The Nazi Phantom: A Journey Following the Relics of the Third Reich

The Nazi Phantom: A Journey Following the Relics of the Third Reich

Dana Arieli (Holon Institute of Technology, Israel)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6258-0.ch005

Abstract

This chapter seeks to examine the ways in which German cities have confronted their past through the study of heritage of Nazi architecture and design since 1945. The author has chosen to use the camera as her study tool through which she is studying Nazi architecture and design today and see them as a reflection of the German Erinnerungskultur (Memory-Culture). In the last decade, the author has travelled all over Germany following the relics of the Nazi era. These photographed journeys have resulted in more than 10,000 frames so far and is still ongoing. The radical changes in German cities after the Allied bombing left fragile urban spaces, and given the circumstances, city authorities, architects, and urban planners wanted to delay the discussion of the Nazi phantoms left behind as long as possible. After reunification, some German cities adopted the solutions discussed in this chapter, which can often be described as a complicated situation. German cities are trying to do the impossible: combining ancient legacies, buildings designed during the Third Reich and left untouched for decades, and modern and postmodern construction. The resulting mixture has a complexity not found anywhere else.
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Nazi Architecture After 1945: Some Theoretical Perspectives

After the War, Nazi architecture, became the topic of comprehensive research. This research increased the amount of information available about public and official buildings, but normally overlooked the architecture and design of the everyday life of the Third Reich. The gaps between the monumental and colossal public architecture which evoked fascination and the banal ordinary architecture may explain this focus. Research into the architecture of the Third Reich focused mainly on the architects and the reasons behind the choice of style. Most architectural historians have claimed that Nazi architecture was not unique at all. It lacks aesthetic value, having mainly copied earlier styles (mainly Neo-Classicism), and was therefore described as “non-architecture”. The Nazi designers, architects and planners were described as opportunists who were quite happy to replace modern and avant-garde architects like those active in the Bauhaus (Miller-Lane, 1985; Scobie, 1990; Taylor and van der Will, 1990).

It is therefore not surprising that the center of attention after 1945 was mainly on the styles which the Nazis had hoped to destroy, such as the Bauhaus (Wingler, 2002; Irmas, 1997). In recent decades, however, this focus has shifted to the architecture of the concentration camps and to dealing with the complex issues of preservation which have become acute in an era of Holocaust denial. Concentration camps have been a major topic of research since the end of the War. Professionals from a variety of fields have dealt with various aspects of the preservation of the concentration camps, not just because of the nature of these sites, but also because concentration camps function as “ghettoes of memory”; the fact that they were geographically separate from the places where life went on made them, paradoxically, easer to deal with (Jaskot, 2000; Katz, 2004).

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