gave 28 million. Eventually the stadium cost 77 million Reich Marks, but Hitler considered any complaints niggardliness, and shrugged them off with the remark that the foreign visitors to the games brought in half a billion.

The Olympic Stadium as seen from the Hindenburg Zeppelin

        For the new stadium, March had originally designed a concrete structure with glass partitions. When Hitler inspected the building site, he became very angry about the constricting partitions and threatened to cancel the Olympic Games. He wanted a wide arena. March changed his plans!

        The Olympic Stadium, like the Nürnberg Zeppelin Field, was more than a mere sports arena. It was designed as a huge assembly place for hundreds of thousands to celebrate National Socialist rituals and experience group exhilaration. It was a place where the spectator would become a participant. The monumental square in front of the main entrance to the stadium, which consisted of a massive paved concourse flanked by flagposts, spelled out the importance of the stadium as a great meeting place for Germans. The whole complex was laid out in a strict symmetrical pattern.

Olympic Stadium, Berlin. Opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, 1936

        Besides the large sports arena there were administration buildings and a giant parade ground, the May Field, with terraces for 40,000 people, crowned by the 75 metre Olympic Tower. Other towers, named after ancient Germanic tribes or sites, emphasised the fortresslike character of the complex. Inside the Langemarck Tower, for example, there was a memorial hall for the heroic dead, decorated with the 76 Regimental Flags which had flown at the historic Battle Of Langemarck, considered the site of the first poison gas attack, by the British, in 1915, and the site of heavy fighting during the Great War.

        There was an open air theatre, the Eckart-Bühne, a Germanic fantasy version of an amphitheatre of antiquity. The German Oak, as the architect March noted, replacing the sacred olive at the entrance to the temple of Zeus.

        The great stadium was built of German stone, from Franconia. The Olympic flame, burning in one of the many braziers that were to become a National Socialist hallmark, stood at the Marathon Gate. The decoration of the stadiums, with sculptures by Breker and Wackerle, was Hitler's own idea. He also decided upon the names of the various towers and areas, which were peppered with giant sculptures by his favourites and which were financed by the cigarette manufacturer Reemtsma.

        The 1936 Olympic Games had been scheduled for Berlin prior to 1933. When Hitler came to power, he saw in this event a unique opportunity to play host to the world and to show Germany in the best possible light. When the new stadium was officially opened, in 1936, Hitler presented his new architecture and the new German man. Berlin gave itself international and urban airs. In front of a greatly impressed international crowd Hitler opened the games. And an international audience applauded. A choir sang the Olympic Hymn, especially composed by Germany's most prestigious and famous composer, Richard Strauss. The receptions the Party Leaders gave in their own homes for the international visitors were sophisticated and brilliant.

Poster for Leni Riefenstahl's Film Olympia -- Festival Of The Nations, 1936

        The Olympic Games had all the trappings of the regime, the showing of athletic bodies, the pseudoreligious ritual at the opening and closing ceremonies. Although the effeminate English hypocrites were the only obnoxious guests of Germany who refused to execute the National Socialist salute, the English reporters wrote positively about the new Germany. Leni Riefenstahl, the Party's leading filmmaker, made a film, Olympia -- Festival Of The Nations, in which the distinction between reality and art was abandoned. Images of enormous suggestive power celebrated the perfect body as the symbol of the perfect spirit. A magical cult of the pure and strong body was promoted to millions with the help and the skill of the new medium: film.

Still From Leni Riefenstahl's Film Olympia -- Festival Of The Nations, 1936

        In Riefenstahl's opening sequence we see a naked runner bringing the flame from Greece to Berlin. In this scene Riefenstahl captured one of the stage tricks of the regime to perfection: the transposition of the antique ideal into the modern world.

Olympic Stadium, Berlin. Closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, 1936

        On January 30th, 1937, Hitler handed the building of Berlin over to Speer, who, although only thirty two years old, became one of the most powerful cultural figures in Germany. Hitler kept a close eye on all developments. Goebbels reported enthusiastically: At The Leader's to look with him and Speer at the new plans for Berlin. A fantastic conception. Calculated for 20 years. With a giant avenue from south to north. It will have the representative buildings. In this way Berlin will be elevated to a leading capital. The Leader thinks in a great and audacious way. He is 100 years in advance.

