Architektur im Dritten Reich – Architecture in the Third Reich

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


National Socialist architecture was an architectural plan which played a role in the party’s plans to create a cultural and spiritual rebirth in Germany as part of the Third Reich.
Imperial Roman Architecture
Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was an admirer of imperial Rome and believed that some ancient Germans had, over time, become part of its social fabric and exerted influence on it.

He considered the Romans an early Aryan empire, and emulated their architecture in an original style inspired by both Neo-classicism and Art Deco, sometimes known as “Severe” Deco, erecting edifices as cult sites for the Party.
In this sense, the reliance of the Party’s architects on the ‘Deco’ aesthetic indicates, contrary to most liberal/Marxist critics, that National Socialist architectural tastes was essentially ‘modernist’, rather than ‘reactionary’ and ‘traditional’.

Pergamon Altar

Hitler also ordered the construction of a type of ‘Altar of Victory’, borrowed from the Greeks, who were, according to Völkisch ideology, inseminated with the seed of the Aryan peoples.

At the same time, because of his admiration for the Classical cultures of the ancient Mediterranean, he could not isolate and politicize German antiquity, as Benito Mussolini had done with respect to Roman antiquity, therefore he had to ‘import’ political symbols into Germany, and justify their presence on the grounds of racial ancestry, – the belief that ancient Greeks were among the ancestors of the Germans – linked to the same Aryan peoples.
Hitler’s desire to be the founder of a thousand-year Reich were in harmony with the Colosseum being associated with eternity.

Deutsches Stadion

He envisioned all future Olympic games to be held in Germany in the ‘Deutsches Stadion’.

He also anticipated that after winning the war, other nations would have no choice but to send their athletes to Germany every time the Olympic games were held.
Most regimes, especially new ones, wish to make their mark both physically and emotionally on the places they rule.
The most tangible way of doing so is by constructing buildings and monuments.
Architecture is considered to be the only art form that can actually physically meld with the world as well as influence the people who inhabit it.
Buildings, as autonomous things, must be addressed by the inhabitants as they go about their lives.

Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer

In this sense, people are “forced” to move in certain ways, or to look at specific things.

In so doing, Architecture affects not only the landscape, but also the mood of the populace who are served.
The National Socialists believed architecture played a key role in creating the ‘new order’. 
Architecture falls under cultural landscape, one of the most reflective relics of a culture.
The cultural landscape of a nation and era very directly mirror the customs, practices, and ideology of the society in which the landscape is made.
Moreover, not only major cities but also small villages were to express the achievement and the nature of the German people.
It seemed as though the basic design of commonly practiced architecture at the time was to be either left in place or modified within Germany’s dominion.
Reichtstag Building
Young Hitler

Hitler had fostered an appreciation of the fine arts since his youth; his particular interests were in architecture.

He was proud of his German heritage, extending this belief into his view of the arts, and often compared Munich to Vienna, two cities in which he resided.
In his dictated autobiography ‘Mein Kampf’, he commented that Munich was “the metropolis for German art” and stressed the fact that it was a purely Germany city, however, his critiques of German cities in the interwar period were that they lacked a sense of national community.
Hermann and Ferdinand Fellner

He criticized the Reichtstag Building as such.

Hitler was quite fond of the numerous theatres built by Hermann and Ferdinand Fellner, who built in the late classical style.
In addition, he appreciated the stricter architects of the 19th century such as

Münchner Festspiele Haus

Gottfried Semper, who built the Dresden Opera House, the Picture Gallery in Dresden, the court museums in Vienna and Theophil Freiherr von Hansen, who designed several buildings in Athens in 1840.
He greatly admired the Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera, and the Law Courts of Brussels by the architect Poelaert.

The Führer did not have one particular style; there was no official architecture of the Reich, only the neoclassical baseline.
Hitler appreciated the permanent qualities of the classical style, as it had a relationship between the Dorians and his own Germanic world.

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


When Kubizek saw Hitler’s room for the first time, it reminded him of an “architect’s office.” Although Hitler painted landscapes and many other subjects, most of his works tended to be architectural structures.

Linz Landesmuseum

One of his hobbies was drawing or painting the finer buildings of Linz and making changes in their design.

His favorite buildings were of the Italian Renaissance style and his favorite building was the Landesmuseum which he considered “one of the peak achievements in German architecture.”
The richly ornamented gate and the hundred meter long sculptured panel above the main floor never ceased to impress him.
Kubizek and Hitler would take long walks around the city and Hitler would often stop to look over one building or another.
There he stood,” Kubizek would later write, “this pallid, skinny youth, with the first dark brown showing on his upper lip, in his shabby pepper-and-salt suit, threadbare at the elbows and collar, with his eyes glued to some architectural detail, analyzing the style, criticizing or praising the work, disapproving of the material–all this with such thoughtfulness and such expert knowledge as though he were the builder and would have to pay for every shortcoming out of his own pocket.”
According to Kubizek, some art lovers in Linz founded a society to promote the construction of a new theater.
Hitler joined the society and “took part in a competition for ideas.”
Hitler also made detailed drawings of the city’s layout, showing how it could be improved and beautified.
Adolf, Kubizek wrote, “could never walk the streets without being provoked by what he saw.
On more than one occasion Hitler noted that this or that building “shouldn’t be here“, because it distracted from a view or did not “fit into its surroundings.”
Kubizek would later write that Adolf’s ideas were not “sheer fantasy, but a well-disciplined, almost systematic process.”
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Three Primary Roles 

Haus der Deutschen Kunst



Nazi architecture has three primary roles in the creation of its new order: (i) Theatrical; (ii) Symbolic; (iii) Didactic.

In addition, the Nazis saw architecture as a method of producing buildings that had a function, but also served a larger purpose.
For example, the ‘House of German Art’ had the function of housing art, but through its form, style and design it had the purpose of being a community structure built using an Aryan style, which acted as a kind of temple to acceptable German art.





Stage 

May Day Celebrations – Lustgarten

Many National Socialist buildings were stages for communal activity, creations of space meant to embody the principles on which National Socialist ideology was based.

From Albert Speer’s use of banners for the May Day celebrations in the Lustgarten, to the Nazi co-option of the ‘Thing’ tradition, the National Socialists wanted to link themselves to a German past.
The link could be direct; a ‘Thingplatz’ (or Thingstätte) was a meeting place near or directly on a site of supposed special historical significance, used for the holding of festivals associated with a Germanic past.
This was an attempt to link the German people back to both their history and their land.

Thingplatz

The use of ‘Thing’ places was closely associated with the ‘blood and soil’ part of Nazi ideology, which involved the perceived right of those of German blood to occupy German land.
The Thingplatz would contain structures, which often included natural objects like stones and were built in the most natural setting possible.
These structures would be built following the pattern of an ancient Greek theatre, following a structure of a historical culture considered to be Aryan.
This stressing of a physical link between the past and National Socialism aided to legitimatize the Nazi view of history, or even the National Socialist regime itself.
Still, the ‘Thing’ movement was not successful.

