Roderich Fick

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Roderich Fick (born November 16, 1886 in Würzburg , † July 13, 1955 in Munich ) was a German architect and professor at the Technical University of Munich , whose work was determined by traditional and regional building forms. At the time of National Socialism , he had a steep career and was one of Adolf Hitler's initial favorite architects , who was strongly attracted by Fick's typical regional conservative architectural style and the associated rejection of standardized universal building forms.


Origin, school and studies

Roderich Fick was born on November 16, 1886 as the second child of the ophthalmologist Adolf Gaston Eugen Fick and his wife Marie Katharina, nee. Wislicenus, born in Würzburg. His father studied medicine there and trained in ophthalmology in Wroclaw . In 1879 he had emigrated to South Africa and ran a general medical practice in Richmond . A longer home leave gave him the opportunity to meet Marie Wislicenus, the daughter of the professor of chemistry Johannes Wislicenus in Zurich. The resulting friendship finally led to marriage in Würzburg in 1884. After another two years in South Africa, both of them returned to Europe for good with their daughter Hildegard, who was born in Richmond in 1885. In the year after Roderich's birth, Adolf Fick and his family moved from Würzburg to Zurich in 1887 to work as a private lecturer in ophthalmology at the university there.

The maternal line of Marie Wislicenus, born on July 26, 1863 in Zurich, goes back to the Sattler-Geiger family in Schweinfurt . Roderich's mother had a number of artists in the ancestors of her further relatives, such as the painters Hermann Wislicenus , Conrad Geiger and Johann Ernst Sattler . She also brought artistic talents with her, some of which she passed on to her children. Roderich also showed a striking talent for drawing and music at an early stage, which was encouraged and supported in his art-loving parents' house. However, his mother also characterized him as a “eccentric” with a penchant for being a “single horse”.

In addition to his brother Roland, Fick had five sisters, of whom Hildegard, the oldest, died of diphtheria in 1890 .

Fick attended the humanistic grammar school in Zurich and in 1903, due to poor academic performance, transferred to the industrial school there (upper secondary school). In 1904 he visited his maternal relatives in Florence on a trip to Italy with the Sattler family . After graduating from high school in the fall of 1906, Fick did his military service in Karlsruhe as a one-year volunteer . Although he hated the military drill and only found riding to be a gain, he continued to do short training exercises during his studies, so that in 1911 he was appointed reserve officer .

His decision to study architecture was probably a compromise between his penchant for artistic drawing and sculpture and his father's ideas of a lucrative, solid profession, as Fick later noted in his diary. In autumn 1907 he began studying architecture at the Technical University in Munich. In the winter semester of 1907/08 he learned from Alfred Friedrich Bluntschli in the architecture department of the Polytechnic in Zurich, where he worked in the office of the architect Alexander von Senger from summer 1909 . For the summer semester of 1910, he moved to the engineering department of the Dresden University of Technology . Here he also attended lectures on astronomy and geodesy . Fick followed the advice of Theodor Fischer , who had taught as a professor of architecture at the Technical University of Munich since 1909, to forego final exams and diploma theses in favor of an immediate practical start. In the autumn of 1910, he therefore returned to Zurich to work as a freelance architect.

Professional beginnings

One of the first orders was to build a boathouse with a garden in Rüschlikon . Since he felt underutilized as an architect, he experimented at the suggestion of his uncle Johannes Wislicenus in his own workshop with the development of an "automatically measuring pressure and suction pump". Its construction was finally presented at the International Hygiene Exhibition in Dresden in 1911 .

Greenland expedition

The participants of the Swiss Greenland Expedition in 1912
The participants of the Swiss Greenland Expedition

In the summer semester of 1911, Fick again attended lectures on chemistry , geology , meteorology , astronomy and airship travel with a view to realizing an early childhood dream: participating in an Arctic expedition.

As early as autumn 1911, he and a friend managed to qualify as a participant in a Swiss expedition to cross Greenland led by Alfred de Quervain . From mid-June to the end of July 1912, the Swiss researchers crossed Greenland from west ( Ilulissat ) to east ( Ammassalik ) as the second expedition after that of Fridtjof Nansen in 1888 . Ficks task consisted in the geographic location and cartographic surveying work. Nonetheless, Fick counted this not directly job-related achievement to be one of his most important.

