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Design: Nazi Star Architect January 26, 2009

Posted by anagasto in building, history, WWII.
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Speer  finished architect school during the Great Depression, the years following the NY stock exchange collapse, and could not find work.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-V00555-3, Obersalzberg, Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler

Hitler gave him a little commission: he let him prepare the premises for a rally.
The stage display had to be spectacular, novel, and cheap.

The photo is from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-2004-1103-500,_Obersalzberg,_Albert_Speer,_Adolf_Hitler.jpg
published under CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license for   Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2004-1103-500 / CC-BY-SA

>>> >> Versión en español → →  Arquitecto de  Hitler
>>> >> Deutsche Fassung → → Nazi Star Architekt

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dome of light by speer for a hitler rally

The photo shows the “Dome of Light” on the Zeppelin field with flak floodlight for a mass demonstration of Hitler’s party.
Date 8 September 1936 —  under CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license.– Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1982-1130-502 / CC-BY-SA at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Speer

Speer’s idea became famous overnight: he set up a row of evenly spaced flags and between them large spotlights.
These would throw their beams miles up into the night sky and create a dome of light.

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Reichsparteitag, SA- und SS-Appell

September 1934 – In Honor of the Dead —  Hitler accompanied by  military leaders
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. — Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-04062A / Unknown / according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-04062A,_N%C3%BCrnberg,_Reichsparteitag,_SA-_und_SS-Appell.jpg

It is very difficult not to get sucked in by the  solemnity and the  scale of a spectacle like that.
It worked like a drug and people surrendered to its power by the millions, not just in Germany.

From then on Hitler gave orders for Speer to project and carry out further constructions, immense buildings, road, bridges, government premises, entire cities.

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CC Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Germany for Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1983-018-03A / CC-BY-SA at http://en.wikipedia.org /wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1983-018-03A,_%22Germania%22,_Modell_%22Gro%C3%9Fe_Halle%22.jpg

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Pfeilerhalle — Hall of the Pillars : in his diary Speer says that those big blocks are reminiscent of old Egyptian constructions. Hitler had said that Speer received commissions “like no other architect in 4000 years”. So it looks like these two men had the pyramids in mind…..

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Backside Reichskanzlei by Speer

Hitler’s central administration building called Reichskanzlei.

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Ehrenplatz 33

This is called Ehrenplatz, meaning place of honour. I have not been able to find information about it. Somewhere it said it was part of the Reichskanzlei (above) as a passage leading to Hitler’s office. — “Ehrenplatz” is also the term used for the burial site of a soldier fallen in battle. This hall seems to be open to the sky and does look funereal.

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I have not yet found the origin of this picture. It is everywhere, but without credits.

The pictures are licensed under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Germany license. Attribute to Bundesarchiv, Bild 101I-808-1238-05 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA
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hitler-and-speer-architects1

Hitler loved architecture  and gave Speer  unlimited access to money, materials, and manpower.

In return Speer made daily visits to Hitler’s small inner circle to attend the tea and movie sessions where Hitler talked endlessly  about his ambitions and his views.

The visitors, secretaries, and staff sat and listened in silence for hours every day.

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triumph-will-march2

The war broke out.
The architecture plans had to be shelved.

Speer became Secretary of State for Armaments.
He became responsible for the design and the construction of  factories and ships, bridges, roads, airplanes, bombs.

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180px-Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1984-1206-511, Albert Speer

When his factories got bombarded, his was the task to relocate them underground.  His were the directives for the manufacture of fuel, guns, tanks, U-boats, power plants and transports.

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prisoners33

To make the factories run he used  people  herded into in large special prisons called “concentration camps”.
And when the whole thing came to its awful end, he was a hungry prisoner at Spandau.

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225px-Albert Speer Neurenberg

He got 20 years. To prevent himself from going nuts, he designed a little garden and grew vegetables and flowers in the prison yard.
In his cell, secretly he wrote “Inside the Third Reich” as an autobiography that became a bestseller and is a very  great book plus a prison diary, also a bestseller and even greater.

“Reich” has the same root as your English  “rich” but means  “realm” or “Empire”

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inside-the-third-reich

In his shoes he hid the drafts to be collected and sent out by a friendly warden.

wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

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Hitler drew the house he  imagined  for himself before he became the Führer.

hitler-drawing-house

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Speer designed the palace  that Hitler wanted for himself as the victorious Führer.

entrance-hitler-palace-by-speer

If the entrance is so small and the fassade so broad, the ruler will look like a mouse coming out of its little hole.

This is how Nazi architecture dramatized  the insignificance of the individual in the imagined grandeur and perdurance of the Race, the State, the Universe.

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Hitler in a beer cellar addressing his early followers, see? All of them nice people, serious, honest, reflective. Look how they try to understand what is expected of them.

A large version of this painting is online at the US Holocaust Museum at
http://www.ushmm.org/museum/press/kits/propaganda/images/prop_4.jpg

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Added December 2013
Churchill wrote that it was not their vices, but their virtues which drew the countries into war.  !!!  He said it in his introduction to his completely unknown history of WW I. — I’ll find the quote later.

