Monday, September 7, 2009

Nazi Architecture – Ruin Value

Probably every modern interpretation of ruins is connected with some kind of fascination with death and decay. But the necrophilic climax reached that perspective with Nazi architecture. Nearly everybody knows some photos of these monstrous gigantic buildings, which were and should be constructed to glorify Hitler's 'Thousand Year Reich.

So far, so good, we are used to the gigantomania of totalitarian dictators and societies.

But Hitler and his favorite architect Albert Speer went much further. They envisioned their buildings as ruins even before they were built. The buildings were intended to serve as monuments of the greatness of Nazi Germany. It’s clear that this didn’t refer to the Germans but only to the Nazi leaders. Hitler and Speer saw themselves as the new Pharaohs or the Roman Emperors. The people, the praised "Volk" had only to build the monuments, so that they later could stare at them with open mouth.

To achieve these effects Speer developed the so called "Theory of Ruin Value". In his memoirs he wrote that he wanted "to build structures which even in a state of decay after hundreds or thousands of years would more or less resemble Roman models. To illustrate my idea I had a romantic drawing prepared. It showed what the reviewing stand of the Zeppelin Field would look like after generations of neglect, overgrown with ivy, its columns fallen, the walls crumbling here and there, but the outlines still clearly recognizable."

With that drawing he convinced Hitler, who was exited while many of the other Nazi leaders were scandalized because of that obvious necrophilia.

When Hitler’s dreams had transformed Germany into a landscape of ruins, he said that the Germans deserve to vanish because "those who remain alive after the battles are over are in any case inferior persons, since the best have fallen."


  1. I've studies Speer alot and disagree of the necrophiliac theory as well as Speer wanting to be a esteemed as a Pharaoh or other god-on-earth entity. The Ruin Value is merely an aesthetic architectural phase in the lifespan of the structure. They had lived during the neoclassical era and ruin appreciation had already been all over the scene for decades.

  2. Sure that ruins were fashionable all this time.
    But it's one thing to construct for the 1000 year empire and to praise at the same time it's end.
    There were even nazis scandalized by this idead.

    And not at least Speer's architecture is totally inhuman. And this reflects quite well his own position. You shouldn't forget that he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands. He didn't care at all, his first interest was to please his beloved Führer.
    He was a disgusting oportunist, a brownnoser!!