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Article: original content 📃 Adolf and Albert (photos and commentary)


Cyburbian Emeritus
Moderator note:

(Dan) 17 October 2009: Images now hosted in the Cyburbia Gallery. See http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showgallery.php/cat/6493

Adolf loved architecture. It was his first choice for an occupation. Because they wouldn’t accept him to study architecture, he decided to try his hand at ruling the world. They should have accepted him in architecture school.

After he got started down the road to ruling the world, Adolf could do anything he wanted--including architecture—but now that he was busy preparing to rule the world he just didn’t have the time; preparing to rule the world took all his waking hours. So he got his good buddy, Albert, who had been allowed to study architecture, to do it for him.

Adolf knew what he wanted, and Albert was pretty good at making it real; so Adolf told Albert what he wanted, and Albert would see to it that it materialized after a while. Adolf and Albert became soul brothers, united by their enthusiasm for architecture. Adolf, who was high-strung, irascible and mistrustful, mellowed out in the company of Albert. Albert was his only friend.


"Albert Speer’s life during the Third Reich can only be understood in the context of his strange relationship with Hitler. Working on this book for more than a decade showed me there were singular parallels between Hitler and Speer. Not parallels, of course, in historical significance, but parallels in psychological traits, which so decisively influenced historical events. What is to be learned about these two men should make us ponder the nature of love and the perils of emotion." --Gitta Serenyi: Albert Speer- His Battle With Truth.

They shared enthusiasms, but between them there was also the attraction of opposites. Albert was cultivated, educated, middle class, suave and good-looking. Adolf was a boor who physically resembled (nobody dared tell him)… Charlie Chaplin.

Adolf planned to do big things both before and after he ruled the world, so he liked things to be big. He liked big armies and big cars and big highways, and he told Albert he wanted big rallies and of course, big buildings in which to have the big rallies. So Albert obliged. For Nuremberg, he designed the Zeppelin Field. It was big, and it looked even bigger:




This place was either packed to brimming or eerily deserted. Either way it was mighty impressive because both ways it looked so big. It looked big partly because it was big and partly because it was cleverly styled to look even bigger than it was. It photographed well with solitary sentries standing around, so you could see how big it was and how small they were. Albert understood scale, the relative size of a thing.

All things are the size that they are, and can be measured in feet and inches; but some things appear to be bigger or smaller than the tape measure indicates. That difference is one definition of scale: the size that a thing appears to be, compared with the size that the thing actually is.

Another aspect of scale is
the relative size of the part to the whole. Generally, the larger the parts used to make the whole, the larger the whole appears to be. This is why the enormous taillights on the original Lincoln Navigator made that car look so big.

Albert understood scale and used big parts in his buildings: big blank walls, big columns, big banners, big eagles, big swastikas.





Another aspect of bigness is sheer numbers. Endless repetition is especially useful if it is done in a rigorous fashion. It hardly matters what you repeat: it can be windows, columns, arches or people. Albert was happy to repeat any of these.

Albert arranged parades and vast geometric patterns of storm troopers. He arranged his soldiers by height, in Cartesian space. His arrangements were so perfect that they generated multiple vanishing points:


Albert was working on an even bigger stadium for Adolf’s pageants, but he was told it would have to wait a few years, until after Adolf had conquered the world:




Like Adolf’s colleague Benito, Adolf and Albert must have been fascinated by the work of the painter Giorgio de Chirico. Giorgio was a kind of visionary of the bleak. He grasped solitude viscerally and squeezed it onto canvas. His paintings were mined for form, symbol and substance by the architects who worked for both great enthusiasts, Adolf and Benito:




Chirico had a small repertory of obsessions. He was fascinated by arcades and trains and bananas, towers and shadows, classical statuary and occasionally clothes dummies—you know, the kinds of things you see in dreams. But perhaps most of all, Chirico was fascinated by statues with horses, and even the wagons they came in. Through his art, he conveyed his enthusiasms to Benito, Adolf, and their architects:



Guerrini, Padula & Romano: Palazzo della Civilta Italiana, E.U.R., Rome, 1937-40

For his friend Adolf, Albert designed a little office building, and to guard the entrance, he placed outside it a horse with no rider. The rider could be found inside when he wasn’t out with the troops or on a speaking engagement.


Albert Speer: Kanzlei, a personal office building for his friend, the Leader.