The link could be indirect; the May Day celebrations of 1936 in Berlin took place in a Lustgarten that had been transformed into a stage.

Altes Museum

This transformation was not the standard dressing of a specific place but a creation of a new anonymous, pure, cubic space that freed itself from the immediate history of Berlin, the church and the monarchy, yet was still associated with the distant aura of a Hellenic past.
This was simply the creation of a new ceremonial place in direct competition with the former Royal Palace and Altes Museum, both even in the 1930s, still symbols of a royal Berlin.
The symbolism was clear; any speaker at the event would be standing in front of the Altes Museum, which housed Germany’s classical collection that could be seen by the audience only through Swastika banners.
There was a link between the new order and the classical past, but the new order was paramount.

The National Socialists would bring the community together using architecture, creating a stage for the community experience.

Große Halle

These buildings were also solely for the German people, the ‘Great Hall’ in Berlin was not a supranational People’s House like those being built in the Soviet Union, but the stage where tens of thousands of recharged citizens would enter into a solemn mystic union with the Leader of the German Nation.

The sheer size of the stage itself would magnify the importance of what was being said.
How these stages were set was also an issue, from the most mundane building to the grandest, the form and style used in their construction tell a great deal about and are symbols of those who created them, when they were created and why they were created.
Designs of this kind occasionally occur by accident; however, the architectural styles speak to the tastes of those who constructed the building or paid for its construction.
It also speaks to the tastes of the general architectural movements of the time and the regional variants that influenced them.
National Socialist buildings were an expression of the essence of the movement, built as a National Socialist building should be, regardless of the style used.

Symbolic

Determining what National Socialists saw as the concept of National Socialist Architecture is problematic.
Various members of the leadership had differing views and tastes and commentators see the same style in different ways.

 Nürnberg – Cathedral of Ice – Lichtdom

Some see the format used at the Nürnberg rallies as a mixture of Catholic ceremony and left-wing Expressionist form and lighting, while Sir Nevile Henderson saw a cathedral of ice.

Still, if a building was designed and built using the National Socialist version of what was German, it was considered German Architecture.
In general, there were two primary National Socialist styles of architecture.
National Socialist Architecture in its generalised sense was either a simplified version of neoclassical architecture, or a mimicry of peasant romanticism in buildings and structures.
The most notable example of this is the Wewelsburg castle complex redesigned in a very mythological way as a cult site for the SS.
Especially in the North Tower of the castle medieval Romanesque and Gothic architecture was model.

Wewelsburg

The Wewelsburg was to become “centre of the world”.

The neoclassical style was primarily used for urban state buildings or party buildings such as the Zeppelin Field in Nuremberg, the planned ‘Volkshalle’ for Berlin and the Dietrich Eckart Stage in Berlin.
This style was not just used for physical construction, but on the ordered columns of searchlights that formed Speer’s “cathedral of light” used at the Nuremberg Party Rallies.

Ordensburg – Krössinsee

The ‘peasant’ style was primarily used in rural settings for accommodation or community structures like the Ordensburg in Krössinsee.

It was also to be applied to rural new towns, as it represented a mythical medieval time when Germany was free of foreign and cosmopolitan influences.
This style was also used in a limited way for buildings with modern uses like weather service broadcasting and the administration building for the federal post office.
Most National Socialist Architecture was novel neither in style nor concept; it was not supposed to be.
Even a cursory inspection of what was intended for Berlin finds analogies all over the world. Long boulevards with important buildings along them can be found in the grid pattern road structures of Washington and New York, the Mall and Whitehall in London, and the boulevards of Paris.
Large domes can be found on the buildings of the Mughal Empire of India, the Capitol in Washington, the Pantheon and Basilica di San Pietro in Rome.
Even the “Kraft durch Freude” (“Strength through Joy”) resort at Prora is not wholly unlike the buildings envisaged by Le Corbusier in his “City of Three Million Inhabitants”.

Prora

Dr. Robert Ley envisaged Prora as a holiday camp designed to provide affordable holidays for the average worker. Prora was designed to house 20,000 holidaymakers, under the ideal that every worker deserved a holiday at the beach. Designed by Clemens Klotz (1886–1969), all rooms were planned to overlook the sea, while corridors and sanitation are located on the land side. Each room of 5 by 2.5 metres was to have two beds, an armoire (wardrobe) and a sink. There were communal toilets and showers and ballrooms on each floor.
Hitler’s plans for Prora were much more ambitious. He wanted a gigantic sea resort, the “most mighty and large one to ever have existed”, holding 20,000 beds. In the middle, a massive building was to be erected. At the same time, Hitler wanted it to be convertible into a military hospital in case of war. Hitler insisted that the plans of a massive indoor arena by architect Erich Putlitz be included. Putlitz’s Festival Hall was intended to be able to accommodate all 20,000 guests at the same time. His plans included two wave-swimming pools and a theatre. A large dock for passenger ships was also planned.

The building of a formal governmental zone outside the centre of an old city or totally on its own had become commonplace by the 1930s.
This is not to say their plans were simply an attempt to copy others, but that they were following a pattern already established in human society.

Edwin Lutyens – Viceroy’s Palace – New Dehli

The forms used may have been inspired by other city redevelopment plans like Edwin Lutyens’ Delhi, Burnham’s Chicago or even Walter Burley Griffin’s Canberra.

National Socialism is often viewed as ‘anti-modern’ and ‘romantic’, or having a pragmatic willingness to use modern means in pursuit of anti-modern purposes.

Bauhaus – Dessau
This confuses the National Socialist dislike of certain styles like the Bauhaus with a blanket dislike of all modern styles.
This was based mainly on what the Bauhaus and others were seen as representing, – foreign (Jewish internationalist) influences and the decadence of the Weimar Republic.

Ordensburg Vogelsang

This modern approach was not limited to the neo-classical buildings for city centres, but was also used for ‘peasant’ style buildings like Ordensburgs and Autobahn garages.

The neo-classical style used was not novel for the time; it was firmly anchored in time.
Speer’s style was assimilating the international 1930s style of public architecture, which was then being pursued as a ‘modernising classicism’.
This is in direct contrast to Peter Adams’s attempts to separate National Socialist art from the Zeitgeist and present.

Zepplinfeld Tribune – Albert Speer

To criticize Speer’s architectural style is to criticise buildings being built at the same time all over the world. 

Hitler saw the buildings of the past as direct representations of the culture that created them and how they were created.
Hitler believed they could be used by man to transmit his time, and its spirit, to posterity and that in his time, ultimately, all that remained to remind men of the great epochs of history was their monumental architecture.
National Socialist Architecture should speak to the conscience of a future Germany centuries from now.
As Hitler said in a speech,
The purpose of Nazi architecture and technology should be to create ruins that would last a thousand years and thereby overcome the transience of the market“.
Central to this was Albert Speer’s ‘Theory of Ruin Value’, in which the Nazis would build structures which even in a state of decay, after hundreds or thousands of years would more or less resemble Roman models.

