September 27, 2020

THE THINGPLATZ MOVEMENT

 


What are “Thingplatz,” I asked writing to friends in Germany.  One wrote back saying, “I did a little research.  They were part of the Third Reich, and no one will discuss them.” 

Thingplatz are outdoor arenas that were to be used for Nazi propaganda causes.  Many are still intact because they were a part of the Volkish movement.  Most have been assimilated into their communities and adapted for rock concerts or musical gatherings.  The current generation of Germans may never know the beginnings of these stone and concrete amphitheaters because of the political climate surrounding them.  Many Thingplatz are vanishing back into the earth, and their passing is not only a cultural loss for the world’s historians but a unique architectural history loss.  Unlike the treasured art and architecture of the American WPA, the horrors given us by Third Reich have increased rejection of the era’s architectural history until all interest is rejected. 

 

            The Thingplatz program was part of Joseph Goebbels Pre-World War II Nazi propaganda plan to bind the German population together.  In 1933, Goebbels, who wrote his Ph.D. thesis on 18th century romantic drama, had become the head of the Reich Minister of Propaganda.  He had a thorough grounding in the volkisch-populist movement that had developed during the late 19th century.  The German interpretation of the populist movement, had a romantic focus on folklore and the "organic."  He used this back to the land, Germanic mystical movement revival of invented “native pagan traditions and customs…to reinforce a marked preoccupation with racial purity…that motivated the country politically,” Wikipedia tells us.  “The völkisch ideas of "national community, (Volksgemeinschaft), came more and more to exclude Jews,” wrote Petteri Pietikäinen in The Volk and Its Unconscious: Jung, Hauer and the German Revolution.

            "It is not propaganda’s task to be intelligent, its task is to lead to success,” Joachim C. Fest says echoing the sentiments of the era in The Face of the Third Reich.  Many of Goebbels journey’s into propaganda were a great success, but not his experiments in the Thingplatz movement.

          Geoff Walden, of the excellent site The Third Reich in Ruins writes, “In 1933 the Nazi Propaganda Ministry … began a movement based on the "Blut und Boden" (Blood and Soil) ideology - the so-called "Thing" movement. A Thing was an ancient Nordic/Germanic gathering of the people in an outdoor setting. The Nazi Thing gatherings were to be held in specially-constructed outdoor amphitheaters, called (in the singular) Thingplatz or Thingstätte.” 

          Goebbels first task as Propaganda Minister, “was to centralize Nazi control of all aspects of German cultural and intellectual life, particularly the press, radio and the visual and performing arts,” writes Walden.  He arranged propaganda divisions, he hired heads of these divisions, and he insisted their first task was to “supervise the purge of Jews, socialists and liberals, as well as practitioners of "degenerate" art forms such as abstract art and atonal music,” says Hans Fritzsche in his essay Dr. Goebbels and his Ministry. 

          Next, Goebbels began implementing his romantic world view of “Blut und Boden” into the everyday life of the German people.  In writing of a gathering of farmers in Der 4. Reichsbauerntag in Goslar vom 22. - 29. November 1936, Erma Günter saw this is not as a…“German gathering in a narrow sense, but rather its form and spiritual aims were an event of international significance.”  In rural speeches, Blood and Soil became a core part of propaganda stressing ties to the millions dead in WWI. The purity of German life was tied to its soil, the health of the nation was tied to the blood and soil, as was women’s purity sensing…“that they would find in this ideal of the state, built as it was on the most ancient possession of a people, on blood and soil, their natural role as mother.”  Each blood and soil program Goebbels built enlarged his fictionalized romantic view of an ancient Germanic mythic spiritual core that never existed.

 

        The Propaganda Division began building outdoor amphitheaters which were to be at the core of the Thing program.  The Thingplatz’s designers always attempted to use natural landscape slopes at the heart of their structures.  Often incorporating rocks, trees, and other parts of the neighboring land around them, these Thingplatz, or Thingstatte, were to be gathering places for all sorts of propaganda meetings.  There were plays urging workers to produce more, lectures on how having more children would benefit the Reich, or subjects like “The Victory of Faith” focused on the Nazi spiritual world view.       

          “The first was completed near Halle in 1934,” writes Walden.  Over 1,200 of these Thing sites were planned, but Geoff Walden tells us that only about 45 were completed.  They each differ in design but all keep the blueprint of the arena simple and focus on a clean and uncomplicated stage area. 

