A Clash of Styles – German Aesthetics – 1933-1945

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Emblem of the NSDAP



During the period of the Third Reich there was a tension between three conflicting elements in National Socialist aesthetics and ideology – these three elements being Classicism, Romanticism and Modernism.
Towards the end of the period Classicism and Modernism rose to prominence, both fulfilling their appropriate functions, while a Gothic Romanticism gradually faded in significance.
To understand theses developments, however, we need to consider the origins of German National Socialism.




National Socialism comes from a different tradition than that of either liberal capitalism or communism.
Partito Nazionale Fascista
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Falange Española de las
Juntas de

Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Many historiographers say that the anti-Semitic element, which does not exist to any great extent in the sister fascist movements in Italy and Spain, was adopted by Hitler to gain popularity for the movement.


Partito Nazionale Fascista – PNF – (the National Fascist Party) was an Italian political party, created by Benito Mussolini as the political expression of fascism  The party ruled Italy from 1922 to 1943.
Falange was a Spanish political organization founded by José Antonio Primo de Rivera in 1933, during the Second Spanish Republic. Primo de Rivera was the son of General Miguel Primo de Rivera, who governed Spain as Prime Minister in the 1920s. The Falange was republican, avant-gardist and modernist, in a manner similar to the original spirit of Italian Fascism. Its uniform and aesthetic was similar to contemporary European fascist and national socialist movements.

Futurism and Fascism: We usually associate modern art, and modernism in general, with left wing politics. Futurism, however, had right wing political sympathies from the beginning, and its creators developed ties with Italian Fascism in the years following the First World War. Mussolini, unlike almost all the other right-wing leaders of the 20th century, took an active interest in modernism and, for a while, cultivated it. Futurism, like Italian Fascism itself, was ideologically a mess. It was a hodge-podge of anarchism, the aesthetics of violence, and nationalism. Italian Fascism was likewise a stew of nationalism, anarchism, syndicalism, opportunism and machismo. Mussolini loved the Futurists precisely because they were so modern, so aggressive, and so daring. He had his own origins in anarchism, and that anarchist aesthetic probably genuinely appealed to him, even as his politics became more nationalist and reactionary. Futurism, of course, is a form of ‘degenerate art‘.

click on image for more
information about
Der Große Krieg
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Anti-Semitic prejudice was very common among the masses in German Empire, and it has been claimed that mass acceptance for the NSDAP required the party to be anti-Semitic.
This would also flatter the wounded pride of German people after the defeat of Der Große Krieg (the Great War – World War One).

Others, however, see anti-Semitism as central to Hitler’s Weltanschauung (World view).
The latter is of course the correct interpretation.
Many see strong connections between the values of National Socialism and the irrationalist tradition of the romantic movement of the early 19th century.
Strength, passion, lack of hypocrisy, utilitarianism, traditional family values, and devotion to community were valued by the National Socialists, and first expressed by many Romantic artists, musicians, and writers.
German romanticism in particular expressed these values.

Richard Wagner

For instance, the National Socialists identified closely with the music of Richard Wagner (a noted anti-Semite, author of ‘Das Judenthum in der Musik’, and idol to the young Hitler).

Many of his operas express the ideals of the strong dominating the weak, and a celebration of traditional Norse Aryan folklore and values.
The style of his music is often heroic and grandiose.

Heiliges Römisches Reich
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

The idealisation of tradition, folklore, classical thought, the leadership of Frederick the Great, the rejection of the liberalism of the Weimar Republic and the decision to call the German state the ‘Third Reich’ (which hearkens back to the medieval ‘First Reich’ – Heiliges Römisches Reich – and the pre-Weimar ‘Second Reich’ or Kaiserreich) has led many to regard the National Socialists as essentially traditionalist and reactionary.

Kaiserreich
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
.


The NSDAP that came to power in January 1933 desired more than simply political authority, the ability to revise the Versailles Treaty, and regain and expand upon those lands lost after a humiliating defeat in World War I.
They also wanted to change the cultural landscape: to return the country to traditional “German” and “Nordic” values, to excise or circumscribe Jewish, “foreign,” and “degenerate” influences, and to shape a racial community (“Volksgemeinschaft”) which aligned with Völkisch ideals.
These ideals, however were, at times, contradictory.
National Socialism, however, represented much more than a just a political movement
National Socialism was at once ‘modern’ and ‘anti-modern’; (often referred to as ‘reactionary modernism‘) – Classical and Romantic.

‘Im walde’
Des-Knaben Wunderhorn
Schwind von Moritz (1804-1871)

It was dynamic and utopian, and yet often hearkened back to an idyllic and romanticized German past.

Blut,Boden und Heimat

In certain elements, Völkisch cultural principles were consistent: they stressed family, race, and Volk as the highest representations of German values.

They rejected materialism, cosmopolitanism, and “bourgeois intellectualism,” and instead promoted the German virtues of loyalty, struggle, self-sacrifice, and discipline.
Völkisch cultural values also placed great importance on Germans’ harmony with their native soil (Heimat) and with nature, (the Green Reich), and emphasized the elevation of the Volk and nation above its individual members.

click below for more information about the
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

In the Third Reich,  one of the main roles of culture was to disseminate the Völkisch world view.
One of the first tasks the NSDAP undertook upon their ascension to power in early 1933 was a synchronization (Gleichschaltung) of all professional and social organizations with National Socialist ideology and policy.
The arts and cultural organizations were not exempt from this effort.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, immediately strove to bring the artistic and cultural communities in line with Völkisch goals.

The government therefore purged cultural organizations of Jews, and others alleged to be politically or artistically suspect.
Reichskulturkammer – RKK
(Reich Culture Chamber)
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Beginning in September 1933, a new Reichskulturkammer – (Reich Culture Chamber), an umbrella organization composed of the Reich Film, Music, Theater, Press, Literary, Fine Arts, and Radio Chambers — moved to supervise and regulate all facets of German culture.
The new Nazi aesthetic embraced the genre of objective realism.
The visual arts and other modes of high culture employed this form to depict peasant life, family and community, and heroism on the battlefield; and attempted to exemplify such Germanic virtues as industry, self-sacrifice, and Aryan racial purity.
In the Third Reich there was no such concept as “art for art’s sake”.
Instead all forms of art, in addition to its formal and aesthetic considerations, had a calculated propagandistic undercurrent: it stood in stark contrast to the trends of modern art in the 1920s and 1930s, much of which employed abstract, expressionist, or surrealist tenets.

Professor Paul Ludwig Troost
Haus der Deutschen Kunst 

In October 15, 1933, Hitler laid the cornerstone of the Haus der Deutschen Kunst designed by Professor Paul Ludwig Troost to replace the burned down (1931) glass and steel Munich Glass Palace (1854).

The new museum was a monumental, ‘severe Deco’, neo-classicist buildin,g made of huge cut stones on the exterior, and marble on the interior.

Hitler and Frau Gerdy Troost

Paul Ludwig Troost (17 August 1878 – 21 January 1934), born in Elberfeld, was a German architect. An extremely tall, spare-looking, reserved Westphalian with a close-shaven head, Troost belonged to a school of architects, Peter Behrens and Walter Gropius who, even before 1914, reacted sharply against the highly ornamental Jugendstil, and advocated a restrained, lean architectural approach, almost devoid of ornament. Hitler frequently declared, according to Speer, that “he first learned what architecture was from Troost”‘. The architect’s death on 21 January 1934, after a severe illness, was a painful blow, but Hitler remained close to his widow Gerdy Troost, whose architectural taste frequently coincided with his own, which made her (in Speer’s words) “a kind of arbiter of art in Munich.

In many ways the Haus der Deutschen Kunst expressed an anti-industrial and anti-economic aspect of the spirit of the NSDAP.


Adolf Hitler – Tag der Deutschen Kunst

During the opening ceremony, Hitler declared his pride at being able ‘to lay the foundations for this new temple in honor of the goddess of art‘.

In July 1937 a ‘Grosse deutsche Kunstausstellung’ (Great German Art Exhibition) displaying the culture  of National Socialist art premièred in the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art) in Munich.
Entartete Kunst

A nearby exhibition hall presented, in contrast, an Entartete Kunst (Exhibition of Degenerate Art) in order to demonstrate to the German public the “demoralizing” and “corruptive” influences of modern art.
In architecture, artists like Professor Paul Ludwig Troost and Albert Speer constructed monumental edifices in a classical form, heavily influenced by Art Deco, which conveyed the “enduring grandeur” of the National Socialist movement.
In literature, the Reichskulturkammer promoted the works of writers such as Adolf Bartels and Hitler Youth poet Hans Baumann.
Literature glorifying the peasant culture as bedrock of the German community, and historical novels bolstering the centrality of the Volk figured as preferred works of fiction, as did war narratives.

Adolf Hitler at the UFA studios
Universum Film AG

The cultivation of art also extended to the modern field of cinema.

Heavily subsidized by the state, the motion picture industry in Germany proved an important propaganda tool for the NSDAP. One of the leading film companies, centred at  Babelsberg in Berlin was UFA.

Leni Riefenstahl’s
Triumph des Willens


Universum Film AG, better known as UFA or Ufa, is a film company that was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry, and a major force in world cinema from 1917 to 1945. in the course of the National Socialist “Machtergreifung UFA was nationalised and produced a huge output of film under the supervision of Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment.

Films such as Leni Riefenstahl’s pioneering “Triumph des Willens” (“Triumph of the Will”) and  Olympia ‘Fest der Völker’ and ‘Fest der Schönheit’.


Triumph des Willens – Titles
Triumph des Willens‘ is a 1935 film made by Leni Riefenstahl. It chronicles the 1934 Nürnberg Reichsparteitag, which was attended by more than 700,000 NSDAP supporters
The film contains excerpts from speeches given by various National Socialist leaders at the Congress, including portions of speeches by Adolf Hitler, Rudolf Hess, and Julius Streicher interspersed with footage of massed Sturmabteilung and Schutzstaffel troops.
Hitler commissioned the film and served as an unofficial executive producer; his name appears in the opening titles. The overriding theme of the film is the return of Germany as a great power, with Hitler as the leader who will bring glory to the nation.

‘Olympia’ is a 1938 film by Leni Riefenstahl documenting the 1936 Summer Olympics, held in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Germany. It was the first documentary feature film of the Olympic Games ever made. Many advanced motion picture techniques, which later became industry standards but which were ground-breaking at the time, were employed – including unusual camera angles, smash cuts, extreme close-ups, placing tracking shot rails within the bleachers, and the like. The film appears on Time magazine’s “All-Time Greatest 100 Movies.”

Other, non-documentary films were also produced such as “Der Hitlerjunge Quex” (“Hitler Youth Member Quex”), glorified the NSDAP, its auxiliary organizations, and the Volk.


“Der Hitlerjunge Quex”
“Der Hitlerjunge Quex” is a 1932 novel based on the life of Herbert “Quex” Norkus  by Karl Aloys Schenzinger. The 1933 movie ‘Hitlerjunge Quex: Ein Film vom Opfergeist der deutschen Jugend’ was based on it, and was described by Joseph Goebbels as the “first large-scale” transmission of National Socialist ideology using the medium of cinema. Both the book and the movie, like ‘S.A.-Mann Brand’ and ‘Hans Westmar’, both released the same year, fictionalized and glorified death in the service of the NSDAP and Hitler. Both novel and movie are based on the real story of Herbert Norkus’ life. Norkus, a Hitler Youth member, died from injuries suffered when chased and confronted by Communist youths in the night of 23 / 24 January 1932 in the Beusselkietz neighbourhood of Moabit, Berlin.

Another example was ‘Hans Westmar – Einer von vielen’, which was a dramatisation of the life and death of Horst Wessel, based on Hanns Heinz Ewers’s novelistic biography.


 Horst Wessel
Hanns Heinz Ewers
Hans Westmar – Einer von vielen was the last of an unofficial trilogy of films commissioned by the NSDAP shortly after coming to power in January 1933, celebrating the ‘Kampfzeit’ – ‘time of struggle’. The film is a fictionalized life of the Horst Wessel. Originally, the film, based on the novel personally commissioned by Hitler from Hanns Heinz Ewers, was named ‘Horst Wessel’. Dr Paul Josef Goebbels altered the main character’s name, changing it to the fictional “Hans Westmar”. It was among the first films to depict dying for Hitler as a glorious death for Germany, resulting in his spirit inspiring his comrades. His decision to go to the streets is presented as fighting ‘the real battle’.




Goethe and Schiller
Weimar Classicism

Theatre companies followed the example of German cinema, staging National Socialist dramas as well as traditional and classical performances of the plays of writers such as Johann 
Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Friedrich Christoph von Schiller.

Goethe and Schiller exemplified Weimar Classicism (German “Weimarer Klassik”) – which is a cultural and literary movement in Germany. Followers attempted to establish a new humanism by synthesizing Romantic, classical and Enlightenment ideas. The movement, from 1772 until 1805, involved Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller and Christoph Martin Wieland, and often concentrated on Goethe and Schiller during the period 1788–1805.

In music, the Reichskulturkammer, was led by the great composer and conductor Richard Strauss.



Richard Wagner
Hans Erich Pfitzner

The Reichskulturkammer promoted the works of such giants of the German musical pantheon as Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Anton Bruckner, and Richard Wagner, Hans Erich Pfitzner, while banning classical works by “non-Aryans,” such as Felix Mendelssohn and Gustav Mahler, and performances of jazz music and Swing, associated with degenerate African-American culture.


Adolf Hitler was himself a long-time devotee of the operas of Richard Wagner – an artist long associated with anti-semitism and the völkisch tradition from which National Socialists drew much of their ideology.




Adolf Hitler and Winifred Wagner
Adolf Hitler at Bayreuth

He regularly attended the annual Bayreuth Festivals held in the Wagner’s honor.

Each summer, from 1933 to 1939, Hitler attended the Bayreuth Festival, and he made the Wagner estate, Wahnfried, his second home. Because she had been one of his earliest supporters, Hitler had great affection for Winifred. Hitler repaid the Wagner family gratitude by pledging his undying friendship and his deepest devotion to Richard Wagner and Bayreuth.

Das Horst-Wessel-Lied
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

But Völkisch music did not confine itself solely to “high” culture: songs like “Das Horst-Wessel-Lied” (“The Horst Wessel Song”) and “Deutschland, Erwache!” (“Germany, Awake”) numbered among many songs and marches which were circulated in order to encourage commitment to the NSDAP and its ideological tenets.





The Concept of Degeneracy

The term Entartung (or “degeneracy”) had gained currency in Germany by the late 19th century when the critic and author Max Nordau devised the theory presented in his 1892 book, Entartung.
Nordau developed a critique of modern art.
Degenerate art is the work of those so corrupted and enfeebled by modern life that they have lost the self-control needed to produce coherent works.
He attacked Aestheticism in English literature and described the mysticism of the Symbolist movement in French literature as a product of mental pathology.
Explaining the painterliness of Impressionism as the sign of a diseased visual cortex, he decried modern degeneracy while praising traditional German culture.
This theory was seized upon by German National Socialists during the Weimar Republic as a rallying point for their anti-Semitic and racist demand for Aryan purity in art.
Belief in a Germanic spirit – defined as mystical, rural, moral, bearing ancient wisdom, and noble in the face of a tragic destiny – existed long before the rise of the National Socialism; the composer Richard Wagner celebrated such ideas in his work.

Paul Schultze-Naumburg


Beginning before World War I, the well-known German architect and painter Paul Schultze-Naumburg’s influential writings, which invoked racial theories in condemning modern art and architecture, supplied much of the basis for Adolf Hitler’s belief that classical Greece and the Middle Ages were the true sources of Aryan art.
Schultze-Naumburg subsequently wrote such books as ‘Die Kunst der Deutschen. Ihr Wesen und ihre Werke’ (The art of the Germans.Its nature and its works) and ‘Kunst und Rasse’ (Art and Race), the latter published in 1928.

Paul Schultze-Naumburg (10 June 1869 – 19 May 1949) was an architect and a vocal political critic of modern architecture. Along with Alexander von Senger, Eugen Honig, Konrad Nonn, and German Bestelmeyer, Schultze-Naumburg was a member of a National Socialist para-governmental propaganda unit called the ‘Kampfbund deutscher Architekten und Ingenieure’ (KDAI). In September 1944, he was named as one of the first rank of artists and writers important to Nazi culture in the Gottbegnadeten list.


Thule Gesellschaft
Alfred Rosenberg

These works argued that only racially pure artists could produce a healthy art which upheld timeless ideals of classical beauty, while racially mixed modern artists produced disordered artworks and monstrous depictions of the human form.
By reproducing examples of modern art next to photographs of people with deformities and diseases, he graphically reinforced the idea of modernism as a sickness.
Alfred Rosenberg, a member of the Thule Gesellschaft, developed this theory in ‘Der Mythos des 20. Jahrhunderts‘ (Myth of the Twentieth Century), published in 1933, which became a best-seller in Germany and made Rosenberg one of the Party’s leading ideological spokesman.

Alfred Ernst Rosenberg (12 January 1893 – 16 October 1946) was an early and intellectually influential member of the NSDAP. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the National Socialist government. He is considered one of the main authors of key Völkisch ideological creeds, including its racial theory, Lebensraum, abrogation of the Treaty of Versailles, and opposition to “degenerate” modern art. He is also known for his rejection of Christianity

click below for the full English text of
      
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013


National Socialist Aesthetics

From the foregoing it can be seen that the National Socialists not only possessed a highly refined aesthetic sensibility, but unlike most, enacted their aesthetic at every level of politics and policy.

Alpine Landscape – Adolf Hitler

Moreover, they not only believed themselves to be artists, but were regarded by others, at the time, as artists, whose very ideology was founded in an essentially aesthetic logic.

This is generally referred to as the  aestheticization of politics.
The artistic ambitions of Adolf Hitler, Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels, Alfred Rosenberg, Baldur von Schirach, Walther Funk and Julius Streicher were originally deeper than their political ambitions, and were essential elements of their personalities.
What was this National Socialist aesthetic; what kind of art came of it ?


 Idealizations of Purity,
Heroism and the Human Form.

