Germania, as one knows now as Berlin, was a dream of Adolf Hitler’s vision for a capital of the world which he further deciphered and executed with architect Albert Speer. Berlin back in Hitler’s regime was already a brimming metropolis but Hitler’s perspective of architecture in a city was quite dynamic and monumental.

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Hitler’s description of buildings was a showcase of grandeur, power and rigidity and with the help of Albert Speer, all the plans disclosed were huge and required a huge investment of capital which the state was in no condition of due to the pre-existing war situation.

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Hitler’s planning of the city revolved around and facing towards the central boulevard running along the north-south axis on which he proposed two new rail terminals for connectivity of the built structures through the heart of the city. Albert Speer’s observation for the city clearly showed the organic growth of the city and to formulate the connectivity through the heart of the city, the laid downs roads were also to be given thought and therefore, radial planning around the city was proposed which would segregate the masses according to their utility and importance and hence, four concentric circles were proposed for the city of Germania.

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The segregation of the people was done based on people being Germans, Berlin dwellers, slum dwellers, or Jews. All the suburban areas were planned to be converted into modern housing units and other commercial purpose buildings which would accommodate all the Berlin dwellers residing in the slum areas towards the central portion. The city planning included every little aspect of urban planning i.e., stationing new airports, revamping green spaces, and restoration of local flora and fauna.

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Apart from the pre-phase of planning, when the time of practical execution arose, the main challenge which came forth was the feasibility of the plan. Smaller structures like schools, business buildings, etc. were feasible for construction but grand structures like Reich Chancellery spanning across 400m length would estimate to cost around 90 million at that period and was finally completed in 1939. Just like several other monuments were executed that included the Olympic Stadium which was inaugurated in 1936 accommodating 100,000 spectators. Goring’s Air Ministry now functions as the German Finance Ministry, was then constructed as the world’s largest ministry having 7km long corridors, above four thousand windows, and around twenty-eight hundred rooms. There were a few more structures built around this time and many of which still exist in present Germany.

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Apart from the fact of the execution of several buildings, the funding process which was designed was fundamental of significance. The labor and material cost was cut down to it being free as the strategy Speer owned was building the camps near quarry sites and putting the Jews there who would mine indecisively and provide them with the required materials of construction. This made their costs reduction progressive but in terms took a lot of innocent lives which used to go unnoticed and unattended. 

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Furthermore, with material and labor been taken care of came the cost of demolition and construction. This was done with the help of a donation from the people of Berlin as it did not lack the number of willing donors at that time. The cost of the entire project by Albert Speer was given around 6 billion which was 6% of Berlin’s GDP, hence to raise more capital, they started evicting wealthier Jewish properties sending the dwellers to the camps. The accumulation of properties helped them with free land space on which they constructed their envisioned structures and also funding.

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Narrowing the perspective to focus on the elemental architecture, the designs included rhythmic patterns with motives, use of multiple lined up colonnades to evoke predictability amidst people, use of anthropomorphization, symbols of the army or the swastika, use of concrete, limestone, and travertine to show heaviness and timelessness with an aim that it would be an example of greatness even if ruined, play in volumes among structures of an area i.e., sudden elongation of buildings in between and the sudden emergence of short buildings around with oversizing architectural features like domes. They also considered inculcation of the five senses i.e., hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, and heat with the help of landscape and other monuments.

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Germania’s architecture is still considered a fascination of Albert Speer and the few existing structures in Berlin justifies the act. Germania was always considered an unreal project but due to this folly one should not consider the architecture as an abstract of the past but a noteworthy example of planning and a certain percentage of executing as it was focused on representing Nazism accurately and leaving an impact on the minds of the people of the ruler’s grandeur and power and not of the scenic and beautification. With the other kingdoms flourishing like Rome, Babylon, and so on, constructing Germania speaking the relevant language of architecture was the perfect way of igniting a mark on the world.

Shivangi Agarwal
Author

Shivangi is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Architecture degree. She desires to explore in the field of research and literature while leaving a mark on the world with her influence, design and experience. She believes that architecture is a proportionate part of her life inculcating other interests like playing sports, reading novels and travelling.

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