          Many have shallow seating areas dictated by the landscape.  For example, the Annaberg Thingplatz has a two tiered gentle sloped seating area above a flat stage area below. This Thingplatz’s drama is intensified by a steep cliff background that was topped with the World War I Freikorps Memorial high on the hill above it. 

          In 1937 the second Thingplatz was built near Lübeck called Bad Segeberg - Segeberger Höhle, it was also build with a dramatic rock background.  It is now the site of the annual Karl May Fest.  Each Thing site had a similar, unique focus.  The Bergen Thingplatz offered an ocean view from the island of Rugen.  In Giebelstadt, the area in front of the ruins of the Florian Geyer castle was used as a Thingplatz.  Each of the 45 sites offered something special to the area to catch the eye and imagination of the audience and pull them into the event of the moment. 

          What defeated Goebbels was the weather.  The cool and wet, cold and cloudy German seasons do not encourage outdoor lectures or theater. Because of this, the Volkish Thingplatz sites were not popular with the German people, and by 1936, Walden tells us, most of the Thingplatz were used for festival sites instead of propaganda gatherings.  Hitler did not discourage this fading away of the Thingplatz movement as he wasn’t much for the "Blut und Boden” philosophies. 

The Thingplatz, as part of the Volkish architectural movement and not the classical, Roman inspired style, were truly works of Nazi architecture.  Because of this, the history of most Thingplatz sites is ignored or reviled.  Architect Leon Krier, writing about Hitler’s classical architecture style, says, “Classical architecture has become both the unknown ghost and the tragic victim.”  These words apply to all of the architecture of the period even though the invented Volk styles have been assimilated easily into most communities.  Jeffry Diefendorf writes In the Wake of War that Krier, “dares” his readers to “find a beauty in an architecture that has clearly and intentionally served to legitimize a political system we clearly despise” and now reject.

 ___________________________________________________________________

Research Links

Third Reich in Ruins: http://www.thirdreichruins.com/thingplatz.htm

Wikipedia Thingplatz/Thingstätte: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thingspiele

Wikipedia - Volkish Movement: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%B6lkisch

Wikipedia: Nazi Propaganda Ministry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministry_of_Public_Enlightenment_and_Propagand

Joseph Goebels wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Goebbels

Calvin Education - German http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa

Atlas Obscura: http://atlasobscura.com/place/heidelberg-thingstatte

About.com, German Weather: http://weather.about.com/od/currentweatherconditions/a/germany.htm

Opacity: Walking the ruins of the Heidelberg Thingplatz: http://www.opacity.us/gallery179_walking_the_ruins.htm

 


IN SEARCH OF NAZI ARCHITECTURE

             I grew up with an interest in architectural history and followed this interest with graduate work.  After attending a convention in Minneapolis in 2000 and discovering the great swath of burned and abandoned early industrial inner city mills, I came away fascinated by these monumental ruins.  Last week, while immobilized by a common cold, I was online looking for abandoned structures when I found a link to Geoff Walden’s Third Reich Ruins.  There in front of me were hundreds of pages containing an abandoned and ruined powerful political architecture.

Following link after link, I learned that Hitler rejected the use of the popular, curvilinear “Moderne” as “intellectual Bolshevism” (www.nzetc.org/).  He urged his architect, Paul Troost, a Bauhaus trained designer, (www.spiritus-temporis.com), to rethink the Roman influence and mix it with a bit of baroque.  This new pared down Neo-Classical style was established as "the Fuhrer's Style" before Speer or others became a part of the Hitler’s architectural hierarchy.  This now focused design was used for the important municipal buildings and large ceremonial areas.  The reshaping of Berlin into a neo-classical city began in early 1936 with the Olympic Stadium.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welthauptstadt_Germania)   Speer’s plan to create a new German Capital, Germania, from the old Berlin were put on hold in 1939 to save strategic materials.  (Speer, Albert (1970). Inside the Third Reich) 

The simple lines and Roman influenced colonnades of the new Nazi formal architecture were often adorned with many-story-tall flags, and banners in striking red with the black swastika.  Alexander Scobie writes in Hitler's State Architecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity, Flags and insignia played an important part in Nazi ceremonial and in the decoration of buildings.  The eagle-topped standards carried by the SA at Nuremberg rallies were reminiscent of Roman legionary standards, the uniformity of which Hitler admired.”  (Hitler, Table Talk, 146)  This Eagle, often seen gripping a wreath-enclosed swastika, was used to adorn many facades of Hitler’s more formal  structures.  Scobie continues, “There can be little doubt that Hitler’s state architecture, even when seen today in photographs of architectural models, conveys a sense of "Power and Force."  Albert Speer took these Roman themed symbols and liberally used them to reinforce the powerful propaganda uses of the buildings and spaces created for the Third Reich. 