The Swiss Greenland Expedition on their way home in Copenhagen
The Swiss Greenland Expedition on their way home in Copenhagen

Around a hundred years after Fick, his grandson, Spiegel editor Stephan Orth (* 1979), repeated his grandfather's historic expedition.

Colonial service in Cameroon

After returning to Zurich, he continued to find it difficult to get commissions as an architect. A planned employment in an architecture office did not materialize either. Fick was therefore forced to return to various manual activities in his workshop. The span of his experiments ranged from violin to glider construction. However, since these experiments could not represent an alternative to securing a living either, he decided to enter the colonial service. Before that, he went on a study trip to Italy in the spring of 1914 and worked briefly in the office of the architects Helmuth Griesebach and Georg Steinmetz in Berlin.

Fick became engaged to the 17-year-old Marie Günther from Dresden and then went to the German colony of Cameroon in June 1914 . There he was employed as an engineer and head of the civil engineering department of the Douala District Office . The outbreak of World War I shortly afterwards abruptly ended his colonial service, which had been scheduled for 1½ years. As a lieutenant in the reserve, he was drafted into the German protection force of Cameroon. The numerically and materially inferior protection force was able to hold out in Cameroon for another two years. The majority of the troops then crossed the border to the neighboring Spanish Muni area at the beginning of February 1916, today: Mbini and were interned at Fernando Póo or in Spain. Fick came to a warehouse near Pamplona . Here he used his time to play the violin and ride a horse. For the Spanish municipality of Burlada he made designs for an electricity plant. A reconstruction of the Puente la Reina monastery in the province of Navarra , designed by him, was partially realized.

His brother Roland was badly wounded in the Battle of Tahura and died on July 9, 1916 in a French hospital; a loss that hit him very painfully.

New beginning in Herrsching

Fick was only able to return to his parents in October 1919. Shortly after the outbreak of war, they moved to Schonungen in Mainfranken , where they spent the war time in an estate belonging to the relatives of Fuck's mother, while his father was employed as a medical councilor in France and did not return home until August 1919. Fick married his fiancée here on December 27, 1919 and tried to find a new center for his professional development. In the spring of 1920 he acquired the so-called old mill in Herrsching-Mühlfeld and moved with his family into the expanded and renovated property in July of the same year. Together with his partner Rudolf Menzel, whom he knew from their internship in Spain, he ran an architecture office as well as a boatyard and from 1922 onwards increasingly devoted himself to building gliders . In cooperation with the Academic Aviation Group (“ Akaflieg Munich ”) established at the Technical University of Munich, Fick developed a glider that could be launched from the water (“ Vogel Roch ”). In 1926 he then leased his company.

Career as an architect

As an architect, he received his first major building contract for the sculptor Ernesto de Fiori with the design for a residential building in the Lochschwab district of Herrsching . Already at the planning stage, he proved to be an ambitious architect with a keen sense for detailed craftsmanship. However, the order situation remained only moderate. Another larger project was the construction of a new cemetery with a morgue in Herrsching in 1926. The high-quality, detailed and strikingly richly illustrated design representations made Fick increasingly famous. In 1928 he took part in a tender for a building for the League of Nations in Geneva. In the same year he designed a house in Schweinfurt (Dr. G. Graetz, Am Löhlein 4, today a listed building). The first overall appraisal of his previous work appeared in the magazine “Der Baumeister” in 1928. Finally, he received a large order for the construction of a new indoor swimming pool for the city of Schweinfurt, the city to which he still had family ties and in which his brother-in-law Heinrich Zierl was senior building officer. For the bathroom, named after the founder, the industrialist Ernst Sachs , and built between 1931 and 1933, Fick made plan drawings down to the last detail, so that everything from the doors, windows and furniture to the light fittings and fittings was coordinated and bears his signature.

Architect in the Nazi state

In 1933, after building settlements in the Munich districts of Berg am Laim and Friedenheim , Fick began designing his first major building contract in Munich. The German Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians entrusted him with the construction of a "House of German Doctors" in Brienner Strasse . The realization of this simple hipped roof building, completed in 1935, with a strict window structure and a round arched portal emphasizing the entrance with a classical gable roofing, promoted Ficks further career. The building erected in the immediate vicinity of the “ Brown House ” and the party's under construction in Meiserstrasse and Arcisstrasse caught the attention of Hitler, who was impressed by the architecture and Fick came to him after the opening ceremony on November 3, 1935 ordered to the “Brown House”. Fick not only received approval for his building design, but also received an offer to plan a settlement for the leadership staff in Munich-Pullach and for buildings on the Obersalzberg.