For this occasion, Albert invented a new architectural Order:


His classicism was Spartan, like his friend:


Inside the building, there were plenty of corridors to explore:


And there was a courtyard that led to the inner sanctum. You just followed the eagles:


The waiting area was furnished with a desk, at which sat a secretary. It had two doorways. Follow the eagles:


Through the doorway lay an intimate little rotunda, where you could turn, for the last part of the voyage:


After that, you prepared to meet your Leader:


The Leader loved architecture and would tell Albert where to put it:


To mark his visit to Paris, he asked Albert for a nice, tall pylon with an eagle on top and a couple of statues in front. He wanted to be sure it looked big enough from eye level:


Albert was happy to oblige. He made it taller than the Arc de Triomphe:


It reminded him of some paintings he had seen:







Because he was so busy, Adolf didn’t get to travel as much as he would have liked. He tried to make an appearance at every country he conquered, but after a while there were too many, or sometimes the countries were unimportant or dangerous.

He did have a friendly rivalry with his acquaintance, Benito. They saw each other frequently, and compared notes on architecture, history, and other things.




They both staged Olympic Games, and Benito had his features put on statues of athletes:


Like Adolf, Benito was busy reviving the Roman Empire:


Benito also liked to put on shows. When Adolf went to Italy, Benito presented him with a nice surprise:


His pageant-meister was not as meticulous as Albert, however, so he got some of the letters a little wobbly.

But when it came to architecture, the Italians gave him quite a run for his money. They had more than one architect. And not only that, but their stuff was not blown up by our troops, so you can see it today:








Benito liked sculpture. When he built an Olympic stadium, he spent more money on statues than seats:


He enjoyed the support of the Church, and so he built a grand boulevard to the Vatican and lined it with light poles in the shape of obelisks. Hundreds of them:





Benito’s magnum opus was the Roman-Empire-Revival City-of-the-Future he called E.U.R., for Esposizione Universale di Roma. It was well-supplied with eagles, and is a kind of vast-scale office park, much emulated in postwar America.





Benito too liked repetition, and he liked a good axis:





Adolf and Albert: a pair of dreamers. Their heads were always in the clouds.


In his autobiography Albert Speer explained why he joined the National Socialist German Workers Party in 1932:

”Had Hitler announced, before 1933, that a few years later he would burn down synagogues, involve Germany in a war, and kill Jews and his political opponents, he would at one blow have lost me and probably most of the adherents he won after 1930.

In making this decision to join the accursed party, I had for the first time denied my own past, my upper-middle-class origins, and my previous environment. My inclination to be relieved of having to think, particularly about unpleasant facts, helped to sway the balance. In this I did not differ from millions of others.

Such mental slackness above all facilitated, established, and finally assured the success of the National Socialist system. And I thought that by paying my party dues of a few marks a month I had settled with my political obligations.”

“Mental slackness” did not extend to Albert’s work. He was supremely competent as an architect, later as coordinator of industrial production, and finally as slave driver.

The German Nazi leader Albert Speer, born March 19th 1905, died Sept. 2nd 1981, directed Germany's war production, using slave labor, during World War II. Speer, who joined the National Socialist party in 1931, became Adolf Hitler's architect, designing the Nuremberg stadium and other Nazi monuments. He was made minister of armaments in 1942 and expanded his planning responsibilities over most of Germany's wartime industry in 1943. In 1946 he was sentenced to 20 years in Spandau prison by the Nuremberg tribunal. After serving his sentence, he published the autobiographical Inside the Third Reich (1970) and Spandau: The Secret Diaries (1976).
Albert Speer studied at the technical schools in Karlsruhe, Munich, and Berlin, and acquired an architectural license in 1927. After hearing Hitler speak at a Berlin rally in late 1930, he enthusiastically joined the Nazi Party January 1931 and so impressed the Führer by his efficiency and talent that, soon after Hitler became chancellor, Speer became his personal architect.
He was rewarded with many important commissions, including the design of the parade grounds, searchlights, and banners of the spectacular Nürnberg party congress of 1934, filmed by Leni Riefenstahl in Triumph of the Will.
A highly efficient organizer, Speer became 1942 minister for armaments, succeeding the engineer Fritz Todt. In 1943 he also took over part of Hermann Goering's responsibilities as planner of the German war economy. From Todt, Speer inherited the Organisation Todt, an organization using forced labor for the construction of strategic roads and defenses.

Under Albert Speer's direction, economic production reached its peak in 1944, despite Allied bombardment. In the last months of the war Speer did much to thwart Hitler's scorched-earth policy, which would have devastated Germany.

Speer was jailed in 1946 for 20 years in the post-war Nuremberg trials. After his release he wrote his memoirs, grew wealthy, and until his death in 1981 worked hard at being a penitent, presenting himself as someone who should have known what was being done, but did not know. Albert Speer offered himself as the scapegoat for Germany's collective guilt.


Albert grew wealthy. You can't keep a good man down.
On the stand at Nuremberg Albert Speer stood out among the accused as the one "good Nazi.”