<CENTER><IMG SRC=http://www.thirdreichruins.com/lustgarten1mai.jpg </CENTER>

 

<CENTER><FONT SIZE=1><I>Flags flanking the Lustgarten and on top of the May Pole, Berlin.  The Lustgarten is a large open area flanked by museums.  The May Pole (Maibaum) can be seen with the  with the Altes Museum in the background, during a May Day celebration.  Photo and captions courtesy Geoff Walden, <A HREF=http://www.thirdreichruins.com/index.htm>Third Reich Ruins.</A></I></FONT></CENTER></CENTER>

 

Scobie also quotes Speer saying, “The Romans built arches of triumph to celebrate the big victories won by the Roman Empire, while Hitler built them to celebrate victories he had not yet won" (Scobie 133-134).”

Leon Krier writes in his article The Suppression of Classical Architecture in Postwar Germany,It is undeniable that Classical architecture was one of the most important and reliable of all the methods of Nazi propaganda.”  The grand gathering places such as the Nuremberg Party Rally Grounds, the official buildings in Berlin, and the Tempelhof airport were dramatic in their designs and enhanced by over sized sculptures and giant banners which added to their propaganda factor.

Many of Hitler’s other grand plans were not started before the beginning of the war.  Some massive groupings of buildings, such as the Prora KdF Resorts by architect Clement Klotz, remained incomplete by the end of the war.  Geoff Walden writes in Third Reich in Ruins, “Among the most ambitious of the Third Reich construction projects were five planned seaside resort complexes for the Kraft durch Freude (KdF - Strength Through Joy) workers association…..these seaside resorts were meant to provide affordable vacations for [20,000 of] the average German worker[s].”  Today the several kilometer long Prora Resort lies empty and crumbling along the seacoast and is classified as a historical monument.  (http://www.inst.at/trans/15Nr/10_5/rostock15.htm)

<CENTER><IMG SRC=http://www.thirdreichruins.com/prora1deutwochenschau.jpg></CENTER>

 

<CENTER><FONT SIZE=1><I>The North arm of the Prora complex from the "Deutsche Wochenschau" weekly newsreel, from about 1941. Note the three foundations for Community Houses jutting out onto the beach. Photo and caption courtesy Geoff Walden, <A HREF=http://www.thirdreichruins.com/index.htm>Third Reich Ruins.</A></I></FONT></CENTER>

 

Many individual monumental buildings such as Hermann Göring's Air Ministry complex, Joseph Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda, and the Olympic Stadium by architect Werner March were completed and survived the war almost intact.  Many other structures were damaged during the war and were destroyed, rather than rebuilt, post WWII by massive dynamiting in an attempt to remove all signs of this architectural propaganda.  Leon Krier says, “Classical architecture has become both the unknown ghost and the tragic victim.”  Jeffry Diefendorf writes In the Wake of War that “Krier admires and applauds the architectural monuments of the Third Reich as powerful, seductively beautiful objects of art….and “dares” his readers to “find a beauty in an architecture that has clearly and intentionally served to legitimize a political system we clearly despise.”

In National Socialism, there were two distinct architectural approaches.  It took me longer to find a trail to the Volk style.  A Thomas Zeller article about Alwin Seifert finally caught my eye.  Almost at the same time as the neo-Classical style appeared in the German cities, Seifert began to mold the countryside into a new philosophical and political shape.  Zeller wrote of Seifert in Molding the Landscape of Nazi Environmentalism, that the arrogant, brusque Seifert made all of Germany his garden.  He believed that the connection between landscape and the human soul was uniquely German.  He also believed that a particular type of human soul, Nordic, embodied the values of a specific community. 

