A Haunting Look Back at the National Socialists’ Most Famous Architecture
Between 1934 and 1941, the one man responsible for bringing the National Socialist party’s thirst for domination into physical form was a gangly German with a side part.
ALBERT SPEER’S work has come to define National Socialist architecture.
The style is instantly recognizable: big, imposing, concrete.
Here are some of his most iconic works.
National Socialist party rally grounds: An expansive field, known as Zeppelinfield, which played host to military rallies.
Far off in the distance, you can barely make out a swastika in the middle of an all-white ledge. That’s where Adolf Hitler delivered his rousing speeches to the people assembled before him, the field filled to capacity.
The rally grounds were supposed to include 4 square miles of structures, though most of the components never came to fruition.
That includes a Congress Hall, several deployment fields, a “great road” for National Socialist parades, and a stadium that never rose from its foundation.
New Reich Chancellery: Hitler’s foreign policy headquarters that Speer produced in less than a year.
In January 1938, Hitler commanded Speer to build him a brand-new chancellery by January of the following year. More than 4,000 workers labored around the clock to complete the building, and production finished 48 hours ahead of schedule.
Speer was revered both for the speed of his construction and the magnificence of the building itself.
The Marble Gallery was particularly striking. It was covered in richly detailed textures and colors, not to mention 480 feet long — twice the length of the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
Lichtdom: Over 150 light beams arranged in a square around the National Socialist party rallies at Nuremberg, which Speer called the “cathedral of light.”
Despite heated resistance from Hermann Göring, one of Hitler’s top National Socialist leaders, Hitler borrowed the searchlights from the German air force.
The move convinced the world, Hitler surmised, that the National Socialists had unlimited searchlights at their disposal, despite them actually being in short supply.
Of the effect created by the beams of light, Speer said, “The feeling was of a vast room, with the beams serving as mighty pillars of infinitely light outer walls.”
German pavilion: A towering monolith built for the 1937 international expo in Paris.
Initially, Hitler wanted nothing to do with the 1937 world expo, but with Speer’s reassurance that the German pavilion would leave spectators in awe, Hitler conceded.
The expo wasn’t even meant to be a political standoff between the Germans and the Soviets, but on opening day those were the only two pavilions that were ready to go.
Speer adorned his with National Socialist symbols and perched an eagle on top, making the pavilion slightly taller than the Soviet one.
Prachtstrasse: The “street of magnificence,” which would act as the backbone of Hitler’s redesign of Berlin.
Ultimately, the individual buildings Hitler had Speer build were nothing compared to Germania, a model of Berlin imagined by Hitler as a National Socialist utopia.
Speer created plans for a sprawling city that included a 400,000-capacity stadium, a 5-kilometer-long street known as the street of magnificence, a massive open forum measuring nearly 4 million square feet, and an enlarged replica of France’s Arc de Triomph.
The German arch would have been large enough, in fact, to fit the entire original structure within its passageway.
Volkshalle: Speer’s “people’s hall,” which would have been the largest indoor structure in the world if completed, seven times larger than St. Peter’s Basilica.
Right in the middle of all that was the assembly hall Hitler imagined for the German people. It would have been 700 feet high with floor space for 180,000 people.
In an interview with Playboy in 1971, Speer stated that Hitler believed the holiness of the structure would grow as centuries passed, eventually becoming a shrine to national socialism — in the same way St. Peter’s Basilica serves Roman Catholicism.
Prora: A 3-mile-long National Socialist resort that never came to be.
One of the earliest and largest projects Hitler ordered was a tourist resort capable of holding more than 20,000 people at a single time.
Construction began in 1936 and lasted for the next few years, until Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and Prora grounded to a halt.
Today, the German real estate group Metropole Marketing is building out Prora as a luxury getaway. There will be hotel rooms with views of the Baltic Sea, high-end apartments, restaurants, and spas.
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Source: Daily Archives