The National Socialist aesthetic had several inter-penetrating parts, including idealizations of purity, heroism and the human form.

The resulting art also encompassed National Socialist pageantry and regalia, films and political choreography and architecture.
The National Socialist aesthetic was part and parcel of their ideology, and not just an ornamental by-product of it.
Essential to this discussion is understanding how two conceptual cornerstones of Nazi ideology – redemption and monumentality – found their expression in National Socialist aesthetic productions, which were not only means by which to deliver a political message, but very much part of the message itself.
One of the most brilliant documentary films ever made, of course, was no mere documentary, but was the last century’s benchmark for cinematic propaganda.
Hitler über Deutschland


In the opening moments of ‘Triumph des Willens’ (Triumph of the Will) Leni Riefenstahl’s film of the 1934 Nürnberg Reichsparteitag, we find an object lesson in what we might call the “aesthetics of redemption

A plane is carrying the Führer and his entourage over a picturesque landscape of hills, valleys and churches on its way to Nuremberg.
A voice-over narrative introduces the scene: “Twenty years after the World War, 16 years after the crucifixion of Germany, 19 months after the beginning of Germany’s Renaissance, Hitler flew to Nuremberg to greet his columns of followers.
The plane suddenly appears from the clouds and glides over the countryside, its shadow in the form of a cross.
As if in a ‘Second Coming‘, a Führer has arisen who will save and redeem Germany, and Riefenstahl frames his arrival in the explicit iconography of  redemption and messianic deliverance.

The penetration of the Jews into the German body politic,
into German society, and into the German bloodstream.

And it is the very notion of redemption that  actually played a central role in the anti-semitism of the Third Reich, which has been termed ‘redemptive anti-Semitism‘, and is born from the fear of racial degeneration.

The main cause of degeneration was the penetration of the Jews into the German body politic, into German society, and into the German bloodstream.
Germanism, and the Aryan world, were on the path to perdition if the struggle against the Jews was not joined; this was to be a struggle to the death.
Redemption would come as liberation from the Jews by their expulsion from the body politic.
Just as Germany’s disastrous defeat in World War I was to be “redeemed” by the messianic advent of the Führer, in Riefenstahl’s version so would the war effort, no matter how terrible the costs, be redeemed by Germany’s “liberation” from the Jews.

The principle of redemptory “sacrifice” also played a primary role in the ‘memorial landscape‘ Hitler introduced into the topography of the Third Reich.

From the “Eternal Guard” at the Ehrentempel (by Professor Paul Troost) in Munich, which held the sarcophagi of eight “Martyrs of the Movement” killed in the 1923 Putsch attempt, to the ‘Totenburgen‘, or citadels of the dead, to be built as mass burial grounds for thousands of prospective fallen German soldiers, Hitler made redemptory sacrifice one of the aesthetic architectural pillars of his Reich.

Hitler with the Blutfahne

Even the elaborately choreographed party rallies, during which Hitler would salute the ‘Blutfahne‘ (blood flag) included scenes of almost pagan ritual, in which animal sacrifice has been replaced by the prospective human sacrifice of wars to come.

We are reminded of Hitler’s own indifference to individual human lives as they paled in comparison to the larger cause, and idealizations of race and nation, and the way this diminution of the individual underpinned his aesthetic embrace of the monumental.
Hitler’s lack of feeling for individual humans, even for fanatical party members, was already evident at the Nürnberg Reichsparteitag, and other spectacles, when his ‘architecturalizing’ of the participants, and his deployment of them in geometrical patterns reduced them to noctambulent creatures.

Nürnberg Reichsparteitag – Monumental Aesthetic

For Hitler, individuals come and go, as well as their humanly scaled dwelling places, their sites of life.

What his monumental aesthetic would leave behind, therefore, was not the uniqueness of individual human experience, or its messy heterogeneity, but monolithic forms that imposed singular meaning on disparate deeds, experiences and lives.
The monumental in Hitler’s eyes was not only an end result, however, but also a means by which he could reduce the individual to insignificance, thereby making all appear as one.
Specifically, he did this in his elaborately choreographed spectacles and pageants, against which the individual seemed insignificant.

Deutsches Stadion – Albert Speer
North-South Axis – Germania

Witness his dozens of gargantuan productions: the Nürnberg Reichsparteitag, the colossal stadiums and political arenas designed to hold 500,000 people or even the North-South Axis he and his architect Albert Speer designed for Berlin, – Germania.

On a commemorative “Day of the Political Leaders” in 1936, more than 110,000 men marched onto the review field while another 100,000 spectators watched from the stands.
Once darkness fell, the space was suddenly encircled by a ring of light, with 30,000 flags and standards glistening in the illumination.
Spotlights would focus on the main gate, as distant cheers announced the Führer’s approach.

Lichtdom
At the instant he entered, 150 powerful searchlights would shoot into the sky to produce a gigantic, shimmering ‘lichtdom’ (cathedral of light) as it was called.
Hitler was both a product of his time’s aesthetic temper, and possibly the greatest producer of political design and choreography who ever lived.
We cannot separate his deeds, his policies and his ideology from his aesthetic temper.
Without recognizing the central role aesthetics actually played in the regime of the Third Reich, we cannot ignore the basic historical fact that Art, beauty and aesthetics were not benign by-products of the Third Reich, but part and parcel of its coherent, internal logic.
Beauty and heroism, aesthetics and power, may not only be paired after the historical fact, but might now be regarded as historical forces that also drive events as they actually unfold.
It is important to understand that one of the central ideas of Völkisch ideology is the myth of ‘rebirth’, in the sense of `Neugeburt’, or new birth.
The National Socialists wanted to build an entirely new type of modern nation-state on the basis of archetypal German values.
This involved the destruction of everything that was associated with Germany’s decadence, and the retention of every element of usable past in the redefinition of Germany as a State based on a healthy, revitalized Volksgemeinschaft or national community.
There is a dialectical relationship between destruction and creation at the centre of all ‘palingenetic myth’.

Palingenesis is a concept of rebirth or re-creation, used in various contexts in philosophy, theology, politics, and biology. Its meaning stems from Greek palin, meaning again, and genesis, meaning birth.
In biology, it is another word for recapitulation – the phase in the development of an organism in which its form and structure pass through the changes undergone in the evolution of the species. In theology, the word can be used to refer to reincarnation and Christian spiritual rebirth symbolized by baptism.

Once projected onto Germany, it took the form of what some have called `German nihilism’.
It is the logic of the principle `destroy to build’ which links the Völkisch ideologue’s destruction of liberalism, socialism, pluralism, and humanism to the creation of a `strong’ state based on a single party and a single ideology.

Cult of Athleticism
Aesthetic forms
deemed to be life-asserting

It includes cult of athleticism and physical health; the suppressing of decadent books to the publishing of `healthy‘ literature; the cleansing of art of its degenerate elements to the fostering of aesthetic forms deemed to be life-asserting.

Similarly, the rejuvenation of the Volksgemeinschaft went hand in hand with the removal of Jews and other negative elements from public life.

Reactionary Modernism

National Socialism presents itself as an alternative to liberal and socialist forms of modernity.
The importance it attributed to the organically and racially conceived nation meant that it rejected both the individualism, pluralism, cosmopolitanism, materialism, and rationalism associated with liberalism as radically as it did the internationalism and materialism it attributed to Bolshevism.
What has presumably prevented so many commentators from grasping this point has been the deep and eroneous impression that National Socialism incarnated a systematized and calculated form of barbarism reminiscent of a throw back to an earlier dark age.
Barbarism, however, has nothing to do with the development of the Third Reich.

Charles Darwin

It should also be remembered that Germany under Hitler pursued policies based on a populist nationalism conceived partially, though not exclusively in biological, eugenic, and Darwinian terms.

All these components were literally inconceivable before the 19th century.
Blut und Boden
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Certainly the ideology of National Socialism placed great emphasis on the concept of the superiority of the Aryan race and the heroic past of the Germans before their Europeanization and Judeo-Christianization, and on the values of ‘Blut und Boden‘ (Blood and Soil).
But these were not regressive, atavistic myths, but articulated in the spirit of the Conservative Revolution referred to above: the roots of the new order were to be extended as deep as possible into the past so that the tree of the organically conceived nation could grow as vigorously and high as possible.

National Socialism’s full-blooded commitment
to modern industry and science

As a result of National Socialism’s full-blooded commitment to modern industry and science, the ‘Blut und Boden’ programme had nothing to do with a radical re-ruralization programme.

Germany was to remain a highly urbanized and technologically advanced nation, however, a steady flow of festivals, rituals, and propaganda celebrating the German nation as a ‘Schicksalsgemeinschaft‘, (a community of destiny), was designed to ensure that the significance of the peasant as the back-bone of the economy, and of nature as a source of transcendent values and meaning, would be acknowledged to a point where every German recognized his or her roots, both physical and spiritual.
The countryside was a focus for palingenetic myth of renewal and sustenance, not for a retreat from the Twentieth century.

KdF Volkswagen

It is in no way a contradiction if the same regime which celebrated the peasant, also embarked on an extensive programme for modernizing and beautifying the urban housing stock and factory working conditions, glorifying the motorway network and the Volkswagen as symbols of the new Germany.

By marrying the industrial age to tribal consciousness Völkisch ideologues were certain that they were resolving the tensions and neuroses of the modern age.
The aim was to give modern life a new spiritual basis and historical purpose, not to destroy it.
It is from the union of the industrial and the pre-industrial that National Socialist art gains the relevance that is not to be found in modernistic degenerate art.
This interpretation of National Socialist art has a direct bearing on any exploration of the links between National Socialism and Romanticism.
The assumption that any such links are explicable in terms of a petty-bourgeois nostalgia for an idyllic past has to be rejected.
But before suggesting how that link might be conceived more appropriately, it is important to put the record straight about the type of art which prospered under the Third Reich.

‘Blut und Boden’

It has been suggested that the dominant form of art in the Third Reich was Blood and Soil genre paintings of landscapes and rural activities.

Ziegler – Göttin der Kunst
Certainly much art of the time fits this category, but it is important to remember that other recurrent types of art were neo-classical studies of nudes in arcadian surroundings, historical themes, figures engaged in athletic activities, military subjects whether of soldiers or battle scenes, and portraits of members of the National Socialist hierarchy.


These last three subjects are unmistakably `modern’, though the style was generally a highly romanticized form of ‘heroic realism’.

Bau der Neuen Reichskanzlei

The art of the Third Reich, in its `mature’ form of 1936 or 1937, came to employ a host of formal and aesthetic devices which Modernism itself had invented.

This `Modernist’ aspect of National Socialist art should be seen in the context not just of paintings evoking the vast building projects being undertaken by the Third Reich, such as the construction of a motorway bridge or work in a stone quarry, but of the vast outpouring of sophisticated graphic art and photographs of the Third Reich’s flourishing advertising industry, promoting such quintessentially modern products as Leica cameras and Daimler-Benz cars.


Hitler-Jugend Sport Poster
Hitlerjugend Poster

Nor were housing and factory projects, or the vast realm of product and interior design free from the influence of the ‘so-called’ Modern Movement.

There was, undoubtedly a tension between `Modernism and archaism’, a tension which is arguable resolved once the concept `Conservative Revolution’ (Reactionary Modernism) is applied.
There is a direct correlation here with the field of ideology.
Some historians have presented National Socialism as the fruit of an aberrant tradition in German thought and culture, which blended nationalism and idealism with the rejection of liberal humanistic values, and that Hitler had somehow absorbed, a weird mixture of some of the more extreme ideas that had erupted from German thinkers during the nineteenth century.
Certainly National Socialism drew on Fichte and Wagner, among others, but it also made much of the rigorously scientific basis of its Weltanschauung in a highly modern spirit far removed both from Romanticism and idealism.
Fichte

Johann Gottlieb Fichte (May 19, 1762 – January 27, 1814) was a German philosopher. He was one of the founding figures of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, which developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant. Fichte is often perceived as a figure whose philosophy forms a bridge between the ideas of Kant and those of the German Idealist Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Fichte also wrote works of political philosophy and is considered one of the fathers of German nationalism.
Fichte made important contributions to political nationalism in Germany. In his ‘Ansprache an die deutsche Nation‘ (Addresses to the German Nation) (1808), a series of speeches delivered in Berlin, he urged the German peoples to “have character and be German” -entailed in his idea of Germanness was antisemitism, since he argued that “making Jews free German citizens would hurt the German nation.” 
Historian Robert Nisbet, in a gross oversimplification, thought him to be “the true author of National Socialism”.

At the root of this is a trait of considered eclecticism.
In their attempt to revitalize the present, and wipe out decadence, National Socialists had drawn many concepts that which would help to rationalize their policies.
To focus on only those aspects of art and ideology under Hitler which fit into the restorationist, anti-modern, bourgeois thesis is thus to misrepresent National Socialism.
Firstly, it would be a fallacy to assume that Nazism was, per se, against all forms of Modernism even in theory.
Dr Paul Josef Goebbels

In his semi-autobiographical novel ‘Michael: A German Destiny’, Dr Paul Josef Goebbels’s thinly veiled alter-ego claims at one point that he himself is an Expressionist, and in another passage writes: 

Vincent van Gogh

I visit an exhibition of modern painting. We see much new nonsense. One star: Vincent van Gogh. In these surroundings he already seems tame, but yet he is the most modern of the moderns. For modernity has nothing to do with heroic gestures. All that is just learnt through practice. The modern man is necessarily a god-seeker, perhaps a Christ-like person. Van Gogh’s life tells us even more than his work. He combines in his personality the most important elements: he is teacher, preacher, fanatic, prophet – mad. In the last analysis we are all mad if we have an idea. Fanatics of love: the capacity for self-sacrifice.’

Predictably Goebbels goes on to find an outlet by joining the NSDAP, but this did not mean abandoning his commitment to healthy Modernism.

Paul Joseph Goebbels (29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates he was known for his zealous orations.
Goebbels earned a PhD from Heidelberg University in 1921, writing his doctoral thesis on 19th century romantic drama; he then went on to work as a journalist. He also wrote novels and plays. Goebbels came into contact with the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP) or Nazi Party in 1923. He was appointed Gauleiter (regional party leader) of Berlin. Goebbels despised capitalism, viewing it as having Jews at its core, and he stressed the need for the Nazis to emphasize both a proletarian and national character.

 Max Weber
It is important to see ‘Modernism’ as a blanket-term for a bewildering variety of initiatives undertaken since the late Nineteenth century to re-spiritualize and re-enchant, to bring magic and meaning to, a Western civilization widely experienced as `decadent’, namely hyper-rationalized and (in Max Weber’s terms) ‘entzaubert‘ (disenchanted).

Maximilian Karl Emil “Max” Weber (21 April 1864 – 14 June 1920) was a German sociologist, philosopher, and political economist whose ideas influenced social theory, social research, and the entire discipline of sociology Weber is often cited, with Émile Durkheim and Karl Marx, as among the three founding architects of sociology.

If this perspective is adopted, then National Socialism can be seen as promoting a quintessentially ‘modernist’ form of politics and aesthetics, in an attempt to purge society of its decadence, and to enable the entire German race, or rather its `healthy’ specimens, to tap into `eternal’ sources of spirit, value, and meaning.


The Omnipresent Swastika

There is a supreme importance to National Socialist art policies being essential to their self-appointed mission `to destroy a carefully selected “Modernist” past, – a mission which we have presented as integral to their crusade for Germany’s reawakening or palingenesis (the omnipresent Swastika itself was a symbol of the rising sun and of spiritual rebirth).

This impulse may be described as `Völkisch Post-Modernism’, and this can be seen to be part of a wider Modernist dynamic in which all forms are to be renovated, and life as a whole is to be transformed and improved.
For it seems likely that at a number of points within our Modernist and modernising century, the very apocalyptic (i.e. palingenetic – see above) nature of the race into the future has meant both a search for tradition as well as an obsession with the speed of time.
This is the sense in which National Socialism was an early form of Post-Modernism, albeit an authoritarian one, and hence part of that wider network of Modernisms with which we are still trying to get adequately acquainted.

Postmodernism is a term used to the era and the concepts that follows Modernism. It frequently serves as an ambiguous overarching term for skeptical interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy, economics, architecture, fiction, and literary criticism. Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) is an example of a significant post-modernist philosopher.

Classicism, Romanticism and Modernism

This unique form of ‘Post-Modernism’ was born of a tension that originated in the outlooks of Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and the technocrats epitomised by Fritz Todt.

Kritian Boy

Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for a classical period, classical antiquity in the Western tradition, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate.

Δορυφόρος
Doryphoros of Polyclitus

The marble Kritios Boy or Kritian Boy belongs to the Early Classical period of ancient Greek sculpture.
The Kritios Boy is thus named because it is attributed to Kritios who worked together with Nesiotes (sculptors of Harmodius and Aristogeiton) or their school, from around 480 BC.

The Doryphoros (Spear-Bearer);  is one of the best known Greek sculptures of the classical era in Western Art and an early example of Greek classical contrapposto.

The Greek sculptor Polykleitos designed a work, perhaps this one, as an example of the “canon” or “rule”, showing the perfectly harmonious and balanced proportions of the human body in the sculpted form. A solid-built athlete with muscular features carries a spear balanced on his left shoulder. A characteristic of Polykleitos’ Doryphoros is the classical contrapposto in the pelvis; the figure’s stance is such that one leg seems to be in movement while he is standing on the other.

The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained. Any violent emphasis or sudden acceleration of rhythmic movement destroys those qualities of balance and completeness through which classical form retains its position of authority in the restricted repertoire of visual images.
Classicism implies a canon of widely accepted ideal forms.
Classicism is a force which is often present in post-medieval European and European influenced traditions

Hitler regarded the Germanic peoples of Europe as belonging to a racially superior Nordic subset of the larger Aryan race, who were regarded as the only true culture-bearers of civilized society.


Imperial Roman Standard
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Pantheon – Rome
Ancient Classical Architecture

Adolf Hitler also believed that the Ancient Greeks and Romans were the racial ancestors of the Germans, and the first torch-bearers of “Nordic-Greek” art and culture.