Zepplinfeld Tribune – Albert Speer

Speer intended to produce this result by avoiding elements of modern construction such as steel girders and reinforced concrete which are subject to weathering, and by designing his buildings to withstand the impact of the wind even if the roofs and ceilings were so neglected that they no longer braced the walls.

In this respect, it can be seen that by going back to the materials of the past and by the proper engineering of buildings it was possible to create a permanence that was impossible with contemporary building materials and styles.
To Hitler, only the great cultural documents of humanity made of granite and marble could symbolize his new order.
The ‘theory of ruin value’ could be seen as a backward looking concept; however, what it actually does is look at the types of buildings that survive from the past, understand why they survived, and attempt to build the new buildings of the Reich based on such understanding.
In addition, the infrastructure and organization behind the provision of building material was purely of the time.

Albert Speer – Reichskanzlei
Entrance
Albert Speer – Reichskanzlei
Main Facade

Hitler was not like Shelley’s Ozymandias, a leader boasting about his power to the future, but rather a builder of symbolic expressions of the National Socialist movement, and of the new Germany they would create.

National Socialist buildings were not to be like the Reichstag, seen as a grandiose monument conjuring up historical reminiscences, but as symbols of a new Germany.
The buildings had to be suitable for their intended role.
An example of this is the rebuilt Reichskanzlei that was planned as a symbol of the Greater German Reich, which included Austria even though at the time of planning the Anschluss was still three years away.
So important was the symbolism of the buildings that their form was decided on long before their construction and in some cases, even before the events they were to symbolize.

Albert Speer – Neue Reichskanzlei – Marmorsaal
Albert Speer – Neue Reichskanzlei 

Speer himself remarked that many of the buildings Hitler asked him to construct were glorifying the victories he didn’t yet have in his pocket.

Hitler drew sketches of buildings he hoped to build as early as the 1920s, when there was not a shred of hope that they could ever be built.
The buildings had to look the part: the Reichskanzlei must look like the centre of the Reich, not the headquarters of a soap company.
Nazi buildings would be the great cultural documents that the new order would create in their stronger, protected community.

Wewelsburg

Symbolic architecture need not be built as it often already existed.
In 1941 the SS newspaper Das Schwarze Korps published an essay by Heinrich Himmler entitled “German Castles in the East”, in which he wrote, “When people are silent, stones speak. By means of the stone, great epochs speak to the present so that fellow citizens; are able to uplift themselves through the beauty of self-made buildings. Proud and self-assured, they should be able to look upon these works erected by their own community“.

Braunschweig –  Cathedral
Dom St. Blasii
Strasbourg Cathedral
Liebfrauenmünster zu Straßburg

Himmler continues by creating a cyclical process linking the people, their blood and their buildings, “Buildings are always erected by people. People are children of their blood, are members or their race. As blood speaks, so the people build“.

Where buildings held important cultural items, they would either be re-modelled like Braunschweig (Brunswick) Cathedral, which was the burial place of Henry the Lion, co-opted like Strasbourg Cathedral as the monument to Germany’s unknown soldier, or moved to a more appropriate position, like the Victory Column in Berlin.

During World War II, Strasbourg’s Cathedral was seen as a significant symbol of the Volk.
Adolf Hitler, who visited it on 28 June 1940, intended to transform the church into a “national sanctuary of the German people” or into a monument to the Unknown Soldier.

Leipziger Platz – Berlin

Like the Sacré-Coeur basilica in Montmartre or the Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome, the new buildings of the National Socialists would replace the commercial buildings that were signs of the cultural decay and general break-up of the Berlin of the 1930s.
To express their true Aryan nature, the Nazis had to destroy the creations of non-Germans and the decadent past and accept Hitler’s judgment as to which way German art must go in order to fulfil its task as the expression of German character.
The new Berlin, like the new National Socialist Germany, would superimpose itself onto the decadence of the old.
The Nazi vision of a city would replace the visions of the past, they would replace the twilight, or the past, with clarity, cleanliness, and pure, distinct lines.

Symbols were not just limited to permanent buildings; familiar symbols of the north European past were used regularly in the decorations for National Socialist festivals.

Village Maypole
May Day Celebrations – Lustgarten

An example of this is the use of the Maypole at the May Day celebrations.

It is the traditional symbol throughout northern Europe of the end of winter and of the reawakening of nature and the focus of community events.
At the doors of the German Pavilion at the 1937 Paris Exhibition were two sets of seven meter high statues that symbolized family and community.

1937 German Pavillion
1937 German Pavillion

The pavilion that was designed as a blatant symbol of National Socialist Germany was planned by a German, Albert Speer and built solely out of German materials shipped from within Germany.

Symbolism, graphic art and hortatory inscriptions were prominent in all forms of National Socialist approved architecture.
The eagle with the wreathed swastikas, heroic friezes and free-standing sculpture were common.
Often mottoes or quotations from ‘Mein Kampf’ or Hitler’s speeches were placed over doorways or carved into walls.



Die Neue Reichkanzlei
‘Die Partei’ – Arno Breker

The National Socialist message was conveyed in friezes, which extolled labour, motherhood, the agrarian life and other values.

Muscular nudes, symbolic of military and political strength, guarded the entrance to the Berlin Chancellery

Ordensburg Sonthofen

The Ordensburgen are the schools at which the ideology of National Socialism is taught to a picked group of youths who desire to dedicate their lives to political service.

The Ordensburgen’s architectural form derives from the fortresslike castles built by the Teutonic Knights whose mission it was to civilise and colonise the lands east of the Elbe.
Since it is the mission of the Ordensburg to train and develop a new order of leaders who are to take with them into practical life the ideals of the movement which they serve, this form represents an appropriate architectural symbol.
Didactic

Entartete Kunst
Entartete Kunst

Hitler saw architecture as “The Word In Stone,” a method of imparting a message.

This is not regime architecture primarily for general propaganda purposes as argued by Benton, but is work meant to impart a specific message.
This would be a message that all decent Germans would understand, like the lessons of events at the ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition staged in Munich in 1937.
They would not understand it because they were told to; they would understand it simply because of who they were.
The National Socialists chose new versions of past styles for most of their architecture.
This should not be viewed simply as an attempt to reconstruct the past, but rather an effort to use aspects of the past to create a new present.

Neo-Classical Architecture
Neue Wache – Berlin –  Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Most buildings are copies in some form or other, but for the National Socialists copying the past not only linked them to the past in general but also specifically to an Aryan past.