Like his friend Adolf, Albert didn’t get to do everything that he had planned. After a while, things started to go horribly wrong. Funds were diverted from some of Albert’s most cherished projects.
He never got to see the Grosse Platz. It would have held half the population of Metropolis:


It was as big outside as in. The whole thing was positively Roman in conception:


So, naturally, there were eagles wherever you looked:



Albert’s stripped classicism and mechanical repetition seems to have impressed the people who ran the New Deal, so they adopted a kind of watered-down version of Albert’s style:


Interior Department, Washington

Even Albert’s flair for pageantry appealed in the U.S., though here it came out a little raggedy:




La Guardia Airport Dedication

The stripped classicism, big building parts and blank walls also found their way to our shores, along with Albert’s sense of gravitas and the timeless:



San Diego County Building


Illinois State Archive


Rundel Memorial Library, Rochester


Courthouse, Tennessee


Springfield Armory


Gainesville Courthouse



Benito seems to have liked architecture as much as Adolf, but most of Benito’s peccadilloes were left standing after the war, so we can admire them today:







This is also true of General Franco’s contributions to the style:



Make ‘em feel small.


And smaller still.

In the U.S., interest in these concepts has sputtered along into the present, depending on the taste of various patrons. Nelson Rockefeller was obviously interested when he commissioned the Albany Mall. Evidently there is a powerful government in Albany:


For a time it was considered unseemly to even mention the architecture that emanated from Adolf and Benito’s circles. Guilt by association relegated their architects to the role of non-persons, and nobody wanted to entertain the notion that some of these guys were actually pretty competent architects.

Michael Graves was one of the first to revive elements of the style of these old masters. He really admired E.U.R., and emulated it in Portland and later Louisville:




Louisville. The big man appears from time to time on the balcony, to receive the adulation of the masses.

But no architects in America have built such a career making the government seem big (and the onlooker small) as Kallmann and McKinnell. When they won the Boston City Hall competition in the early sixties, the style du jour was brutalism, but the spirit was textbook Albert Speer:


Kallmann and McKinnell have been around long enough to change the surface manifestations of their style, if not its substance. Now that the specifics of stripped classicism have been rehabilitated, Kallmann and McKinnell’s architectural predilections are free to emerge from the closet:


Courthouse, Boston, 1990’s.

Albert would be proud.

Make ‘em feel small and vulnerable faced with the power of government: two stylistic takes on the same theme, neo-fascist at left (Kallmann and McKinnell) and brutalist at right (Paul Rudolph’s Social Services Building, Boston, 1960’s).


The beaux-arts-revival light standards provide some unintended hilarity. (Even more so, with the parking signs).

Finally, there is Leon Krier.

Accused of fascist architectural tendencies in his drawings, Krier always countered that he was just drawing generic, nonspecific buildings and he could hardly help it if they looked like Speer’s:


Since then, the guru of New Urbanism has shown his hand; he is the author of the definitive monograph on the architecture of Albert Speer:


Krier’s built architecture also shows Albert’s influence, and that of the painter they all admired:










He even got the colors right.


Giorgio de Chirico


The Triumph of the Will
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el Guapo

Well Done.

Fascinating; truly a wonderful picture show you have given us. I must thank you for taking the time to post and share. That could not have been an easy show to put together. Was it part of a school assignment? Have you toured the areas yourself?

Could we look forward to a similar commentary/show on Soviet or Stalinist era architecture? I find that style equally fascinating. Especially New Soviet Man art.

I have been to a few of the offending locations while a child and later as adult while in the military. I had forgotten what the platz at Nuremburg looked like. I have not seen some of those views since I was just kid.

Thanks again.


Truly you are an artist of the slideshow post. Thanks for sharing an insightful look into the architecture and the stories behind the structures.


Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Great Theme, Great Post

I spent an afternoon in EUR, the fascist built suburb of Rome you speak of.

I was there on a tour with an architecture professor as I was studying aboard in Florence that summer. I thought it was fascinating. I actually went there instead of going to the Vatican! And (not so) suprisingly, there were no tourists.

I loved the stripped-down, almost abstracted, use of arches and limestone of the Palazzo della Civilta Italiana in EUR.

As for Speer and his architectural vision, I actually like his designs. I like the stripped-down classicism, so long as it doesn't venture in to the abstract. One thing is that this type of monumentalism should only be used very seldom in a place. It's not very human scaled.

Although, many of the elements of this design language (excluding the monumentalism) could easily be applied to create very graceful and humane buildings. A nice dab of this style here and there throughout a cityscape would be (and is) very nice.

here is one US building of comparison you left out:

Chicago's old Main Post Office
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Cyburbian Emeritus
mendelman, I agree with all your observations.

"A nice dab of this style here and there throughout a cityscape would be (and is) very nice." As you know, this is exactly what you find in Italy. The style is all at once classical, modern and urban.


Cyburbian Emeritus
Adolf and Albert Completed

I posted this on another forum, and it was pointed out that the post was incomplete. The person who pointed this out also completed the post for me. I apologize for my tunnel vision.

