World capital Germania

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The term world capital Germania has been used since the post-war period to characterize National Socialism's claims to power as gigantic . Hitler himself never used the two words as a unit of concept. He always spoke of either “Reich capital” or “Germania”. Albert Speer's employees introduced the concept of the “Reich capital Germania”. Since then, this synonym has stood for the “overall construction plan for the imperial capital”, with which it was to be transformed into the center of a greater Germanic world empire .

Hitler bestowed Speer the specially created title “ General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital ” (GBI) and subordinated the authority of the same name to him, with which Speer carried out parts of the reconstruction of Berlin between 1937 and 1943 .

The construction work for the "Great Hall" began on June 23, 1938. On June 14, 1938 the foundation stone for the north-south axis was laid.

Plaster model of the Great Hall ("Hall of Fame" / "Hall of the People") by Albert Speer in the Reich capital Berlin (planning for the "World Capital Germania"), 1939

Designation "World Capital Germania"

According to Henry Picker 's notes on June 8, 1942, Hitler toyed with the idea of ​​renaming the newly designed city of Berlin "Germania" in order to give a greater Germanic empire a center.

“Just as the Bavarians , the Prussians and so on were repeatedly pushed towards the German idea by Bismarck , so the Germanic peoples of continental Europe had to be systematically directed towards the Germanic idea. He even thinks it is good to give this work a particularly sustainable boost by renaming the Reich capital Berlin to "Germania". Because the name Germania for the imperial capital in its new representative form is suitable to create a feeling of togetherness despite the greatest spatial distance between every member of the Germanic racial core and this capital. "

- Andreas Hillgruber (ed.): Henry Picker, Hitler's Table Talks in the Führer Headquarters 1941–1942 . Munich 1968, p. 182.

The term "world capital" was used by Hitler three months earlier.

“As a world capital, Berlin will only be comparable to ancient Egypt , Babylon or Rome ! What is London , what is Paris against it! "

- On the night of March 11th to March 12th 1942 in Wolfsschanze : see Werner Jochmann (Ed.): Adolf Hitler. Monologues in the Führer Headquarters 1941–1944 . Munich 1980, p. 318

Background and planning

Hitler's sketch of the Triumphal Arch, 1925
Albert Speer (3rd from left) and Rudolf Wolters (right) in Lisbon , presentation of the models, World Capital Germania 1942. Speer's participation in the project stayed with the presentation of the models
The Straße des 17. Juni from the Victory Column to the east

In his book Mein Kampf , Hitler wrote that, in contrast to antiquity , modern cities no longer had landmarks , “monuments of pride”, and that the state with its buildings should be more publicized. The planned monumental should the Nazi state to representation serve.

The plans for Berlin, which were drawn up from 1935 to 1943, provided for a cross of two broad traffic axes that should lead from the motorway ring through the city center back to the motorway ring. Initially two, later four rings were supposed to distribute the traffic from the axes into the urban area. To the north of the intersection of the monumental axes , in the Spreebogen , the “ Great Hall ” was to be the central meeting place. In particular, the north-south axis should be developed as a boulevard. As a replacement for the space in the city center that was no longer available, a new university town was to be built in Grunewald and completely new districts in the east and south of Berlin.

As "General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital" (GBI) from Hitler, Albert Speer received extensive competencies comparable to a minister , so that he did not have to take any objections from the Berlin city administration into account. The implementation of his plans would have permanently destroyed the existing structure of the city, around 50,000 apartments would have had to be demolished. Demolition activities continued until the renovation work was stopped in spring 1943, and around 150,000 people would have been directly affected. As part of the necessary "resettlement", the GBI department pushed for the " de-Judaization " of the city in order to use the vacant apartments for their own purposes. On the one hand, to make them available to the " national comrades " affected by the forced resettlement or to accommodate construction workers, on the other hand these apartments were made available to privileged employees or system friends within the GBI office .

In addition, not only living citizens were affected by the redesign, the south-west cemetery in Stahnsdorf was expanded to accommodate the graves of the Schöneberg cemeteries of St. Matthew and the Twelve Apostles in the area of ​​the north-south axis . Many graves from the northern area to Stahnsdorf were reburied from the St. Matthew Cemetery . A total of 15,000 dead had been reburied by 1940. The graves of the director Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau ( Nosferatu ) and the architect Walter Gropius senior , father of the Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, were affected .

Participating artists

The sculptor and architect Arno Breker , right Albert Speer, 1940

Albert Speer's appointment as general building inspector for the Reich capital attracted a group of architects, sculptors, painters and artisans to cope with the tasks that had been unique until then. The absolute favorite for sculpting was the sculptor Arno Breker . His former professor, the architect Wilhelm Kreis , received numerous commissions from Speer on Breker's recommendation until the end of the war. The sculptor Josef Thorak , who like Breker concentrated on the representation of humans, was intended for building projects outside of Berlin, such as in Nuremberg, Linz and in the Bavaria area.