Neo-classical architecture and Renaissance architecture were direct representations of Aryan culture.
National Socialist architecture was also Aryan but of a Germanic nature.
Still, these analogues were not part of an attempt to recreate an actual past, but were meant to emphasize the importance of Aryan culture as a justification for the actions of the present.
Many other nations from the Austro-Hungarian Empire to the United States have constructed major government buildings in historical styles to get across a specific message.

Schocken Department Store – Erich Mendelsohn

While Hitler saw the architecture of the Weimar Republic as an object lesson in cultural decline, the new buildings he would build would teach a different lesson, that of national rebirth.

The size of the buildings proposed for Berlin would be among the largest in the world, meant to instill in each individual German citizen the insignificance of individuals in relation to the community as a whole.
The distinct lack of any detailing at a human scale in the urban neo-classical building would have simply overawed.
The message of community would even affect holidays.
Clemens Klotz’s Prora would not only have a ‘Festhalle’ in which people would hear speeches and get involved in communal events but also give everyone the same view of the sea.
Engineering could be coupled with architecture to teach lessons too.
It is clear that the Autobahn was seen as a way of creating a community, which was both physically and symbolically linked.

Reichsautobahn

When Carl Theoder Protzen entitled his painting of the Autobahn bridge at Leipheim, “Clear the forest – dynamite the rock; conquer the valley; overcome the distance; stretch the road through the German land,” he was linking clear connections between what should be done and what it was to accomplish.

Building the Autobahn would not only teach the German people that they were linked together but also would show that it had been accomplished by Germans working together.
It would be an inspiration for the construction of the community of the German People.
The effort that went into the styling of Autobahn bridges and garages shows plainly that it was more than just a motorway.
In some circumstances, the design used for the Autobahn actually affects the functioning of its supposed purpose.

Adolf Hitler – Autobahn Construction

Adolf Hitler enthusiastically embraced an ambitious Reichsautobahn construction project and appointed Fritz Todt, the Inspector General of German Road Construction, to lead up the project. By 1936, 130,000 workers were directly employed in construction, as well as an additional 270,000 in the supply chain for construction equipment, steel, concrete, signage, maintenance equipment, etc. In rural areas, new camps to house the workers were built near construction sites. The job creation program aspect was not especially important because full employment was almost reached by 1936. The autobahns were not primarily intended as major infrastructure improvement of special value to the military as often stated because they were of no military value as all major military transports in Germany were done by train to save fuel. The propaganda ministry turned the construction of the autobahns into a major media event that attracted international attention.

The role the National Socialists hoped architecture would play in the creation of a new order was like that of a book: to provide a place to hold the message, the symbols to impart it and a teacher to read it.
Architecture, like every other art form, would be produced to serve the new National Socialist order.
For them, if this meant following existing architectural styles or providing analogues of other buildings, then so it is.

Cult of Victory
Arch of Triumph – Germania – Albert Speer

Both the National Socialists and the Romans employed architecture of colossal dimensions to overawe.

Both cultures were preoccupied with architectural monuments that celebrated or glorified a victory ideology: triumphal arches (the largest in the world would be built on Berlin’s north-south axis), columns, trophies, and a cult of pageantry associated with the subjugation of others.

Arch of Triumph – Germania

The National Socialists planned and built many military trophies and memorials (Mahnmäler), on the eastern borders of the Reich.

In the same way, the Romans had built celebratory trophies on the borders of their empire to commemorate victories and warn off would-be attackers.
One of the most prominent memorial buildings intended to commemorate Germany’s past and anticipated military glory was Wilhelm Kreis’s Soldatenhalle.



Wilhelm Kreis – Soldatenhalle

This was to be yet another cult centre to promote the regime’s glorification of war, patriotic self-sacrifice and virtutes militares.

The main architectural features of this building were overtly Roman.

Wilhelm Kreis – Soldatenhalle

A groin-vaulted crypt beneath the main barrel-vaulted hall was intended as a pantheon of generals exhibited here in effigy.

In addition, it functioned as a ‘herõon’, since the bones of Frederick the Great were to be placed in the building.
Flags and insignia played an important part in Nazi ceremonial and in the decoration of buildings.

Wilhelm Kreis (* March 17 1873 in Eltville , † August 13 1955 in Bad Honnef), is one of the most important German architects in the first half of the 20th Century. He also worked as a university teacher at the art academy in Dusseldorf and Dresden.

Wilhelm Kreis –  Extension of the Museum Island

Wilhelm was born on 17 county March 1873 in Eltville in the Rheingau , the sixth of nine children.
His father was a land surveyor.
Kreis worked under the direction of Albert Speer, for war projects in Dresden, and the gigantic plans for Berlin, notably the design for the massive ‘Soldiers Hall.’ Employing the respected Kreis brought Speer some legitimacy; Kreis responded by becoming an active supporter of National Socialism. He was named as one of the Reich’s most important artists in the Gottbegnadeten list of September 1944.

Wilhelm Kreis –  Extension of the Museum Island – Plan


Wilhelm Kreis –  Extension of the Museum Island 



SA Standard
SA Standard
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The eagle-topped standards carried by the SA at Nuremberg rallies were reminiscent of Roman legionary standards, the uniformity of which Hitler admired.

There can be little doubt that Hitler’s state architecture, even when seen today in photographs of architectural models, conveys a sense of “Power and Force” (Macht und Gewalt), which of course Hitler wanted it to embody.
Inevitably, after Hitler’s defeat, the colossal dimensions of his buildings tended to be seen as symbols of Hitler’s megalomania.
This is something of an oversimplification, since at the time the buildings were planned and erected, they were valid symbols of Germany’s rapidly rising power and expressed the optimism generated by Hitler’s spectacular initial victories.
The vast public buildings of ancient Rome have rarely been explained as symptoms of imperial megalomania since Roman imperialism, which generated money and labour necessary for the erection of Rome’s monumental buildings, was supremely successful and long-lived.
Hitler’s architecture is sometimes misjudged because he was building for the future in anticipation of a greatly enlarged Reich.
Here it is worth noting that Vitruvius perceived that Augustus was building on a large scale for future greatness.
It would be a mistake to regard his buildings as either psychologically ineffective or symbolically impotent.

Emperor Augustus
Forum of Augustus

This is certainly not the impression given by Speer or Giesler at the time they were articulating Hitler’s architectural plans.

Had Hitler achieved all his political and military aims, and had his successors consolidated and perhaps even expanded his territorial gains, the art and architecture of Germany would undoubtedly have reflected the sentiment that pervaded much of Rome’s art in the Augustan period, that is, a confidently assumed right to dominate others, which Virgil elegantly, if brutally, expressed in Aeneid 6.851-53: “Remember, Roman, to exercise dominion over nations. These will be your skills: to impose culture on peace, to spare the conquered and to war down the proud“.
This passage, so much in tune with National Socialist aspirations is repeatedly referred to in the political literature of Germany at the time.

