The Architecture of Oppression: The SS, Forced Labour and the Nazi Monumental Building Economy

By Bornberg, Renate | The Town Planning Review, March 2002 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Architecture of Oppression: The SS, Forced Labour and the Nazi Monumental Building Economy


Bornberg, Renate, The Town Planning Review


The Architecture of Oppression: The SS, Forced Labour and the Nazi Monumental Building Economy, Paul B. Jaskot, London, Routledge, 2000, 216 pp., £55.00 (h/b), £18.99 (p/b)

Architectural projects played a major role for the Nazi regime, and Albert Speer put Hitler's ideas into shape. This was and still is the way most people would probably describe the role of architecture and Speer during the Nazi dictatorship in Germany. But why was architecture so important and how did architecture relate to the system of oppression, extinction and warfare? Was Speer working alone? Was he-like many other artists had claimed after the fall of the dictatorship-just a young, ambitious artist who was fascinated and blinded by the opportunities he was given and with relatively little political understanding and ambition?

In The Architecture of Oppression we get a clear and conclusive answer to these and many other interesting questions. The architecture of oppression was a major political issue in the struggle of the Nazis to gain power. Before their takeover, the building industry had the highest number of unemployed compared to all other sectors of the economy. Therefore, there was a high potential for votes and the propaganda promised to revive and boost the building industry. Thus the design and construction of large-scale and prestigious buildings was at the core of Nazi propaganda and dictatorship until the very end. These projects were primarily designed for the so-called Führerstädte, such as Munich, Nuremberg and Berlin. Many of these had bombastic dimensions, were adjusted by Hitler himself, and designed in a sort of Neo-classical style-the German Stadium, the Reich Party Rally Grounds, the Zeppelin Field or the Congress Hall in Nuremberg and the plans for the rebuilding of Berlin. Style and design of these new buildings was carefully chosen and reflected the mentality of the Nazi leaders. The Third Reich saw itself a legal successor to the great empires of the past. The Neoclassical reference to the Greek and Roman empire was therefore no coincidence but a demonstration of power. Both Hitler and his chief architect Albert Speer preferred stonework for 'aesthetic' reasons- granite for facades, brickwork for construction and marble for interiors. Stone was believed to be very indigenous, and therefore could be a reference to the 'Aryan' German roots.

The importance of stone is at the core of this book. Jaskot introduces us to an interesting aspect of the terrifying world in which architecture was used, abused and misused in 1930s Germany to impress, oppress and suppress a people. SS leaders 'thought ahead' and intended to carry over their power to the time after the war. They took the opportunity to start enterprises that competed with the private sector. SS-chief Himmler established a new economic trust for production of building materials, the DEST. DEST enterprises wanted to build the prestigious large-scale Party buildings and through political contacts with Speer managed to get some of the limited contracts to deliver stone. Special KZs (referred to as KL throughout the book) were built to produce stones such as Mauthausen or Flossenbürg. However, as Jaskot points out, no skilled workers were employed but prison inmates were exploited (and killed) under enormous pressure and deprived of many essential needs.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Architecture of Oppression: The SS, Forced Labour and the Nazi Monumental Building Economy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?