Anthony Storr in Dimensions, (vol.6, No 2), reviewing Guy Padfield’s Himmler says that,The urge to create a mythical medieval Germany populated only by the Volk was already evident in the eighteenth century.”  An expansion of Seifert’s ideas and beliefs helped create the second form of invented propaganda architecture.  Seifert felt his ethnic view would capture the Germanic soul in landscape as well as in the new, deliberately designed folk buildings.  Tom Fletcher, in nyc-architecture.com, wrote of this invented design, “The völkish style was primarily used in rural settings for accommodation or community structures like the Ordensburg in Krossinsee, the walls and watchtowers of KL Flossenbürg and KL Mauthausen. It was also to be applied to rural new towns as it represented a mythical medieval time when Germany was free of foreign and cosmopolitan influences.  This style was also used in a limited way for buildings with modern uses like weather service broadcasting.”  Other uses were the administration building for the federal post office, barracks, KdF hostels, and in any situation where the architectural form would strengthen the National Socialist philosophies.  These were often homey structures, comfortably situated in their environments, with shutters, sometimes with murals, and always with deep eaves and steep roofs derived from the Bavarian.  

 

While searching for these two types of Nazi fascist architectures, I found myself looking at these structural styles with a new eye.  I noticed that many of the neo-classical buildings were destroyed, altered, or damaged by order of the Western occupying forces after WWII.  The large neo-classical pieces, seen to be most representative of Hitler’s larger plan, policies, and propaganda, were most frequently vilified, dynamited, and bulldozed away.  The Military Academy, one of the few architectural complexes fully completed by the end of the war, was buried under a mound of debris that is now the Teufelsberg in Berlin.  Even into 1971, Speer’s elegant Berlin lampposts were strongly opposed and some even removed.  (Oppositions, 404, 406).

Visible signs of wartime bombing of the folk style architecture can be seen, but many of these structures were repaired and put back into service.  Some seem to have survived with little damage.  Many murals and mosaics remain intact also with only the swastikas removed.  Postwar, more of this invented folk architecture was rebuilt because it was truly needed as housing during the post war period.  Although Hitler’s country home, and the homes of his closest followers were, in time, leveled to the ground and the materials used to create post war housing, his small tea house, the Eagles Nest, survived because Hitler didn’t like heights and visited it only 14 times.  (http://www.kehlsteinhaus.com/)

After days of following leads and links, I returned to my computer in an attempt to make some sense of these political architectures.  As I traced the remarkably rapid recovery of Post WWII Germany, “which had risen anew by the late 1950s in West Germany” (Diefendorf, In the Wake of War), I saw that this recovery utilized both new and the much older architectures while bulldozing Nazi structures through “moral necessity.”  (Oppositions Reader: 404)  Still in my mind the dichotomy of the pure power and clear lines of the Nazi neo-Classical and folk design contrasted strongly with the swaths of destruction symbolized for me by images from Oradour-Sur-Glane, (Massacres and Atrocities of WWII).  There, in a quiet French villiage where all were massacred and the buildings burned by the hand of one over zealous Sturmbannführer, Adolf Diekmann, (http://www.oradour.info/),  you see the true monument to Nazi Architecture in the silent miles of rubble that remain behind today.

 

<A HREF=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_architecture>Nazi Architecture-Wikipedia</A>“The völkish style was primarily used in rural settings for accommodation or community structures like the Ordensburg in Krössinsee, the walls and watchtowers of KL Flossenbürg and KL Mauthausen. It was also to be applied to rural new towns as it represented a mythical medieval time when Germany was free of foreign and cosmopolitan influences. This style was also used in a limited way for buildings with modern uses like weather service broadcasting and the administration building for the federal post office.´wikipedia

 

LINKS AND FOOTNOTES:

Jonathan Glance

“It so happens that Krier does admire some of Speer's architecture while despising the regime that commissioned it. His justification - a love of monumental classical architecture aside - is that of an architect who wondered why it had been so easy to slam Speer's work (viewed purely, as Ferry put it himself, "from an art history perspective"), while similar architecture was built elsewhere in the world at the time, and, particularly, in the democratic US.”

 

From "Oppositions, the journal of the New York-based Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS)”  by: K. Michael Hays

Copied from:  “The minority of explicitly ideological buildings, to which it gave great prominence, reflected two conflicting ideas of the character of the new society.  The monumental buildings which Hitler described as “Symbols of the heroic scale of life.” Were intended to reflect the power of the dictator and his modern state over his subjects in the mass.  This view was wholly incompatible with that represented by the Kleinsiedlungen and folk styles, which, symbolizing an individualistic pre-industrial society, conformed more closely to the ideas of the Kampfbund and the earlier critics of the new style.”

 

 

Speer said later, when it was safe to do so, "The Romans built arches of triumph to celebrate the big victories won by the Roman Empire, while Hitler built them to celebrate victories he had not yet won" (Scobie 133-134).