Hermann Giesler with Adolf Hitler

Hermann Giesler (April 2, 1898, Siegen – January 20, 1987, Düsseldorf) was a German architect during the Third Reich, one of the two architects most favoured and rewarded by Adolf Hitler (the other being Albert Speer).
Hermann Giesler was born into a family of architects. He volunteered for the German Army in 1915, became a Lieutenant in the Pioneers (similar to the U.S. See-Bees) and ended as a WWI pilot. He completed his architectural study at the Munich Academy of Applied Art after the war.
Giesler was impressed by Oswald Spengler, whom he met in 1919 at a symposium at the Munich City Hall. In 1923 he married and had two sons. Beginning in 1930, he worked as an independent architect, winning several awards. He joined the NSDAP well before 1933.
In 1937 he gained a professorship, received the Grand Prix and gold medal for his architectural designs at the World Exhibition in Paris, and was assigned in 1938 to the overall design of Germany’s exhibits at the 1942 World Exhibition in Rome. That year, Adolf Hitler asked him to plan Munich’s architectural renovation, as well as to design and build his private residence at the Obersalzberg.

Hermann Giesler

Later on, Giesler was put in charge of planning Hitler’s pet project, the city of Linz. He worked on plans and a large model for the Danube Development of the Banks, and on designs for the cultural center, which Hitler regarded with particular interest.

Linz Art Museum – Hermann Giesler

When war broke out, he was promoted to generalbaurat and given the task of construction for war-related building projects in the Balticum (Lithuania/Latvia/Estonia). In 1942-44 he was chief of the Organization Todt (OT) Group North and from 1944-45, chief of OT Group VI (Baviria, Upper and Lower Austria).

Project Linz Model – Hermann Giesler with Adolf Hitler

Giesler later wrote about the friction between himself and Hitler’s other architect, Albert Speer, during 1940-42. It started with Speer’s dominant control of building-material, labor and construction and ended with Speer going behind Giesler’s back to take over the Linz project. Giesler called Speer “the Cesar Borgia of the 20th century.”
He published his memoir about his architectural and personal relationship with Hitler in 1977, and died in 1987.
Hermann Giesler was Hitler’s most favorite architect not Albert Speer. Adolf Hitler confided in Giesler often and Hitler enjoyed his company tremendously. Hitler became increasingly busy as the war began and even more so as the war progressed. Never the less Hitler always made time for his talks with Giesler which mostly centered around the topics of architecture and designing the city of Linz.

Albert Speer

After the war, Hermann Giesler was loyal to the end and he never turned on Hitler.
The same just cannot be said of Albert Speer who threw Hitler and his achievements right to the hyenas to save his own skin. Speer is a traitor to his Fuehrer and to National Socialism. It is because of this treachery that standard “history” and the media love to portray Speer as the “Good Nazi.” Albert Speer is and always will remain among the ranks of traitors. Here he finds his rightful place with the likes of Claus von Stauffenberg, Ernst Roehm, Fredrick Fromm, Ludwig Beck and their ilk.







City of Linz – Hermann Giesler 

City of Linz – Hermann Giesler 

City of Linz – Hermann Giesler 

City of Linz – Hermann Giesler 
City of Linz – Hermann Giesler 

Berlin’s Reshaping – Welthauptstadt Germania
Berlin

In ‘Mein Kampf’, Adolf Hitler states that industrialized German cities of his day lacked dominating public monuments and a central focus for community life.
In fact, criticism of the rapid industrialization of German cities after 1870 had already been voiced.

The ideal National Socialist city was not to be too large, since it was to reflect pre-industrial values and its state monuments, the products and symbols of collective effort (Gemeinschaftsarbeiten), were to be given maximum prominence by being centrally situated in the new and reshaped cities of the enlarged Reich.

Colosseum – Rome

Hitler’s comments in ‘Mein Kampf’ indicated that he saw buildings such as the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus as symbols of the political might and power of the Roman people.
Hitler stated, “Architecture is not only the spoken word in stone, but also is the expression of the faith and conviction of a community, or else it signifies the power, greatness and fame of a great man or ruler“.
In Hitler’s cultural address, “The Buildings of the Third Reich,” delivered in September 1937, in Nuremberg, he affirmed that the new buildings of the Reich were to reinforce the authority of the National Socialist party and the state, and at the same time provide “gigantic evidence of the community” (gigantischen Zeugen unserer Gemeinschaft).

Germania – Albert Speer

The architectural evidence of this authority could already be seen in Nuremberg, Munich and Berlin, and would become still more evident when more plans had been put into effect.

On September 19, 1933, Hitler told the mayor of Berlin that his city was “unsystematic”, but it was not until January 30, 1937, that Speer was officially put in charge of plans for the reshaping of Berlin, although he had been working on them unofficially in 1936.
The plan that Speer coordinated as ‘Inspector General of Construction’ (GBI) for the centre of Berlin was based on Roman, not Greek, planning principles.
The plan that Speer coordinated as ‘Inspector General of Construction’ (GBI) for the centre of Berlin was based on Roman, not Greek, planning principles.

Germania – Albert Speer
The plan that Speer coordinated as ‘Inspector General of Construction’ (GBI) for the centre of Berlin was based on Roman, not Greek, planning principles.
Speer’s plan was to create a central north-south axis, which was to intersect the major east-west axis at right angles.

On the north side of the junction a massive forum of about 350,000 square metres was planned, around which were to be situated buildings of the greatest political and physical dimensions: a vast domed ‘Volkshalle’ on the north side, Hitler’s vast new palace and chancellery on the west side and part of the south side, and on the east side the new High Command of the German armed forces and the now-dwarfed Reichstag.

The Volkshalle (“People’s Hall”), also called Große Halle (“Great Hall”) or Ruhmeshalle (“Hall of Glory”), was a huge domed monumental building.

Große Halle – Albert Speer

The project was never accomplished.
The word Volk had a particular resonance in Nazi thinking.
The term völkisch movement, which can be translated to English as “the people’s movement” or “the folkish movement”, derives from Volk but also implies an otherworldly and eternal essence. Before the First World War, völkisch thought had developed an attitude to the arts as the German Volk; that is, from an organically linked Aryan or Nordic community (Volksgemeinschaft), racially unpolluted and with its roots in the German soil of the Heimat (homeland).
Just as Augustus’s house on the Palatine was connected to the temple of Apollo, so Hitler’s palace was to have been connected by a cryptoporticus to the Volkshalle, which filled the entire north side of the forum. This truly enormous building was inspired by Hadrian’s Pantheon, which Hitler visited privately on May 7, 1938.
But Hitler’s interest in and admiration for the Pantheon predated this visit, since his sketch of the Volkshalle dates from about 1925.
Hermann Giesler records a conversation he had with Hitler in the winter of 1939/40, when Hitler was recalling his “Roman Impressions” (Römische Impressionen):
‘From the time I experienced this building – no description, picture or photograph did it justice – I became interested in its history. For a short while I stood in this space (the rotunda) – what majesty! I gazed at the large open oculus and saw the universe and sensed what had given this space the name Pantheon – God and the world are one.’