Here is the rest of the post, as completed by RobotMaster 104:

And did you know that Auschwitz was also a very impressive architectural achievement? Yeah, it's true. In fact, the slots where Zyklon B was slid to gas those selected for extermination, were alligned perfectly in cartesian space to create many vanishing points. Fantastic visual feat. Yep, mhmm. And those endless rows of open-aired living quarters packed to the gills with victims. How Spartan! Also, getting the Stormtroopers to burst through the front doors of the homes of Polish Jews all in unison was a task so large it could only be classified as Roman.

I have an idea! Let's compliment the Nazis! What architectual geniuses worthy of conversation!

My how we forget.

The way I saw it, you were taking an objective look at the architectural style of the Nazis. They built everything big, they built everything grand, and your pictures showed this.

Well, ablarc,









Grand scale, endless repetition, undertakings so large that they are simply Roman in proportion. Why, the mausoleum in the last image contains the ashes of 100,000 people. Impressive, no?

You are telling us to forget everything associated with the buildings altogether, and just focus on the structures themselves. Forget, for a moment, why the men who built them built them in the first place, forget the ideas that thrived in them and just look at these damn buildings.


It doesn't work like that.

Maybe you're too caught up in aesthetically examining a structure to care about its underlying purpose and concept (yet I realize that these things must have crossed your mind). Maybe that's why you didn't include any pictures of that enormous mausoleum in your post. Because then the hate, the destruction, the madness, would be too overt to allow for any kind of "fair" analysis of the actual structure. You simply cannot try to separate something, a building, a work of art, a person, anything, from the ideas that it represents. Is it safe for a tailor to point out that Hitler really was a snappy dresser? Who cares?! He was still Hitler.

Perhaps you also think it's a shame that the Allies didn't preserve these structures as they saved the world.

While you ooh and aah over the architectural grandeur of Nazi Germany and leisurely examine its themes and influences while purposefully ignoring the obvious, I am the ignorant one for my little "ahem...". You forget because it's convenient. I remember because I cannot forget.

[Can you] picture saying them 60 years ago (though I wouldn't be born for a couple decades), while half of my family was being killed by the Nazis on the battlefield, while the other half was being killed by them in the camps?[/QUOTE]


I, too, lost family in WW2. Still, I see your post for what it is, a comment on the architecture of the time, closely associated with a despicable regime. As Mendelman points out, we have buildings of a similar style in the U.S.

I don't think it is problematic to look at architecture and to ask whether it has the power to be evocative. That really was a part of the symbolism of the Nazi regime and one of several reasons why otherwise good people were duped into supporting it. Architecture does speak, whether it is sooth, inspire, or confuse. Its power, like any other, may be used for good or bad. That, at least, is worth discussing.


ah thank you.. i found this thread a matter of hours ago.. and was getting all irritated i could see nothing. perfect timing!


Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator note:

Updated message with working image locations. Thanks, ablarc!


I still can't get the follow-up post to give anything except the dreaded little x's. No matter, Ablarc, as usual your post is both beautiful and informative. The Nazi world was not all bad, but for the whole hitler thing, the educated people of Germany were and are good people. With the charismatic leader in front, almost any civilization can be led astray with horrific results. May the memory never die, both of the horors and the beauty.


I saw the Movie Downfall last week. It is a German language feature film made in a documentary style depicting the last ten days in Hitler's bunker, as told through the diaries of Hitler's secretary. I mention it only because it features Speer and some of the interplay between Hitler and Speer is consistent with ablarc's suppositions. Speer's role is relatively minor and concentrated towards the start of the film. It is a rivetting film BTW - not entertainment by any means and the characterisation of the Goebbels family kept me awake the night after watching it.
Rem said:
I saw the Movie Downfall last week. It is a German language feature film made in a documentary style depicting the last ten days in Hitler's bunker, as told through the diaries of Hitler's secretary. I mention it only because it features Speer and some of the interplay between Hitler and Speer is consistent with ablarc's suppositions. Speer's role is relatively minor and concentrated towards the start of the film. It is a rivetting film BTW - not entertainment by any means and the characterisation of the Goebbels family kept me awake the night after watching it.

You mean Der Untergang? :p The German fellows at my buddies film school had no idea what Downfall was when we asked them about it. Eventually we thought to mention Der Untergang and then they wouldn't stop talking.


^-- Heh. As usual the English name of a foreign film is better than the original. Most French films start out with an absurdly long name in French and end up with a clever little title in English.


Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator note:

The images in this thread are now hosted in the Cyburbia Gallery. See http://www.cyburbia.org/gallery/showgallery.php/cat/6493.

This thread is going to suck up a lot of bandwidth in the future, but given that Ablarc has been hosting the images in the past to our benefit, it's our turn to host them now.