  • Scobie, Alexander. Hitler's State Architecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-271-00691-9.

Flags and insignia played an important part in Nazi ceremonial and in the decoration of buildings. The eagle-topped standards carried by the SA at Nuremberg rallies were reminiscent of Roman legionary standards, the uniformity of which Hitler admired (Hitler, Table Talk, 146). There can be little doubt that Hitler state architecture, even when seen today in photographs of architectural models, conveys a sense of "Power and Force"

 

  • Hitler, Adolf. Hitler's Table Talk 1941-1944: His Private Conversations, 3rd Edition. New York: Enigma Books, 2000. ISBN 1-929631-05-7.

 

Speer liberally used these symbols to reinforce the propaganda uses of the structures and spaces he created for the third Reich.  me

 

 

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/ARCH/Notes-Fascist-GER.htm

The völkish style was primarily used in rural settings for accommodation or community structures like the Ordensburg in Krossinsee, the walls and watchtowers of KL Flossenbürg and KL Mauthausen. It was also to be applied to rural new towns as it represented a mythical medieval time when Germany was free of foreign and cosmopolitan influences. This style was also used in a limited way for buildings with modern uses like weather service broadcasting and the administration building for the federal post office.

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=erLXrJhsk5gC&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=Molding+the+Landscape+of+Nazi+Environmentalism,&source=web&ots=UW4VfVM098&sig=JEe8iD7NZLftpYpa_0DqHwVpX5k&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result

Molding the Landscape of Nazi Environmental, Thomas Zeller, Chapter 6

 

http://info-poland.icm.edu.pl/socrealism/tot04/04.html

 

The ideologues of the "Kampfbund" presented to the artists, as the goals for artistic creations, the renewal of the "German spirit" in art, the return to traditions and social hierarchy, the building of a vision of a harmonious life tied to the land, and consciousness of German culture.

In his next work, "Kampf um die Kunst" (Struggle for Art) published in 1932, Schultz-Naumburg emphasized the contributions of Nazism to the process of moral renewal of art and its national values as contrasted to cosmopolitanism and degeneration. In his activity directed against modern art, Schulz-Naumburg was the first to reach for the most radical, destructive means. It was on his initiative that in 1929 the frescos by Oskar Schlemmer in the old Bauhaus residence in Weimar were destroyed.

Within the boundaries of the Nazi movement, efforts were made to seize at last part of the accomplishments of contemporary German art. In 1933 in Berlin an initiative was undertaken under the slogan "Youth fights for German art." Its object was to demonstrate that German expressionism can become the official Nazi art. Otto Andreas Schreiber, active in this movement and Hans Weidemann, connected to Joseph Goebbels, created the "Der Norden" group of painters and the periodical "Kunst der Nation." On the pages of the latter, they sought to show existing links between modern German art and Nazism. Similarly, the well known poet Gottfried Benn took a critical position regarding Rosenberg's program for the elimination of German modernism. His book, Kunst und Macht," was an expression of sympathy to the idea of National Socialism converging with the watchwords of artistic modernity. At the same time, the book contained a defense of expressionism and a clear reference to the situation of Italian futurists who were collaborating with fascism.

based on Sztuka a systemy totalitarne (Art and totalitarian systems) by Waldemar Baraniewski.

 

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http://www.thirdreichruins.com/prora.htm

AND

http://www.inst.at/trans/15Nr/10_5/rostock15.htm

 

Prora KdF Resort

________________________________________

http://www.guypadfield.com/ppadfield/himmler.html

            Review of Himmler BY Guy Padfield

 

 

 

http://www.thirdreichruins.com/index.htm

 

Geoff Walden

 

 

Germania

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welthauptstadt_Germania

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSrfp_uJiik

 

Wikipedia renewal of Berlin

 

Oppositions Reader: Selected Readings from a Journal for

P404  through 406 defense of classical architecture

Destruction of neo classical

 

"Oppositions, the journal of the New York-based Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS),

 

Princeton Architectural Press

 

 

 

 

AUTO ONLY ROADS: THE REICHSAAUTOBAHN

Hitler reviewing a first convoy on the Autobahn,

Copyright picture-alliance / dps used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported. © Copyright 2015


            The automobile began taking over as the primary form of worldwide transportation in the early

 1910’s.  Most roads were dirt, cobblestone, or early versions of macadam.  Automobiles using these

roads had to dodge animals, children playing, people walking, and horse drawn conveyances.  Most 

residents relied upon the train for long distance travel.