He particularly expressed his admiration for Ancient Sparta, declaring it to have been the purest racial state:
Neue Wache – Berlin – Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Hitler, therefore, favoured Classicism, in the arts, and had a high regard for a classical period, and classical antiquity in the Western tradition, and saw it as setting standards for art, sculpture and painting.

The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained. 
In architecture Classicism features the golden section as a key proportion for buildings, the classical orders of columns, as well as a host of ornament and detail associated with the Greeks and Romans.
Classicism also involves the symmetry, the orderly arrangement of columns, pilasters and lintels, as well as the use of semicircular arches, hemispherical domes, niches and aedicules.

Neue Reichskanzlei
Albert Speer

Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Spee (March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981) was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect before assuming ministerial office. Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931, launching him on a political and governmental career which lasted fourteen years. His architectural skills made him increasingly prominent within the Party and he became a member of Hitler’s inner circle. Hitler instructed him to design and construct a number of structures, including the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nuremberg where Party rallies were held. Speer also made plans to reconstruct Berlin on a grand scale, with huge buildings, wide boulevards, and a reorganized transportation system.

This classicism, favoured by Hitler, can be clearly see in Speer’s designs for Germania, and in Hermann Giesler’s designs for Linz.

Proposed redevelopment of Linz
Professor Hermann Giesler

Professor Hermann Giesler (April 2, 1898, Siegen – January 20, 1987, Düsseldorf) was a German architect – one of the two architects most favoured and rewarded by Adolf Hitler (the other being Albert Speer).

Hermann Giesler completed his architectural study at the Academy for Applied Arts in Munich. 
Up to 1938 he designed the “Ordensburg” in Sonthofen, planned Gau Forums in Weimar and Augsburg, and the “university” for the NSDAP at Chiemsee. In addition, he was commissioned to build Hitler’s house in Munich. In 1938 he was ordered by Hitler to the “General Building Inspector” for the reorganization of the city of Munich. Later he became also a director in the Organisation Todt, then one of the directors of the Group of Works of VI (Bavaria, Donaugaue). Starting from 1941 Giesler was entrusted by Hitler with the reorganization of the entire city of Linz. Giesler joined the NSDAP in 1941 for the Organisation Todt.

One indication of Hitler’s move to classicism may be seen in his decision regarding Fraktur and Sütterlin.
On January 3, 1941 Martin Bormann issued a circular to all public offices which declared Fraktur, and its corollary, the Sütterlin-based handwriting, to be “Judenlettern”, and prohibited their further use.


Fraktur or  Gothic is a blackletter typeface based on the calligraphic hand of the Latin alphabet. The blackletter lines are broken up – that is, their forms contain many angles when compared to the smooth curves of the Antiqua (common) typefaces modeled after antique Roman square capitals and Carolingian minuscule. From this, Fraktur is sometimes contrasted with the “Latin alphabet” in northern European texts, being sometimes called the “German alphabet”.

Sütterlinschrift is the last widely used form of Kurrent, the historical form of German handwriting that evolved alongside German blackletter (most notably Fraktur) typefaces. Graphic artist Ludwig Sütterlin was commissioned by the Prussian ministry for culture to create a modern handwriting script in 1911. His handwriting scheme gradually replaced the older cursive scripts that had developed in the 16th century at the same time that bookletters developed into Fraktur

The reason for this decision was Adolf Hitler’s dislike for the Fraktur typeface, seen by him as ‘Gothic’ and non-Classical
This was demonstrated by a declaration that he made in the Reichstag in 1934

“… In a hundred years, our language will be the European language. The nations of the east, the north and the west will, to communicate with us, learn our language. The prerequisite for this: The script called Gothic is replaced by the script we have called Latin so far...”

Adolf Hitler


Himmler’s approach to aesthetics was very different.

Himmler was deeply involved with the activities of the Ahnenerbe, which he directed to find evidence for early cultural developments within the borders of the Reich.
Not an artist by training or inclination, he was captivated by Germanic Medievalism, and therefore his aesthetic leaned toward the Romantic and the Gothic.

‘Ruin’
Caspar David Friedrich
Romanticism was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850.
Partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, it was also a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature.
It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature.

Caspar David Friedrich (September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840) was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important German artist of his generation. He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. 

Gothic Sculpture
William Dohme – der Braunschweiger Doml  – 1937

Its effect on politics was considerable and complex; while for much of the peak Romantic period it was associated with liberalism and radicalism, in the long term its effect on the growth of nationalism was probably more significant.
The Gothic style, while difficult to describe succinctly, may be summed up as the antithesis of Classicism.
Whereas classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained, Gothic style is informal exuberant, involving violent emphasis of form and movement which destroys those qualities of balance and completeness to be found in classical art.
Classicism looks to the ideal, whereas Gothic exemplifies to particular and peculiar.

Romanticism favoured the Gothic style in architecture.
Gothic architecture features asymmetrical compositions, and free-form plans, with arched fenestration and roofing.


Wewelsburg – Paderborn 
SS Julleuchter
Neo-Gothic Art

An example of the romantic architecture favoured by Himmler was the Wewelsberg.

The Wewelsburg is a castle located in the northeast of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, in district of Paderborn in the Alme Valley.
The castle, while not strictly Gothic, has the outline of a triangle and has a non-symetrical romanticised plan.
Equally another example of Romanticised aesthetic is the SS Julleuchter, whch was given at Christmas to members of the SS.

Classical Art
Blut und Boden  Romantic Art

Because of Himmler’s influence over the ‘Blut und Boden’ programme, most art depicting peasants, farming and landscape tended to be executed in a Romantic style, while more formal studies and mythological subjects tended to be executed in a tight, technically refined Classical style, as favoured by Hitler.

Contemporary subjects, however, such as representations of Reichsautobahnen, building projects, combat scenes and propaganda posters were executed in a ‘realist-modernist’ style.

Arno Breker
In other words, the National Socialist use of both Classicism and Romanticism is not the archaism of a society nostalgic for the past, but the ‘Modernism‘ of a regime which was, `nostalgic for the future‘.

click below for a further discussion of
Advertisements

German Reactionary Modernism

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

To understand National Socialism one must consider the concept of `reactionary modernism’ – a concept which reconciles anti-modernism, romanticism, and tradition with modernity – and it is this apparently contradictory combination  of  traditional culture and aesthetics, and  a  modern reliance on instrumental reason and modern means that made the Third Reich a unique and highly effective political system.
Reactionary modernist tradition was an important component of German nationalism, and it was pervasive within the conservative revolution in Weimar, and in the cultural politics of German engineering from the 1870s to the collapse of the Weimar Republic.
Before 1933, the National Socialists were aware of the tradition, and were contributors to it.
The reactionary modernist tradition continued until the very end of the Third Reich.
It did not give way to rural nostalgia or post-ideological technocratic world views.
This is not to say that Luddites and technocrats did not exist in the Third Reich.
Rather, the continuity of ‘reactionary modernist’ ideology, after 1933, was both more pervasive than these other views, and more important in accounting for the primacy of ideological politics during those years.
The embrace of technology articulated by the reactionary modernists contributed to the technical innovation that characterized the Third Reich.
Development of a distinctive National Socialist view of technology began well before the seizure of power. 
At the centre of all National Socialist views on the subject stood a historical construction of a racial battle between Aryan and Jew – ‘Blut und Gold’ – (blood and gold).
National Socialism combined both anti-Semitism and thr approval of technological advance, which is important to note, given the frequency with which anti-Semitism and generalized rejections of industrial society have been associated with one another.

Alfred Rosenberg
Gottfried Feder

In the years immediately following World War I, Gottfried Feder, himself an engineer, dominated discussion on the subject in the NSDAP In the early 1920s, his pamphlet, ‘Das Manifest zur Brechung der Zinsknechtschaft des Geldes’ (The Manifesto on Breaking the Interest Slavery of Money) was, along with Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’, and Alfred Rosenberg’s ‘Mythos der 20. Jahrhundert’ (Myth of the 20th Century), one of the party’s most important tracts.

Feder distinguished between “Jewish finance capital” and “national capital,” thereby encouraging anti-capitalist rhetoric that left actual property relations intact.
“Creative labor” and industrial capital would have to be liberated from the tentacles of international Jewish power.
His works borrowed from Marxist vocabulary, speaking of the “liberation of productive labour” and calling on the people to unite against the force of international finance.
In his 1923 pamphlet, ‘Der deutsche Staat auf nationaler und sozialer Grundlage’ (The German State on National and Social Foundations), Feder insisted that “the Jew” had remained remote from productive labour, and was the bearer of a parasitic spirit.
But at the same time he claimed that German big industry – Krupp, Mannesmann, Thyssen – and its property were “not at all in conflict with the interest of the totality.
The fundamental recognition of private property is deeply anchored in the clear awareness of the Aryan spiritual structure.”
Feder summarized his “theoretical” contribution to National Socialism in the formula, “creative versus parasitic capital” (schaffendes gegen raffendes Kapital), which appeared in his 1933 work, ‘Kampf gegen Hochfinanz’.
Creative capital was a source of utility, employment, and technological advance, whereas parasitic capital drained national resources for the benefit of a smaller number of international financiers.
Feder’s outlook served to shift the conflict between capital and labour into a nationalist idiom.
Describing capital as “creative” banished any talk of class conflicts arising from the labour process, blamed the banks for the problems of the whole economic system, and carried hints of the aestheticization of the labour process that the NSDAP made so much of in the Amt Schönheit der Arbeit.
In 1926, Hitler selected Feder as he final arbiter of disputes arising from formulation of the party’s twenty-five-point program.
Feder used this position to publish a series of pamphlets, the “National Socialist Library,” which set forth a National Socialist theory on economic organization and technology.
In July 1933, a published speech by Feder stated that National Socialism was compatible with the internal tradition of the engineers and with their desires to elevate “service” to the nation above individual profit.
In his view, National Socialism would fulfil the engineers’ demands for greater social recognition, and more state intervention to unleash technology.
He admitted that technology posed dangers, for example, undue dependence on foreign raw materials, an unhealthy urban atmosphere, and an excessive division of labour that might destroy the German “feeling for home” (Heimatgefühl).
But all of these problems could be surmounted if technology were placed in the service of the national “totality.”
In practical terms, this meant job programs, highway construction, and production of synthetic fuels to reduce German dependence on imported oil.
Feder’s National Socialist Library was the vehicle for the first “official” National Socialist statement on modern technology, which appeared in 1930.
‘Nationalsozialismus und Technik: Die Geistigkeit der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung’ (National Socialism and Technology: The Spirituality of the National Socialist Movement) was written by Peter Schwerber, a philosophically adept engineer who, four years earlier, had written that right-wing politics and Christian ethics were the path of salvation from the depravity of modern industrialism.
‘Nationalsozialismus und Technik’ was the earliest effort to synthesize Nazi ideology with the indigenous traditions of German engineers.

Oswald Spengler

Schwerber made reference to Dessauer, Zschimmer, and Spengler as well as to Feder and Hitler.

Oswald Arnold Gottfried Spengler (29 May 1880 – 8 May 1936) was a German historian and philosopher of history whose interests included mathematics, science, and art. He is best known for his book ‘Der Untergang des Abendlandes’ – (The Decline of the West), published in 1918 and 1922, covering all of world history. He proposed a new theory, according to which the lifespan of civilizations is limited and ultimately they decay. He wrote extensively throughout World War I and the interwar period, and supported German hegemony in Europe.

His pamphlet rested on one main idea, namely, that racism was the logical end point of Germany’s reconciliation with modern technology.
Schwerber’s argument became a familiar one in Germany after 1933.
Far from being anti-technological, National Socialism was dedicated to liberating technology from the “domination of money” and the “fetters” of Jewish materialism.
Jewish abstraction” was alien to the “autonomous life element of the German Volk,” whereas technology was not only in tune with the Volk, but was something around which a whole world view could and ought to be constructed. 
Schwerber wrote that technology was more than a material foundation of National Socialism.
It was an “independent factor” of a new, post-liberal, post-materialist culture.

 Fronterlebnis 

It was the generation that survived the Fronterlebnis that really grasped the idea of freedom inherent in technology.

National Socialism was the product of this generation.
But the idea of freedom – from physical labour, and for free time – remained unrealized due to the “domination of a power alien to the essence of technology, that is, the power of money…the Jewish- materialist suffocating embrace [Umklammerung] of our life elements.”’
The really decisive contribution of National Socialism, Schwerber continued, lay not only in recognizing the “major cause of our misfortune,” but also, and more importantly, in moving to the level of the “decisive deed. . .the act of liberation.”
Only “blood” and action would prevail against “the titanic power of money.”
National Socialism was more than a collection of protests against materialism and the Jews.
Schwerber attributed to both technology and National Socialism a “primal life instinct.”
Both would join forces against “Jewish- materialist restrictions.”

Victory of Spirit Over Matter
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Like the engineering professors at the technical universities, Schwerber saw technology as a natural force, at once demonic and passionate, which sought a victory of “spirit over matter.”

But Schwerber introduced a new twist: Whereas the Jews destroyed and misused technology, the Nordic race was ideally suited to it.
Technical Geist and the Völkisch racial myth would form a common front against Jewish materialism.
National Socialism was dedicated to emancipating technology from capitalist exchange, a goal that bore striking similarities – at least on a rhetorical level – to the engineers’ own anti-capitalist language.
Schwerber’s protest was against insufficient rather than excessive technological progress.
If we substitute “relations of production” for “Jews” and “technology” for “forces of production,” Schwerber’s rendition of  Völkisch ideology amounts to an appeal to liberate a will or telos said to be inherent in the forces of production from restrictions imposed by the existing bourgeois social relations of production.
Removal of the Socialist and Communist parties and the trade unions, dissolution of parliament, and breaking the Versailles restrictions on German rearmament were the practical meaning of such a program.
This conception of the “primacy of politics” was simultaneously a plan for political reaction, and technological modernization presented as a cultural revolution from the Right.

Hermann Rauschning

At the centre of the Third Reich stood the figure of Adolf Hitler and his ideas.

The view, first expressed by Hermann Rauschning, that Hitler was an opportunist without scruple, has been effectively laid to rest by scholars such as Eberhard Jäckel and Joachim Fest.
Hitler’sWeltanschauung was both coherent and politically decisive.
At no time did he join in the hostility to technology found in some völkisch ideologies.
For Hitler, the decisive element remained the ideology of the will to power.

The ‘will to power’ (der Wille zur Macht) is a prominent concept in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. The will to power describes what Nietzsche may have believed to be the main driving force in humans: achievement, ambition, the striving to reach the highest possible position in life; these are all manifestations of the will to power.



Arthur Schopenhauer
Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche found early influence from Arthur Schopenhauer, whom he first discovered in 1865. Schopenhauer puts a central emphasis on Will, and in particular has a concept of the “will to live.”
Writing a generation before Nietzsche, Schopenhauer explained that the universe and everything in it is driven by a primordial Will, which results in all living creatures’ desire to avoid death and procreate.
For Schopenhauer, this will is the most fundamental aspect of reality – more fundamental even than being.
Hitler was deeply influenced by Schopenhauer’s writing and the concept of the Will.
For Nietzsche, however, the Will to power means self-perfection as well as outward, political, elitist, aristocratic domination. Nietzsche, in fact, explicitly and specifically defined the egalitarian state-idea as the embodiment of the will to power in decline.

If life and politics were essentially a struggle in which the strongest won, then in politics among nations the technologically weak would deserve to be defeated.
He insisted that the Germans must succeed in the battle against nature in order to win in the battle among nations and races.
As early as 1919, in a speech advocating German rearmament and abrogation of the Versailles treaty, Hitler said that “the misery of Germany must be broken by Germany’s steel. That time must come.”
In ‘Mein Kampf’, he divided humankind into three categories: founders, bearers, and destroyers of culture, and assigned these historical roles to the Aryans, the Japanese, and the Jews, respectively.

The Building of the Reich’s Chancellery – Erich Merke
‘Greek Spirit and Germanic Technology’

He went so far as to define Aryan culture as a synthesis of “the Greek spirit and Germanic technology.”

He also acknowledged his debt to Gottfried Feder’s ideas on “breaking interest slavery.”
This notion was :
a theoretical truth which would inevitably be of immense importance for the future of the German people. The sharp separation of stock exchange capital from the national economy offered the possibility of opposing the internationalization of the German economy without at the same time menacing the foundations of an independent national self-maintenance by a struggle against capital.
This selective anti-capitalism had been common in the völkisch tradition.
But where Sombart’s anti-capitalism attacked Jewish Geist, Hitler turned this cultural revolution into a biological revolt.

Die Ruinenwerttheorie
Adolf Hitler and Alber Speer

Hitler did not write extensively on the subject of technology.

Albert Speer reports listening to Hitler’s theory of “ruin value,” according to which the purpose of Nazi architecture and technological advance should be to create ruins that would last a thousand years and thereby overcome the transience of the market. (the juxtaposition of permanent technology and evanescent capitalism was an important theme among the reactionary modernists.)

Die Ruinenwerttheorie – (Theory of Ruin Value) is the concept that a building be designed such that if it eventually collapsed, it would leave behind aesthetically pleasing ruins that would last far longer without any maintenance at all. The idea was pioneered by German architect Albert Speer while planning for the 1936 Summer Olympics, and published as “The Theory of Ruin Value” (Die Ruinenwerttheorie), although he was not its original inventor. The intention did not stretch only to the eventual collapse of the buildings, but rather assumed such buildings were inherently better designed and more imposing during their period of use.

John Soane – Ruins of the Bank of England

The idea was supported by Adolf Hitler, who planned for such ruins to be a symbol of the greatness of the Third Reich, just as Ancient Greek and Roman ruins were symbolic of those civilisations.  Predecessors include a ‘new ruined castle’ built by the Landgraf of Hesse-Kassel in the 18th century, and the designs for the Bank of England built in the 19th century produced by Sir John Soane. When he presented the bank’s governors with three oil sketches of the planned building one of them depicted it when it would be new, another when it would be weathered, and a third what its ruins would look like a thousand years onward
Hitler accordingly approved Speer’s recommendation that, in order to provide a “bridge to tradition” to future generations, modern “anonymous” materials such as steel girders and ferroconcrete should be avoided in the construction of monumental party buildings, since such materials would not produce aesthetically acceptable ruins like those wherever possible. Thus the most politically significant buildings of the Reich were intended, to some extent, even after falling into ruins after thousands of years, resemble their Roman models.