Volkshalle – Albert Speer

Hitler’s impressions of the Roman Pantheon were revived when on June 24, 1940 he made a tour of selected buildings in Paris, with the German architects Albert Speer, Hermann Giesler and Arno Breker, including the Paris Panthéon.
The sketch of the Volkshalle given by Hitler to Speer shows a traditional gabled pronaos, (A Greek term, pronaos is the entrance hall to the Greek temple (naos), a part of the portico), supported by ten columns, a shallow rectangular intermediate block and behind it the domed main building.
Giesler notes that the pronaos of the temple in Hitler’s sketch is reminiscent of Hadrian’s Pantheon and of the style of Friedrich Gilly or Karl Friedrich Schinkel, however, there was little about Speer’s elaboration of the sketch that might be termed Doric, except perhaps for the triglyphs (Triglyph is an architectural term for the vertically channeled tablets of the Doric frieze, so called because of the angular channels in them, two perfect and one divided, the two chamfered angles or hemiglyphs being reckoned as one), in the entablature, (An entablature refers to the superstructure of moldings and bands which lie horizontally above columns, resting on their capitals), supported by the geminated (paired) red granite columns with their Egyptian palm-leaf capitals, previously employed by Speer in the portico outside Hitler’s study on the garden side of the new Chancellery.

Volkshalle – Drawing – Albert Speer

Speer’s Volkshalle was to be the capital’s most important and impressive building in terms of its size and symbolism. Visually it was to have been the architectural centrepiece of Berlin as the world capital (Welthauptstadt). Its dimensions were so large that it would have dwarfed every other structure in Berlin, including those on the north-south axis itself. The oculus of the building’s dome, 46 metres (151 ft) in diameter, would have accommodated the entire rotunda of Hadrian’s Pantheon and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. The dome of the Volkshalle was to rise from a massive granite podium 315 by 315 metres (1,033 ft × 1,033 ft) and 74 metres (243 ft) high, to a total inclusive height of 290 metres (950 ft). The diameter of the dome, 250 metres (820 ft), was to be exceeded, much to Speer’s annoyance, by the diameter of Giesler’s new domed railway station at the east end of Munich’s east-west axis. It was to be 15 metres (49 ft) greater in diameter than Speer’s Volkshalle.

Volkshalle – Section – Albert Speer

The resemblance of the Volkshalle to the Pantheon is far more obvious when their interiors are compared. The large niche (50 metres high by 28 metres wide) at the north end of the Volkshalle was to be surfaced with gold mosaic and to enclose an eagle 24 metres (79 ft) high, beneath which was situated Hitler’s tribunal. From here he would address 180,000 listeners, some standing in the central round arena, others seated in three concentric tiers of seats crowned by one hundred marble pillars, 24 metres (79 ft) high, which rose to meet the base of the coffered ceiling suspended from steel girders sheathed on the exterior with copper.[10]
The three concentric tiers of seats enclosing a circular arena 140 metres (460 ft) in diameter owe nothing to the Pantheon but resemble the seating arrangements in Ludwig Ruff’s Congress Hall at Nuremberg, which was modeled on the Colosseum. Other features of the Volkshalle’s interior are clearly indebted to Hadrian’s
Pantheon.

Volkshalle – Interior – Albert Speer

The coffered dome, the pillared zone, which here is continuous, except where it flanks the huge niche on the north side. The second zone in the Pantheon, consisting of blind windows with intervening pilasters, is represented in Speer’s building by a zone above the pillars consisting of uniform, oblong shallow recesses. The coffered dome rests on this zone. The design and size of the external decoration of this Volkshalle, are all exceptional and call for explanations that do not apply to community halls planned for Nazi fora in other German cities.
Hitler’s aspirations for the establishment of his New Order, already evident from architectural and decorative features of the new Chancellery, are even more clearly expressed here. On top of the dome’s lantern was an eagle grasping in its claws not the usual swastika but the globe of the Earth (Erdball). This combination of eagle and ball was well known in imperial Roman iconography, for example, the restored statue of Claudius holding a ball and eagle in his right hand. The vast dome, on which it rested, as with Hadrian’s Pantheon, symbolically represented the vault of the sky spanning Hitler’s world empire. The globe on the dome’s lantern was enhanced and emphasized by two monumental sculptures by Breker, each 15 metres high, which flanked the north façade of the building: at its west end Atlas supporting the heavens, at its east end Tellus supporting the Earth. Both mythological figures were according to Speer, chosen by Hitler himself. Despite the evidence these overt and largely traditional imperialistic symbols of domination over urbs and orbis, Giesler says that Speer was wrong to represent the Volkshalle as a symbol of World Domination (Weltherrschaft).

These buildings were to be placed in strong axial relationship around the forum designed to contain one million people, and were collectively to represent the “maiestas imperii” (The Majesty of the Empire) and make the new world capital, ‘Germania’, outshine its only avowed rival, Rome.

Deutsches Stadion – Albert Speer

The first step in these plans was the Berlin Olympic Stadium for the 1936 Summer Olympics. This stadium would promote the rise of the National Socialist government.
A much larger stadium capable of holding 400,000 spectators was planned alongside the  parade grounds in Nuremberg, but only the foundations were dug before the project was abandoned due to the outbreak of war.
Had this stadium been completed it would remain the largest in the world today by a considerable margin.

Panathenaic Stadium – Athens

On September 7, 1937, German construction workers laid the cornerstone for what was to become the world’s largest stadium — one that would hold over 400,000 spectators. Designed by Hitler’s close adviser Albert Speer, the monumental structure drew as much inspiration from the Greek Panathenaic Stadium of Athens as it did from Hitler’s brazen megalomania. But in the end, it was simply not meant to be, a project cut short by the demands of World War II and the eventual demise of the Third Reich.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Hitler unveiled a two-meter high model of the Deutsches Stadion (“German Stadium”) to an excited crowd of 24,000 people. He described it as “words of stone” that were to be stronger than anything that could ever be spoken. And indeed, Nazi architecture was grandiose.

Südbahnhof – Germania


The plan also called for the building of two new large railway stations as the planned North-South Axis would have severed the tracks leading to the old Anhalter and Potsdamer stations, forcing their closure.
These new stations would be built on the city’s main S-Bahn ring with the Nordbahnhof in Wedding and the larger Südbahnhof in Tempelhof-Schöneberg at the southern end of the avenue.

Neue Reichskanzlei – Berlin

The Anhalter Bahnhof, no longer used as a railway station, would have been turned into a swimming pool.
Speer also designed a new Chancellery, which included a vast hall designed to be twice as long as the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles.
Hitler wanted him to build a third, even larger Chancellery, although it was never begun.

The plan for the centre of Berlin differed only in its dimensions from the plans drawn up for the reshaping of smaller German cities and for the establishment of new towns in conquered territories.
The order for the reshaping of other German cities was signed by Hitler on October 4, 1937.