All over Europe, various private organizations were working to promote auto only roads.  Although Hitler has often been given credit for the autobahn, the real precursors were the Avus experimental highway in Berlin (built between 1913 and 1921), and Italy’s 130-kilometer autostrada tollway between Milan and the northern Italian lakes (completed in 1923). (http://www.german-way.com/)  These early autobahns “featured limited-access and grade-separated crossings, but no medians.  The first Reichsautobahnen did have narrow medians but lacked shoulders, and ramps and waysides had cobblestone surfaces. “ (http://www.gettingaroundgermany.info/autobahn.shtml#design)

In Novemeber of 1926, 'HAFRABA' (the Planning Association for the Motorway linking the Hanseatic Towns, Frankfurt and Basle) was begun at the instigation of Willy Hof, Chairman of the Deutsche Handels-Gesellschaft in Frankfurt.  (http://www.historytoday.com/uwe-oster/autobahn-myth#sthash.s3peRSKi.dpuf)  There was not enough money to begin constructing the auto only roads because of the depression, but HAFRABA began laying out the first plans and began convincing Germans of the need for Auto Only roads.

When the Nazis came to power during the depression, they collaborated with the communists to oppose the auto only roads.  In 1933 the opposition vanished when Hitler was elected.  He took the idea of auto only roads and ran with it.  Fritz Todt had authored the Brown Report, and Hitler read this to an audience at the February 11th Berlin Auto show.  A law establishing the Reichsautobahn project under that name was passed on June 27, 1933, and the Gesellschaft Reichsautobahnen (Reichsautobahns Association) was founded on August 25 as a subsidiary of the Reichsbahn, thereby removing its objections.[16] Todt was named Generalinspektor für das deutsche Straßenwesen (Inspector-General for the German Road System) on June 30.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichsautobahn)  Hitler rapidly wiped out any opposition, removed Jewish participants, and began construction on “Work Day” 1933. 

               Publicity began in August of 1933 with a radio play, “We are building a road.”  In September, 720 workers marched to the Frankfort Stock Exchange and wereinvested with shovels as Reichautobahn workers.  They followed Todt to the banks of the Main where Hitler was to ceremoniously move a shovelful of dirt and officially open the Autobahn.  Todt wrote later, "again and again…(Hitler’s) shovel plunged into the mound [of dirt]. This was no symbolic shoveling; this was real construction work!" Two of the workers "sprang ... to help him", and they worked "until the mound had been dealt with in an orderly fashion and ... the first drops of sweat were dripping from his brow onto the earth".[24] The image of Hitler shoveling was used many times in propaganda.” (Wiki Reichsautobahn)  And propaganda was what it was all about in the beginning.

            When asked, Todt would say that Hitler sketched out ideas for the Autobahn while he was in prison.  With Todt’s backing, the myth of “Hitler’s Roads” grew.  Publicity photographs of Hitler with a shovel were often used.

Driving the Autobahn tells us, “Although Germany’s depressed economy and hyperinflation of the late 1920s prevented plans for new autobahns from being carried out at the time, many miles of roadway were built during the time of the Third Reich. Hitler saw the construction of autobahns primarily as a military advantage; its benefit as a job-creation program in the 1930s was an added plus.”

___________________________________________________________________

LINKS:

https://www.dw.com/en/the-myth-of-hitlers-role-in-building-the-autobahn/a-16144981 </A>

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3040310/theyre-going-to-bury-a-stretch-of-german-autobahn-and-cover-it-in-parks>Covering the Autobahn</A>

http://www.autobahn-online.de/images/gallerie_e.html>Autobahn Pictures</A> Historic photos pg 2

http://www.berlinka.pcp.pl/index.php>Berlinka</A>

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/infrastructure/reichs.cfm>Highway History</A>

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobahn>Autobahn History</A>

http://www.german-way.com/travel-and-tourism/driving-in-europe/driving/autobahn/

            Within six years after the completion of the first Cologne-Bonn autobahn in 1932, Germany added 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) of super highway to its road network. Although Hitler has often been given credit for the autobahn, the real precursors were the Avus experimental highway in Berlin (built between 1913 and 1921) and Italy’s 130-kilometer autostrada tollway between Milan and the northern Italian lakes (completed in 1923). Although Germany’s depressed economy and hyperinflation of the late 1920s prevented plans for new autobahns from being carried out at the time, many miles of roadway were built during the time of the Third Reich. Hitler saw the construction of autobahns primarily as a military advantage; its benefit as a job-creation program in the 1930s was an added plus.