        In June, 1938, Goebbels announced: 
The new building program will begin June 17th, on 16 sites. The most grandiose building program of all time. The Leader has overcome all resistance. He is a genius.

        Previous German Chancellors had resided in the old Chancellery, dating from the first half of the eighteenth century and situated on the famous Wilhelm Street. Until 1918 various modernisations had taken place. Hitler had moved into it in 1934 and considered it only fit for a manufacturer of cigarettes, with its exterior resembling a storehouse or a fire station. A campaign to justify the building of a new Chancellery began. Hitler claimed that the building was in terrible condition. 
In downpours, he wrote, a stream ran into the rooms at the ground floor, increased by the water coming from all possible openings, including the water closet. Since my predecessors could generally count on terms lasting only three, four, or five months, they did not bother to clean away the dirt or to do anything so that the successor would have it better.(Hitler, Bauen im dritten Reich, in Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, September, 1939.) On the basis of Troost's plans, he began in 1934 to modify the Chancellery, which included a reception room designed by Gall. Speer also was involved in these first alterations. Hitler paid for all this out of his own pocket.

Entrance to the Chancellery, Berlin, with the Party Insignia designed by Kurt Schmid-Ehmen. Architect: Albert Speer

        In January, 1938, he commissioned Speer to enlarge the old Chancellery. Hitler's early sketches for the extension date from 1935. At the same time he had begun to buy the surrounding buildings.

The map table with a view of the Chancellery's garden

        Hitler gave Speer one year: The cost is immaterial. But it must be done very quickly and be of solid construction. (Speer, Inside The Third Reich: Memoirs, page 102.) The urgency was also kept secret. More neighboring buildings had to be bought and part of the street pulled to the ground. In the end, Speer had only nine months to build. Hitler was amazed. He praised the genius of Speer and his outstanding organisational talent. Seven thousand workers toiled day and night in two shifts. Hitler assembled most of them in the Sports Palace and gave a pep talk: I stand here as representative of the German Folk. And whenever I receive anyone in the Chancellery, it is not the private individual Adolf Hitler who receives him, but The Leader of the German Nation, and therefore it is not I who receive him, but Germany through me. For that reason I want these rooms to be in keeping with their high mission. Every individual has contributed to a structure that will outlast the centuries and will speak to posterity of our times. (Speer, Inside The Third Reich: Memoirs, page 114.)

The Leader's study. Sculptures above the doors at the rear designed by Richard Klein; eagle by Kurt Schmid-Ehmen

        Only part of the old Chancellery was kept, but not much remained visible. The new three story neoclassical facade consisted basically of three sections, two identical side wings and an important middle section, set back from the road. The middle section was slightly higher, but an ingenious optical illusion made all three parts appear the same height. The side wings contained the two general entrances: two pillared portals, each headed by the usual beautiful wreath of Swastikas and eagles.

        The garden side was less severe. The middle part was a giant portico. Steps led up to a large terrace with two bronze horses by Thorak. Behind the facade, marked by six pairs of fluted columns with bronze gilded capitals, was Hitler's personal study, overlooking the garden, with a fountain, a wrestler with a bull by Louis Tuaillon, and a conservatory with a colonnade. The formal entrance for official receptions was on the other side of the building, on Wilhelm Street. Here was a large double portal, with bronze doors leading to the large Court Of Honour (68 by 26 metres), an 18 metre high atrium of grey marble large enough for cars to drive in and, if needed, to serve as parade ground. At the end of this impressive forecourt, under the open sky, stood Breker's two marvellous statues, The Party and The Army, flanking the entrance to the building proper.

Court Of Honour, Chancellery, Berlin, with Arno Breker's sculptures The Party (left) and The Army (right)

        These guardians of the Chancellery and of the whole Nation were eight times the size of the visitor. Ten steps led up to the entrance, formed by huge columns and crowned by the eagle and Swastika designed by Schmid-Ehmen.