Fick came from a nationally conservative family. Whether his entry into the German colonial service was motivated by the Pan-German ideas for which his father wanted him to appear seems doubtful. The experience of the First World War with subsequent three years of internment and the death of his younger brother as a soldier did not lead to any party political involvement. The contract to build for the new rulers in Germany came as a complete surprise, as Fick stated in the court proceedings on February 23, 1948:

“I saw Hitler for the first time when the medical center was opened. He now thought he had found the architect. Reichsleiter Bormann ordered me into the brown house and asked me to take over the matter in Pullach. I was introduced to the Fiihrer at the opening of the medical center. He was so enthusiastic that I got the job in Pullach. "

With the order in Pullach , which he received from Hitler's later secretary and then chief of staff of the "Deputy Leader" Martin Bormann , the planning and implementation of the imperial settlement "Rudolf Hess" on a 68 hectare area in Munich-Pullach was meant separate housing estate for the party elite should serve.

In 1936 he was appointed full professor for the design of buildings in the Faculty of Construction at the Munich Technical University ; to the chair that Robert Vorhoelzer had previously held. From 1933 onwards, political suitability was an additional selection criterion for professorships, especially for the building faculties. So Fick must have been considered suitable in terms of political expectations, even though he was not yet a party member at the time. He later justified his subsequent entry into the NSDAP in 1937 by saying that he would have had the feeling of committing an act of rudeness if he appeared in his assignments on Obersalzberg and was not part of the party.

At the same time as he was appointed professor, he received his first orders from Hitler for the development of the Obersalzberg . To this end, Fick explained in the meeting of the chamber of justice on October 15, 1946 that he had initially defended himself when Bormann wanted him to take over the buildings on the Obersalzberg. After about six weeks he was ordered back to Obersalzberg, where Bormann had told him that Hitler had irrevocably decided so. So he would have agreed to take over the buildings.

Over the next few years, Fick was the busiest architect on Obersalzberg. His construction projects ranged from the Villa Bormann, the Hotel "Platterhof" (interior fittings and furniture: Professor Heinrich Michaelis), the tea house on Mooslahnerkopf , the Kehlsteinhaus , the SS barracks and the permanent workers' settlement to the necessary infrastructure. After all, Fick was one of the most important representatives of architecture under National Socialism and was on the so-called Gottbegnadeten list (leader list). In Munich he had an apartment on the 2nd floor at Brienner Strasse 3.

There was already between Bormann, who saw the establishment of the political power center on Obersalzberg and the corresponding representative and private buildings as his work from the start, and Fick, who was appointed a full professor for life as a civil servant on June 14, 1940 At the beginning tensions that ultimately led to the rift and his resignation in 1940. Fick was able to continue his career without a break, however, after he had already been appointed "Reichsbaurat für the city Linz an der Donau" on March 25, 1939. In this function he was directly subordinate to Hitler. The “ Führerstadt Linz ” was one of the five “ Führer Cities ” of the Greater German Empire at that time, called the “ Fuhrer's godfather ”, whose architecturally representative expansion should have absolute priority. With the task of developing Linz into a European cultural center between Munich and Vienna, Hitler commissioned Fick and prominent architects from the Reich such as Albert Speer , Hermann Giesler , Leonhard Gall , Wilhelm Kreis , Oswald Bieber and others. a. Fick continued the urban planning concept of the Linz City Building Office and gave it its final form and legally binding effect as a general development plan from March 1943. The aim of this planning was to enlarge the city for a quadrupled population with representative developed city centers. Of the major Fick projects, however, only the bridgehead buildings on the city side in connection with the new Nibelungen Bridge , the Hotel “Donauhof” and the waterways office were implemented in the years 1939 to 1941.

