German Bestelmeyer

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Light court and main stairs, University of Munich (1906–09)

German Bestelmeyer (8 June 1874 – 30 June 1942) was a German architect, university lecturer, and proponent of Nazi architecture. Most of his work was in South Germany.

Life and career[edit]

Bestelmeyer was born in Nuremberg, the son of a military doctor. He studied architecture from 1893 to 1897 at the Technical University of Munich under Friedrich von Thiersch and at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna under Friedrich von Schmidt. He then worked as a building inspector and planner in Nuremberg, Regensburg, and at the University of Munich, where he designed an extension to the main building that was built in 1906–10.

In 1910 he was appointed to a professorship at the Technical University of Dresden; the following year he transferred to the Academy of Fine Arts, and in 1915 to the Academy of Fine Arts Berlin. In 1919 he also became a professor at the Technical University of Berlin-Charlottenburg. In 1922 he returned to Munich as a professor at the Technical University, and from 1934 until his death in 1942 he was President of the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts.

Bestelmeyer was an outspoken advocate of traditionalist, völkisch architecture. He was a member of the Munich School to which Paul Troost also belonged. In 1928, with Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Paul Schmitthenner and others, he founded "The Block", a group of architects in opposition to the modernist group The Ring.[1][2] He was singled out for praise in 1931 by Schultze-Naumburg and in 1934, after the Nazis came to power, wrote an article in which he endorsed Alexander von Senger's criticism of Le Corbusier, described 1920s architecture as having become "soulless", and rejected flat roofs as unsuited to the climate in Germany.[1] He was a member of both the Werkbund and the antisemitic Militant League for German Culture.[3] He became a Reich Cultural Senator in 1935.[4] He brought von Senger to the Bavarian Academy and designed buildings such as the Luftwaffe office building on the Prinzregentenstraße, which were much praised at the time.[5] However, he also designed a number of mostly Protestant churches, some of which met with official approval,[6] and Hitler chose his design for the Mangfall Bridge, a girder bridge on two massive concrete pylons carrying one of the new autobahns, which was influential in its simple modernity and size.[7][8]

Bestelmeyer died in 1942 at the resort of Bad Wiessee. On Hitler's orders, his body was brought back to Munich and after lying in state in the Academy of Fine Arts, transferred for the state funeral to the light-court of the University of Munich which he had designed, with 300 members of the Hitler Youth in attendance.

Selected works[edit]


  1. ^ a b Robert R. Taylor, The Word in Stone: The Role of Architecture in the National Socialist Ideology, Berkeley / Los Angeles: University of California, 1974, ISBN 9780520021938, p. 114.
  2. ^ Barbara Miller Lane, Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918–1945, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University, 1968, ISBN 9780674043503, p. 140.
  3. ^ Ernst Klee, Das Kulturlexikon zum Dritten Reich. Wer war was vor und nach 1945, Frankfurt: Fischer, 2007, p. 48 (in German).
  4. ^ Lane, p. 183.
  5. ^ Taylor, pp. 113–14.
  6. ^ Taylor, p. 209.
  7. ^ Richard Vahrenkamp, "Der Autobahnbau 1933 bis 1943 und das hessische Autobahnnetz", Arbeitspapier zur Logistik 36/2001, University of Kassel, Zeitschrift des Vereins für hessische Geschichte und Landeskunde 104 (2004) 225–66, revision of August 2005 in pdf, p. 4, note 5 (in German)
  8. ^ Rainer Stommer, "Triumph der Technik: Autobahnbrücken zwischen Ingenieuraufgabe und Kulturdenkmal", in: Reichsautobahn: Pyramiden des Dritten Reichs. Analysen zur Ästhetik eines unbewältigten Mythos, ed. Rainer Stommer with Claudia Gabriele Philipp, Marburg: Jonas, 1982, ISBN 9783922561125, pp. 49–76, p. 61 (in German)

Further reading[edit]

  • Heinz Thiersch. German Bestelmeyer: Sein Leben und Wirken für die Baukunst. Munich: Callwey, 1961. OCLC 7183944 (in German)

External links[edit]