Added November 2015

It is at the end of the introduction called  “The Vials of Wrath” 

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The Secret Speer Diaries

In the 20 years he spent in prison, Speer wrote some 24 000 pages of a diary called secret because he hid the drafts in his shoes. A friendly warden collected them to take them out. Later, after Speer was released, these papers became the two bestsellers mentioned. Below is a sample.

September 4, 1956
A spider has made its net between two trees. Some days ago Schirach spent all morning looking for another spider to be put in that net. He was hoping to witness tough combat. However, when he found one, he said he was unable to pick it up. So Long came and put the spider in the net, but the foreign spider was peace-loving and got out of there by the shortest route available.

Schirach was the Hitler Youth leader and  governor of Vienna. — Long is one of the guards, often drunk. Once he turned up so loaded that Speer offered him his bed to take a nap. Meanwhile Speer walked up and down the corridor of the jail to watch out and wake Long up, if one of the directors came. —

This is one of the briefcases with Speer’s  writings, thousands of little papers sent out  with the help of his wardens. After his release, it took years before he felt able to face them and line them up for his second book.

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Comments»

1. 223remote - February 24, 2009

I thought he was too technical for the general public and that he never completely overcame his fascination with Hitler.

2. cantueso - February 24, 2009

He is not technical in his writing, but as a type, a typical engineering type always trying to be objective, and so he does not judge, but observe. That is of course no way to resist the power of a thing like Hitler.

He is almost funny in his Hitler parodies, but there is very little about the other men in the game. The book should have been called “Hitler and I”, beause that is its subject. Then he could have left out about 80% of his organizational stuff.

There is too much about how to organize a war. If Bush had read the book, he would never even have considered starting a war.
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3. A.S.Chartwell - March 1, 2009

Can you access some newspaper library and look up “The Observer” of April 9th, 1944? There you’d see an article about Speer concluding that “It is the lack of psychological and spiritual ballast, and the ease with which he handles the terrifying…..machinery of our age, which makes this slight type go extremely far nowadays.

4. cantueso - March 2, 2009

I think I saw your quote in Speer’s book. Churchill, too, thought that without Speer the war would have ended sooner.

5. huntingdonpost - March 3, 2009

I find Speer’s book self-serving. Interesting to be sure, but he downplayed his involvement with the use of slave labor. So Hitler’s greatest architect never actually built anything, but he did create one of the most memorable images of the 20th century, lovingly immortalized by Leni Riefenstahl on film, Triumph of the Will. Just like I never thought we’d see another Great Depression in the US, I also never thought we’d see anything like Hitler again, but here we are playing it all again, Sam.

6. cantueso - March 4, 2009

“Self-serving”: I don’t know the meaning of this expression. I see that in the book Speer is aware only of Hitler and himself. He does not portray anybody else.– However, in prison, later, he captures countless instances of small-talk to make fun of the other inmates, the wardens, and above all the prison organization and also of himself. And he sees all of it with the same detached exactitude, often amused and sometimes depressed.

He does not downplay his management of the work camps. It was simply too painful to remember and so he confessed and told the story point by point and assumes the guilt. That’s all. You can’t expect anyone to elaborate on such a terrible thing.– You should know about this because of the way Americans refuse to be reminded of what they don’t want to know about those secret prisons that are legally defined as being beyond the reach of the law .

I am also reading the Spandau diary at the same time. They are spontaneous writings on a variety of subjects and great to read. I have read all of it three or four times before.***

He did build quite a few things, and, as he himself said, none survived. Look up http://tinyurl.com/dcymuk for the Reichskanzlei, the seat of Hitler’s government. —
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*** Added April 2012
What I read “three or four times” was a translation of Speer’s diaries into Spanish. I didn’t realize it was only a selection until February 2012 when I got the complete book in German. As it was a good selection, my impression of the writer and his work remains the same.

7. 223remote - December 20, 2009

The only one that kept his cool was in fact Speer’s father who was also an architect and was invited to go and see the maquette of Speer’s future Berlin.

And he went there, examined the model silently and finally only said: “You are crazy, all of you.”

8. bellsandwhistles - July 28, 2010

Canteuso, how many “miles up into the night sky” those beams of light?

A mile is 1600 meters, you know.

9. Ingrid - October 28, 2010

I didn’t know that Hitler knew how to draw.

cantueso - December 17, 2010

I see (if a bit late)
So how far would the beams go?

Where I used to live, in Switzerland, there was a hotel on a mountain that advertised its existence by moving a beam of light all across the countryside at the foot of the mountain.

Pythagoras ?

bellsandwhistles - December 24, 2010

a2 + b2 = c2
You need to know
– the height of the mountain
– the height of the valley
– and let’s assume there is 1 km between the foot of the mountain and the focus point of the beam

10. Septermbersky - February 17, 2012

You don’t seem to know that Speer gave an interview to Playboy where he said:
“If I didn’t see it, then it was because I didn’t want to see it.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Speer

Anyway, the Tagebuch is greater reading than “Inside”.


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