        Hitler's two buildings -- the Leader Building in München and the Chancellery in Berlin -- were seen, also in their architecture, as the logical progression of the National Socialist Movement. Two masterworks of the political rise to power ..... The Leader Building is a symbol of the newly found faith in a German future ..... Troost's building with its Doric economy and severity shows the very image of the fighting Party ..... In Speer's Reich Chancellery speaks the eminence and richness of a Reich which has become a superpower, (Giesler, in Bauen im dritten Reich, in Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, September, 1939) was the accolade of the architect Hermann Giesler to his younger colleague, who presented here his first complete building. He was favourably compared to Gilly and Schinkel and even to Brunelleschi.

        Hitler threw the doors of the new Reich Chancellery open to prove to the world that Germany had arrived. It was not the work of one man, but a communal effort with stones and marble from the whole Reich. It carried all the outward signs of National Socialist buildings -- a heavy cornice and horizontal lines with rows of windows. Contemporary critics praised its austerity, its German character, its imposing Prussian style. It suggested security and order.

        In contrast to the stark exterior was the flamboyant and theatrical interior, a reflection mainly of the taste of Hitler's decorators. 
Walking through the rooms, wrote one critic, makes one feel as if one were seeing a magnificent play. (Rudolf Wolters, Werk und SchöpferDie Kunst im Dritten Reich, August, 1939.) Inside, it was calculated to impress the visitor. Everything -- the size of the rooms, the large staircases, the giant decorations, the chandeliers -- was to broadcast that here people of a high order were at work.

        The arrangement of the rooms was very much like a progression: 
The road to the Head Of The State. The highness and dignity forced the visitor, Giesler said, to stride instead of merely perambulating. (Giesler, in Bauen im dritten Reich, in Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, September, 1939)

        A marbled anteroom led to the Mosaic Hall, a room of gigantic proportions, its walls and floors of red marble. The mosaic work was carried out by Hermann Kaspar and used all the beloved National Socialist symbols. It led into a top lit circular room, the
 Runde Raum -- Round Room. There was a plan to adorn the round room with two sculptures by Arno Breker, Wager -- Daring and Wäger -- Reflection, a verbal touch devised by Speer. Ultimately the round room had only two reliefs by Breker, Fighter -- Kämpfer and Genius -- Genius. It was also to have had three female nudes by Breker, EosAnmut, and Psyche -- GraceFlora, and Psyche, standing next to the Wäger and Wager as symbols of fertility and love.

The Mosaic Hall, Chancellery, Berlin, Designer: Hermann Kaspar

        From the Round Room, guests were ushered through a long Marble Gallery nearly 150 metres long, 12 metres wide, and 10 metres high. This room impressed The Leader especially, because it was twice as long as the Hall Of Mirrors in Versailles, Hitler impressed foreign dignitaries who would have to walk 220 metres, the equivalent of almost three city blocks, to meet him. On the long walk from the entrance to the reception hall they'll get a taste of the power and grandeur of the German Reich! he remarked to his architect. (Speer, Inside The Third Reich: Memoirs, page 103.)
The Marble Gallery, Chancellery, Berlin


Hitler at a gorgeous ball in the Reception Hall, Chancellery, Berlin, 1939

        Eventually the stunned visitors were led into the inner sanctum, Hitler's office. This was adorned with candelabra and hung with tapestries. It was intimate in comparison with the other rooms. One enters the room with humility because of the creative presence of the man who works in here, who lends the room its blessed peace. The furniture and decorations create a great sense of space. (Wilhelm Lotz, Die Innerräume der neuen Reichskanzlei, in Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, 1939.) This gallery, lit by 19 high windows, was to take Werner Peiner's large tapestries of famous German battles. For the time being tapestries from the Viennese Historical Art State Museum representing the life of Alexander The Great were hung. Care was taken to make it look noble and dignified, rather than the result of a passing fashion. Through the noble materials a serene but forceful colour scheme has been found which The Leader loves when he is working. The doors were crowned by four gold panels representing the four virtues: Wisdom, Prudence, Fortitude, and Justice. History was spelled out in walls of polished wood and marble. Franz von Lenbach's Portrait Of Bismarck hung over the mantelpiece. The Leader's desk dominated the room. Great thoughts arise here, decisive conversations, wrote one wise critic. (Wilhelm Lotz, Die Innerräume der neuen Reichskanzlei, in Die Kunst im Dritten Reich, 1939.)

