Dec
20
2010
0

The birth of Nazi architecture

The Haus der Kunst (literally House of Art) is an art museum in Munich, Germany. It is famous as the first piece of public architecture that was built under the Nazi regime. Andrew Graham-Dixon’s excellent programme ‘The Art of Germany‘ on BBC 4 told how the gallery was built in accordance with an emerging Nazi ideology on art and architecture. The building would champion the new style in both disciplines – the first display was a celebration of 2,000 years of German art.

The building is also one of the most important surviving pieces of major Nazi architecture, and one of the few that still serves its original purpose (the only other notable example being the Berlin Olympic Stadium which continues to be used as a sporting venue). Although the Haus der Kunst is still an art gallery, it is fair to assume that Hitler and Speer would not have approved of the modern displays (a recent example being the work of Gilbert and George!)
The building’s Nazi origins can be guessed at from the architecture, but there are more obvious clues. The swastika motif was embedded in mosaics in the in the ceiling panels of its front portico and can still be seen today.
A surprising range of Nazi buildings survive (albeit with different m0dern-day uses), including Berlin Tempelhof Airport (now used as a events and exhibition venue in the middle of Berlin’s newest and largest park), the Kongresshalle in Nuremburg (now a museum of the cause and consequences of National Socialism) and the Air Ministry Building (now Detlev Rohwedder House and home of the German Finance Ministry).

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