German Architecture-  top ten Nazi architecture

Flak Towers (Flakturm).




Germany, Austria.


late 1930s




reinforced concrete


large anti-aircraft gun blockhouses and air raid shelters

One of six Flak towers built during World War II in Vienna.

One of six Flak towers built during World War II in Vienna.

Flak towers (German: Flaktürme) were large anti-aircraft gun blockhouses used by the Luftwaffe to prevent overflights of key areas in certain cities in World War II. They also served as air-raid shelters for tens of thousands of people and to coordinate air defence. With concrete walls up to 3.5 metres thick, these towers were considered to be invulnerable to attack with the usual ordnance carried by Allied bombers, though it is unlikely that they would have withstood Grand Slam bombs which successfully penetrated much thicker reinforced concrete. Aircraft generally appeared to have avoided the flak towers.

The Soviets, in assaulting Berlin, found it hard to make an impression on the Flak towers, even with some of the largest Soviet assault guns, the 203 mm howitzers. Soviet forces generally manoeuvered around them, and eventually sent in envoys to seek their submission. Unlike the rest of Berlin, the towers tended to be stocked with ammunition, and used their anti-aircraft 20 mm cannons to attack ground units. The Zoo Tower was one of the last points of defence, with German armoured units rallying near it at Tiergarten, before trying to break out of the encircling Soviet Red Army.

The towers, during the fall of Berlin, formed their own communities. Being some of the safest places in the fought-over city, they were usually crammed with civilians, eventually forcing them to capitulate as supplies ran out.

For a time after the war, the conversion to representative objects with decorated facades was planned. After the war was lost, the demolition of the towers was in most cases unfeasible and many remain to this day.

Flak Tower generations
Each Flak tower complex consisted of a G-Tower (German: Gefecht Turm) or Combat Tower, also known as the Gun Tower, Battery Tower or Large Flak Tower, and a L-Tower (German: Leit Turm) or Lead Tower also known as the Fire-control tower, command tower, listening bunker or small flak tower.

The three generations of G tower.

Generation 1
G-Towers were 70.5 × 70.5 × 39 m, usually armed with eight (four twin) 128 mm guns and numerous 37 mm and thirty-two (eight quad) 20 mm guns.
L-Towers were 50 × 23 × 39 m, usually armed with sixteen (four quad) 20 mm guns.
Generation 2
G-Towers were 57 × 57 × 41.6 m, usually armed with eight (four twin) 128 mm guns and sixteen (four quad) 20 mm guns.
L-Towers were 50 × 23 × 44 m, usually armed with forty (ten quad) 20 mm guns.
Generation 3
G-Towers were 43 × 43 × 54 m, usually armed with eight (four twin) 128 mm guns and thirty-two (eight quad) 20 mm guns.
The evaluation of even larger Battery Towers was commissioned by Adolf Hitler. These would have been three times the size and firepower of Flak towers.

Built towers

Zoo Tower, Berlin, after the battle

Flakturm II G-Tower Friedrichshain, Berlin

Flakturm IV G-Tower - Heiligengeistfeld, Hamburg

Flakturm V G-Tower - Wilhelmsburg, Hamburg

Flakturm VI G-Tower- Stiftskaserne, Vienna

Flakturm VI L-Tower- Esterhazypark, Vienna

View from the climbing wall

Flakturm VII G-tower- Augarten, Vienna

Flakturm VIII G-tower - Arenberg Park, Vienna

Flakturm VIII L-tower - Arenberg Park, Vienna

Flak Guns
37mm Flak 43
2 cm Gebirgsflak 38
12.8 cm Flak 40

Bunkers in Hamburg
These exist in large numbers in all German cities. They are often traditional looking or neo-classical in design.

Further reading
Foedrowitz, Michael. (1998). The Flak Towers in Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna 1940-1950. Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-7643-0398-8
Ute Bauer "Die Wiener Flakturme im Spiegel Oesterreichischer Erinnerungskultur", Phoibos Verlag, Wien 2003. ISBN 3-901232-42-7
Penthouse Bunker With Pool

Bunker living

Something caught my eye this morning whilst cycling past the bunker on Reinhardt Straße. Not the fact that a penthouse apartment is being built on its top floor – hardly worth mentioning – but something more subtle.

The light was good. The low-angled winter sun must have been just at the right inclination, for there, projected onto the ceiling of the bunker’s new room with a view, was a distinct watery ripple. Yes, it all makes sense. If you can buy a bunker, then you can afford a pool. And obviously, you’re going to build the pool into the only part of the bunker which sees any daylight: the roof.

And because you’re a bunker-buying, roof-pool kind of metropolitain studmuffin, then you’re not going to be satisfied with calling your pool a pool. You’re going to insist upon terms like ‘wellness suite’, or ‘health spa’.

Wellness suite with a view, bunker styling

The studmuffin in question is Christian Boros – in advertising, art collector – who fell in love with the bunker – built in 1941 by Hitler – and bought it with the intention of living in it, bathing in it, and displaying his art collection in it, which includes works by Wolfgang Tillmans, Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst.

The bunker has, sensibly, 2.6 meter thick walls and is therefore indistructable. Attempts to destroy it at the end of WWII failed because, according to The Age, there wasn’t enough dynamite left in the city to get rid of it. I suspect that the amount of TNT you’d need to reduce the structure to rubble would also be enough to vaporise the whole of Mitte and parts of Tiergarten at the same time.

According to a colleague of mine, in East Germany the building was used to store butter in.

Thanks to