Paul Bonatz

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Paul Bonatz (6 December 1877 – 20 December 1956) was a German architect, member of the Stuttgart School and professor at the technical university in that city during part of World War II and from 1954 until his death.


Bonatz was born in Solgne, Alsace-Lorraine, then German Empire. In 1900, he finished his studies of architecture at the Technical University of Munich. He tended to favor a radically simplified neo-Romanesque style, as in his 1927 Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof or his 1936 Basel Art Museum (Kunstmuseum Basel). He did not consider himself a stylist. Bonatz had trained under Theodor Fischer; unlike Fischer, Bonatz, did not join the Nazi party. He did accept the position of architectural expert and advisor to Fritz Todt, the general inspector for German road building. This job gave him huge commissions related to Third Reich infrastructure, including two major bridges for the Autobahn and many other bridges, and the huge railway station planned for Munich.

The government tried to make good use of Bonatz' talents and name, but found him politically unreliable. He disliked Paul Troost's renovation of the Königsplatz in Munich and said so. This was a political mistake, since Troost was (according to Albert Speer) Hitler's architectural mentor and personal friend. Because of his vocal opinions, Bonatz was investigated twice by the police, who accused him of aiding Jews and being openly critical of Adolf Hitler.

Bonatz belongs in the category of architects who were approved by the National Socialists because they advocated conservative, historically-minded, nationalistic architectural styles, figures like Theodor Fischer, Heinrich Tessenow and German Bestelmeyer. As the Nazis attacked avant-garde modern architecture as bolshevism, they held up these conservative figures as cultural heroes. Friedrich Tamms expresseed the party's official approval in Kunst im Dritten Reich, and Nazi architectural mouthpiece Paul Schultze-Naumburg expressed the volkisch school's approval, calling Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof a stark Romanesque building of stone, "a modern technical building in the best sense of the word."

Stadthalle Hannover (1911–1914)

Despite continuing approval and commissions, Bonatz fled to Turkey in 1943 because of a disagreement with Hitler over his plans for München Hauptbahnhof. Bonatz built many projects in Ankara from 1943 through 1956, including a residential area with over 400 units and reconfigured the Ankara Exhibition Hall into the Ankara Opera House, before returning to Germany in 1954 to participate in the reconstruction of Stuttgart and Düsseldorf. He was a professor at the University of Stuttgart from 1954 until his death in 1956. His most famous building in Stuttgart is the Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof (main station), built 1913-1927. The library building of the University of Tübingen was designed by him as well (built 1910-1912). Bonatz was also involved in the final stages of the architectural design of the Sofia University Faculty of Biology building in Sofia, Bulgaria. The brick edifice was constructed in 1924-30 and was mostly designed by the Bulgarian architect Georgi Ovcharov, who worked the project out at Bonatz's office in Stuttgart.[1]

On November 25, 2009, Bonatz' Stuttgart train station complex was nominated by the UNESCO to be possibly included into their list of World Cultural Heritage.[1] (German)

See also[edit]


  • Stoilova, Ljubinka (2007). "Bulgarische Architektur in der Zwischenkriegszeit". In Stiller, Adolph. Bulgarien: Architektonische Fragmente (in German and Bulgarian). Vienna: Verlag Anton Pustet. pp. 58–79. ISBN 3702505733. 
  1. ^ Колектив. "Културна карта на София: Биологическият факултет" (in Bulgarian). Пирон, Филисофски факултет на Софийски университет. Retrieved 26 January 2010.