Here in Linz, too, Fick had competence disputes with the city, Gauleiter August Eigruber and the "General Building Council for the Capital of the Movement Munich", Hermann Giesler. After disputes with Bormann, Giesler was put at his side, who from the end of 1941 received the planning for all planned monumental buildings and the planning of the axes. Ultimately, Hitler, who was disappointed by Ficks' rather reserved neo-baroque architectural setting for the right bank of the Danube, left him only to design the city center from 1943 onwards. However, he kept his office and worked until the end of the war both in his Linz planning office and in his Munich chair. For Linz he worked on an emergency and reconstruction program for bomb damage. In an affidavit, an architect at the Linz City Planning Department and Ficks employee summarized the reasons for Ficks' ultimate failure in Linz as follows:

“Politically, Professor Fick was seen as an outsider. The fact that he only joined the NSDAP late, and Bormann's generally known, almost hostile attitude towards him, strengthened this hostility. Not only politically but also artistically accusations were made against Professor Fick. In particular the accusation that his plans lack National Socialist forms of expression. The bustle against Professor Fick went so far that his influence within his area of ​​responsibility in Linz was practically eliminated. In particular, because of his connection with Bormann, Professor Giesler knew how to turn off Professor Fick. "

After the war

Fick experienced the end of the war in Munich . On September 13, 1945, his employer temporarily suspended him from his position as professor at the Technical University of Munich. On September 14, 1946, due to the law for the liberation from National Socialism and militarism, a lawsuit was brought before the Spruchkammer X Munich against Fick with the request to classify him in group II of the burdened ("beneficiaries"). The reason given was that Fick was a member of various Nazi organizations. As a Reich building adviser and an architect closely related to Hitler, he was a beneficiary of the National Socialist tyranny, especially in financial terms. On October 21, 1946, the Spruchkammer classified him as “less burdened” in Group III and sentenced him to a loss of 50% and to perform “special work in the service of the reconstruction of the city of Munich within the scope of his professional skills”. The revision judgment of the Starnberg Appeals Chamber on February 24, 1948 finally ended with his classification as a “fellow traveler” of Group IV and the obligation to pay a monetary atonement of 1500 RM in the reparation fund. Based on the arguments and evidence put forward, the judges came to the conclusion that Fick was neither a politically corrupt architect nor - contrary to the applicable fee schedule - had raised excessive fees. Rather, his professional career had been significantly hindered by the hostility of Bormann and Giesler. A return to employment at the Technical University of Munich was not successful even after this judgment. On February 17, 1949, Fick was reinstated as a full professor, but at the same time he was retired.

After his first wife had died on October 2, 1938, Fick married Catharina Büscher, 28 years younger than him, in autumn 1948, who had studied with him. Together with her he continued to work as an architect. In 1947, for example, he designed the plan for the reconstruction of the Augsburg town hall . A year later, the CH Beck publishing house in Munich was one of his orders. His last major work was the planning of the Jochenstein power station near Passau and the Protestant church in Herrsching . In 1954 he retired . He did not live to see the decision on an application from December 1954 to be awarded the academic status of emeritus from the Technical University of Munich.

Roderich Fick died on July 13, 1955 at the age of 69 in Herrsching, his adopted home. His wife Fick-Büscher completed his work and worked as an architect in his favor until the 1970s. The daughter Friederike, born in 1950, married Orth, did not follow in her parents' footsteps, but became a musician .

Roderich Ficks estate is in the architecture museum of the Technical University of Munich .


In over 35 years, Roderich Fick has created an extensive work in southern Germany. The reduction of his work to the ten years in the Third Reich represents an inadmissible shortening of his performance, paints a crooked picture of him and contributed significantly to his largely oblivion. Rather, an overall view leads to the realization that Fick was one of the most important architects in the Nazi era, but not one of the architects of National Socialism.

Fick developed an independent understanding of architecture very early on, which was shaped by his mentor Theodor Fischer and his work in the offices of Alexander von Senger (Zurich) and Georg Steinmetz (Berlin). Based on the rejection of modernity, represented by the representatives of the New Building , whose standardized uniform architecture without any location or regional reference he completely opposed, Fick committed himself to an architecture determined by traditional regional building forms. The urban classification, the consideration of the defining local conditions and the craftsmanship down to the last details characterize his structural intent. With the New Building he had in common the rejection of an eclectic historicism , but not an architectural attitude without reference to the location and the renunciation of individual solutions in favor of exclusively functionally determined standard solutions. As early as June 29, 1918 he noted in his diary:

“I often get annoyed with Muthesius , who keeps claiming that our architecture today must be given completely new, traditional forms in order to express the spirit of the new era. If we had to have a new style every generation, which would then be solely valid and everything that was past invalid, we would have to destroy everything that is over 50 years old on objects and buildings [...] Get away from me with the expressions of the zeitgeist! It expresses itself quite naturally, even in industry. That’s why the house doesn’t have to take on such pathetic shapes and be made of such mean materials. ... ".