Hitler was the first political leader of the twentieth century to use the air-plane extensively.

Hitler over Germany

The radio spread his voice and fast cars sped him over the Reichautobahnen.

His conversations with associates, published as the “table talks,” reveal a man fascinated with the details of military technology.
His embrace of modern technology as an expression of Aryan will was fully consonant with rejection of the Enlightenment and the social consequences of the French and industrial revolutions.
Given his outlook, Hitler never feared that a rearmed Germany would be a soulless Germany.

Mercedes-Benz

Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, devoted a great deal of effort to convincing the Germans that their souls were compatible with modern technology.

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels

Dr Paul Joseph Goebbels (29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in the Third Reich from 1933 to 1945.
As one of Adolf Hitler’s closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous orations and antisemitism.
Goebbels earned a PhD from Heidelberg University in 1921, writing his doctoral thesis on 19th century romantic drama – . he also wrote novels and plays.
He became a member of the NSDAP in 1924. He was appointed Gauleiter (regional party leader) of Berlin. Goebbels despised capitalism, viewing it as having Jews at its core.
Goebbels rose to power in 1933 and he was appointed Propaganda Minister.
Goebbels exerted control over the media, arts and information in Germany.

Goebbels’s speeches on the subject are interesting because they were directed to the general public as well as to engineers, and thus combined elements of the conservative revolution, romanticism, and völkisch ideology with a cult of technological modernism.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

For example, in a speech in 1932, Goebbels echoed Hitler’s view that the true politician was an artist whose task was to give form to the “raw material” of the masses.

In the century of mass politics, the political leader must avail himself of the most modern means of propaganda, such as the radio, to encourage “spiritual mobilization” (geistige Mobilmachung).
In March 1933, he assured his audience that he was not “an un-modern man who is inwardly opposed to the radio. . . but a passionate lover of the press. . . theatre. . . radio.”
In his view, the radio should not be used to create an illusory objectivity, but to assist in the spiritual mobilization the National Socialist regime was fostering.
The Germans, he argued, must learn the primary lesson of World War I: Germany was defeated by deficiencies of the spirit rather than by material deficiencies.

German Troops Returning to Berlin from the Front

We did not lose the war because our cannons failed, but rather because our spiritual weapons didn’t fire.

The radio gave National Socialism unprecedented means for reaching the masses with this message of spiritual revolution.
From his earliest broadcasts to his last, Goebbels returned to a theme that reflected reactionary modernism.
In November 1933, he first celebrated a “steely romanticism” (stählerne Romantik) that had “made German life worth living again.”
This new romanticism did not hide from the “hardness of being”, or dream of escape into the past.
Instead it “heroically” faced up to the problems of modern times.

Die stählerne Romantik – Reichsautobahn
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Goebbels often discussed the meaning of stählernde Romantik, and his speeches were reprinted in ‘Deutsche Technik’ (German Technology), a monthly journal published from 1933 to 1942.

One particularly graphic example appeared in the February 1939 issue of this journal. 
The cover shows Goebbels delivering a speech, a Volkswagen on one side, Hitler on the other.
The following passage indicates Goebbels’s skill at administering a cultural tradition – what Horkheimer later called the bureaucratic dispensation of the revolt of nature: 
‘We live in an era of technology.
The racing tempo of our century affects all areas of our life.
There is scarcely an endeavour that can escape its powerful influence.
Therefore, the danger unquestionably arises that modern technology will make men soulless.
National Socialism never rejected or struggled against technology.
Rather, one of its main tasks was to consciously affirm it, to fill it inwardly with soul, to discipline it and to place it in the service of our people and their cultural level. 
National Socialist public statements used to refer to the steely romanticism of our century.
Today this phrase has attained its full meaning.
We live in an age that is both romantic and steellike, that has not lost its depth of feeling.
On the contrary, it has discovered a new romanticism in the results of modern inventions and technology.
While bourgeois reaction was alien to and filled with incomprehension, if not outright hostility to technology, and while modern sceptics believed the deepest roots of the collapse of European culture lay in it, National Socialism understood how to take the soulless framework of technology and fill it with the rhythm and hot impulses of our time.”
This is a remarkable condensation of reactionary modernist themes.
Over and over again, Goebbels claimed that the cultural crisis German conservatism had feared had been “overcome” by National Socialism.
Filling technology with soul was a practical matter as well.

KdF Wagen Poster

The Volkswagen meant that now modern technology was accessible to the masses, and accessible in a way that spread the “rhythm and hot impulses of our time.”

KdF Wagen Logo
Volkwagen
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

During the war years, Goebbels continued to boast that National Socialism had developed a “new ideal of cultivation” freed from the “false and saccharine romanticism” of the past.

In Heidelberg in July 1943, Goebbels elaborated on the theme of the kind of romanticism peculiar to National Socialism.
Every time has its romanticism, its poetic presentation of life. . . Ours does as well.
It is harder and crueller than a previous romanticism, but it remains romantic.
The steely romanticism of our time manifests itself in actions and deeds in service of a great national goal, in a feeling of duty raised to the level of an unreachable principle.

KdF Wagen
Volkwagen

We are all more or less romantics of a new German mood.

The Reich of droning motors, grandiose industrial creations, an almost unlimited and unenclosed space which we must populate to preserve the best qualities of our Volk – is the Reich of our romanticism.’
For Goebbels, the war years were a period “overflowing with deeds,” in sharp contrast to the “exaggerated intellectualism” of Weimar politics and culture.
German victories were possible only because German engineers and scientists approached their work with the “same fanaticism and wild determination” as did German soldiers, workers, and peasants.
In the last year of the war, Goebbels again turned to stahlernde Romantik.
The geistige Mobilmachung must again turn for assistance to the “German genius for invention” (deutsche Erfindungsgenie) to avoid impending defeat.

V-2 (A4) Rocket
V-1 Flying Bomb

In July 1944, Goebbels promised that Hitler’s leadership, the spirit of the Volk, and the V-1 and V-2 rockets would combine to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. There are two points to be made about these passages.

First, Goebbels spoke with slogans and stock formulas.
He was, in other words, an administrator of political meanings.
But however administered these meanings were, they were not arbitrary.
On the contrary, Goebbels spoke a language familiar to German engineers (among others), one stemming from traditions that really did, as he put it, “grow from the Volk.”
Without this cultural resonance, he would not have been the successful propagandist he was.
Second, it is difficult to determine the degree of cynicism or belief Goebbels aroused in his listeners, but we certainly ought not to rule out the possibility that he actually believed what he was saying.
Sociology has devoted much effort to measuring public opinion, but less thought has been given to the effect of political propaganda on the political elites that express it.
It is – and was – obvious to anyone with minimally unclouded vision that “fanaticism and wild determination” would do little to turn the tide of the war in 1944.

Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer

Hitler was an enthusiast of technical advance.

The reception of National Socialism among German engineers also appears to have been enthusiastic, but less so than that of the legal and medical professions, as indicated by the results of student elections at German technical universities in 1933. 
About 41 percent of the 10,000 students at the technical universities voted for the Nazis in student elections compared 48 percent of the 37,000 students at the non-technical universities.
Beyond the campuses, approximately 300,000 people were classified as engineers in 1933, including Germany’s 36,000 architects and 31,000 chemists.
Of this total, around 7,000 belonged to the NSDAP.
In January 1933, party membership stood at 720,000 (of a population of 32 million). 
Hence, about the same proportion of German engineers was drawn to membership in the NSDAP as German citizens generally, but less so than white-collar workers and independent professionals.
After 1933, the number of engineers in the NSDAP doubled, but the increase in the other middle-class professions was even greater (about 230 percent).
Only 13.1 percent of the leadership positions in the mid-1930s were held by engineers, compared to 56 percent for lawyers, and 15.5 percent for doctors.
Since their inception, the national engineering associations in Germany had bemoaned their lack of political influence and social prestige relative to the non-technical middle-class professions.
Both the Verein Deutscher Ingenieure(Association of German Engineers, VDI) and the cultural politicians publishing Technik und und Kultur called for a national office of planning for technical development, a Staatstechnik, which would coordinate state, industry, and engineering in the interests of the national community.
The overall leadership of the new regime’s efforts at “coordination” (Gleichschaltung) lay with Robert Ley, the director of the  Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF – (German Labor Front), whereas Feder directed the activities of the Reichsbund deutscher Techniker(RDT).

Robert Ley
Deutsche Arbeitsfront – DAF
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF – (German Labour Front) was the National Socialist trade union organization which replaced the various trade unions of the Weimar Republic after Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Its leader was Robert Ley, who stated its aim as ‘to create a true social and productive community‘ (Smelster, 1988). The DAF existed to act as a medium through which workers and owners could mutually represent their interests. Wages were set by the 12 DAF trustees. The employees were given relatively high set wages, security of work, dismissal was increasingly made difficult, social security programmes were made mandatory by the Arbeitsfront, leisure programmes were instituted, canteens, pauses and regular working times were established, and therefore generally the German workers were satisfied by what the DAF gave them in repaying for their absolute loyalty.
Employment contracts created under the Weimar Republic were abolished and renewed under new circumstances in the DAF. Employers could demand more of their workers, while at the same time workers were given increased security of work and increasingly enrolled into social security programmes for workers. The organisation, by its own definition, combated capitalism and liberalism, The DAF prefered to have large companies nationalised by the German state, instead of privately owned companies.

Metropolis – Fritz Lang

Interestingly, the conclusion of Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’ can be seen as a precursor one of the main concepts underlying the activity of the Deutsche Arbeitsfront with regard to the reconciliation of the interests of the employers and the workers in the German economy. The main themes of Metropolis culminate in the final scene on the cathedral steps, where Freder fulfils his role as mediator (“heart”), linking the hands of Fredersen (the city’s “head”) and Grot (its “hands”), to bring them together. In this way Hitler, through the Deutsche Arbeitsfront can be seen as bringing all social classes together in a united purpose as part of the Völksgemeinschaft. Not surprisingly, Dr Joseph Goebbels was impressed – and took the film’s message to heart. In a 1928 speech he declared that:
the political bourgeoisie is about to leave the stage of history. In its place advance the oppressed producers of the head and hand, the forces of Labor, to begin their historical mission“.

Feder wanted to replace the existing technical associations – Fachvereines – with  organizations focused on his version of German anticapitalism; Ley sought to integrate the existing engineering organizations into the German Labor Front.
The RDT had been founded in 1918 to foster the interests of engineers in national politics.
Although Feder envisaged a Front der Technik under leadership of the RDT, by the end of 1933 it had collapsed.
Some of its functionaries turned to the Deutsche technokratische Gesellschaft (DTG), founded in 1932 as an international Weltbund, organized around slogans of a technocratic socialism.
Although Feder saw the greatest opportunity for technocratic ascendancy in private or state capitalism, those who took seriously the goal of production for human needs over the needs of profit became increasingly uncomfortable with the National Socialist regime, especially after the announcement of the four-year plan directed at rearmament.
The DTG, whose Veblenian socialism of the technicians was utterly removed from the goals of the regime, ceased to exist in 1937.
The Gleichschaltung process of the engineers is a chapter in the story of the underestimation of Hitler by the conservative elites of German society.
Initially it entailed a trade-off between the regime and the engineering organizations. 
In exchange for accepting and assisting the new regime, the engineers sustained a semblance of organizational independence, which, however, was gradually whittled down to insignificance.
The leadership of the VDI (which now had about 30,000 members) informed the new government that it was ready to help deal with the problems of unemployment, energy, and rearmament and to work with the National Socialist’s own organization of engineers, the ‘Kampfbund deutscher Architekten und Ingenieure’ (KDAI).

Rudolf Heß

In April 1933, the KDAI membership included only 3 percent of Germany’s engineers, a fact that led Rudolf Heß and Fritz Todt to urge integration rather than destruction of existing organizations.

The leadership of the VDI viewed Feder as economically incompetent, and was more interested in placing the engineers’ technical skills at the service of the new regime through combining the energies of industry, engineers, and the state.
Hitler also regarded Feder’s anti-capitalist rhetoric as unhelpful when the regime was intent on convincing the existing organizations that their interests were best served by adapting to the program of the new regime.
Although not enamoured of Feder’s ideological pronouncements, the leaders of the VDI opted for political accommodation rather than resistance.
In exchange for offering their services to the new regime in a spirit of objective functionality – objektive Sachlichkeit – the engineering associations were able to survive as organizations, although the leadership positions were controlled either by members of the NSDAP or sympathizers.
The executor of the political coexistence of regime and the pre-existing engineering organizations was Fritz Todt.

Organisation Todt
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

Fritz Todt

Fritz Todt (4 September 1891 – 8 February 1942) was a German engineer and the founder of ‘Organisation Todt’.
In World War I, he initially served with the infantry and then as front line reconnaissance observer within the Luftstreitkräfte (the German Air Forces – DLSK), winning the Iron Cross. After his military service, he finished his studies in 1920 and joined at first the “Grün & Bilfinger AG, Mannheim” company and, later, the civil engineering company Sager & Woerner (1921).
Following the appointment of Hitler as Reichskanzler on 30 January 1933, Todt became ‘Generalinspektor für das deutsche Straßenwesen’ (“Inspector General for German Roadways”) and was involved in the new construction company for the motorways (Reichsautobahnen).
He later became ‘Leiter des Hauptamts für Technik in der Reichsleitung der NSDAP’ (“Director of the Head Office for Engineering in the National Directorate of the NSDAP”) and ‘Generalbevollmächtigter für die Regelung der Bauwirtschaft’ (“General Commissioner for the Regulation of the Construction Industry”).
Todt was permitted to have considerable power, and was not necessarily immediately answerable to any of the Reich ministries. He was also appointed to the rank of Generalmajor of the Luftwaffe after its official promulgation in March 1935. Todt was awarded the ‘German National Prize for Art and Science’ by Hitler for his work on the autobahnen.
In 1938, he founded the Organisation Todt (OT), joining together government firms, private companies and the Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich Labor Service), for the construction of the “West Wall”, later renamed the “Siegfried Line”, for the defence of the Reich territory. On 17 March 1940, he was appointed Reichsminister für Bewaffnung und Munition (“Reich Minister for Armaments and Munitions”) and oversaw the work of Organisation Todt in the occupied west.
He died in a plane crash on 8 February 1942.

In 1934, Hitler designated him as his representative for “all questions” concerning the organization and development of technology.
Todt, a party member since 1923, had strong and enduring ties to the engineering profession, and to its political and cultural traditions.
Rudolf Hess and Alfred Rosenberg also sang the praises of technology in National Socialist terms, but it was Todt, more than any other leading figure of the regime, who could truthfully claim roots in both the NSDAP and in the engineer’s cultural politics.
Following initial bureaucratic struggles with Feder, Todt assumed leadership of the ‘Amt der Technik’, the office charged with coordinating Hitler’s goals and the aspirations of the engineers.
Whereas Ley viewed the ‘Amt der Technik’ primarily as a tool for political control, Todt hoped to present this new political control as itself the outcome of the engineer’s own traditions.
To this end, he linked practical issues of raw material resources, new energy sources, and decreasing German dependence on raw materials with the ideological traditions that German engineers had themselves developed.
Todt urged his fellow engineers to consider political as well as technical issues and to favour both “revolution and tradition.”
In 1934, under the umbrella of the German Labor Front, Todt assumed leadership of the Amt der Technik, which in turn administered the Nationalsozialistischen Bund deutscher Techniker (NSBDT).
Members of the NSBDT were also members of the NSDAP, whereas most engineers were also required to join a broader front organization, the Reichsgemeinschaft Technischewissenschaftlichen Arbeit (RTA),and to pay dues to the all-encompassing Labor Front.
Thus Feder’s political demise did not mean that National Socialist ideology had given way to the solvent of industrial rationality.
His eclipse was accompanied by Todt’s ascendancy, and Todt was by no means an apolitical technocrat.
On the contrary, he understood that the price of formal autonomous existence for the Vereines was not a high price for the regime to pay for their political submission.
As part of this strategy of politicization, Todt used his office to publish the “technopolitical journal,” ‘Deutsche Technik’, from 1933 to 1941, a magazine of essays and photographs that sought to convince its approximately 80,000 readers that National Socialist ideology was compatible with modern technology.
Deutsche Technik thus supplanted , some of whose contributors were more taken with Feder’s anti-capitalism than with Todt’s emphasis on Staatstechnik.
By 1937, Todt announced with great pride that the “new ordering of German technology was complete” and that the NSDAP and the regime had completely integrated the organizations of German engineers that predated 1933.
The number of engineering organizations had been reduced from eighty to sixteen, and in 1937 these were placed under the control of a central government office called the Hauptamt fur Technik (Central Office for Technology).
About 81,000 of Germany’s 300,000 engineers participated in the schools and in propaganda efforts, and received journals published by the Hauptamt für Technik.

Reichsschule der deutschen Technik
Genossen Zimmer
Reichsschule der deutschen Technik

One of the most interesting examples of the amalgamation of ‘Modernism’ and ‘Tradition’ created by the Hauptamt für Technik was the ‘Reichsschule der deutschen Technik’ (The Reich School of German Technology – NSBDT) on the Plassenburg in Kulmbach, in the Gau Bayerische Ostmark.
The institution was founded by Fritz Todt.
A key task of the Reichsschule der deutschen Technik’ was to introduce various disciplines of engineering into the mindset of students so that major construction projects could be tackled holistically.
Significantly, rather that construct a new, modernistic building to house the Reichsschule, the architect Siegfried Schmelcher extensively remodeled and refurbished the medieval castle of Plass.