Weimar City Centre

In each town, the new community buildings were not to be sited randomly, but were to have prominent (usually central) positions within the town plan.
The clarity, order and objectivity that Hitler aimed at in the layout of his towns and buildings were to be achieved in conquered territories in the East by founding new colonies and in Germany itself by reshaping the centres of already established towns and cities.

Weimar City Centre

In order to provide a town with centrally located community centres, principles of town planning reminiscent of Greek, but more especially Roman, methods were revived..

The airport halls of Tempelhof International Airport built by Ernst Sagebiel are still known as the largest built entities worldwide.
The colossal dimensions of Roman and National Socialist buildings also served to emphasize the insignificance of the individual engulfed in the architectural vastness of a state building.
The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s reactions on visiting the Pont du Gard in 1737 produced in him the response that Hitler hoped for Berlin, to impress with its grandeur.


Gauforum in Augsburg

Gauforum in Augsburg

Forum of Dresden – Wilhelm Kreis
Gauforum Frankfurt

Forum Weimar – Hermann Giesler


Architecture as Religion

A major difference between the neoclassical state architecture of National Socialist Germany and neoclassical architecture in other modern countries in Europe and America is that in Germany it was but one facet of a severely authoritarian state.
Its dictator aimed to establish architectural order; gridiron town plans, axial symmetry, hierarchical placement of state structure within urban space on a scale intended to reinforce the social and political order desired by the National Socialist state, which anticipated the displacement of Christian religion and ethical values by a new kind of worship based on the cult of National Socialist martyrs and leaders, and with a value system close to that of pre-Christian Rome.

Braunes Haus
Paul Ludwig Troost

The first National Socialist forum, Königsplatz in München  was planned in 1931-32 by Hitler and his architect Paul Ludwig Troost, whom Speer says Hitler regarded as the greatest German architect since Karl Friedrich Schinkel.
Troost had already redecorated the interior of the Braunes Haus (Palais Barlow) on Brienner Strasse in 1930 after its acquisition by the Nazi party (Lehmann-Haupt 113).

Ehren Tempel – Königsplatz – München

Troost, who like his successor, Speer, aimed to revive an early classical or Doric architecture, could not have found a more encouraging context for his endeavours than the neo classical architectural setting of Königsplatz, however, like Hitler, he found Bauhaus architecture distasteful, the Ehrentempel he designed was not uninfluenced by modernist tendencies, in no respect were his temples conventionally Doric.
In the summer of 1931 Troost prepared drawings for four party buildings that were to be erected at the east end of the forum, symmetrically placed along Arcisstrasse.
The literature of the period leaves little doubt that this new forum was regarded as a sacred cult centre, which was even referred to as “Acropolis Germainiae“.

Ehren Tempel – Königsplatz – München

Koenigsplatz was labeled the “Forum of the Movement” in reference to the birthplace of the National Socialist Party.
Hitler had then believed that the German cities “lacked the monumental urban spaces and structures required to build and maintain a sense of community,” and therefore moulded Koenigsplatz according to rectify these shortcomings.
Previous to the redesign, Koenigsplatz lacked an eastern wall, which contradicted the ideas of community and solidarity.
The eastern wall was added by the Party, and thus the new square was deemed a completion of the old square instead of a complete re-establishment.

Ehren Tempel – Königsplatz – München

Priority was given to the erection of two “martyrs” temples of identical shape named the ‘Ehrentempel’, placed just to either side of the square’s long axis.

In 1935, Hitler said the martyrs’ bodies were not to be buried out of sight in crypts, but should be placed in the open air, to act as eternal sentinels for the German nation.
Hitler later insisted on this detail when Hermann Giesler planned the ‘Volkshalle’ for Weimar’s forum.
He asked his architect to ensure that the two crypts, which were to contain the bodies of SA  men killed in Thuringia, which were to placed at the entrance to the ‘Volksahlle’, be lit by open oculi.

Königsplatz – München

It is interesting too that later still, in 1940, Hitler asked Giesler to plan his own mausoleum in Munich in such a way that his sarcophagus would be exposed to sun and rain.
It is worth noting that in Hitler’s will of May 2, 1938, written the day before he left Germany for his state visit to Rome, Hitler instructed that his body was to be put in a coffin similar to that of the other martyrs and placed in the Ehrentempel next to the Führerbau.

Troost’s temples in Königsplatz were thus regarded as ‘guard posts’, a notion reinforced by the presence of SS sentinels who stood guard at the entrance of each temple.

A year earlier Hitler had said that the blood of the martyrs was to be the baptismal water (Taufwasser) of the Third Reich.

Königsplatz – München

Such imagery perhaps disturbed devout Christians, yet it left no doubt that the cult of National Socialist heroes was to replace the worship of Christian martyrs.
This objective was demonstrated in another way: No National Socialist forum planned for any German city was to incorporate a new church, indeed, a cathedral (Quedlinburg) was turned into a shrine by the SS, who planned to treat the cathedrals of Brunswick and Strasbourg in the same way; in Munich a church was demolished to make way for new National Socialist buildings.

On September 6, 1938, Hitler made his position clear about the attitude of the National Socialists  toward religion.
He said that in its purpose National Socialism had no ‘mystic cult‘, only the care and leadership of a people defined by a common blood relationship.
He continued with the remark that Nazis had no rooms for worship but only halls for the people (that is, no churches, but ‘Volkshallen’) no open spaces for worship, but spaces for assemblies and parades (‘Aufmarschplätze’).

National Socialists had no religious retreats, only sports arenas and playing fields (Stadia), and the characteristic feature of Nazi places of assembly was not the ‘mystical gloom‘ of a cathedral, but the brightness and light of a hall that combined beauty with fitness for its purpose. Three days prior to making this statement, which relates precisely to the functions of National Socialist state building plans and types, Hitler had stated that worship for National Socialists was exclusively the cultivation of the ‘natural’ (that is, the Dionysiac).
In addition, Alfred Rosenberg made it clear that National Socialism and the Christian Church were incompatible.

However, Hitler’s model was that of a Roman Catholic church.
The mysticism of Christianity created buildings with a mysterious gloom which made men more ready to submit to the renunciation of self.
Hitler was deeply impressed by the organization, ritual and architecture of the church. In writing of the spell which an orator can weave over an audience, Hitler stated:
‘The same purpose is served by the artificial and yet mysterious twilight in Catholic churches’.
He might have envied the powerful influence, which the church exerted on the masses, for on one occasion Hitler declared:
the concluding meeting in Nuremberg must be exactly as solemnly and ceremonially performed as a service of the Catholic Church‘.
Whereas the National Socialist buildings should reflect the devout spirit of the movement, there was no place for mysticism in them.
Hitler stated once that National Socialism was cool-headed and realistic.
It “mirrored scientific knowledge“.
It was “not a religious cult“.

