Nazi architecture

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-down 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 should follow 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 very hard and many laborers died. This process of mining and construction allowed Nazis to fulfill political and economical 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' victory in 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.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146III-373, Modell der Neugestaltung Berlins ("Germania")
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

Architectural proponents

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1987-003-09A, Berlin, Neue Reichskanzlei, Innenhof
Albert Speer's New Reich Chancellery, completed in 1939

Surviving examples of Nazi architecture

See also


  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 – via ScienceDirect.
  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.


Baynes, Norman H., ed. (1942). The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939. Two vols. London: Oxford University Press.
Brenner, Hildegard (1965). La politica culturale del nazismo [Die Kunstpolitik des Nationalsozialismus (Art policies of Nazism)] (in Italian). Translated from German by Enzo Collotti. Bari: Laterza.
Cowdery, Ray; Cowdery, Josephine (2003). The New German Reichschancellery in Berlin 1938-1945. Victory WW2 Publishing. ISBN 978-0910667289.
De Jaeger, Charles (1981). The Linz file: Hitler's plunder of Europe's art. Exeter: Webb & Bower. ISBN 9780906671306.
Dülffer, Jost; Thies, Jochen; Henke, Josef (1978). Hitlers Städte: Baupolitik Im Dritten Reich. Eine Dokumentation [Building Policies in the Third Reich] (in German). Köln: Böhlau. ISBN 3-412-03477-0.
Giesler, Hermann (1977). Ein Anderer Hitler: Bericht Seines Architekten Erlebnisse, Gesprache, Reflexionen [A Different Hitler: Report on its Architects' Experiences, Conversations, Reflections] (in German). Druffel. ISBN 978-3806108200.
Helmer, Stephen (1985). Hitler's Berlin: The Speer Plans for Reshaping the Central City (Illustrated). Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press. ISBN 0-8357-1682-1.
Hitler, Adolf (1971). Mein Kampf [My Struggle]. Translated by Ralph Manheim. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0395078013. In Internet Archive (1941 edition by Reynal & Hitchcock, New York).
Hitler, Adolf (2000). Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944: His Private Conversations. Translated by Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens. New York: Enigma Books. ISBN 1-929631-05-7.
Homze, Edward L. (1967). Foreign Labor in Nazi Germany. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-05118-6.
Jaskot, Paul B. (2000). The Architecture of Oppression: The SS, Forced Labor and the Nazi Monumental Building Economy. New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415223-416.
Krier, Leon (1989). Albert Speer Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 2-87143-006-3.
Lärmer, Karl (1975). Autobahnbau in Deutschland 1933 bis 1945 [Highway construction in Germany 1933-1945] (in German). Berlin: Akademie Verlag. ASIN B001UWP0DY.
Lehmann-Haupt, Hellmut (1973). Art under a Dictatorship (Illustrated). New York: Octagon Books. ISBN 0-374-94896-8.
Lehrer, Steven (2006). The Reich Chancellery and Fuhrerbunker Complex: An Illustrated History of the Seat of the Nazi Regime. McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0786423934.
Mittig, Hans-Ernst (2005). "Marmor der Reichskanzlei". In Bingen, Dieter; Hinz, Hans-Martin (eds.). Die Schleifung: Zerstörung und Wiederaufbau historischer Bauten in Deutschland und Polen [The Razing: Destruction and Reconstruction of Historical Buildings in Germany and Poland] (in German). Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-05096-9.
Nerdinger, Winfried (1999). Bauhaus-Moderne im Nationalsozialismus [Modernist Architecture in Nazi Germany] (in German). Prestel. ISBN 978-3791312699.
Petsch, Joachim (1976). Baukunst Und Stadtplanung Im Dritten Reich: Herleitung, Bestandsaufnahme, Entwicklung, Nachfolge [Architecture and urban planning in the Third Reich: Origin, Inventory, Development, Follow-up] (in German). C. Hanser. ISBN 978-3446122796.
Rittich, Werner (1938). Architektur und Bauplastik der Gegenwart [Plastic Figures in Modern Architecture] (in German). Berlin: Rembrandt Verlag.
Schönberger, Angela (1981). Die Neue Reichskanzlei von Albert Speer. Zum Zusammenhang von nationalsozialistischer Ideologie und Architektur [The New Reich Chancellery by Albert Speer. To a Coherence between Nazi Ideology and Architecture] (in German). Berlin: Gebrüder Mann. ISBN 978-3786112631.
Scobie, Alexander (1990). Hitler's State Architecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity. College Art Association Monograph - Book 45. Pennsylvania State University Press. ISBN 978-0271006918.
Schmitz, Matthias (1940). A Nation Builds: Contemporary German Architecture. New York: German Library of Information. Lay summaryquestia.
Speer, Albert (1970). Inside the Third Reich. Translation by Richard and Clara Winston. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-037500-X. In Internet Archive.
Spotts, Frederic (2002). Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics. Woodstock, New York: Overlook Press. ISBN 1-58567-345-5.
Taylor, Robert (1974). The Word in Stone: The Role of Architecture in the National Socialist Ideology. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-02193-2.
Thies, Jochen (1976). Architekt der Weltherrschaft. Die Endziele Hitlers [Architect of world domination. The ultimate goals of Hitler] (in German). Düsseldorf: Droste. ISBN 978-3770004256.
Zoller, Albert (1949). Hitler privat. Erlebnisbericht seiner Geheimsekretärin [Hitler's Private Secretary Testimony] (in German). Düsseldorf: Droste. ASIN B0023S7QZO.