In 1939, Todt was elected chairman of the VDI.
By 1936, when Hitler announced a four-year plan of economic development, rationalization of industry, expanded development of synthetic energy substitutes, and rearmament, the Hauptamt für Technik and the NSBDT gave the regime an organizational monopoly over the technical instruments necessary for rearmament.
If up to 1936 the focus of National Socialist economic policy had been recovery from the depression, the four-year plan contained the additional goal of reducing German dependence on the world economy through technical innovation.
Fundamentalist slogans of national economic autarky went hand in hand with technical advances.
National Socialist publicists presented the plan as yet another act of liberation of technical workers from the tentacles of Jewish finance, and the leaders of the engineering associations extolled the ideal of placing their skills in the service of the Volk.
Pragmatic, rationalizing themes existed alongside traditional National Socialist ideology.
The propaganda of Todt’s office of technology insisted that there simply was no contradiction between developing new energy sources, building the Reichautobahnen, and rearmament, on the one hand, and serving the “general interest,” on the other. 
Whereas the National Socialists claimed that völkisch ideology and technical advance went hand in hand with Hitler’s ideology of the will, the engineers drawn to the regime believed that their sober commitments to technical rationality would finally be placed in the service of the state.
They also realized that their own power and importance would grow as the demands for armaments production expanded.
This history of organizational survival through political acquiescence reminds us that many German engineers remained outside the ideological disputes over the relation between technology and Germany’s soul.
The most that can be said on the basis of the evidence presented here is that in this period, when and if German engineers turned their attention to the connection between technology and Germany’s national identity, the terms of discussion were dominated by the cultural tradition of reactionary modernism.
The National Socialists were more successful at preserving their ideological souls than the engineers were at imposing pragmatism on the German dictatorship.
German engineers, however,  including Todt, subordinated their knowledge of technical realities to the demands of National Socialist ideology.
In the first issue of Deutsche Technik, published in September 1933, Todt wrote that the new “technopolitical journal” would make “German technology into a pillar of the total state” and place technology’s “cultural and spiritual outlook on the foundation of a pure National Socialist world view.”
Todt was able to speak in terms similar to the aesthetic and philosophical themes of the engineers’ traditions.

Reichsautobahnen

For example, the construction of the national highway system would be based on a unified plan, in sharp contrast to the chaos of the Weimar system.

It flowed from a unified Geist, and represented an artistic effort to give proper form to the German landscape.
Germany’s highways were to be far more than an engineering feat; they must be “an expression of the German essence.”
Todt argued that the “decisive” fact of the era for German engineers was that National Socialism was liberating technology from the “material bonds” that had restricted it for the last half century.
Here were both an opportunity and a necessity for “total engagement” by engineers in the nationalist revival.

Reichsautobahnen – Service Station
(note the ‘modernist’ architecture)

During the first years of the Third Reich, Todt pointed with pride to the construction of the Reichsautobahnen as evidence that the Nazis had rescued technology from an era that had treated it as an object without soul or spirit.

Like Freyer and Schmitt, Todt argued that now politics, not economics, was in command.
Aesthetic criteria were displacing the profit motive, and the National Socialists were demonstrating that technology did not consist of dead matter, but of “soulful cultural works” that grew organically from the Volk.

Reichsautobahnen – Under Construction

Todt also stated  that there was a specifically National Socialist conception of technology that elevated creativity over materialist considerations.

During these years, Deutsche Technik was filled with photographs of the highways gracefully weaving through valleys, mountains, and farmland.
These roads demonstrated that, as Todt put it, “the artistic and technical powers of invention and formation live together in the creative engineer.”
The following passage is typical of Todt’s view of technology as an art form:
The following are the features that make a road as a totality into an artwork that brings the environment joy through its intrinsic beauty and harmony with the environment: The direction of lines is bound to the land [landschaftsverbundene Lininefiihrung], Construction remains true to natural forms [naturformgetruere Erdbau]. Workmanship is based on the craftsman’s principles of building and implantation in the earth [bodenstände Bepflanzung‘.
If this was what highway construction was about, it hardly conflicted with the cultural revolution promised by National Socialism.

Reichsautobanen – Bridge

Building the “highways bound to the land” (landschaftsverbundene Strassen) and saving the German soul were mutually reinforcing projects.

Todt’s message was clear:
‘The new highways posed no threat to the German Volk.
On the contrary, they promised to restore the nation’s lost unity’.
As Albert Speer later put it, Todt did not see “brutal and loveless images of iron and cement” when he looked at highways, but rather deliverance and redemption from a fragmented, materialist era. 
As one of the official eulogies for Todt in 1941 put it, the National Socialists had learned to lift technology out of the web of “bureaucratism”, and had taught German engineers that “the language of technical works must rest. . .on the grammar of nature.”

Reichsautobanen 

Deutsche Technik is a striking document of the continuity of the reactionary modernist tradition after 1933.

The Zeitschrift des Vereins deutscher Ingenieure continued to appear in these years, but it was primarily devoted to technical discussions combined with promptings for loyalty to the Führer.
Deutsche Technik proceeded to adapt many of the themes that first appeared in.
Unlike Albert Speer’s Bureau of the Beauty of Labor, Deutsche Technik did not replace völkisch pastoralism with technocratic aesthetics but, as Todt urged, incorporated technology into the National Socialist Weltanschauung.
Articles were short, usually no more than three pages long.
The message of the journal was straightforward: Whatever had been posed as a problem before 1933 had now been solved.
At the Haus der deutschen Technik in Munich, the National Socialists presented annual exhibitions on the theme of art and technology.
Deutsche Technik reproduced many of these paintings as well as photographs of cars, planes, trains, and roads.
Typical of the commentary was a 1942 essay asserting that National Socialism understood that art infuses technical processes with Geist.
As a result of this understanding, German artists were “no longer out of step” with technology, but saw in it instead “the essential and necessary principle of our being,” which established law over arbitrariness, duty over selfishness.
Now that technology had become part of the Volksgemeinschaft, it had assumed clear and beautiful forms. 
Technical advance under the National Socialists was a cultural revolution that gave new meaning to cold steel.
Among the accomplishments of the Third Reich regarding technology were a “victory over the elementary,” “overcoming” the threat of Americanization, balancing city and country, and bringing to the surface a uniquely German “surrender” to technology.
Deutsche Technik elaborated the engineer’s view that there was a specifically German technology.
As contributors toTechnik und Kultur had done before them, the writers for Deutsche Technik traced technology back to famous figures of pre-industrial Europe, such as Leonardo da Vinci, who were stylized as models of the not-yet-divided engineer-artist or scientist-soldier.
The point of these accounts of the past was to stress links between the very old and the very new, and to root technology in pre-capitalist and pre-industrial traditions. 

Goethe der Technologe

A great deal was made of “Goethe the technologist.”

But the central message of Deutsche Technik was that National Socialism had indeed overcome the conflict between technology and culture.
An essay published in February 1943, “NS-Technik,” surveyed the first ten years of technology under Hitler.
Its argument was as follows: Before 1933, Germany and German technology had suffered from capitalist misuse, the Jewish financial “plutocracy,” American “de-souling” (Entseelung), and the threat of enslavement by the Bolsheviks.
National Socialism had made clear that it was the Germans who were the truly chosen people and had helped them construct a new German landscape saved from the “filth of civilization” and the “American-Jewish destruction of German nature.” 
Ferdinand Fried, editor of ‘Die Tat’ in the Weimar years, presented such views in several essays.
Although Germany’s “racial soul” was in tune with technical advances, technology had been “raped” by the Jewish Ungeist.
Under the National Socialists, the German soul was reasserting itself.

The Volkswagen, the Autobahnen, the air force, and Speer’s Bureau of the Beauty of Labour were all examples of a new NS-Technik.

Fried claimed that envy and resentment of Germany’s liberation from “the chains of Jewish money” were the real motivations of the Reich’s enemies. 
The danger of dehumanization at the hands of the machine or of destruction of the German landscape had been averted.
National Socialism meant deliverance from a wasteland.
Deliverance from the past only highlighted present dangers.
Like the reactionary modernists, the National Socialist propagandists transformed Germany’s geographical location into a cultural-political identity.
Germany, they said, as the country between East and West, was the only one to really grasp the “essence of technical creation.”
The Deutsche Technik authors repeated the complaints about American and British materialism, and Soviet-style dialectical materialism.
Only the Germans had synthesized technics and nature.
By the time Hitler’s armies dominated Europe from the Soviet Union to the Atlantic, such ideas were developed into a Grossraum Technik, a unified, integrated technological system in Europe, with Germany as its center.
The reader will recognize the familiar themes of reactionary modernism in these ideas. 
The National Socialist propagandists were administrators of already existing traditions.
But they were distinct within the panoply of German nationalism for the emphasis they placed on anti-Semitism, and the biological foundations they gave to German technological advance.
They wrote that the Nordic race had peculiar technical and scientific abilities.
Had Germany only been a nation of poets, philosophers, and artists, it would be defenceless.
Fortunately for the Germans, the Nordic race had a distinctive urge to dominate nature.
Unlike the Americans, or the Jewish-Bolsheviks, who introduced technology with murder and forced labor, the Nazis built on German racial foundations to ward off the threats from both capitalism and socialism. 
As one frequent contributor, Richard Grun, put it,
In this ruthless world, a nation of poets is defeated, a nation of philosophers hungers, a nation of aesthetes is subject to ridicule. Only a people able to produce arms, weapons, commodities, machines and knowledge is able to survive.”
Grun argued that Germany must compensate for its numerical disadvantages in relation to its enemies with its technical capabilities, and with efforts to increase the birth rate among the scientifically and technically talented.
Deutsche Technik, like Technik und Kultur earlier, published excerpts from books or from essays that later were expanded into books published in editions of about twenty to twenty-five thousand.
The continuities with reactionary modernist ideology are striking.
In 1936, for example, Fritz Nonnenbruch’s ‘Die dynamische Wirtschaft’ (The Dynamic Economy) was published by the National Socialists.
He wrote that National Socialism had overcome the abstract economic laws of a capitalism bereft of “ties to the Volk.”
The primacy of politics, not class conflict, had led to “the actual overcoming of capitalism.”
Nonnenbruch periodized the history of German capitalism in terms of predominance of either the Jewish or the Nordic spirit.
Whereas pre-1933 capitalism had been dominated by the spirit of the merchant and financier, he argued that after 1933 it was dominated by the spirit of the “Nordic peoples” and was therefore productive and favourable to the interests of German engineers.
Economic crises had been brought about by production for the market rather than for the needs of the nation.
But the economic recovery after 1933 was evidence of the affinity between “the Geist of technics and the Geist of the race.”

Ernst Jünger

In a manner reminiscent of Ernst Jünger, Nonnenbruch recalled the soldier formed by the Fronterlebnis as a “master of technology.”

The war had shown a generation of young Germans that technology need not be soulless and impersonal, but could be “great, manly, dangerous, free and wild. . .The will of the race speaks in highway construction.”
Like many other contributors to Deutsche Technik, Nonnenbruch argued that the National Socialist’s great accomplishment was to have restored a dynamic to capitalism without also restoring bourgeois rationalism.
Placing economics at the centre of attention would have been a purely “intellectual exercise.
But surrendering to the “will of the race for technology” would be a matter of the spirit and the soul, which are “superior to the intellect.”
“Where the race speaks, the intellect can offer no resistance. Appeals to the intellect bring dis-harmony. Appeals to the will of the race bring unity, harmony and creation.”
Nonnenbruch picked up on Goebbels’s efforts to recast romanticism for a technological age, thereby linking National Socialism to another German tradition: Technology is romantic but in a way that is totally different from any other kind of romanticism. It is not a flight from reality but a flaming illumination of reality.
Flying in an airplane, driving in a car, the thunder of the elevated railway, the various landscapes of the battlefield, the glowing stream of flowing iron in the ghostly night filled with steel ovens – all of these thing are incomparably more romantic than anything previous romantics could imagine.
Both Goebbels’s steellike romanticism and Nonnenbruch’s new romanticism were directed against those elements of the romantic tradition that supported a reconciliation with or return to nature.
There were only two alternatives for the reactionary modernists: effeminate and cowardly escape into the Asian or pastoral past, or masculine and courageous flight into the German future.

Carl Jung

In  a later of Technik und Kultur, Paul Ernst’s criticisms of the dehumanizing impact of the division of labour were rejected in favour of a Jüngerian celebration of the Gestalt of the worker.

Ernst was charged with escapism, having a merely “external” view of technology, and failing to recognize that technology was essential to the nation and grew out of the “inner necessity of our being.”
The process of selectively borrowing from past cultural traditions, in this case romanticism, is again apparent in these statements.
The reactionary modernist tradition would have been inconceivable without romantic legacies.
Nonnenbruch’s second book-length work, ‘Technik, Politik und Geist’, repeated many of the themes he had developed in ‘Die dynamische Wirtschaft’.
The immediate purpose of the book was to depict the four-year plan, in particular the achievements of the German chemical industry, as examples of a will-to-freedom present in the German nation.
Development of synthetic fuels would free Germany from foreign sources of raw materials, and state direction of the economy abolished restrictions on growth due to commercial greed.
In Nonnenbruch’s account, National Socialism was attempting to reverse the results of World War I by “unleashing” technology.
In so doing, the Nazis demonstrated that technology expressed the will of the Volk rather than the will of “international capitalism hostile to the Volk.”

Fronterlebnis

The synthesis of energy and organization in the four-year plan had been prefigured by the Fronterlebnis of World War I.

Like all of the National Socialist propaganda its effectiveness rested on the repetition of  metaphors and associations such as – Geist, Gemeinschaft, Schicksal (destiny), Heldentum (heroism), Opferbereitschaft (readiness for sacrifice), will, freedom, and race.
In this cultural perspective, rationalization of industry appears as a cultural revolt against the obsolete and historically bypassed liberal era.
‘Politik, Technik, und Geist’ is evidence of the reactionary modernist effort to preserve the charismatic experience of World War I, and of the persistence of reactionary modernism.
In 1937, Wilhelm Stortz, a professor of engineering at the technical university in Stuttgart, presented a National Socialist version of technological development in modern Germany, ‘Der Weg der deutschen Technik’.
His reconstruction was as follows:

Bismark

Nineteenth-century Germany was spared the full brunt of the soulless materialism that engulfed England, France, and the United States because its industrialization process was guided by the state under Bismarck, Germany’s “first National Socialist.” But by the turn of the century, “production of useful goods” (Gebrauchs gutererzeugung) was replaced by “commodity production” (Warenerzeugung), with a resultant decline both in the quality of goods and in the skills of the labor force, as well as growing unemployment. The years preceding World War I were characterized by the increasing predominance of “capitalist market calculation” over “technical quality.” But the war reversed this trend by wrenching technology out of the control of exchange relations and placing it in the service of the nation.

Treaty of Versailles

For Stortz, the tragedy of German technology was that at the very moment the generation formed by the war experience became aware of the value of technology for German nationalism, the Treaty of Versailles blocked German technical expansion.

The Weimar system once again established the primacy of “economic thinking” over that of technical idealism.

Oswald Spengler
No wonder Spengler’s pessimism found an echo.
Stortz saw in National Socialism a political movement that presented resistance to cultural pessimism and that averted the “escape from technology which threatened to strangle us before 1933.”
Stortz credited the National Socialists with having successfully incorporated technological advance into the spiritual renewal of a victorious national revolution. 
As with so many of the reactionary modernists who preceded him, Stortz saw in war and nationalism the ideological and political alternative to the culture and politics of the market.
Book-length expositions of reactionary modernist themes continued to appear during the war years.
Several works published from 1940 to 1943 deserve mention: Alexander Friedrich’s ‘Die unsichtbare Armee: Das Buch der Energie’ (The Invisible Army: The Book of Energy), Richard Grun’s ‘Wir und die Technik’, and Anton Zischka’s ‘Erfinder brechen die Blockade’ (Inventors Break the Blockade), and ‘Seig der Arbeit: Geschichte der fünftausendjährigen Kampfes gegen Unwissenheit und Sklaverei’ (Victory of Labor: The History of the 5ooo-year-long Struggle against Ignorance and Slavery).
All three authors continued to maintain that technology is not a threat to the German soul, and to insist that it is an expression of the heroic virtues of a united Volksgemeinschaft.
All of them attacked intellectuals and artists who have shown no appreciation for technics, and no understanding that “from Gutenberg and Luther through Hitler,” the Germans have used technology to advance national unity.
And all of them attacked those remaining humanist Luddites who, they believed, were incapable of grasping the higher laws working in technical processes.
These laws were not social or economic laws but determinations grounded in Germany’s racial soul.
For years German technology had suffered from the unproductive jüdische Geist, but those days of depraved commercialism were over.
Grun in particular stressed the masculine nature of technology.
The proper order of things suggested that men built technological artefacts, while women remained in the home.

 click below for more information about
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013 

Further, he distinguished between tradition, which was good because it offered ties to the past and hope for the future, and reaction, which was bad because it stubbornly clung to obsolete methods of production and could thus harm the nation.
The National Socialists had addressed the engineers’ need for tradition by integrating technology into the traditions of the whole nation.
The calling of engineers demanded that they be innovators and revolutionaries, but this did not mean that they would be separated from the Volk.

Darwin

Recalling Todt’s words on nature and technical form, Grun celebrated the synthesis of a German feeling for nature with a no less German drive for technical progress. 

Finally, Grun wrote that National Socialism demonstrated that Social Darwinism, the laws of nature, and the laws of technological advance were compatible.
If the survival of the fittest was an unavoidable requirement of life, restricting technical progress would conflict with biological laws and make possible the triumph of those less racially fit.
The real National Socialist achievement was to have seen that technology was a biological rather than an economic phenomenon.
To have succumbed to the anti-technological currents within German nationalism would have meant rejecting National Socialism’s racial theory of history.

Synthetic Fuel Production

Zischka and Friedrich also attacked Jewish influence on German technology, praised Hitler for restoring technical progress in Germany, and advocated further development of synthetic fuels to overcome Germany’s paucity of natural resources. 

Both Friedrich and Zischka emphasized the importance of scientific and technical discoveries for Germany’s independence.

‘Erfindung liegt in unserem Blut’ – Die Glocke ?

As Zischka put it, Germany was strong because “invention lies in our blood.”