http://www.gettingaroundgermany.info/autobahn.shtml#design

            Early Autobahns were rather crude by today's standards.  The first Autobahns, like their Italian counterparts, featured limited-access and grade-separated crossings, but no medians.  The first Reichsautobahnen did have narrow medians but lacked shoulders, and ramps and waysides had cobblestone surfaces.  When Germany was reunified in 1989, the Autobahns of East Germany 

http://www.historytoday.com/uwe-oster/autobahn-myth

            The run-up to the history of the German motorways goes back to the 1920s. Several organisations tried to convince Germans that their happiness no longer lay on the back of a horse, and the future belonged to the motor car. And cars would need straight stretches of road that allowed them to get up to top speed – unimpeded by horse-drawn vehicles, playing children and dusty road surfaces. The founding of 'HAFRABA' (the Planning Association for the Motorway linking the Hanseatic Towns, Frankfurt and Basle) in November 1926 at the instigation of Willy Hof, Chairman of the Deutsche Handels-Gesellschaft in Frankfurt, was crucial to the subsequent realisation of motorway dreams. Thus it was not initially a government initiative that lay behind the 'motorway myth', but an association whose members were prominent advocates of the idea of motorways from industry, commerce and the administration. This association was not in a position to put motorway construction on the political agenda – that would have gone well beyond its powers – but plans for construction were to be drawn up, and above all they were able to beat the publicity drum and convince the Germans of the need to build motorways.

- See more at: http://www.historytoday.com/uwe-oster/autobahn-myth#sthash.s3peRSKi.dpuf

http://www.dw.com/en/the-myth-of-hitlers-role-in-building-the-autobahn/a-16144981

            Historians now say that Adolf Hitler simply jumped on the bandwagon of increasing mobility that was already gathering momentum across the world. He certainly recognized the potential for securing his own power and seducing an entire nation with what looked at first like a crazy enterprise. At the time, it seemed clear that very few Germans would be able to afford their own car in order to drive on the new motorways. So Nazi propaganda promised the people full mobility. The idea was to enable everybody to travel - not just the rich. This was how the idea of the Volkswagen - the "people's car" - was born. Hitler also made the German national rail company introduce omnibus transport on the first sections of the new autobahns.

Triebischtal-Tanneberg. Autobahn bei der Dammmühle”

            Copyright: Deutsche Fotothek‎ [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichsautobahn

 

                   

September 26, 2020

ART AND DESIGN IN THE THIRD REICH

 

The son of an old friend asked to read this series. I posted it here for easier access, and I hope you don’t mind reading, or reading it again. The pictures have been removed, and all the links have been checked. M

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This 1938 portrait was Hubert Lanzinger's allegorical "Der Bannerträger" (The Standard Bearer), showing Hitler as an armored knight. This painting became very popular in poster and postcard form.  Copyright Third Reich in Ruins.


            Thanks to the philosophy and forward thinking at the Bauhaus, German fine arts and graphics were well ahead of the world norm prior to World War II.  Once Hitler personally intervened in the arts, “Political aims and artistic expression became one,” says a “Teachers Guide to the Holocaust.”  Graphic design, allegory, and traditional images became intermixed in the German arts just as they did in the American government sponsored art under the WPA.  No modern artists needed apply; no internationalism need show itself. 
            The task of art in the Third Reich was to shape the population's attitudes by carrying political messages through stereotypical concepts and imagined realities.  They did this using every medium from carefully chosen typestyles through stone sculpture, using every device from tiny runes on book covers to the massive banners and lighting seen at the party rallies.  Every arts item was often approved directly by Hitler himself whether a drawing or a piece of sculpture.
           One of the smallest details, typestyles, proved to be a most controversial issue.  The broken, blackletter gothic style we think of as typical of the National Socialist era is called Fractur.  It was in use for over five centuries in the separate German states through the German Nazi era.  In the 1930’s, Paul Renner introduced Futura, and its variations into Germany.  Major print media immediately began using Futura after its introduction, but Fractur was deeply entrenched, and despite the bureaucracy disowning it after 1941 as Jewish, it was still in use at the end of the war.