External links

  • A Theory of Ruin-value , Cornelius Holtorf, last updated on 21 December 2004.
  • A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust website:
Photos: Third Reich Architecture in Berlin;
Photos: Third Reich Architecture in Munich.
Arkwright House, Manchester

Arkwright House is a Grade-II listed building in Manchester, England. Designed by local architects, Harry S. Fairhurst, it was completed by 1937 for the English Sewing Cotton Company. Arkwright House is built in a neo-classical style with some art deco motifs which was widely prominent during the 1930s.

Arkwright House was heavily damaged in the 1992 Manchester bombing and needed work to repair the building. It is marked by it giant Corinthian order columns and the use of Portland stone as the exterior. The building has been described as 'sinister' by one architecture critic, suggesting it shares some similarities with Nazi architecture where classical buildings were preferred. Hartwell describes the front façade facing Parsonage Gardens as architecturally 'impressive'.

Atlantic Wall

The Atlantic Wall (German: Atlantikwall) was an extensive system of coastal defence and fortifications built by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944, along the coast of continental Europe and Scandinavia as a defence against an anticipated Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe from the United Kingdom, during World War II. The manning and operation of the Atlantic Wall was administratively overseen by the German Army, with some support from Luftwaffe ground forces. The Kriegsmarine (German Navy) maintained a separate coastal defence network, organised into a number of sea defence zones.Hitler ordered the construction of the fortifications in 1942. Almost a million French workers were drafted to build it. The wall was frequently mentioned in Nazi propaganda, where its size and strength were usually exaggerated. The fortifications included colossal coastal guns, batteries, mortars, and artillery, and thousands of German troops were stationed in its defences. When the Allies eventually invaded the Normandy beaches in 1944, most of the defences were stormed within hours. Today, ruins of the wall exist in all of the nations where it was built, although many structures have fallen into the ocean or have been demolished over the years.


Carinhall was the country residence of Hermann Göring. It was built on a large hunting estate northeast of Berlin in Schorfheide forest, between the lakes Großdöllner See and Wuckersee in the north of Brandenburg.


Deutschlandhalle was an arena located in the Westend neighbourhood of Berlin, Germany. It was inaugurated on 29 November 1935 by Adolf Hitler. The building was granted landmark status in 1995, but on 3 December 2011 the building was demolished.

Flak tower

Flak towers (German: Flaktürme) were eight complexes of large, above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers constructed by Nazi Germany in the cities of Berlin (3), Hamburg (2), and Vienna (3) from 1940 onwards. Other cities that used flak towers included Stuttgart and Frankfurt. Smaller single-purpose flak towers were built at key outlying German strongpoints, such as at Angers in France, Helgoland in Germany and Trondheim, Norway. The towers were used by the Luftwaffe to defend against Allied air raids against these cities during World War II. They also served as air-raid shelters for tens of thousands of local civilians.

Führer Headquarters

The Führer Headquarters (Führerhauptquartiere in German), abbreviated FHQ, were a number of official headquarters used by the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and various other German commanders and officials throughout Europe during the Second World War. The last one used, the Führerbunker in Berlin, where Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945, is the most widely known headquarters. Other notable headquarters are the Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) in East Prussia, where Claus von Stauffenberg in league with other conspirators attempted to assassinate Hitler on 20 July 1944, and Hitler's private home, the Berghof, at Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden, where he frequently met with prominent foreign and domestic officials.

Germania (city)

Germania (pronounced [ɡɛʁˈmaːni̯a]) was the projected renewal of the German capital Berlin during the Nazi period, part of Adolf Hitler's vision for the future of Nazi 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 1938 and 1943 when construction took place.

Some of the projects were completed, 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 centre, far away from the Reichstag, where it originally stood. 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.

Haus der Kunst

The Haus der Kunst (German: [ˈhaʊs deːɐ̯ ˈkʊnst], House of Art) is a non-collecting modern and contemporary art museum in Munich, Germany. It is located at Prinzregentenstraße 1 at the southern edge of the Englischer Garten, Munich's largest park.

Josef Thorak

Josef Thorak (7 February 1889 in Salzburg, Austria – 26 February 1952 in Hartmannsberg, Bavaria) was an Austrian-German sculptor. He was well known for his "grandiose monuments".

Kleines Berlin

Kleines Berlin (Little Berlin in German) is the complex of underground air-raid tunnels dating to World War II, which still exists in Trieste, Italy.