Now that the power of the Jews over German energy and technology had been broken, a bright future of national independence, technical advances, and authoritarian politics promised to sustain the Volksgemeinschaft indefinitely.
Germany’s enemies  – the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union — still laboured under the burden of the Jews.
The reactionary modernist tradition by no means faded away under the pressures of political rule and the conduct of war.
On the contrary, the National Socialists gave to the tradition both institutional and propagandistic expression.
The German soul and will proved tenacious but eventually woefully inadequate when confronted with the Allied arsenal. 

The reactionary modernist tradition was politically consequential in that it contributed to the technological strength that made the war conceivable, if not winnable.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
To understand National Socialism one must consider the concept of `reactionary modernism’ – a concept which reconciles anti-modernism, romanticism, and tradition with modernity – and it is this apparently contradictory combination  of  traditional culture and aesthetics, and  a  modern reliance on instrumental reason and modern means that made the Third Reich a unique and highly effective political system.

Gas Attack on the Western Front
People in Germany realised the importance of technology before 1914, but the First World War nevertheless came as a shock because it fundamentally questioned the widespread belief that technology was an occasionally difficult but potentially obedient servant of humanity.
Not only the common soldiers in combat felt the overwhelming power of modern weapons, but so also did the military and political leadership, who were forced to change all of their plans to adapt to the realities of industrial and technological warfare.
War was no longer a matter solely of the military sector as scientific achievements, the potential for industrial production, and the mental preparedness for war were at least as important for success as the armed forces themselves.
The pressure to attempt total mobilisation in modern warfare forced Germany to accept the industrial and technological logic unreservedly, that is to say, with all the often unwanted consequences a strong focus on efficiency implied.

Ernst Jünger
Ernst Jünger was one of the many middle-class volunteers who in 1914 saw the First World War as a chance to escape from the boredom of a secure everyday life.
He was motivated by the hope of finding his `true self ‘ and a more `elemental reality’ outside bourgeois society.
This hope and desire to engage on an adventurous journey to discover one’s authentic existence beyond the false conventions of civilised society was not a `pre-modern’ notion, but an expression of a `romantic individualism‘ originating in the artistic way of life of early romanticism, giving the central motif to many modern writings and representing a common ambition for the avantgarde and ‘life-reform’ movements at the turn of the century.
In a similar vein, Jünger believed that society in the `mechanical age‘ restricted the potential of a much richer self, while a more authentic life promised the discovery of one’s own individuality and the experience of the `multitude of life, its diversity and the glowing beauty of its intoxications’.
But Jünger was quickly forced to realise that his naive notions of a warrior’s life had little in common with modern warfare.
The desire for adventure and emotional intensity is an integral part of modernity, but for achieving success the industrial world demands, in war as much as in peace, the precise work of every soldier or worker as a small cog in a large technical system.

Friedrich Nietzsche
Inspired by Nietzsche, Jünger could not reject technology, which was clearly the prime instrument of the human `will to power’ in modern times.
As there was no escape from the all-pervasive power of technology, he had to find a way of integrating it into his world-view.
The acceptance that it was not the `abilities of the individual’ which counted in modernity (in particular in modern warfare), but `production, level of technology, education and railway systems’ was a difficult step for Jünger as it challenged his hope and desire for a less civilised space in which one could realise an adventurous path of life.
On the one hand, he admitted a `deep fear’ of modern technology, but on the other, his Nietzschean convictions forced him to embrace all aspects of the modern condition.
After a laborious struggle, he reached a position towards the end of the 1920s where he strongly rejected any glorification of nature or ‘rural life’ by critics of civilisation as sterile `romanticism’, demanding an unreserved acceptance of modern life instead.

 click below for more information about
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013 

It was not the conservative acceptance of technology which was original about Jünger’s position, nor was it the attempt to integrate it into his world view and employ it as a means for his own objectives.
What was new about Jünger and other conservative revolutionaries at the end of the Weimar Republic were the two following convictions:
Firstly, while earlier conservatives had the confidence to believe that modern technology could be used at will, Ernst Jünger was correct in realising that technical developments and applications followed their own logic and thus placed demands on users.
Different technical means could not be employed by any person for any purpose, but only by people prepared to accept fully all demands of the technical age, because individual technical means are part of an interdependent technical system and cannot exist in isolation.
Furthermore he developed the conviction that a productive engagement with technology demanded a certain `language’.
As users have to follow a certain code to live in the technical world and make use of technical means, modernity turns them not `just into subjects of technical processes, but simultaneously into their objects’. `The application of these [technological] means demands a specific lifestyle, which encompasses every single aspect of life. Technology is thus by no means a neutral force, no reservoir of effective and simply convenient means, which any traditional power can take from at pleasure’.
The First World War had taught Jünger an important lesson which the Weimar Republic could only reinforce: that modern technology places precise demands on its users, produces unintended results and becomes a force in its own right, shaping history in unexpected ways.

Walther Darré
Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer
Equally, Hitler called himself a techno-enthusiast (`Narr der Technik’), Goebbels said programmatically that National Socialism `consciously approves‘ of technology, and a publication of the SS called it a `weapon in the struggle for life‘.
Himmler and Walther Darré were more critical, but Albert Speer, Fritz Todt and Robert Ley were also advocates of the unreserved embrace of modern technology.
Even one of the main representatives of the  völkisch wing, Alfred Rosenberg, saw technology as an expression of an `eternal Germanic drive’, and Peter Schwerber’s book `National Socialism and Technology‘, published in the official NSDAP series of pamphlets stressed technology’s positive role.

Essen Krupp Werke
While it attacked the banking system and the primacy of profits in the capitalist system as an expression of allegedly Jewish materialism and greed, it praised the potential of modern technology and the deeds of entrepreneurs such as Krupp.


The Krupp family, a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments.



Adolf Hitler and Gustav Krupp
The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century.
Gustav Georg Friedrich Maria Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, (7 August 1870 – 16 January 1950) ran the German Friedrich Krupp AG heavy industry conglomerate from 1909 until 1941
Alfried Felix Alwyn Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach was an amateur photographer and Olympic sailor, he was an early supporter of the NSDAP and, joined the SS in 1931, never disavowing his allegiance to Hitler.

At the center of National Socialist views on technology and modernism stood a mythic historical construction of a racial battle between Aryan and Jew, blood and gold.
However, the National Socialists accepted technology `consciously and happily‘ as the foundation of the nation, of a high standard of living and of military strength.

Reichsautobahn
Hitler Promotes the Reichsautobahnen
With an equally strong belief in the positive role of modern technology in changing society, Franz Lawaczeck, one of the three founding fathers of the National Socialist engineers’ association, ‘Kampfbund Deutscher Architekten und Ingenieure‘, believed that the Third Reich could generate an abundance of cheap electricity that would promote small farms and businesses and promote a decentralisation of modern society. In its presentation to the public, National Socialism also stressed its positive attitude towards technology.
With the slogan `Hitler above Germany’, National Socialism drew attention to his use of an aeroplane.
Hitler also presented himself  as the father of the autobahn, opened car exhibitions and promoted the idea of a cheap car for the mass of the people, not primarily for military or economic purposes.
He wanted to become a moderniser of German cities and had a book of photographs published in which he presented himself alongside cars, aeroplanes, ships and industrial sites.
Also, the hope that a `Wunderwaffe‘ might miraculously change the outcome of the war indicates a strong belief in the power of technology.

click below for more information about


While Ernst Jünger, and other conservatives in the Weimar Republic, had eventually realised that systematic work in large technological systems is a necessary prerequisite for efficiency under modern conditions (this was exactly their original contribution to a conservative understanding of modern technology), National Socialism largely maintained the belief held by earlier or less advanced techno-enthusiasts that exceptionally gifted personalities with strong will-power could overcome all the odds and turn technology into an obedient servant.
It neither saw the need to speak the `language‘ of technology, and adapt to its imperatives, nor did it realise the dialectical connection between using technology and submitting to a technological lifestyle.
On a more practical level, Nazi policy never aimed for the consistency and all- pervasive planning necessary to realise a technocratic state.
The National Socialist cultural policy was also marked by certain inconsistencies.
While the modernists on the left and right demanded that all cultural forms should reflect the functions of the technical age by abandoning all unnecessary decoration (`form follows function‘), National Socialism embraced more traditional styles.

Triumph des Willens
Triumph des Willens
In contrast to Jünger’s  futurist demand for a functional logic and a technical style, which was to penetrate and determine all aspects of society and human existence, National Socialism rejected such attempts to close the gap between technology and culture, favouring an undogmatic mix instead.
In literature, novels about exceptional engineers and technological achievements co-existed with stories about rural life.





Hitler Over Germany
Nürnberg Reichsparteitag in 1934
For the Nürnberg Reichsparteitag in 1934 (communicated to us mainly through the modern medium of film, via the famous ‘Triumph of the Will’ ) the historic city of Nuremberg was used as background for Hitler’s arrival in his aeroplane, for mass rallies and military parades with modern armaments.

Traditional Costumes
Adolf Hitler auf dem Bückeberg
The `beauty of work’ programme promoted swimming pools, grass and gardens, but also an increase in productivity; and the attempt to increase agricultural production was connected with an invention and promotion of traditions such as wearing traditional costumes, engaging in folk dance or accompanying the passing on of the farm to the son with a festive ritual.

From 1933 to 1937 the NSDAP arranged an annual Harvest Festival at Bückeberg, close to the city of Hamelin. More than one million people gathered there, dressed in elaborate traditional folk costumes, in order to celebrate the German peasant, and to listen to speeches. To manage this number of participants a special arena designed by Albert Speer was built. The site was intended to be one of the symbolically important in the Third Reich.

Entartete Kunst
This enhancement of modern reality with all forms available from past and present as well as the ousting of a more critical ‘Entartete Kunst’ (decadent art), was essential to National Socialist aesthetics and culture.

Traditional Regional Style Architecture
This is particularly clear in Nazi architecture.
It did not break completely with the modern functional style, but used it primarily for commercial buildings, in road construction and town planning.
Official buildings were designed in a refined classical or monumental style, and residential housing was ideally built in accordance with a traditional regional style.
While the industrial sphere was thus supposed to be functional and the political sphere awe-inspiring, the private sphere was aiming to give a feeling of warmth and gemütlichkeit.

Gemütlichkeit means a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry.

National Socialism accepted that even people who want to be heroes have secret selves, whose `tastes lie toward safety, soft beds, and beer‘.
National Socialists thus used heroic imagery on an ideological level, but sensibly tried to keep the sacrifices of their followers to a minimum.
Different opinions could exist, because technology was not seen as a the sole principal in society.
If one accepts that the creation of a ‘pure Aryan‘ race was the main goal of National Socialism, then the attitude towards technology could vary and alter, because its value was determined by the question whether it threatened or helped to achieve that goal.

Arischen Rasse
Some National Socialists were against technology, because they believed that it would undermine the strength of the ‘Arischen Rasse’ (Aryan race), but most were convinced that the National Socialist goals could only be achieved by means of a full embrace of modern technology.
Like the group of those right-wing extremists in the Weimar Republic which have been named `reactionary modernists’ (but also like many other conservatives), National Socialism accepted technology as an important tool in achieving their militaristic and racist goals.
But while the modernists on the right tried to face the fact that technology also places demands on its users and thereby alters them and society, National Socialism drew on less sophisticated beliefs more typical of conservatives in imperial Germany.

Relaxation and Distraction
Liegender Frauenakt – Ernst Liebermann
The technical age was accepted as a practical necessity, but not celebrated in a ‘technical style’; people had to fulfill their function, but relaxation and distraction were granted; and culture was consciously employed as an escape from a certain aspects of material reality.
In this respect, the National Socialists arrived at a more sustainable lifestyle within modern reality than the modernists: in their openness to compromise in all but their core beliefs they accepted that the demands of the modern functional age were only bearable if allowance was made for traditional values and culture.
National Socialism was popular and politically successful because it acknowledged and tolerated different forces and desires in human beings, thereby avoiding purist extremes.
Ironically, the National Socialists world-view (with their trust in the positive potential of a pure Nordic race) allowed them to absorb pragmatically a whole variety of impulses of the time, and thereby integrate different important social groups.

Olympia-Schwimmhalle – National Socialist Modernism
National Socialism cannot be understood as completely anti-modern, because it made full use of technology.
It is simply not strange or paradoxical to reject modernism and embrace technology at the same time.
National Socialism does not have just one cultural root.
It is eclectic, drawing on many different traditions and reacting pragmatically to the circumstances.
As its attitude towards technology is mainly pragmatic, it could take many different forms.
The requirement to maintain power and achieve its central policy goals largely determined its usage of technology, not a preconceived world view.
Thus National Socialism can be seen as the optimum position with regard to the apparently antagonistic positions of modernity and tradition.

Troost and Speer – Hitler’s Architects

T R O O S T  A N D  S P E E R – A R C H I T E C T S   T O  T H E  F Ü H R E R


 
 
At the 1933 Nürnberg Reichsparteitag, the new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler proclaimed the dawn of an era of ‘New Art’ – and instituted the Reichskulturkammer (Reich Chamber of Culture) to oversee the cultural life of Das Dritte Reich, (the Third Reich).
The Reichskulturkammer was headed by Dr. Paul Joseph Göbbels.
The Reichskulturkammer was to control all aspects of culture, and this included the fine arts, applied arts,  industrial design, sculpture, architecture and film.

‘Germany wants again a “German Art,” and this art shall and will be of eternal value, as are all truly creative values of a people.
Should this art, however, again lack this eternal value for our people, then indeed it will mean that it also has no higher value today
When, therefore, the cornerstone of this building was laid, it was with the intention of constructing a temple, not for a so-called modern art, but for a true and everlasting German art, that is, better still, a House for the art of the German people.
It is therefore imperative for the artist to erect monuments, not so much to a period, but to his people.
For time is changeable, years come and go.
Anything born of and thriving on a certain epoch alone would perish with it.
And not only all which had been created before us would fall victim to this mortality, but also what is being created today or will be created in the future.
But the National-Socialists know of only one mortality, and that is the mortality of the people itself:
As long as a people exists, however, it is the fixed pole in the flight of fleeting appearances.
It is the quality of being and lasting permanence.
And, indeed, for this reason, art as an expression of the essence of this being, is an eternal monument.’
Adolf Hitler


T R O O S T  A N D  S P E E R – A R C H I T E C T S   T O  T H E  F Ü H R E R

Hitler appreciated the neo-classical  architects of the 19th century such as 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 also admired the neo-baroque the Palais Garnier, home of the Paris Opera, and the neo-classical Law Courts of Brussels by the architect Poelaert.
Ultimately, he was always drawn back to inflated neo-baroque such as Kaiser Wilhelm II had fostered, through his court architect Ernst von Ihne.
Thus, in the realm of architecture, as in painting and sculpture, Hitler saw his ideal in the world of his youth: the world of 1880 to 1910, which stamped its imprint on his artistic taste as on his political and ideological conceptions.
The Führer did not have one particular style; there was no official architecture of the Reich, only the neoclassical baseline that was enlarged, multiplied, altered and exaggerated.
Hitler appreciated the permanent qualities of the classical style as it had a relationship between the Dorians and his own Germanic world.

P A U L   L U D W I G   T R O O S T

Paul Ludwig Troost (August 17, 1878 – March 21, 1934), born in Elberfeld, was a German architect.
An extremely tall, spare-looking, reserved Westphalian with a close-shaven head, Troost belonged to a school of architects, Peter Behrens and Walter Gropius who, even before 1914, reacted sharply against the highly ornamental Jugendstil and advocated a restrained, lean architectural approach, almost devoid of ornament.
Troost graduated from designing steamship décor before World War I, and the fittings for showy transatlantic liners like the Europa, to a style that combined Spartan traditionalism with elements of modernity.
Although, before 1933 he did not belong to the leading group of German architects, he became Hitler’s foremost architect whose neo-classical style became for a time the official architecture of the Third Reich.
In the autumn of 1933, he was commissioned to rebuild and refurnish the Chancellery residence in Berlin.
Along with other architects, Troost planned and built State and municipal edifices throughout the country, including new administrative offices, social buildings for workers and bridges across the main highways.

One of the many structures he planned before his death was the House of German Art in Munich, intended to be a great temple for a “true, eternal art of the German people”.
It was a good example of the classical forms in monumental public buildings during the Third Reich, though subsequently Hitler moved away from the more restrained style of Troost, reverting to the imperial grandeur that he had admired in the Vienna Ringstraße of his youth.
Hitler’s relationship to Troost was that of a pupil to an admired teacher.

According to Albert Speer, who later became Hitler’s favorite architect, the Führer would impatiently greet Troost with the words: “I can’t wait, Herr Professor. Is there anything new? Let’s see it!” Troost would then lay out his latest plans and sketches.
Hitler frequently declared, according to Speer, that “he first learned what architecture was from Troost”‘.
The architect’s death on March 21, 1934, after a severe illness, was a painful blow, but Hitler remained close to his widow Gerdy Troost, whose architectural taste frequently coincided with his own, which made her (in Speer’s words) “a kind of arbiter of art in Munich.”
Troost was buried in the “Nordfriedhof” Cemetery (North Cemetery) in Munich.
The gravestone (see above left) still survives although the family name has been removed.
Hitler posthumously awarded Troost the German National Prize for Art and Science in 1936.


FÜHRERBAU – KÖNIGSPLATZ  MÜNCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost

The Fuehrerbau, on the Königsplatz in Munich, was built from 1933 to 1937 by the architect Paul Ludwig Troost.
The first plans for the buildings date from the year 1931.
It was completed only three years after the death of Professor Troost by Leonhard Gall.
The building was used as the national administrative centre for the NSDAP.