Albert Speer noted that when he gave away a painting it was often from the collection stored in the cellars of the House of German art.  Later he commented that there was little difference between these works that were “once the subject of (such) violent controversy” and those paintings that were approved for display.   

Hitler’s favorite sculptors were all considered neoclassical in the Doric sense.  Although Arno Breker was heavily influenced by the modernist artists of the period in Paris, such as Charles DespiauIsamu NoguchiMaurice de Vlaminck, and Maliol, who he called the “Michelangelo of Germany,” Becker was really mannerist though Hitler preferred to think of his work as neoclassical.  He became Hitler’s favorite sculptor with works titled ComradeshipTorchbearer, and Sacrifice that helped typified Nazi ideals, and suited the nature of the NS architectures.  Other sculptors, such as Josef Thorak worked in an adapted neoclassical manner in his powerful oversized architectural pieces.

            Hitler’s favorite subjects were gentle countryside images from his invented Volk Germanic History, dramatic images of heroic Aryan’s in action, or quiet Aryan nudes.   He used these works as propaganda for the masses and as a tool for the bureaucracy.  “To promote proper art, Hitler had the Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art) built in Munich, to be the scene of special yearly exhibits,” Geoff Walden writes in Third Reich in Ruins.  He knew exactly the kind of art he liked, and he personally edited the brochures that accompanied each show which had been juried to his liking by his photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann, and special friends like Speer. 

Walden also says, “The annual exhibitions featured military scenes, portraits of the Fuehrer and other Nazi leaders, German landscapes and places associated with Hitler's youth, nudes, and scenes promoting German traditions, particularly "folk-art" agricultural views. Favored artists included sculptors Josef Thorak, Arno Breker, and Fritz Klimsch, and painters Sepp Hilz, Karl Truppe, Elk Eber, Wilhelm Hempfing, Ernst Liebermann, and Adolf Ziegler who are mainly unknown in the arts world of today. The first exhibit was in 1937, at the opening of the building, and the annual shows continued through 1944.” 

Many of these images are indistinguishable from WPA art of the period both in style and medium.  Even works that focused on a favorite theme, Portraits of the Fuehrer, were always done in what Hitler considered a classical style.

After the war, the American and British armies considered the neoclassical architecture to be propaganda and began its systematic destruction.  They also faced  a difficult task when dealing with the many paintings, sculptures, and graphics, as well as the smaller items such as decorated books or napkin rings.  The Occupying Forces considered these also propaganda works also.  Instead of destroying the art, the US Army quietly collected over 9,250 Nazi-era works of art in 1946–47, and shipped them to the United States. 

This existence of this collection, “has long been suspected by journalists and scholars of fascism and the Third Reich.  But aside from a few familiar, frequently exhibited objects, such as Hubert Lanzinger's Der Bannenträger (1937), The Standard Bearer, knowledge of the whereabouts, the full contents, and the provenance of this collection, the largest surviving remnant of Nazi culture, has eluded researchers for over sixty years,” writes Gregory Maertz in Unearthing the Lost Modernist Art of the Third Reich.  Only in 1986 were 7,100 pieces returned to Germany. 

Though Hitler felt his art uniquely Aryan, the arts of the National Socialist period, 1932 through 1945, parallel much of the world political art of the time.  Where Hitler used art to further his personal aims, Britain, Russia, and the United States all had similar government funded art programs using similar politically controlled styles to sway the public’s opinions.  Only after the end of WWII did the true modernists crawl out from the wreckage of the war and begin to see the world in a fresh manner.  Modern abstract art held full sway for a time, but the international style won in the end.

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German Art Links:

</A HREF=http://www.thirdreichruins.com/index.htm>Third Reich in Ruins

 

</A HREF=http://german.about.com/od/readinggerman/a/fraktur.htm>German Typefaces</A>

 

</A HREF= https://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/>A guide to the Holocaust</A>

 

</A HREF=https://sites.google.com/site/dnhistory/home>A history of Graphic Design</A>

 

</A HREF=http://www.usmbooks.com/nazi_art_magazines.html>Nazi Art Magazines</A>

 

</A HREF=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arno_Breker>Arno Breker Sculptor</A>

 

<A HREF=https://ww2gravestone.com/people/thorak-josef/>Josef Thorak the forgotten artist</A>

postcards

THE THINGPLATZ MOVEMENT

  What are “Thingplatz,” I asked writing to friends in Germany.  One wrote back saying, “I did a little research.  They were part of the Thi...