July 3, 2008

A Common Cold and Fascist Architecture

Flags: Giant flag flying from the stern of the Star Of India.

G: To the doc after work to get an infection lanced. The doc worried that his last nose infection was a highly antibiotic resistant type that only medical personal usually get. We can only deduce that he must have picked it up at Duck’s nursing home. This one proved antibiotic resistant too. Dinner at Brian’s. Too much food as usual, but great fifties ambiance. This morning shorts and one of his Hawaiian shirts as the office is having a BBQ. He’s picking up Marie’s token on the way home.

G’ette: Feeling mucho better. Still blowing nose and coughing tho. G suggested I wait through the weekend before going back in the water. Still running a temp at nights. Slept great. All that running up and down stairs. Sedentary equals weight gain also.

Weather: Foggy night-and-morning stuff that hangs off the coast at sunset. Airplanes landing over us this morning. These fogs will play with the coastal fireworks tomorrow night.

Parrots: The Parrots of Ocean Beach are in our neighborhood once again. Most folks find them charming. These great flocks “composed of red-headed conures and stubby-winged amazons” settle in at night into large trees like ants moving in on a bread crumb. After great amounts of noise, leaf fluttering, and wing flapping, they stay quiet for the night. In the mornings they take off in a cloud of cacophony that reaches me even through my tintinitus. Frankly, I love it when they sleep in someone else’s neighborhood. That’s probably heresy.
While trying to stay quiet and well behaved between fighting my common cold and doing loads of laundry yesterday, I followed another of my interests, abandoned city infrastructures online.

After attending a convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota and discovering the great swath of abandoned early industrial inner city, which we don’t have here, I was fascinated. Surfing along, looking for inner city stuff, somewhere on line, I found a link to Geoff Walden’s Third Reich Ruins.

LupinZX’s essay on “eCheat,” Nazi use of Architecture and Sculpture in the third Reich, says that “The National Socialist's main view on architecture was the rejection of modern style. The quaint and traditional vernacular style for housing and a strong monumental style for public buildings became the order.”

Hitler’s regime rejected the use of the popular, curvilinear “Moderne” while stressing the application of a new classical style by Hitler’s Chief Architect, Albert Speer. This was used for the important public buildings and large ceremonial areas. Grand plans were put into action to reshape Berlin into Hitler’s neo-classical vision of the new German Capital. Leon Krier says in His article The Suppression of Classical Architecture in Postwar Germany that, “it is undeniable that Classical architecture was one of the most important and reliable of all the methods of Nazi propaganda.” Also that, “Classical architecture has become both the unknown ghost and the tragic victim.” Much of Hitler’s grand plan was not realized, but one series of office buildings was completed and survived the war almost intact. Many other structures were destroyed by massive dynamiting in an attempt to remove all signs of this classical architectural propaganda post WWII.

Thomas Zeller wrote of Alwin 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. This ethnic view would capture the soul in landscapes and buildings that were designed to preserve the spirit of the essential of the essential link between nature and culture. Growing out of this could be seen the more venacular style of structures.

My mother grew up in Milwaukee, a community with a strong Germanic base. Although she attended the University of Michigan’s School of Architectural Engineering, I know she retained a close connection to this portion of her heritage. Milwaukee Dutch was often spoken around the house when I was a child. German foods were the norm. She and her brother also read and spoke German, which was the engineering language of the time.

Somewhere, perhaps when she was in college, there was a lover. I know he too was an architect, and he was German. I heard about him only twice. Once when she mentioned that she had a friend that had returned to Germany and vanished into the war. The second time when a small silver dish vanished. She was incredibly angry and blamed the housekeeper. Who knows where the dish really went, but he had given it to her. It was all she had of him.

I looked at these two kinds of Nazi Fascist Architecture with a new eye yesterday. Many of the neo-classical buildings were destroyed, altered, or damaged by the occupying forces after WWII. The destruction of the folk based architecture is also documented tho much of this seems to have survived intact. Perhaps only the large neo-classical pieces were judged to be as representative of the Hitler’s larger plan, and the invented folk architecture was allowed to meld into the countryside as if it truly belonged.

Walden’s website on Third Reich Ruins is the most comprehensive index of Nazi Architectural structures I have found, and though it does not give a full description of the vernacular architictural style, it is the only one offering a broad spectrum view on the remains of this era. I’ll be taking my breaks in the ruins again today, blowing my nose and taking my vitamin C….absolutely fascinated.

1 comment:

  1. I have some photos I took of ruins under downtown Chicago. They've all been replaced by expensive condos, but I used to love going down there. I don't know where the photos are now. When I find them again I'll scan them and do a post on my blog.

    Feel better.



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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...