Memory and the Cityscape: The German Architectural Debate about Postmodernism

in German Politics and Society
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Few tools of Nazi propaganda were as potent or as permanent as

architecture. At the instigation of Hitler, who had once aspired to be

an architect, the Nazi regime placed unusual importance on the

design of environments—whether cities, buildings, parade grounds, or

highways—that would glorify the Third Reich and express its dynamic

relationship to both the past and the future. Architecture and urban

design were integral to the way the regime presented itself at home

and abroad. Newsreels supplemented direct personal experience of

monumental buildings. Designed to last a thousand years, these edifices

appeared to offer concrete testimony of the regime’s enduring

character. A more subtle integration of modern functions and vernacular

forms, especially in suburban housing, suggested that technological

progress could coexist with an “organic” national community

rooted in a quasi-sacred understanding of the landscape.