The door leading from Hitler's study to the Marble Gallery, Chancellery, Berlin

        Hitler's own quarters had a living room and a small dining room for fifteen people. They contained drawings by Schinkel, a painting by Kaulbach, and several small nude studies by Josef Wackerle. The rest was a feast of colour and space: a large reception room for the New Year's reception for the Diplomatic Corps, lit by huge chandeliers and garnished with tapestries; a dining room, and a cabinet room, completed the lavish interior. A big conference room was seldom used.
        In its lavishness it lent an eternal symbolic value to the regime.

        Some of the foreign diplomats who had paid their sincere respects to Germany's leader were upset when they heard about other aspects of Hitler's new city plan. He had decided to house all embassies in Grünewald, a leafy suburb away from the centre of the city. The reason was that his designs required the destruction of many embassies traditionally located in the centre of Berlin. The plan was to build near identical buildings for each embassy, so that they would line the avenue like soldiers. Hitler was persuaded to modify part of his scheme; he agreed to erect the new diplomatic quarter in the old Tiergarten section near the Brandenburg Gate and the fashionable Unter den Linden boulevard.

        The Tiergarten had long been the favorite part of the city, where rich burghers had their town villas. Several diplomatic missions had already been established in those large free standing houses. A resettlement program began: the embassies of Switzerland, Denmark, Spain, Argentina, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Japan were to receive entirely new premises. Only Finland and France were to move into old buildings, converted for their new purpose. The Argentine Embassy was never built, nor was the Czechoslovakian, because of Germany's absorption of the tiny country in the summer of 1939.

        The most splendid embassies were those of Hitler's two allies, Italy and Japan. The Imperial Japanese Embassy was the work of Ludwig Moshammer; the sumptuous interior was by Caesar Pinnau. The building, with a porch formed by six colossal pillars, was set in a prestigious part of the quarter. Four buildings had to be demolished to make room for it.
        The Italian embassy stood right next door. Six buildings had to be demolished to accommodate it. Speer commissioned Friedrich Hetzelt to do the work. He was also to build the Italian Fascist Party Building in Berlin, a present from Hitler to The Duce. The Embassy, was on the plan of an Italian Renaissance palace.

        Most diplomatic buildings in the Tiergarten section were destroyed by the terror bombing campaign of the Allies.

        In Berlin, too, Hitler oversaw the rebuilding of a number of public squares, like the Opernplatz, the Wilhelmplatz, and the Gendarmenmarkt. Several buildings were erected in the official style, most notably the Aviation Ministry by Sagebiel in 1935-36, and the buildings surrounding the Fehrbelliner Platz, some of them built in 1931 by Emil Fahrenkamp (1885-1966). There were also the exhibition halls at the Funkturm -- Radio Tower by Richard Ermisch in 1934-36, with a Hall Of Honour 40 metres high. They faced the Haus des Rundfunks --Broadcasting House, built from 1929 to 1931 to the design of Hans Pölzig. Ermisch's buildings, like those on the Fehrbelliner Platz, are less rhetorical than most official buildings. They survived the war to continue to be used in the same way as before.

        In 1925 Hitler had sketched a Triumphal Arch and a large Assembly Hall, both of which were to become the symbols of the new Berlin. From 1934 onward he began to talk about the total reshaping of the capital, and he announced to the city fathers that during the next twenty years he was willing to put 60 million Reich Marks a year into a Berlin building program, provided the town would match this sum with 70 million more. He loved Rome and Paris, and considered Baron Haussmann the greatest city planner of all time, but the new Berlin was to triumph over both capitals in size and splendour.

        The old nineteenth century city, representing the old order, or disorder, was to be replaced by a city representing the new order. Under Speer, Berlin was to become the ultimate architectural realisation of National Socialist ideology. On Hitler's birthday, April 20th, 1937, Speer presented his Leader with the plans. They carried a dedication, 
Developed On The Basis Of The Leader's Ideas. Some 3 metre high architectural models were made, which, floodlit, stood in the garden of the Reich Chancellery.

