German Architecture-  top ten Nazi architecture

Deutsches Stadion Nuremburg (unrealised).


Albert Speer


Nuremburg Party Rally Grounds, Nuremburg, Germany.




Fascist Stripped Classical (German)


pink granite


  What it was meant to look like.
Deutsches Stadion was designed by Albert Speer for the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg and according to Speer himself, inspired not by the Circus Maximus but by the Panathenaic Stadium, which had impressed him so much when he visited Athens in 1935 (Speer, Erinnerungen, 75).

Speer's stadium was a gigantic inflation of its Greco-Roman model, from which he borrowed the horseshoe configuration and the propylaeum, now transformed into a raised, pillared, temple-like structure (Gr Säulenvorhof) attached to the open end of the stadium by an internally pillared courtyard (Krier, Albert Speer, 176-185). Since the stadium was not set like the Panathenaic Stadium structure at the bottom of a gully, but on a flat area of land (24 hectares), its five tiers of seats for 400,000 spectators had to be supported in the usual Roman manner by massive barrel vaults. The external façade of pink granite blocks, which would have risen to a height of about 90 metres (about 100 yards), consisted of a series of arches 65 metres (about 71 yards) high resting on a podium of dark red granite. The arcade and podium again suggests a Roman, not a Greek, circus or stadium, which did not traditionally rest on a substructure. In order to deliver such a vast number of spectators to their sets quickly, express lifts were to be installed to take spectators 100 at a time to seats on the top three tiers (Speer, Architektur, 18). The short transverse axis of the stadium culminated at each of its ends in a raised pulvinar (Gr Ehrentribüne) for the Führer, special guests and the press. Once more, Roman practice provided the architectural precedent (Scobie 78).

Speer apparently adopted a horseshoe shape for his building only after rejecting the oval shape of an amphitheatre. The latter plan, he claimed, would have intensified the heat and produced psychological discomfort, a comment he does not elucidate. When Speer remarked on the staggering cost of the building, Hitler, who laid its cornerstone on September 9, 1937, merely retorted that it would cost less than two battleships of the Bismarck class (Speer, Erinnerungen, 8).

Wolfgang Lotz, writing about the stadium in 1937, commented that it would contain twice the number of spectators originally accommodated by the Circus Maximus. Inevitably for the period, he also emphasized the community feeling that such a building would engender between competitors and spectators:

"As in ancient Greece, the elite and most experienced men chosen from the mass of the nation will compete against each other here. An entire nation in sympathetic wonder is seated on the tiers. Spectators and competitors merge in one unity" (Lotz 491-492).
The idea of staging Pan-Germanic athletic games here was perhaps suggested by the Panathenaic Games, but Speer's stadium was stylistically more Roman than Greek in inspiration and with its huge barrel-vaulted substructures and arcaded exterior facade, more like the Circus Maximus than the Panathenaic Stadium. Once more the Nazi building exhibits a mixture of Greek and Roman elements, with Roman predominating (Scobie 80).

But Hitler did not want such a stadium to serve merely as a centre for German athletic sport. The restored stadium had been used for the Olympic Games in 1896 and the extra Olympic games of 1906 held out of series (Verspohl 163). In 1936 these games were held in the Reichssportfeld in Berlin, but Hitler insisted that after 1940, when the games were to have been held in Tokyo, all future games were to be held in the Deutsche Stadion (Speer, Erinnerungen, 84) (Thies, Weltherrschaft, 91). This stadium was in all its dimensions far larger than the 1936 Olympic Stadium in Berlin, which held only 115,000 spectators (Lotz 493). It is clear that Hitler anticipated that after winning the war a subjected world would have no choice but to send its athletes to Germany every time the Olympic Games were held. Pan-German games were to become global games at which, no doubt, victors would have received their prizes from the Führer, surrounded by the party faithful on the pulvinar on the short axis of the cavernous stadium. Thus, this building, like the Volkshalle in Berlin foreshadowed Hitler's craving for world domination long before this aim was put into words (Scobie 80).

Krier, Leon. Albert Speer Architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1989. ISBN 2-87143-006-3.

Lotz, Wolfgang. Das Deutsche Stadion Für Nürnberg 'Moderne Bauformen' . 1937.

Scobie, Alexander. Hitler's State Architecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1990. ISBN 0-271-00691-9.

Speer, Albert. Architektur. Arbeiten 1933-1942. Berlin: Propyläen, 1995. ISBN 3-549-05446-7.

Speer, Albert. Erinnerungen. Ullstein Buchverlage GmbH & Co. KG, 1996. ISBN 3-550-07616-9.

Thies, Jochen. Architekt der Weltherrschaft. Die Endziele Hitlers. 1982. ISBN 3-7700-0425-6.

Verspohl, Franz Joachim. Stadionbauten Von Der Antike Bis Zur Gegenwart: Regie U. Selbsterfahrung D. Massen, 1st Edition (Illustrated). Anabas-Verlag, 1976. ISBN 3-87038-043-8.