Volkshalle – Germania

Thus, the huge ‘Volkshalle’ was to dominate Berlin’s new forum and north-south axis.
The dome of Saint Peter’s would have fitted through the oculus in the dome of the Berlin Volkshalle.
The globe of the world, which was to be placed on the lantern of the Berlin ‘Volkshalle’, was firmly gripped in the talons of an imperial eagle, which were also ‘Reichsadler’, and the attribute of Zeus/Jupiter.
The political theme of a globe gripped by an eagle was rendered in bronze by the sculptor Ernst Andreas Rauch for the exhibition of art in the House of German Art in 1940.

Not only were churches excluded from the new fora but also so was the town hall (Rathaus) since the mayor (Bürgermeister) yielded to the Führer as the representative of local community and nation.
This was an essential feature of the leader principle (Führerprinzip).
In the Nuremberg Party Rallies, leader and led met together and everyone was filled with wonder at the event, in one of Hitler’s Nuremberg speeches he stated, “Not every one of you sees me and I do not see every one of you. But I feel you and you feel me !“.
A notable feature of these rallies was that they were often held at night with spectacular light effects, such as powerful search lights, creating pillars of white light many kilometres long around the perimeter of an assembly ground.

Cathedral of Light – Lichtdom

The effect of such a contrivance was described as a “Cathedral of Light” (Lichtdom).
The term is most appropriate, since Hitler had already stated in ‘Mein Kampf’ that the Church in its wisdom had studied the psychological appeal made upon worshippers by their surroundings: the use of artificially produced twilight casting its secret spell upon the congregation, as well as incense and burning candles. If the National Socialist speaker were to study the psychology of these effects, it would be beneficial. The lighting effects in Nuremberg, particularly at the Zeppelinfeld stadium, owed nothing to chance.
The congregationalizing of National Socialist souls in assembly buildings needed a suitable political framework to make it possible.

Ruinenwerttheorie – Theory of Ruin Value
The “Theory of Ruin Value” (Ruinenwerttheorie) was conceived by Albert Speer, who recommended that, in order to provide a “bridge to tradition” to future generations, modern “anonymous” materials such as steel girders and ferro-concrete should be avoided in the construction of monumental party buildings wherever possible, since such materials would not produce aesthetically acceptable ruins.
Thus the most politically significant buildings of the Reich would to some extent, even after falling into ruins after thousands of years, resemble their Roman models.
The quarries of the Reich could not supply enough granite and marble to build Hitler’s monuments for posterity.
Consequently, vast quantities of granite and marble were ordered from quarries in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, France and Italy.
In ‘Mein Kampf’, Hitler had stressed the need for increased expenditure on public buildings that in terms of durability and aesthetic appeal would match the ‘opera publica’ of the ancient world.
 .
Hitler’s Mausoleum

Hitler at the Tomb of Napoleon

During Hitler’s tour of Paris in June 1940 he visited Les Invalides, where he stood silently gazing upon Napoleon’s tomb.
But it was the classical Pantheon in Rome and its perfect shape that impressed Hitler during his visit in the Italian Capital in 1938.
In late 1940, Hitler advised Giesler about the Pantheon and the mausoleum he wanted to build.

 Les Invalides – Tomb of Napoleon
Imagine to yourself, Giesler, if Napoleon’s sarcophagus were placed beneath a large oculus, like that of the Pantheon“.
He goes on to express an almost mystical delight in the thought that the sarcophagus would be exposed to darkness and light, rain and snow and thus be linked directly to the universe.
Thus, Hitler decided on a mausoleum the design of which was based on that of the Pantheon, not in its original function as a temple but in its later function as a tomb of the famous: the artist Raphael and the kings Victor Emannuel II and Umberto I.
The mausoleum was to be connected to the ‘Halle der Partei’ at Munich by a bridge over Gabelsbergerstrasse, to become a party-political cult centre in the city regarded by Hitler as the home of the National Socialist party.

Giesler – Hitler-Mausoleum

The dimensions were slightly smaller than the Pantheon.
The oculus in the centre of the dome was to be one metre wider in diameter than that of the Pantheon (8.92 metres) to admit more light on Hitler’s sarcophagus, placed immediately under it on the floor of the rotunda.
The modest dimensions of the structure and its lack of rich decoration are at first sight puzzling in light of Hitler’s predilection for gigantic dimensions, but in this case the focal point of the building was the Führer’s sarcophagus, which was not to be dwarfed by dimension out of all proportion to the size of the sarcophagus itself.
Likewise, rich interior decoration would have distracted the attention of “pilgrims”.
Giesler’s scale model of the building apparently pleased Hitler, but the model and plans, kept by Hitler in the Reichskanzlei, are now probably in the hands of the Russians or have been destroyed.
It was perhaps because Hitler was so pleased with the design of his own mausoleum that in late autumn 1940 he asked Giesler to design a mausoleum for his parents in Linz.
Giesler gives no details of the structure, but it is clear from the photograph of his model that once more Hadrian’s Pantheon was the model.

Sculpture

Arno Breker
Arno Breker

Sculpture was used as part of, and in conjunction with, National Socialist architecture to embody the “German Spirit” of divine destiny.
Sculpture expressed the National Socialist obsession with the ideal body and espoused nationalistic, state approved values like loyalty, work, and family.
Josef Thorak and Arno Breker were the most famous sculptors of the Nazi regime.

Arno Breker was in a certain sense both the best and the worst of the Nazi artists.

Nominated as official state sculptor on Hitler’s birthday in 1937, his technique was excellent, and his choice of subject, poses, theme were outstanding.
Breker uses his numerous “naked men with swords” to unite the notions of health, strength, competition, collective action and willingness to sacrifice the self for the common good seen in many other Nazi works with explicit glorification of militarism.

Josef Thorak


Josef Thorak (7 February 1889 in Salzburg, Austria – 26 February 1952 in Hartmannsberg, Bavaria) was an Austrian-German sculptor.
In 1922, Thorak’s reputation increased when he created ‘Der sterbende Krieger’, a statue in memory to the dead of World War I of Stolpmünde.
In 1933 and in following years, Thorak joined Arno Breker as one of the two “official sculptors” of the Third Reich. In his government-issued studio outside Munich, Thorak worked on statues intended to represent the folk-life of Germany under Nazi coordination; these works tended to be heroic in scale, up to 65 feet (20 meters) in height. His official works from this period included a number of sculptures at the Berlin Olympic Stadium of 1936.
Albert Speer referred to Thorak as “more or less “my” sculptor, who frequently designed statues and reliefs for my buildings” and “who created the group of figures for the German pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair. His ‘Comradeship’ stood outside the pavilion, depicting two enormous nude males, clasping hands and standing defiantly side by side, in a pose of defense and racial camaraderie.

Some expressionist influences can be noticed in his neoclassical style.


© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

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