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How much can we learn about Nazi Germany by studying its architecture?

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Introduction

How much can we learn about Nazi Germany by studying its architecture? Architecture is the science of layout and design of buildings. If we look at different periods of history, differing cultures, civilisations and geographical regions, we find distinctive styles and features of architecture that have developed. There is usually an aim behind architecture, it encompasses the world around it, and is there for everyone to see everyday. Buildings are viewed and experienced by large numbers of people, therefore the image that it projects is of great importance, as it consciously and subconsciously affects the minds of individuals. Architecture can therefore be used as a powerful political weapon and built into a propaganda scheme and programme beyond this. It is a reflection of culture and the way a country envisages itself. Architecture was therefore closely integrated into the Nazis propaganda scheme. Nazi propaganda had a large part to play in Hitler's consolidation of power. Once they succeeded in ending democracy and turning Germany into a one party dictatorship, the Nazis orchestrated a massive propaganda campaign to win the loyalty and co-operation of the German people. It was used to subconsciously manipulate the minds of the masses into conforming to the new Nazi ideology that Hitler had established. The Nazi Propaganda Ministry of Public Enlightenment, directed by Joseph Goebbles, took control of all forms of communication in Germany: newspapers, magazines, books, public meetings, rallies and the arts. This heavy manipulation and use of propaganda reinforces the weakness of nazi ideology, as this was the only means by which Hitler was able to penetrate the minds of the people into taking on board his unjustifiable ideological beliefs. Architecture an the arts were closely integrated with one another and played a pivotal role in this silent propaganda machine. The arts were an essential part of Hitler's programme as they were seen as a form of 'non intellectual propaganda' as they could be viewed and easily understood by everyone, they had the ability to strengthen and purify the nation. ...read more.

Middle

The east west axis would 'cut through the chaotic development of the cold city'. Eventually it was to stretch over 30 miles from east to west and 25 miles from north to south. It was planned to be a monumental centre. In 1925, Hitler had sketched a triumphal arch and a large assembly hall, both of which were to become the symbols of the New Berlin and a new Germany. The triumphal arch was to span a distance of 285 feet and rise 325 feet, dwarfing the Eiffel tower. On it the names of the fallen heroes of the Great War were to lie inscribed. It was planned to be constructed via traditional method and used no reinforced concrete, as Hitler believed that by this approach the architecture would hold a ruin value when it had aged. The Roman model would be central as it was throughout most of Hitler's building programmes. The demolition crews began work but were shortly interrupted when War commenced. In the eighteen months of allied bombing raids, tens of thousands of buildings were reduced to rubble. When the war was over however it was obvious that reconstruction would take decades. This is an example of the highly ambitious nature of Hitler's projects that were often unrealistic. This motion ran throughout the Third Reich where obviously unattainable goals were sought after without any clearly mapped plan. For example the countries aim for Autarky and to become self-sufficient was one that would not realistically be attained. Hitler's all or nothing approach to situations was an essential trait to his personality, and was an important factor in his downfall. Instead of pulling back his remaining troops when German defeat in the war was imminent, he insisted in fighting to the last man in the Ardennes offensive, using up every military resource. Surely Hitler should have prioritised, and seen that winning the war was a far more important long term objective, however his all or nothing approach shone through as he felt that ...read more.

Conclusion

They are also a disturbing reminder of Hitler's ability as a dictator to turn an entire nation against an individual race and eradicate them without a thought to humanity. Propaganda therefore must have been employed successfully by Hitler as the manipulation of so many people to turn towards the acts of horror and evil that happened in the holocaust is not a small task, and architecture played a significant role in this. By looking closely at the architecture of the third Reich, we begin to understand that it was put in place by Hitler to provide a suitable backdrop to the Nazi regime, reflecting and reinforcing Hitler's aims. it was just a small part of a much broader scheme of propaganda, that was focused on instilling Nazi ideology within the minds of the entire German nation. The architecture highlights many of the contradictions that existed in Nazi ideology, and inside Hitler's mind, like the contrast between the grandeur of neo classical empire, and the traditional, quaint vernacular, Volkish style for country housing. This also shows that the Nazis were not the sound ideologically focused party that they proclaimed in their propaganda and also reveals a lot about Hitler's personality as it suggests his instability, insanity and megalomania. Hitler was a man consumed in his love for the world of Art which led to his desire to express himself artistically on Germany through architecture, which as a previously failed artist could have been his own egotistical way of stamping himself as a great artist and empire builder in history. However ironically his architectural design was not form his own imagination, talent and flair, but copied from other civilisations like the Romans, showing he was not the cultured individual he portrayed himself to be, and is evidence of his false illusions of self grandeur. The fact that Hitler prioritised the architecture programme and saw It to be almost as important as winning the war also shows his inadequacy as a leader and lack of understanding of what was really important for Germany. ...read more.

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