Germania – Hitler’s megalopolis – HeritageDaily
Germania was Hitler’s revival of Berlin, planned to be a megalopolis at the center of his millennial Reich, construction of which began before the outbreak of World War II in 1938 until its abandonment in 1943.
Hitler envisioned Berlin as a world capital, comparable to the achievements of the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Babylonians. Called the “Gesamtbauplan für die Reichshauptstadt”, translated as the “Overall Building Plan for the Capital of the Reich”, was intended to give the largest New Order Germanic world empire a capital that would instill a sense of unity among those of Germanic origin.
Historians suggest that Hitler first formulated plans for Germania as early as the mid-1920s, where he drew elaborate sketches of monuments and mentions the rebuilding of German cities in his autobiographical manifesto “Mein Kemp”.
Hitler first proposed the concept to architect Albert Speer in the spring of 1936, an ambitious man who had risen to prominence within the Nazi Party through his architectural achievements, earning him an appointment to the post. of “Inspector General of Buildings of the Reich Capital”. (GBI) in 1937 and tasked with bringing Hitler’s vision of a new Berlin to life.
Speer had previously been commissioned to rebuild the Borsig Palace as offices for the new management of Sturmabteilung SA, and would later build the massive New Reich Chancellery which was completed in 1939 and hailed by Hitler as the “crown of the great German political empire “.
The construction of Germania began in 1938 with the razing of buildings in the neighborhoods of Alsen and Tiergarten, where many Berliners were evicted from their homes and resettled in properties seized from Jewish families (resulting in the resettlement many Berlin Jews in ghettos and eventually concentration and extermination camps).
The demand for labor led to the construction of numerous work camps near the quarries, including Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald and Mauthausen. German police rounded up what the Nazis considered ‘undesirable’, targeting gays, gypsies and beggars to be worked to death in stone quarries or baking bricks, with prisoners of war being used more late in the war as slaves.
Several earlier construction projects were to be integrated into Germania, including Tempelhof Airport, the renovated Olympic Stadium, the Air Ministry, the Exhibition Hall (part of the International Congress Center), the former Chancellery enlarged and the Ministry of Propaganda, and the German workers. Front Headquarters.
Central Berlin was to be reorganized along a north-south axis boulevard known as “Prachtallee”, meaning “Street of Splendors”, running just west of Tempelhof Airport from the new South station. This boulevard and an east-west boulevard would have divided central Berlin into four quadrants, where major roads would be closed for parades and vehicles diverted to use the underground highways (parts of which still exist today).
At the northern end of the avenue at the site of Königsplatz was a planned forum known as “Großer Platz” meaning “Grand Plaza”. It was to be the central center of Germania, where on the west side was the Führer’s palace, on the east side the Reichstag building and on the south side the Reich Chancellery and the High Command of the German army.
To the north of the Plaza would be the “Volkshalle”, which means “Hall of the Peoples”, a huge monumental domed building inspired by Hadrian’s Pantheon in Rome. The temple-like nature of the domed Volkshalle was ultimately intended for public worship of Hitler and Nazi doctrine, with Speer stating in a post-war interview that “Hitler believed that over the centuries his huge assembly hall in the shape of a dome would acquire great sacred significance and become a holy shrine as important to National Socialism as St. Peter’s in Rome is to Roman Catholicism.Such worship was the basis of the whole plan.
Towards the southern end of the avenue would be a triumphal arch based on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, housing the names of 1,800,000 German soldiers who died in World War I. The arc was meant to erase the shame of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, instead turning the 1918 defeat into a victory that would mark the beginning of Germany’s rise to dominate Europe.
Doubts persisted at the time as to whether Berlin’s marshy ground could support the weight of these monumental structures, so Speer ordered the construction of the ‘Schwerbelastungskörper’ in 1941, a large concrete cylinder located at the intersection of Dudenstraße to test soil in preparation. for building the arch.
At the start of World War II with the German invasion of Poland in 1939, construction was suspended, but resumed after the clear German victory. The defeat of France in 1940 led Hitler to decree: “Within the shortest possible time Berlin must be rearranged and acquire the form due to it by the greatness of our victory as the capital of a mighty new empire.” In the completion of what is today the most important architectural task in the country, I see the most significant contribution to our final victory. I expect it to be finished by 1950.”
Hitler’s vision would never come true, however, setbacks during the invasion of the Soviet Union led to Germania construction being halted in 1943, with Berlin falling to the advancing Army red during the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
Header Image – The Volkshalle, Germany – Image Credit: Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH – Alamy – IY02357979