How Hitler’s plans for Germania would have torn Berlin apart

0
How Hitler's plans for Germania would have torn Berlin apart
Germania’s Great Hall was designed by Hitler and his chief architect, Albert Speer, to be the largest covered space in the world and the centrepiece of the Third Reich’s capital / © Interphoto
How Hitler's plans for Germania would have torn Berlin apart
Germania’s Great Hall was designed by Hitler and his chief architect, Albert Speer, to be the largest covered space in the world and the centrepiece of the Third Reich’s capital / © Interphoto

Hitler’s megalomaniacal project to raze much of Berlin and transform it into his global Nazi capital killed thousands. Today, its few remnants are chilling, mundane, even graceful – and inseparable from a barbaric chapter in history

Resembling a huge, ripe, cracked brie, one of the few remnants of the Nazis’ attempts to make Berlin a world capital of the Thousand Year Reich they claimed would be “comparable only to ancient Egypt, Babylon or Rome” now sits surrounded by shabby, peach-coloured residential blocks in the south of the city.

The monstrous concrete cylinder, with a 21-metre radius and weighing the equivalent of 22 Airbus A380s, juts out of the ground more than four storeys high and descends a further 18 metres under the surface. It is a chilling symbol of what might have been, had the Nazis managed to realise their plans.

The so-called Schwerbelastungskörper, or “heavy load test structure”, was built to simulate the weight of one of the four pillars of the 120-metre high Triumphal Arch, planned for the north-south axis of Germania, and marks the spot where the north-east pillar would have stood.

“Berlin’s swampy ground was seen as a potential hindrance for such a massive structure, so the engineers of the German Society for Soil Mechanics were commissioned to check the extent to which it would have to be reinforced,” says Micha Richter, a Berlin architect and leading member of Berlin Underworlds, an association that holds tours of historic sites across – and mainly underneath – the city. “Its 12,650 tonnes of concrete were poured over seven months in 1941,” he says. French PoWs were among those deployed in its construction. […]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here