Nazi architecture

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A model of Adolf Hitler's plan for Germania (Berlin) formulated under the direction of Albert Speer, looking north toward the Volkshalle at the top of the frame

Nazi architecture is the architecture promoted by the Third Reich from 1933 until its fall in 1945. It is characterized by three forms: a stripped neoclassicism (typified by the designs of Albert Speer); a vernacular style that drew inspiration from traditional rural architecture, especially alpine; and a utilitarian style followed for major infrastructure projects and industrial or military complexes. Nazi ideology took a pluralist attitude to architecture; however, Adolf Hitler himself believed that form follows function and wrote against "stupid imitations of the past".[1]

While similar to Classicism, the official Nazi style is distinguished by the impression it leaves on viewers. Architectural style was used by the Nazis to deliver and enforce their ideology. Formal elements like flat roofs, horizontal extension, uniformity, and the lack of decor created "an impression of simplicity, uniformity, monumentality, solidity and eternity," which is how the Nazi Party wanted to appear.[2]

The construction of new buildings served other purposes beyond reaffirming Nazi ideology. In Flossenbürg and elsewhere, the SS built forced-labor camps where prisoners of the Third Reich were made to mine stone and make bricks, much of which went directly to Albert Speer for use in his rebuilding of Berlin and other projects in Germany. These new buildings were also built by forced-laborers. Working conditions were harsh, and many laborers died. This process of mining and construction allowed Nazis to fulfill political and economic goals simultaneously while creating buildings that fulfilled ideological expression goals.[3]

The crowning achievement of this movement was to be Welthauptstadt Germania, the projected renewal of the German capital Berlin following the Nazis' presumed victory of World War II. Speer, who oversaw the project, produced most of the plans for the new city. Only a small portion of the "World Capital" was ever built between 1937 and 1943. The plan's core features included the creation of a great neoclassical city based on an East-West axis with the Berlin victory column at its centre. Major Nazi buildings like the Reichstag or the Große Halle (never built) would adjoin wide boulevards. A great number of historic buildings in the city were demolished in the planned construction zones. However, with defeat of the Third Reich, the work was never started.

Architectural proponents[edit]

Albert Speer's New Reich Chancellery with Arno Breker's two statues, completed in 1939

Surviving examples of Nazi architecture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nazi architecture, in "Oxford Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture", 2006, p. 518.
  2. ^ Espe, Hartmut (1981). "Differences in the perception of national socialist and classicist architecture". Journal of Environmental Psychology. 1 (1): 33–42. doi:10.1016/s0272-4944(81)80016-3. ISSN 0272-4944.
  3. ^ Jaskot, Paul B. (2000). The architecture of oppression: the SS, forced labor and the Nazi monumental building economy. London: Routledge. ISBN 0203169654. OCLC 48137989.


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External links[edit]

Photos: Third Reich Architecture in Berlin;
Photos: Third Reich Architecture in Munich.