Ficks architectural handwriting is essentially based on the principles of the Heimatschutz style and the German Werkbund with recourse to the tried and tested without copying the meaningless past. This is how his early residential buildings appear and this also applies to the Munich medical center from 1935, the imperial settlement "Rudolf Heß" and the Obersalzberg buildings. If the architectural style that dominated representative buildings in the Third Reich can be characterized as neoclassicism with a tendency towards excess, equating it with Ficks style, which also did not deviate significantly from the style practiced from the beginning in his state and party commissions, is prohibited. His preferred choice of shape and material recommended him as an architect for Hitler and his potentates in the mid-1930s. However, his adherence to his own style increasingly differentiated him from the intimidating architecture of Albert Speer or Hermann Giesler and ultimately led to his de facto cold position in Linz. After all, his post-war work also shows the adherence to his building approach, which was once recognized as correct.

Buildings (selection)

Kehlsteinhaus on the Obersalzberg
Former Ernst-Sachs-Bad, now the Schweinfurt Art Gallery
Cemetery chapel in Herrsching
Former Waterways Office Linz, now ÖVP headquarters ( Heinrich-Gleißner-Haus )
Jochenstein power plant near Passau


  • Lioba Schmitt-Imkamp: Roderich Fick (1886–1955). Volume 3 of the series Hitler's Architects - Historical-critical monographs on regime architecture during National Socialism. Edited by Winfried Nerdinger and Raphael Rosenberg, Vienna 2014, ISBN 978-3-205-79594-0 Online partial view .
  • Roderich Fick. In: South German building tradition in the 20th century. Ed .: Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts / Architecture Collection of the Technical University of Munich, Munich 1985, pp. 219–250, ISBN 3-7667-0771-X
  • Friederike Hellerer: Roderich Fick - the master builder on Obersalzberg. In: Marita Krauss : Right careers in Munich. From the Weimar period to the post-war years. Volk Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-937200-53-8 .
  • Ernst Klee : "Roderick (sic.) Fick" Entry in ders .: The cultural lexicon of the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5
  • Friederike Orth-Fick: Roderich Fick - master builder in Herrsching. Text accompanying the exhibition from August 24 to September 16, 2007, archive of the Herrsching community, Friederike Heller (Ed.), Herrsching 2007
  • Lioba Schmitt-Imkamp: Roderich Fick and Linz - a largely unknown story. In: "Hitler buildings" in Linz. Housing estates between everyday life and history. 1938 to the present. Published by the Museums of the City of Linz (exhibition catalog: NORDICO Stadtmuseum Linz), Linz 2012, pp. 152–179, ISBN 978-3-7025-0679-7
  • Helmut Weihsmann: Building under the swastika - architecture of decline. Promedia, Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-85371-113-8 .
  • Josef Wiedemann:  Fuck, Roderich. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 5, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1961, ISBN 3-428-00186-9 , p. 129 ( digitized version ).

Web links

Commons : Roderich Fick  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. 1912, Swiss Greenland Expedition. The forgotten Arctic pioneers
  2. ^ On skis through Greenland , collection of articles on the expedition of Ficks grandson Stephan Orth on Spiegel Online . Retrieved April 16, 2013.
  3. Volume 26, Issue 2, pages 73–88
  4. Minutes of the public meeting on February 23, 1948, State Archives Munich, Spruchkammerakte K 405
  5. a b Minutes of the public meeting on October 15, 1946, State Archives Munich, Spruchkammerakte K 405
  6. ^ Klee 2007, p. 151
  7. Georg Henneberger affidavit of April 30, 1946, State Archives Munich, Spruchkammerakte K 405
  8. quoted from "Roderich Fick - Baumeister in Herrsching", p. 136, s. Lit.
  9. a b c 130 Eigenheim , Verlag F. Bruckmann AG, Munich 1935