        One year later, again on Hitler's birthday, Speer gave him the first part of Berlin's Great Axis Avenue, 6.5 kilometres long, flanked by 400 streetlights that he had designed. 
The east-west axis which the shaping hand of our Leader has cut through the chaotic development of the old city is an expression of his far sighted genius, said a newsreel commentator. Bordered by the great official buildings of the Reich, this avenue was to be the highlight of the new city. Eventually it was to stretch 48 kilometres from east to west and 40 kilometres from north to south. It would offer the imperial perspective worthy of a great world power, ending in a colossal square with a triumphal arch and a complex of buildings. Hitler wanted the Axis Avenue in this way to resemble the Champs-Elysйes, which ends in the great palace of the French kings, the Louvre. Hitler envisioned instead a House Of Deputies bigger than any national assembly in the world. The dimensions of the building, with seating for 1,200 Deputies, would give an indication of the size of the new Reich that Hitler planned for. It presupposed a population of 140 million, almost twice the population of Germany at that time.

        The triumphal arch was to span a distance of 87 metres and rise 100 metres, dwarfing not only the Arc de Triomphe but also the Eiffel Tower. On it the names of the fallen heroes of the Great War were to be inscribed.

Hitler's drawing for the Triumphal Arch to be erected over the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1925


Presentation of the model of the Triumphal Arch, Berlin

        There was to be a Great Hall known as the Kuppelhalle -- Dome Hall on account of the huge domed hall with a seating capacity of 180,000. The cupola, based on a drawing by Hitler from 1925, would rise 320 metres. It was to be larger than the cupola of the Pantheon, which had served Speer as a model. The outside of the cupola was to be covered in patinated copper. It was crowned by a 30 metre high Eagle Of The Reich grasping the world in its talons, symbolising Hitler's role as ruler of the civilised world.

Model for the Great Hall, Berlin. Architect: Albert Speer, after drawings by Hitler

        Inside there was a three tiered gallery and a circle of 100 rectangular marble pillars. In huge recesses gleamed golden mosaics. The only other decoration was a single gilded sculpture of a German eagle with a Swastika in its claws, 14 metres high, under which The Leader was to have his podium.

        The Great Hall was to be surrounded on three sides by water. For this the River Spree was to be widened into a lake, and the river traffic diverted into underground canals. The fourth side was to be the Adolf Hitler Square, a new space for the annual May Day Parades, until then held at the Tempelhof Airfield. The square itself was to be flanked by more Party buildings. It was to be adorned with two giant sculptures, nearly 20 metres high. They were Hitler's choices: Atlas and Tellus, carrying the world and the heavens. The two spheres were coated in enamel, with the stars and the continents outlined in gold.

        Albert Speer had thought to emulate Claude Ledoux's and Etienne Le Boullйe's grandiose architectural projects for France. But in contrast to these eighteenth century masters, he thought that his plans were technically realisable.

        To make room for the Great Hall, whole streets were bulldozed. Speer began to construct a skeleton of a steel frame from which the shell of the dome would be suspended. A big sample of the concrete floor, which was to support such a structure, was sunk into a plot of earth in the suburbs of Berlin to test its quality.

        For the vast Adolf Hitler Square, Berlin's old Königsplatz was covered in granite and enlarged to hold up to one million people. The sculptor Arno Breker was asked to design a fountain 125 metres in diameter with a figure of Apollo reaching 6 metres into the sky. 
Imagine my joy in creating a fountain of that dimension ..... I remained faithful to my Greekness and sketched Apollo with the chariot of the sun ..... The main group of Apollo was framed by four pillars of water, 15 metres high. Spotlights in the middle of the water pillar transformed them at night into giant silvery gleaming towers. on the edge of the huge basins stood, in the axis of the six avenues, six Maenads in flowing robes, announcing, so to speak, the great event: the arrival of Apollo. (Arno Breker, Im Strahlungsfeld der Ereignisse 1925-1965, Preußisch Oldendorf, 1972, page 95.) This was to be the showpiece of a new Germany, surpassing anything other Nations could ever boast.

Model for the circular plaza, Berlin. Architect: Albert Speer

        On June 23rd, 1940, immediately after the Armistice in France, Hitler visited Paris for the first time. In a Mercedes sedan, Hitler, as usual sitting next to the driver, set out on a city tour with Speer, Hermann Giesler, and Arno Breker. A newsreel recorded the conqueror's flying visit in the early hours of the morning. They stopped at Charles Garnier's neobaroque Opera House, Hitler's favorite building. After that they passed the Madeleine and went on to the Trocadйro. Hitler stopped at the Arc de Triomphe and at the Panthйon. After the visit Hitler ordered a change in his architectural plans. Our architecture is too heavy, he observed. It does not know the play of variety and details. The Arc de Triomphe impressed him particularly.