GRAND STAIRCASE
FÜHRERBAU – KÖNIGSPLATZ  MÜNCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost





ADOLF HITLER’S STUDY
FÜHRERBAU – KÖNIGSPLATZ  MÜNCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost





MAIN CORRIDOR
FÜHRERBAU – KÖNIGSPLATZ  MÜNCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost




EHRENTEMPEL – KÖNIGSPLATZ  NCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost

The Ehrentempel (“honor temples”) were two structures in Munich, designed by Professor Paul  Ludwig Troost, and erected by the German Government in 1935, housing the sacrophagi of the sixteen members of the party who had been killed in the failed Beer hall putsch.
The Ehrentempel was made of limestone except for its roof which was made of steel and concrete with etched glass mosaics.
The pedestals of the temples were seventy feet wide.

The columns of the structures each extended twenty-three feet. The combined weight of the sacrophagi was over 2,900 pounds.
The following martyrs of the National Socialis German Workers Party were interred in the Ehrentempel:

Felix Alfarth, Andreas Bauriedl, Theodor Casella, William Ehrlich, Martin Faust,
Anton Hechenberger, Oskar Körner, Karl Kuhn, Karl Laforce, Kurt Neubauer,
Klaus von Pape,Theodor von der Pfordten, Johann Rickmers,Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, Lorenz Ritter von Stransky, Wilhelm Wolf
Adolf Wagner (buried in the grass mound between steps in 1944)





EHRENTEMPEL – KÖNIGSPLATZ  NCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost







EHRENTEMPEL – KÖNIGSPLATZ  NCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost




EHRENTEMPEL – KÖNIGSPLATZ  NCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost





EHRENTEMPEL – KÖNIGSPLATZ  NCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost





EHRENTEMPEL – KÖNIGSPLATZ  NCHEN
(Tag Der Deutschen Kunst – Day of German Art)
Paul Ludwig Troost







EHRENTEMPEL AT DUSK – KÖNIGSPLATZ  NCHEN
Paul Ludwig Troost

DAS HAUS DER DEUTSCHEN KUNST
(The House of German Art)
Paul Ludwig Troost


DAS HAUS DER DEUTSCHEN KUNST
(The House of German Art)
Paul Ludwig Troost





DAS HAUS DER DEUTSCHEN KUNST
(The House of German Art)
Paul Ludwig Troost


DAS HAUS DER DEUTSCHEN KUNST
Paul Ludwig Troost




DAS HAUS DER DEUTSCHEN KUNST
Paul Ludwig Troost



DAS HAUS DER DEUTSCHEN KUNST
Paul Ludwig Troost






A L B E R T   S P E E R




Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, (March 19, 1905 – September 1, 1981) was a German architect.
Speer was Adolf Hitler’s chief architect before assuming ministerial office. 
Speer joined the Nazi Party in 1931, launching him on a political and governmental career which lasted fourteen years. His architectural skills made him increasingly prominent within the Party and he became a member of Hitler’s inner circle.
Hitler commissioned him to design and construct a number of structures, including the Reich Chancellery and the Zeppelinfeld stadium in Nuremberg where Party rallies were held. Speer also made plans to reconstruct Berlin on a grand scale, with huge buildings, wide boulevards, and a reorganized transportation system.
Speer was born in Mannheim, into a wealthy middle class family.
Speer was active in sports, taking up skiing and mountaineering.
Speer followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and studied architecture.
Speer began his architectural studies at the University of Karlsruhe.
In 1924 he transferred to the Technical University of Munich.
In 1925 he transferred again, this time to the Technical University of Berlin where he studied under Heinrich Tessenow, whom Speer greatly admired.
After passing his exams in 1927, Speer became Tessenow’s assistant, a high honor for a man of 22.
As such, Speer taught some of Tessenow’s classes while continuing his own postgraduate studies.
In Munich, and continuing in Berlin, Speer began a close friendship, ultimately spanning over 50 years, with Rudolf Wolters, who also studied under Tessenow.
In mid-1922, Speer began courting Margarete (Margret) Weber (1905–1987).
The two married in Berlin on August 28, 1928.
In 1931, Speer surrendered his position as Tessenow’s assistant, hoping to use his father’s connections to get commissions.
In July 1932, the Speers visited Berlin to help out the Party prior to the Reichstag elections. While they were there, Hanke recommended the young architect to Goebbels to help renovate the Party’s Berlin headquarters.

Speer, who had been about to leave with his wife for a vacation in East Prussia, agreed to do the work.
When the commission was completed, Speer returned to Mannheim and remained there as Hitler took office in January 1933.
After the Nazis took control, Hanke recalled Speer to Berlin. Goebbels, the new Propaganda Minister, commissioned Speer to renovate his Ministry’s building on Wilhelmplatz.
Speer also designed the 1933 May Day commemoration in Berlin.
Speer’s next major assignment was as liaison to the Berlin building trades for Paul Troost’s renovation of the Chancellery.
As Chancellor, Hitler had a residence in the building and came by every day to be briefed by Speer and the building supervisor on the progress of the renovations.
After one of these briefings, Hitler invited Speer to lunch.

Hitler evinced considerable interest in Speer during the luncheon, and later told Speer that he had been looking for a young architect capable of carrying out his architectural dreams for the new Germany.
Speer quickly became part of Hitler’s inner circle..
The two men found much in common: Hitler spoke of Speer as a “kindred spirit” for whom he had always maintained “the warmest human feelings”.
The young, ambitious architect was dazzled by his rapid rise and close proximity to Hitler, which guaranteed him a flood of commissions from the government and from the highest ranks of the Party.

When Troost died on January 21, 1934, Speer effectively replaced him as the Party’s chief architect. Hitler appointed Speer as head of the Chief Office for Construction, which placed him nominally on Hess’s staff.[34]
One of Speer’s first commissions after Troost’s death was the Zeppelinfeld stadium—the Nürnberg parade grounds seen in Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda masterpiece Triumph of the Will. This huge work was capable of holding 340,000 people.
The tribune was influenced by the Pergamon Altar in Anatolia, but was magnified to an enormous scale.
Speer surrounded the site with 130 anti-aircraft searchlights. This created the effect of a “cathedral of light” or, as it was called by British Ambassador Sir Neville Henderson, a “cathedral of ice”.
Nürnberg was to be the site of many more official Nazi buildings, most of which were never built; for example, the German Stadium would have accommodated 400,000 spectators, while an even larger rally ground would have held half a million Nazis.
While planning these structures, Speer invented the concept of “ruin value”: that major buildings should be constructed in such a way that they would leave aesthetically pleasing ruins for thousands of years into the future.
Such ruins would be a testament to the greatness of the Third Reich, just as ancient Greek or Roman ruins were symbols of the greatness of those civilizations.
Hitler enthusiastically embraced this concept, and ordered that all the Reich’s important buildings be constructed in accord with it.
In 1937, Hitler appointed Speer as General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital with the rank of undersecretary of state in the Reich government.
The position carried with it extraordinary powers over the Berlin city government and made Speer answerable to Hitler alone.

Hitler ordered Speer to make plans to rebuild Berlin.
The plans centered on a three-mile long grand boulevard running from north to south, which Speer called the Prachtstrasse, or Street of Magnificence; he also referred to it as the “North-South Axis”.
At the north end of the boulevard, Speer planned to build the Volkshalle, a huge assembly hall with a dome which would have been over 700 feet (210 m) high, with floor space for 180,000 people.
At the southern end of the avenue would be a huge triumphal arch; it would be almost 400 feet (120 m) high, and able to fit the Arc de Triomphe inside its opening.
The outbreak of World War II in 1939 led to the postponement, and eventual abandonment, of these plans.
In January 1938, Hitler asked Speer to build a new Reich Chancellery on the same site as the existing structure, and said he needed it for urgent foreign policy reasons no later than his next New Year’s reception for diplomats on January 10, 1939.



This was a huge undertaking, especially since the existing Chancellery was in full operation. Although the site could not be cleared until April, Speer was successful in building the large, impressive structure in nine months.
The structure included the “Marble Gallery”: at 146 metres long, almost twice as long as the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles.
Speer employed thousands of workers in two shifts. Hitler, who had remained away from the project, was overwhelmed when Speer turned it over, fully furnished, two days early.
In appreciation for the architect’s work on the Chancellery, Hitler awarded Speer the Nazi Golden Party Badge.

Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler & Arno Breker – Paris – June 1940




REICH ADLER
Albert Speer
NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
Albert Speer





NEUE REICHSKANZEI – MARMORGALERIE – BERLIN
Albert Speer


In late January 1938, Adolf Hitler officially assigned his favourite architect Albert Speer to build the New Reich Chancellery around the corner on Voßstraße, a branch-off of Wilhelmstraße, requesting that the building be completed within a year.
Hitler commented that Bismarck’s Old Chancellery was “fit for a soap company” but not suitable as headquarters of a Greater German Reich. It nevertheless remained his official residence with its recently refurbished representation rooms on the groundfloor and private rooms on the upper floor where Hitler lived in the so called Führerwohnung (“Führer apartment”).
Hitler placed the entire northern side of the Voßstraße at Speer’s disposal assigning him the work of creating grand halls and salons which “will make an impression on people”.
Speer was given a blank cheque — Hitler stated that the cost of the project was immaterial — and was instructed that the building be of solid construction and that it be finished by the following January in time for the next New Year diplomatic reception to be held in the new building.
Over 4,000 workers toiled in shifts, so the work could be accomplished round-the-clock.
In the end it cost over 90 Million Reichsmark, well over one billion dollars today.
In his memoirs, Speer described the impression of the Reichskanzlei on a visitor:
The series of rooms comprising the approach to Hitler’s reception gallery were decorated with a rich variety of materials and colours and totalled 220 m (725 ft) in length.
The gallery itself was 145 m (480 ft) long. Hitler’s own office was 400 square meters in size.
From the exterior, the chancellery had a stern, authoritarian appearance.
From the Wilhelmplatz, visitors would enter the Chancellery through the Court of Honour (Ehrenhof). The building’s main entrance was flanked by two bronze statues by sculptor Arno Breker: “Wehrmacht” and “Partei” (“Armed Forces” and “Party”).
Hitler is said to have been greatly impressed by the building and was uncharacteristically effusive with his praise for Speer, lauding the architect as a “genius”.
The chancellor’s immense study was a particular favourite of the dictator.
The large marble-topped table served as an important part of the Nazi leader’s military headquarters, the study being used for military conferences from 1944 on. On the other hand, the Cabinet room was never used for its intended purpose.




NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Reception Hall)
Albert Speer






NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Hitler’s Study)
Albert Speer





NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Hitler’s Study)
Albert Speer





NEUE REICHSKANZEI – DOORWAY – BERLIN
Albert Speer







NEUE REICHSKANZEI – MOSAIC HALL – BERLIN
Albert Speer






NEUE REICHSKANZEI – MOSAIC HALL – BERLIN
Albert Speer



NEUE REICHSKANZEI – MOSAIC HALL – BERLIN
Albert Speer






NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
Marquetry Panel 
Albert Speer




NEUE REICHSKANZEI – ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING – DOORWAY – BERLIN
Albert Speer







NEUE REICHSKANZEI – MOSAIC HALL – BERLIN
Albert Speer




NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Entrance to Ante Room)
Albert Speer






NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Entrance to Mosaic Hall)
Albert Speer




NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
Albert Speer




NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
Albert Speer




NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Entrance to Hitler’s Study)
Albert Speer



NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Hitler’s Study)
Albert Speer

NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Hitler’s Study)
Albert Speer



NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Hitler’s Study)
Albert Speer


NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Hitler’s Study)
Albert Speer

NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Cabinet Room)
Albert Speer




NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Dining Room)
Albert Speer





NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Dining Room)
Albert Speer


NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Dining Room)
Albert Speer

NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Reception Room)
Albert Speer

NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Adolf Hitler’s Private Apartment)
Albert Speer


NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN

(Main Entrance)

Albert Speer
NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Main Entrance)
Albert Speer






NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
(Main Entrance)
Albert Speer



MAIN FAÇADE – NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
Albert Speer



MAIN FAÇADE – NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
Albert Speer


MAIN FAÇADE – NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
Albert Speer



The Reception Hall in the Reich’s Chancellery Garden
Albert Speer




GARDEN FAÇADE – NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
Albert Speer


GARDEN FAÇADE – NEUE REICHSKANZEI – BERLIN
Albert Speer

SS-‘Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler’ Barracks
Albert Speer


G E R M A N I A




GERMANIA
Albert Speer


Welthauptstadt Germania (“World Capital Germania”) refers to the projected renewal of the German capital Berlin during the Nazi period, part of Adolf Hitler’s vision for the future of Germany after the planned victory in World War II.
Albert Speer, the “first architect of the Third Reich”, produced many of the plans for the rebuilt city in his capacity as overseer of the project, only a small portion of which was realized between the years 1937-1943 when construction took place.
Some projects, such as the creation of a great East-West city axis, which included broadening Charlottenburger Chaussee (today Straße des 17. Juni) and placing the Berlin victory column in the center, far away from the Reichstag, where it originally stood, succeeded.
Others, however, such as the creation of the Große Halle (Great Hall), had to be shelved owing to the beginning of war.
A great number of the old buildings in many of the planned construction areas were however demolished before the war and eventually defeat stopped the plans.
The combined name “Welthauptstadt Germania” for the project was coined by Albert Speer in his 1969 memoirs Inside the Third Reich. 





MODELL DER NEUGESTALTUNG – GERMANIA
Albert Speer


According to the records of Hitler’s Table Talk of 8 June 1942 Hitler toyed with the idea of renaming the renewed Berlin into ‘Germania’, in order to give a Greater Germanic world empire a clear central point:
The term Welthauptstadt (World Capital) was already used by Hitler three months prior on the night between the 11th and 12th of March 1942 in the Wolf’s Lair:
“Berlin as the World Capital will only be comparable with Ancient Egypt, Babylon, and Rome! What are London and Paris compared to that!”
—Werner Jochmann: Adolf Hitler. Monologe im Führerhauptquartier 1941–1944, p. 318. Munich, 1980.
The title ‘Welthauptstadt’ was chosen because it was felt that Berlin’s architecture was at that time too provincial and that there was need to put Berlin on a par with and exceed the quality of other world capitals such as London, Paris and especially Rome.



MODELL DER NEUGESTALTUNG – GERMANIA
Albert Speer



 GROßE HALLE – GERMANIA
Albert Speer


The sketch of the Volkshalle given by Hitler to Speer shows a traditional gabled pronaos supported by ten columns, a shallow rectangular intermediate block and behind it the domed main building.
However, there was little about Speer’s elaboration of the sketch that might be termed Doric, except perhaps for the triglyphs in the entablature, supported by the geminated 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 (see above).




 GROßE HALLE – GERMANIA
Albert Speer


Speer’s Große Halle 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 × 1,033 ft) and 74 metres (243 ft) high, to a total inclusive height of 290 metres (950 ft). 
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.
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: 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. 
Hitler’s aspirations to world domination and the establishment of his New Order, already evident from architectural and decorative features of the new Chancellery, are even more clearly expressed here.
External symbols suggest that the domed hall was where Hitler as cosmocrator (Herr der Welt) would appear before his Herrenvolk: 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.




GROßE HALLE – GERMANIA
Albert Speer






Große Halle
Albert Speer



ZEPPLINFELD
Albert Speer






ZEPPLINFELD
Albert Speer








ZEPPLINFELD
Albert Speer







ZEPPLINFELD STADIUM
Albert Speer






ZEPPLINFELD STADIUM
Albert Speer







GERMAN PAVILLION – 1937 – PARIS
Albert Speer




GERMAN PAVILLION – 1937 – PARIS
Albert Speer

_____________________________________

Die Große Liebe ? – Eva Braun and Hitler

Die Große Liebe ?
Eva Anna Paula Hitler (née Braun – 6 February 1912 – 30 April 1945) (see left) was the longtime companion of Adolf Hitler and, for less than 40 hours, his wife.


Eva Braun – Nackt Portät
(Eva Braun – Nude Study)

Eva met Hitler in Munich, when she was 17 years old, while working as an assistant and model for his personal photographer and began seeing him often about two years later.
She attempted suicide twice during their early relationship.
By 1936, she was a part of his household at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden and by all accounts lived a materially luxurious and sheltered life throughout World War II.
Eva kept up habits which met Hitler’s disapproval, such as smoking, wearing make-up and nude sunbathing.
Eva enjoyed photography and many of the surviving colour photographs and film of Hitler were taken by her.

She was a key figure within Hitler’s inner social circle, but did not attend public events with him until mid-1944, when her sister Gretl married Hermann Fegelein, the SS liaison officer on his staff.


As the Third Reich collapsed towards the end of the war, Eva swore her loyalty to Hitler and went to Berlin to be by his side in the heavily reinforced Führerbunker beneath the Reich Chancellery.
As Red Army troops fought their way into the neighbourhood on 29 April 1945, she married Hitler during a brief civil ceremony: she was 33 and he 56.
Less than 40 hours later, they committed suicide together in a sitting room of the bunker.
The German public was wholly unaware of Braun until after her death.

Evas’ Biography


Born in Munich (see left), Eva Braun was the second daughter of school teacher Friedrich “Fritz” Braun, a non-practicing Lutheran, and Franziska “Fanny” Kronberger, who came from a respectable Bavarian Catholic family.








Her elder sister, Ilse, was born in 1909 and her younger sister, Margarete “Gretl”, was born in 1915.
Eva was educated at a lyceum, then for one year at a business school in a convent where she had average grades and a talent for athletics.






She worked for several months as a receptionist at a medical office.
Then at age 17, took a job as an office and lab assistant and photographer’s model for Heinrich Hoffmann, the official photographer for the Nazi Party – and it was through Hoffman that Eva Braun met Adolf Hitler.

EVA BRAUN AND ADOLF HITLER

Eva Braun met Hitler, 23 years her senior, at Hoffmann’s studio (see right below) of Munich in October 1929.

