Nuremberg: Building The Führer Myth

Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitlers photographer, once said “Der Fotograf bildet ab, sonst nichts.” (The photographer depicts, nothing else.) This was his argument for turning a 10 year prison conviction to only 4 years.
Albert Speer, Hitlers architect and later Reich Minister for Armaments and Ammunition, was convicted to only 20 years of prison while other leading Nazis of his rank and with very similar collections of crimes against humanity were sentenced to death.
Leni Riefenstahl, Hitlers infamous director, wrote: „[…] wo liegt denn meine Schuld? Sagen Sie mir doch das. Ich habe keine Atombomben geworfen, ich habe niemanden verleugnet. Wo liegt denn meine Schuld? (Where is my fault? Tell me that. I didn’t throw any atom bombs, I didn’t deny anyone. Where is my fault?

Together with Göbbels as Reich Minister of Propaganda and many others creatives, they created the myth around Hitler and the Nazis. Their grandeur and elevation. They depicted the führer as a Messias and the SS as saviors from evil. But their professions deal with visual aspects and they have been and still are underestimated in their effects.
Is design able to create a monster? As you can see in this very distinct examples, it sure is.

The Kongresshalle

A never finished building to host more than 50.000 people. With a planned height of 70 meters and a diameter of 170 meters the biggest still existing of the Nazi buildings.

The Zeppelintribüne

from where the Reichsparteitag happened and Hitler held his infamous speeches.

The Hermitage in Bretzenheim

We made a stop in Langenlonsheim near Mainz to visit a friend of my Mum. We stayed for a night and had a very good time there. In the morning I had a long walk with Pavlov to the near Hermitage cut into rocks in the middle ages. The last hermit lived there until 1827. He died after 52 years of service.

A New Home For Refugees In 1947: The Eiermann Houses in Hettingen

Some years ago I visited an exhibition in the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin and only there I became aware that famous architect Egon Eiermann not only built part of a hotel in my hometown Buchen im Odenwald, but also several settlements for post-war refugees in 1947.
In 1946 Magnani, a priest from Hettingen, and Egon Eiermann made plans to build houses for the numerous refugees coming from the East to Baden. The settlers were strictly selected by ethical criteria (“no people caught with lies, theft or adultery”) – and had to build the houses mostly on their own.
Today it is possible to visit one of the simple houses which perfectly shows the different stadiums of occupancy – for example by not (always) recreating the original parts, but by leaving 40s, 60s and 80s taste of the residents shine through.

We’ve been lucky to have a guided tour by one of the former students of Eiermann. And I strongly recommend a visit for every friend of modern architecture.
Please look for opening hours and more history (German language) on the website.

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Other Eiermann houses in Hettingen and Buchen today

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Road Trip From Berlin: Happy Liberation From The Nazis Day!

The 8th of May, the day of the unconditional capitulation of the German Wehrmacht, is finally a holiday in Berlin. We decided to take a road trip towards the East to visit some relevant locations in the area. We went to the honorary cemetery of soviet soldiers in Müncheberg, to Seelower Höhen, where one of the last big battles of WW2 took place and to Küstrin, where the Red Army crossed Oder River to close the ring around Berlin and initiated the end of WW2.

And again: We still learned something new.
Some years ago, a friend asked me, if I could take someone his buddy with me in my car to Hamburg. I was delighted, because I don’t like to drive alone and so I had a very interesting trip with someone I didn’t know before. The guy told me, he grew up in Eastern Germany and graduated from High School when the wall came down and he went directly to the United States afterwards. Clash of cultures and everything. Not only because America but also because of small town Iowa Christian environment. An adventure.
When he was asked about the Nazis – because every German in a foreign country is asked about the Nazis – his first inner reaction was something like “Wait. That’s not us. That’s the other Germans.”, but he quickly noticed, that something was strange about his inner dialog.
In Eastern Germany, kids at school and citizens in general were taught, that the Nazis are the people on the other side of the wall. The wall between the two Germanys was called “Antifaschistischer Schutzwall”, protective wall against fascism. And of course, while my (western socialized) grandmother in the 1980th still had a fearful expression on her face when she saw anything Russian, resulting from cruel wartime experiences augmented by western propaganda during cold war – Russians, in the eyes of Eastern Germans, were seen as saviors from evil.

History and education made, that Eastern German people today write thank you letters to the Red Army which liberated Germany from the Nazis. Which is of course completely true. But it is also true that the concerned Nazis may have been the grandparents of the authors.

There is no clear line between good and evil. The more you learn and know, the more it becomes obvious. You can observe it in everyday news. Black and white in history and communication – nothing is as untrue as that.

 

Müncheberg

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On Our Way to Seelow
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Seelower Höhen
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The landscape on the picture above is the battlefield of the fight between the Red Army and the German Wehrmacht from 16th to 19th April 1945. It was the last big obstacle for the Russians on their way to Berlin. Many lives were lost in this battle and in those last days of war. 11 days later, Hitler killed himself in his bunker and 8 days later, war was over. DSC_6655DSC_6640DSC_6635DSC_6669DSC_6693

 

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Berlin Day Hike: Around Wukensee In The Sun

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Stasi-Führungsbunker in Biesenthal

Approximately 2 km North of Kleiner Wukensee we found an ancient GDR military area with ruined buildings and subterranean bunkers. When we had wifi again, we found out, that the big hill we saw, was the former “Stasi-Führungsbunker” (bunker of the leaders of the ministry of State Security).

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Hobrechtsfelde

On our way home we passed through Hobrechtsfelde and made a stop at the wonderful James Biergarten. Have a perfect vast view into the fields and a craft beer!

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