        Berlin was to be renamed Germania. Goebbels wrote in his diaries: 
The projects are truly grandiose. They are of a dimension that will suffice for the next three hundred years. Their construction means that Berlin will be the metropolis of the world from the point of view of architecture as well.

        It was estimated that the building program would take twelve years to complete. In 1944 Goebbels stated that 150 architects were making plans to turn Berlin into the biggest and most beautiful city in the world. There was talk of two new airports and a third airport in the lakes for seaplanes.

        The forest of Grünewald was to become a big centre for leisure activities. Work began in 1938 and was stopped in 1942. Part of the east-west axis road was built; the rest remained on the drawing board.

Model for the Hall Of Soldiers, Berlin. Architect: Wilhelm Kreis

 


Model for the Armoury, Berlin. Architect: Hans Hermann Klaje

 

Model for the Institute For War Technology, Technical University, Berlin. Architect: Hans Malwitz

The Other Cities


        Hitler and his architects Speer and Giesler dreamed extravagantly. Originally Hitler made master plans for Berlin, München, and Nürnberg. He relied on Himmler to find the necessary forced labour in his concentration camps. By 1941, while the war was raging, twenty seven other cities -- among them Hamburg, Augsburg, Köln, Münster, Hannover, Dresden, Bremen, Linz, and Weimar -- were to be rebuilt as visible monuments to the new German Reich. Cities were given new attributes:
  • München, The Capital Of The National Socialist Movement,
  • Hamburg, The City Of Foreign Trade,
  • Nürnberg, The City Of The Party Rallies, and so on.
        In order to safeguard architectural unity, Hitler worked with only a handful of architects responsible for entire cities. Giesler looked after Weimar and Augsburg. Linz was entrusted to Roderich Fick. In Dresden, Wilhelm Kreis (1873-1953) worked. The whole of Germany from the noblest building of faith to the humblest farmhouse will grow together in an orderly unit. A true image of a Folk united in their ideology and their will to work and to create. (Troost, editor, Das Bauen im neuen Reich, I, page 20.)

Model for Adolf Hitler Square, Weimar. Architect: Hermann Giesler

        The plans for the new towns were rigidly worked out and could easily be applied to towns of any size. Most were based on the grid system of a cross, with the Party buildings on a central axis. A Party monument, the administration building of the NSDAP, and an assembly square became obligatory for all towns with more than 20,000 inhabitants. This central square was to be open, like a sports arena, not enclosed by houses as in the old towns. The National Socialists favoured large open spaces for their rallies. It is notable that the plans did not include the building of churches.

        National Socialist architecture involved much more than a revival of monumental buildings to celebrate the powerful State. It meant control of people's lives through architectural structure. Even concentration camps followed a similar architectural scheme, thus giving a Fascist order to cities, villages, and places of imprisonment and rehabilitation.

        Salzgitter and Wolfsberg were only two of the cities built according to these new architectural principles. They were meant to be prototypes of the new cityscape and to look into the future; they did not have to disguise their economic importance behind quaint vernacular facades.

        All over Germany buildings became more and more impressive. The disguised airraid shelters by Friedrich Tamms planned for Berlin in 1942 are only one of the many examples. The Academy Of The NSDAP at Chiemsee in Bavaria was never built, but it gives an idea of the architecture to come.

Model for the entrance tower of the National Socialist German Worker's Party Academy, Lake Chiemsee, Bavaria. Architect: Hermann Giesler


Model for the campus of the National Socialist German Worker's Party Academy, Lake Chiemsee, Bavaria

        Gerdy Troost wrote: The Leader forms with these buildings the image of the noblest characteristics of the German Folk Community. Architecture becomes the education of the new Folk. This rigid monumental building was planned by Hermann Giesler. When the model was exhibited in München, the papers spoke of yet another gigantic work of the National Socialist Movement. According to the will of The Leader, the exterior of this building will be unique. Its style will reflect its role. Here National Socialist philosophy will be constantly formed and reexamined. This building will guarantee the formation of a new type of German for all times. (Alfred Rosenberg, Die Kunst im Deutschen Reich, January, 1939, page 17.)