Heinrich Hoffmann (see left) was born 12 – 9 – 1885 in Fürth, Germany, four years before Adolf Hitler (see Adolf Hitler).
After leaving school he worked in his father’s photography shop.
He joined the German Army where he worked as an official photographer during the First World War. His first book of photographs were published in 1919.
He joined the NSDAP in 1920 and was chosen by its new leader, Hitler,  as his official photographer. The two became close friends.
Hoffmann’s photographs were published as postage stamps, postcards, posters and picture books.        
Following Hoffmann’s suggestion, both he and Hitler received royalties from all uses of Hitler’s image, even on postage stamps, which made the photographer wealthy.
In 1933 he was elected to the Reichstag and in 1938 Hitler appointed him a ‘Professor’.
Eva was girlfriend with Hoffmann’s daughter Henriette (see Henriette Hoffmann), who married the Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach (see Schirach).
Heinrich was arrested at the end of the World War II and was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment as a Nazi profiteer.
Upon release from prison on 31-05-1950 he settled in the small village Epfach in the Munich area where he died 7 years later at age 72, on 11-12-1957.
Hoffmann is buried on the Westfriedhof of Munich, together with his daughter Henriette.
Only steps away is the grave of the secretary of Hitler Traudl Junge. 

Hitler (see left) had been introduced to Eva as “Herr Wolff” (a childhood nickname he used among his close friends).


She described him to friends as a “gentleman of a certain age with a moustache, a light-coloured English overcoat, and carrying a big felt hat.
He appreciated her limpid blue eye colour, which was said to be close to his mother’s (see right Klara Hitler).

click here for more information about Adolf Hitler

Her family was strongly against the relationship and little is known about it during the first two years.

Hitler saw more of Eva after the apparent 1931 suicide of his half sister (see right), Angela’s daughter Geli Raubal (see left), with whom he had an affair.


The circumstances of Geli’s death in Munich have never been confirmed.
Some historians suggest she killed herself because she was distraught over her relationship with Hitler or his relationship with Braun, while others have speculated Hitler played a more direct role in the death of his niece.


Eva was unaware that Raubal was a rival for Hitler’s affections until after Raubal’s death.
Meanwhile, Hitler was seeing other women, such as actress Renate Müller (see right), whose early death may also have been suicide.
Eva’s first attempted suicide on 1 November 1932 at the age of 20 by shooting herself in the chest with her father’s pistol.
She attempted suicide a second time on 28 May 1935 by taking an overdose of Phanodorm (sleeping pills).


After Eva’s recovery, Hitler became more committed to her and arranged for the substantial royalties from widely published and popular photographs of him taken by Hoffmann’s photo studio to pay for a villa in Munich (see left).


This income also provided her with a Mercedes, a chauffeur and a maid.
Eva’s sister Gretl moved in with her.
Hoffmann later asserted Frauline Braun  became a fixture in Hitler’s life by attempting suicide less than a year after Geli Raubal’s death, as Hitler wished to avoid any further scandal.


When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, Eva sat on the stage in the area reserved for VIPs as a secretary, to which Hitler’s sister Angela strongly objected, along with the wives of other ministers.
She was banned from living anywhere near Eva as a result.





By 1936, Eva was at Hitler’s household at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden, whenever he was in residence there and her parents were also invited for dinner several times.





click here for more information about Berchtesgaden and the Berghof



In 1938, Hitler named Eva his primary heir, to receive about 600 pounds yearly after his death.
Nonetheless, Eva’s political influence on Hitler was apparently minimal.
She was never allowed to stay in the room when business or political conversations took place.
It is not certain whether Eva was a member of the Nazi party.
According to biographer Angela Lambert, Eva was neither a member nor ever pressured to join.
By all accounts, she led a sheltered and privileged existence and seemed uninterested in politics.
The only known instance in which she took any interest in policy and politics was in 1943, shortly after Germany had fully transitioned to a total war economy.
Among other things, the transition meant a potential ban on women’s cosmetics and luxuries (as was already the case in the Allied countries).


According to Albert Speer’s (see left) memoir, ‘Inside the Third Reich’, Eva immediately approached Hitler in “high indignation”, to which an “uncertain” Hitler instructed Speer to simply and quietly cease production of women’s cosmetics and luxuries rather than an outright ban.
Hitler and Eva never appeared as a couple in public and there is some indication that this, along with their not having married early in their relationship, was due to Hitler’s belief that he would lose popularity among female supporters.
The German people were wholly unaware of Eva Braun’s relationship with Hitler until after the war.
According to Speer’s memoirs, Eva never slept in the same room as Hitler and had her own rooms at the Berghof, in Hitler’s Berlin residence and in the Berlin bunker.

Speer also wrote:

Eva Braun was allowed to be present during visits from old party associates.

She was banished as soon as other dignitaries of the Reich, such as cabinet ministers, appeared at the table … Hitler obviously regarded her as socially acceptable only within strict limits.
Sometimes I kept her company in her exile, a room next to Hitler’s bedroom.
She was so intimidated that she did not dare leave the house for a walk.
Out of sympathy for her predicament I soon began to feel a liking for this unhappy woman, who was so deeply attached to Hitler.
Speer later said, “Eva Braun will prove a great disappointment to historians.”
Even during World War II, Eva apparently lived a life of leisure, spending her time exercising, reading romance novels, watching films and early German television (at least until around 1943), along with later helping to host gatherings of Hitler’s inner circle.
She reportedly accepted gifts which were stolen property belonging to deposed European royal families.

Traudl Junge (see right), Hitler’s youngest secretary, wrote in her memoirs ‘Until the Final Hour’ –

She was very well dressed and groomed, and I noticed her natural unaffected manner.
She wasn’t the kind of ideal German girl you saw on recruiting posters for the BDM (see left) or in woman’s magazines.
Her carefully done hair was bleached, and her pretty face was made up — quite heavily but in very good taste.
Eva Braun wasn’t tall but she had a very pretty figure and a distinguished appearance.

She knew just how to dress in a style that suited her and never looked as if she had overdone it — she always seemed appropriately and tastefully dressed, although she wore valuable jewellery. …Eva wasn’t allowed to change her hair style.

Once she appeared with her hair tinted slightly darker and on one occasion she piled it up on the top of her head.
Hitler was horrified: ‘you look totally strange, quite changed. You are an entirely different woman !’ …and Eva Braun made haste to revert to the way she looked before.’
Traudl Junge (born Gertraud Humps; 16 March 1920 – 10 February 2002) was Adolf Hitler’s youngest personal private secretary, from December 1942 to April 1945.
Gertraud “Traudl” Humps was born in Munich, the daughter of a master brewer and lieutenant in the Reserve Army, Max Humps and his wife Hildegard (née Zottmann).
She had a sister, Inge, born in 1923.
As a teenager she thought of becoming a ballerina.
Traudl Junge began working for Hitler in December 1942.
She was the youngest of his private secretaries.
“I was 22 and I didn’t know anything about politics, it didn’t interest me”,
Junge said decades later, also saying that she felt great guilt for “…liking the greatest criminal ever to have lived.”
She said, “I admit, I was fascinated by Adolf Hitler.
He was a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend.
I deliberately ignored all the warning voices inside me and enjoyed the time by his side almost until the bitter end. It wasn’t what he said, but the way he said things and how he did things.”
At Hitler’s encouragement, in June 1943 Junge married Waffen-SS officer Hans Hermann Junge (1914 – 1944), who died in combat in France in August 1944. 
She worked at Hitler’s side in Berlin, the Berghof in Berchtesgaden, at Wolfsschanze in East Prussia, and lastly back in Berlin in the Führerbunker.

Unlike most other Germans, Eva was reportedly free to read European and American magazines and watch foreign films.
Her affection for nude sunbathing (and being photographed at it) is known to have infuriated Hitler.


Braun had a lifelong interest in photography and their closest friends called her the Rolleiflex Girl (after the well-known camera model).

She did her own darkroom processing of silver (black and white) stills and most of the extant colour stills and movies of Hitler are her work.
Otto Günsche and Heinz Linge, during extensive debriefings by Soviet intelligence officials after the war, said Eva was at the centre of Hitler’s life for most of his 12 years in power.

It was said that in 1936, he was always accompanied by her.

As soon as he heard the voice of his lover he became jollier.
He would make jokes about her new hats.
He would take her for hours on end into his study where there would be champagne cooling in ice, chocolates, cognac, and fruit.
The interrogation report adds that when Hitler was too busy for her, “Eva would often be in tears.”


Speer remarked that she had told him, in the middle of 1943, that Hitler was often too busy, immersed, or tired to spend time with her.

Linge stated in his memoirs that Hitler and Eva had two bedrooms and two bathrooms with interconnecting doors at the Berghof and Hitler would end most evenings alone with her in his study before they retired to bed.
She would be wearing a “dressing gown or house-coat“, drinking wine while Hitler would have tea.





Eva was very fond of her two Scottish Terrier dogs named Negus and Stasi (see left)
(this dog is labelled “Katuschka” in Eva Braun’s photo albums)
and they feature in her home movies.










She usually kept them away from Hitler’s German Shepherd “Blondi” (see right).

In 1944, Eva invited her cousin Gertraud Weisker to visit her at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden.
Decades later, Weisker recalled that although women in the Third Reich were expected not to wear make-up, drink, or smoke, Eva did all of these things.
She was the unhappiest woman I have ever met,” said Weisker, who informed Eva about how poorly the war was going for Germany, having illegally listened to BBC news broadcasts in German.

On 3 June 1944, Eva Braun’s younger sister Gretl married SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein, who served as Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler’s liaison officer on Hitler’s staff.
Hitler used the marriage as an excuse to allow Eva to appear at official functions.


When Fegelein (see right) was caught in the closing days of the war trying to escape to Sweden with another woman, Hitler ordered his execution.

Gretl was nine months pregnant with a daughter at this time and after the war named the child Eva Barbara Fegelein in remembrance of her sister (Eva Fegelein (see left) committed suicide 25 April 1975).
After learning about the failed 20 July plot to kill Hitler, Eva wrote to him, “From our first meeting I swore to follow you anywhere even unto death. I live only for your love.”

In early April 1945, Eva travelled by car from Munich to Berlin to be with Hitler at the Führerbunker (see left).

She refused to leave as the Red Army closed in, insisting she was one of the few people loyal to him left in the world.
After midnight on 29 April, Hitler and Braun were married in a small civil ceremony within the Führerbunker.
The event was witnessed by Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann.
The bride wore a dark blue silk dress.
Thereafter, Hitler hosted a modest wedding breakfast with his new wife.
With Eva’s marriage, her legal name changed to Eva Hitler. 
After 13:00 on the afternoon of 30 April 1945, Eva and Hitler said their farewells to staff, and members of the “inner circle”.
Later that afternoon at approximately 3:30 pm, several witnesses reported hearing a loud gunshot.
After waiting a few minutes, Hitler’s valet, Heinz Linge, and Hitler’s SS adjutant, Otto Günsche, entered the small study and found the lifeless bodies seated on a small sofa.
The two corpses were carried up the stairs and through the bunker’s emergency exit to the garden behind the Reich Chancellery where they were burned.
Eva was 33 years old when she died.


The rest of Eva’s family (see right) survived the war, including her father, who worked in a hospital and to whom Eva sent several trunks of her belongings in April 1945.







Her mother, Franziska, died at age 91 in January 1976, having lived out her days in an old farmhouse in Ruhpolding (see left), Bavaria –
and thereby hangs a tale –
in August 1959 the author of this blog met Eva’s uncle in Ruhpolding – but not Franziska, although at the time she was very old, but still living in Ruhpolding.


click here for more information and photos about Ruhpolding
_________________________

HITLER’S BERGHOF
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Hitler at Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden

The Terrace
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Haus Wackenfeld
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Large Dining Room – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Main Salon – The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
The Berghof
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Hitler on the Terrace with Telescope
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Hitler on the Terrace with Telescope
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden

Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden
Obersalzburg
Berchtesgaden

‘DIE GROßE LIEBE’
     

‘Die große Liebe’ (The Great Love) is a German drama film of the National Socialist period, made by Rolf Hansen, starring Zarah Leander and Viktor Staal.
It premièred in Berlin in 1942 and went on to become the most commercially successful film in the history of the Third Reich.

The attractive Oberleutnant Paul Wendlandt is stationed in North Africa as a fighter pilot.
While in Berlin to deliver a report he is given a day’s leave, and on the stage of the cabaret theatre “Skala” sees the popular Danish singer Hanna Holberg.
For Paul it is love at first sight.
When Hanna visits friends after the end of the performance, he follows her, and speaks to her in the U-Bahn. After the party in her friends’ flat he accompanies her home, and chance throws them further together when an air raid warning forces them to take cover in the air raid shelter. Hanna reciprocates Paul’s feelings, but after a night spent together Paul has to return immediately to the front.
There now follows a whole series of misunderstandings, and one missed opportunity after another.
While Hanna waits in vain for some sign of life from Paul, he is flying on missions in North Africa.
When he tries to visit her in her Berlin flat, she is giving a Christmas concert in Paris. Nevertheless their bond grows in strength and arouses the jealousy of the composer Rudnitzky, who is also in love with the singer.
Paul asks Hanna in a letter to marry him, however, when he is finally able to visit her, he is called away again on the night before the wedding.
Hanna, disappointed, leaves for Rome, where she has to make a guest appearance.
Even when Paul manages to get three weeks’ leave and follows Hanna to Rome, the wedding has still to be postponed: Paul feels so strongly that he is needed at the front that he goes back even though he has not been ordered to do so.
Hanna does not understand this, and there is an argument, after which Paul thinks he has lost her for ever.
The war against the Soviet Union breaks out (1941) and Paul and his friend Etzdorf are sent to the Eastern Front. When Etzdorf is killed, Paul writes a farewell letter to Hanna, to make the dangers of his missions easier to bear.
Only when he himself has been shot down and wounded and is sent to a military hospital in the mountains does he see Hanna again, who is still prepared to marry him.
The last shots of the film show the happy couple, confident in the future, looking skywards where squadrons of German bombers fly past.

Musical Numbers


Davon geht die Welt nicht unter (“It’s Not the End of the World”)
Blaue Husaren (Heut’ kommen die blauen Husaren) (“Today the Blue Hussars Are Coming”)
Ich weiß, es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh’n (“I Know a Miracle Will Happen”)
Mein Leben für die Liebe – Jawohl! (“My Life for Love – Jawohl!”)

All the songs were composed by Michael Jary, with lyrics by Bruno Balz and sung by Zarah Leander.
“Davon geht die Welt nicht unter” and “Ich weiß, es wird einmal ein Wunder gescheh’n” were two of the biggest hits of the National Socialist period, and because of their political subtexts were much approved of and promoted by the authorities.
After 1942, as the military situation became more and more unfavourable to Germany, they became a staple element of the prevalent informal propaganda geared to “seeing it through”. 

Cast


The starring roles were played by Zarah Leander as Hanna Holberg and Viktor Staal as Paul Wendlandt.


In its blend of entertainment and propaganda elements the film is paradigmatic for National Socialist cinema in much the same way as ‘Wunschkonzert’, after ‘Die große Liebe’ the next most popular film of the National Socialist period.
While on the one hand the suspense-fully presented love story, with its images of the North African desert, Paris and Rome, as well as the extravagant show numbers, constitutes an invitation to dream, yet on the other hand “Die große Liebe” urges adjustment to the realities of war at all levels.
The film does not just contain original material from the “Die Deutsche Wochenschau” with pictures of German attacks on the English channel coast: the war determines the whole action of the film.
The lesson that Hanna Holberg, and with her the entire public, has to absorb, is the insignificance of individual striving for happiness in times in which higher values – here, the military victory of Germany in World War II – come to the fore.
The film does not gain its political impact by simply urging renunciation or “going without” in difficult times, but by setting off individual happiness against duties which go far beyond the requirements of ordinary military duties.
Paul is not concerned about behaving with military correctness, but about his desire to make his contribution to Germany’s military victory.
He renounces Hanna, not because of military orders recalling him to the front but in order to serve the national cause and if necessary to sacrifice his life for Germany. In the process Hanna learns that waiting and renunciation in war have not only to be accepted as fate, but constitute the really “great love“.
She learns to bravely send him back to his squadron, singing, “The World’s Not Going To End Because of This“.
The film owes by far the greatest part of its attractiveness to Zarah Leander’s performance. When she was selected for the role she had already established a strong profile as an expressive portrayer of self-aware, mature, emotionally stable women, whose plans and lives were thrown into disarray by unexpected blows of fate.
In order to impress also by its modernity, the film took the risk of making – for the time – an unprecedented, realistic representation of day-to-day wartime life, and shows rationing of food, air raid warnings and hours spent waiting in air raid shelters.
All levels of society are depicted as pitching in together, with the heroine coming to know those of much lower social level in the course of the film.
Hanna learns thereby to overcome her snobbishness, manifested in her singing for wounded soldiers.
The depiction of Zarah Leander was also unusual, in that in this film she wore ordinary day clothes, lived in a normal Berlin rented flat and even travelled on the U-Bahn.

Production and Reception


The interior scenes for “Die große Liebe” were filmed from 23 September 1941 to early October 1941 in the Tobis-Sascha-Studio in Vienna – better known as the Rosenhügel Film Studios – and in the Carl Froelich sound studio in Berlin-Tempelhof.

The exterior scenes had been filmed in Berlin and Rome by the middle of March 1942.
The film was submitted to the Film Censor’s Office on 10 June 1942 (Prüf-Nr. B. 57295) when it had a length of 2,738 metres or 100 minutes and was classified as suitable for minors and for public holiday viewing.

It was distributed by the UFA-owned Deutsche Filmvertriebs GmbH (DFV).

On 18 April 1944 it was re-submitted, now with a length of 2,732 metres (B. 60163), and was re-classified as before.
The premier took place on 12 June 1942 in Berlin, in the Germania-Palast cinema on the Frankfurter Allee and the UFA-Palast am Zoo cinema.
‘Die große Liebe’ became the greatest commercial film success of the Third Reich.
It was seen by 27 million spectators and took 8 million Reichsmarks, having cost 3 million to produce.
The Film Censor’s Office pronounced it “politically valuable”, ‘”artistically valuable” and “valuable for the people” – a combination of accolades also granted, for example, to Gerhard Lamprecht’s nationalist hero biography “Diesel” (also 1942).
The film was enormously popular with German audiences during the II World War.
After the end of World War II the Allied Control Commission forbade the film to be screened.

_______________

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.

______________________________________________


© 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.”
______________________________________________
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