Nazi party rally grounds

The Nazi party rally grounds (German: Reichsparteitagsgelände, Literally: Reich Party Congress Grounds) covered about 11 square kilometres in the southeast of Nuremberg, Germany. Six Nazi party rallies were held there between 1933 and 1938.

Olympiastadion (Berlin)

Olympiastadion (German pronunciation: [ʔoˈlʏmpi̯aːˌʃtaːdi̯ɔn]) is a sports stadium at Olympiapark Berlin in Berlin, Germany. It was originally built by Werner March for the 1936 Summer Olympics. During the Olympics, the record attendance was thought to be over 100,000. Today the stadium is part of the Olympiapark Berlin.

Since renovations in 2004, the Olympiastadion has a permanent capacity of 74,475 seats and is the largest stadium in Germany for international football matches. Olympiastadion is a UEFA category four stadium and one of the world's most prestigious venues for sporting and entertainment events.

Besides its use as an athletics stadium, the arena has built a footballing tradition. Since 1963, it has been the home ground of the Hertha BSC football team. It hosted three matches in the 1974 FIFA World Cup. It was renovated for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, when it hosted six matches, including the final. The DFB-Pokal final match is held each year at the venue. The Olympiastadion Berlin served as a host for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup as well as the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final.

Paul Troost

Paul Ludwig Troost (17 August 1878 – 21 January 1934), was a German architect. A favourite master builder of Adolf Hitler from 1930, his Neoclassical designs for the Führerbau and the Haus der Kunst in Munich influenced the style of Nazi architecture.

Pointe du Hoc

La Pointe du Hoc (French pronunciation: ​[pwɛ̃t dy ɔk]) is a promontory with a 100 ft (30 m) cliff overlooking the English Channel on the north-western coast of Normandy in the Calvados department, France. During World War II it was the highest point between the American sector landings at Utah Beach to the west and Omaha Beach to the east. The German army fortified the area with concrete casemates and gun pits. On D-Day, the United States Army Ranger Assault Group attacked and captured Pointe du Hoc after scaling the cliffs.

Reich Chancellery

The Reich Chancellery (German: Reichskanzlei) was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany (then called Reichskanzler) in the period of the German Reich from 1878 to 1945. The Chancellery's seat, selected and prepared since 1875, was the former city palace of Prince Antoni Radziwiłł (1775–1833) on Wilhelmstraße in Berlin. Both the palace and a new Reich Chancellery building (completed in early 1939) were seriously damaged during World War II and subsequently demolished.

Today the office of the German chancellor is usually called Kanzleramt (Chancellor's Office), or more formally Bundeskanzleramt (Federal Chancellor's Office). The latter is also the name of the new seat of the Chancellor's Office, completed in 2001.

Stripped Classicism

Stripped Classicism (or "Starved Classicism" or "Grecian Moderne") is primarily a 20th-century classicist architectural style stripped of most or all ornamentation, frequently employed by governments while designing official buildings. It was adapted by both totalitarian and democratic regimes. The style embraces a "simplified but recognizable" classicism in its overall massing and scale while eliminating traditional decorative detailing. The orders of architecture are only hinted at or are indirectly implicated in the form and structure.Despite its etymological similarity, Stripped Classicism is sometimes distinguished from "Starved Classicism", the latter "displaying little feeling for rules, proportions, details, and finesse, and lacking all verve and élan". At other times the terms "stripped" and "starved" are used interchangeably.

Theater Saarbrücken

Theater Saarbrücken, officially Saarländisches Staatstheater is the state theatre of Saarland in its capital Saarbrücken, Germany. It has several division (opera, drama, dance, concert) and offers annually around 30 new productions in around 700 events for more than 200,000 people. Its venues are Großes Haus (Great House), Alte Feuerwache, Congresshalle and sparte4.

University of Music and Performing Arts Munich

The University of Music and Performing Arts Munich (German: Hochschule für Musik und Theater München), also sometimes called the Academy of Music and Performing Arts, is one of the most respected traditional vocational universities in Germany, specialising in music and the performing arts. The main building it currently occupies is the former Führerbau of the NSDAP, located at Arcisstraße 12, on the eastern side of the Königsplatz, Munich. Teaching and other events also take place at Luisenstraße 37a, Gasteig, the Prinzregententheater (theatre studies), and in Wilhelmstraße (ballet). Since 2008, the Richard Strauss Conservatory (de), until then independent, has formed part of the University.

West Wall Medal

The West Wall Medal (German: Deutsches Schutzwall-Ehrenzeichen) was a political decoration of Nazi Germany. It was instituted on 2 August 1939 and was given to those who designed and built the fortifications on Germany's western borders, known as the Westwall or, in English, the Siegfried Line, and to the troops who served there between 15 June 1938 to 31 March 1939. In all 622,064 medals were awarded until 31 January 1941. In 1944, after the allied invasion, it was again "re-instituted" and awarded to those who took part in the fortification of the western borders. It was awarded to over 800,000 men in total by the end of the war.

Historicism and Revivalism in Western architecture and decorative arts
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