        The vast complex, 500 metres long and 1,500 metres deep, was to be erected along the banks of a beautiful Bavarian lake. Above a socle would rise four floors with living quarters. A tower 110 metres in diameter and 120 metres in height was to contain the huge communal hall and the reception rooms for The Leader. The building was to have its own radio station and an observatory. The breathtaking vision of this architecture has seldom been matched. It inspired worldwide fascination.

        Linz was to become a cultural mecca, an ongoing festival of the arts. Hitler devised plans for the construction of a large theatre, a concert hall devoted to Anton Bruckner, who was, after Wagner, his favorite composer. There would also be a special operetta theatre, an opera house with 2,000 seats, and a large Leader Museum -- all placed along a grand boulevard. Most of the buildings were to be based on his own sketches.

        At a dinner in Berlin on April 28, 1942, in the presence of Speer and Martin Bormann, Hitler spoke about his plans to outshine Budapest and to make Linz the most beautiful town on the Danube River. The river was to be built up in a magnificent fashion, with grandiose buildings and a triumphal arch. On one side there was to be an eighteen floor hotel, with 2,500 beds reserved for the 
Strength Through Joy organisation. Plans for another Leader Hotel, in Italian Renaissance style, had been worked out between Hitler and Roderich Fick, down to the minutest detail. Municipal buildings and an Adolf Hitler School in Baroque style were to be built by Hermann Giesler. Guesthouses for the Party and a new Town Hall with a facade resembling the Viennese Opera House were also planned, as well as a Party House by Fick. On the other side of the river, linked by a suspension bridge, was to be an observatory with a vast cupola, by Wilhelm Kreis, as a counter to the pseudoscience of the catholic church. In it would be represented the three great cosmological conceptions of history -- those of Ptolemy, of Copernicus, and of the Austrian engineer Hans Hörbiger. The interior of this edifice was to commemorate the ideas of Troost. There were plans for a District Government Centre, a place of assembly for 100,000 visitors, and a festival hall to hold 35,000. Hitler continued to sketch plans for more and more buildings. Speer and Bieber were asked to submit plans. Linz cost an awful lot of money, noted Goebbels in his diary, May 17th, 1941, but it is so important to The Leader.

        Linz was also to have the largest art gallery in the world, the Leader Museum, a pendant to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Fick designed the building with a facade by Giesler. A library for it by Leonhard Gall was planned. Originally Hitler had wanted to make this a Museum Of The Nineteenth Century. As early as 1925 he had drawn up plans for a gallery with sixty rooms, each filled with the masters of his beloved period. His list included: Anselm Feuerbach, Wilhelm Leibl, and Hans von Marйes. Adolf Menzel was to have five rooms for himself, and Arnold Böcklin and Moritz von Schwind three each. An inventory of 1940 lists 334 works of the nineteenth century, all earmarked for Linz. In 1939 he had appointed Dr. Hans Posse, one time Director Of The Dresden Gallery, to look after the contents of the new museum. Posse's task was to buy masterworks of earlier periods in Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands. Rosenberg in the meantime requisitioned and borrowed for safekeeping artworks from museums and churches in the occupied territories, and confiscated them from abandoned Jewish homes, while Himmler's Storm Troopers did the same in churches and monasteries in the East. Entire collections were taken from Jewish families in Austria, Holland, and France -- not only paintings but also furniture and silver. Most of it was destined for Linz, some went to other museums or was earmarked for Rosenberg's fantastic dream: a University For Aryan Art.

        In 1944 Robert Scholz, responsible for the special Rosenberg Requisition Force, drew up the balance sheet of the acquisitions: from March, 1941 to July, 1944, twenty nine transports had brought 137 wagons comprised of 4,174 crates containing 21,903 works. Much of it was destroyed by the terrorist area bombing campaign of the criminal airforces of the Allies.

        There were other plans for Linz. A new bridge was built across the Danube River and finished in 1941; it was to have special bridgeheads by Fritz Tamms.

        Hitler's plan had been to transform the town into an international metropolis, with a crypt in which he would be buried.

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