Other respected artists during the Nazi era were those who were presented at the official exhibition in the House of German Art in Munich and whose figures were in the Berlin Olympic Stadium . In addition to Breker and Thorak, these included the sculptors Georg Kolbe , Sepp Hilz , Fritz Klimsch , Richard Scheibe and Robert Ullmann .

East-west axis

Victory Column on the Big Star

The 50 kilometer long east-west axis was supposed to go from Wustermark via Heerstrasse , Adolf-Hitler-Platz (before 1933: Reichskanzlerplatz , since 1963: Theodor-Heuss-Platz ), Kaiserdamm and Bismarckstrasse , Knie (since 1953: Ernst-Reuter- Platz ) with the Technical University of Charlottenburg (since 1946: Technical University of Berlin ) along the Charlottenburger Chaussee (since 1953: Strasse des 17. Juni ) over the Großer Stern , the Brandenburg Gate and Unter den Linden over Frankfurter Tor and Frankfurter Allee .

The eastern continuation was postponed due to Hitler's intervention . At the Museum Island , the east-west axis should a series of museum expanded on Kupfergraben were a World War II museum and a race Museum , designed by architect Wilhelm Kreis provided.

A seven kilometer long section of the east-west axis was completed in 1939 after two renovation phases from 1935 onwards for Hitler's birthday. The Victory Column was moved from Königsplatz in front of the Reichstag to the Großer Stern and increased by 7.5 meters. Crossing the Landwehr Canal at the Charlottenburger Tor posed a particular challenge. On the one hand, the street level should be raised as little as possible - on the other hand, the canal should also remain navigable. A complex bridge construction was the result. Given that the north-south axis with the representative buildings was already in the planning phase, no lighting should span the street, so the Berliner Kraft- und Licht-Aktiengesellschaft (Bewag) developed new lights for which Albert Speer designed the outer shell. A total of 800 of these two-armed OWA candelabra are left and right of the route between Theodor-Heuss-Platz and the Tiergarten S-Bahn station . They have been repaired three times so far, most recently in 2000.

In the press of the time, the street was referred to as the "Via Triumphalis" based on ancient Roman customs.

North-South axis

Berlin, model from 1939 for the redesign, view from the planned Südbahnhof over the triumphal arch to the Great Hall (north-south axis)

A six-kilometer core of the 40-kilometer north-south axis was planned as a 120-meter-wide boulevard. This should range from a new north station in the southeast of Moabit to a new south station near the station Südkreuz in Tempelhof . Next to the Nordbahnhof , in the direct vicinity of the Great Hall , a 1200 m × 400 m large water basin was planned in which the Great Hall was to be reflected. Like the other planned monumental buildings, the train stations were of "unprecedented" dimensions. The work on the Südbahnhof, for which the Reichsbahnbaudirektion Berlin had already submitted the first drafts in 1937, was headed personally by Speer from 1940 onwards and was almost ready for construction when the redesign plans were generally discontinued in March 1943. In August 1941, Speer gave the order to add two more tracks to the planned 20 parallel tracks for the integration of the broad-gauge railway , another of Hitler's favorite projects.

On the southern part of the boulevard near the Südbahnhof a colossal triumphal arch (in the form of a tetrapylon ) was planned, which was to be 117 meters high and 170 meters wide, labeled with the names of all German soldiers who died in World War I and decorated with reliefs by Arno Breker . Following this, the "Beutewaffenallee" as the forecourt of the Südbahnhof was to form a triumphant conclusion. All important Reich and party authorities as well as company headquarters and cultural institutions were to be located along the north-south axis .

Size comparison: triumphal arch with the Berlin Palace

In order to determine the floor load capacity for the planned triumphal arch, a “ large-scale load test ” in the form of a concrete cylinder was completed in Tempelhof in 1941 . The huge heavy load body (21 m in diameter, 14 m in height, 12,650 t in weight) is the only above-ground building certificate of the north-south axis and can be viewed.

The north-south axis should be called “Siegesallee des III. Reiches ”on the route of the WilhelmineSiegesallee des II. Reiches ”, the figures of which were cleared away in 1938 and repositioned in the Große Sternallee in the Tiergarten . The urban development highlight of the north-south axis was to be the Große Platz with its surrounding buildings. The Great Square , intended as a parade ground for up to a million people, was to be surrounded by the Great Hall , the Führer Palace , the Greater German Reichstag , the Reichstag building , the service building for the Wehrmacht High Command and the new service building for the Reich Chancellery .

In order to structurally document the victory over the National Socialists, in 1945 the Red Army left exactly in the middle of the planned north-south axis, north of the intersection of the east-west and north-south axes, in the immediate vicinity of the Reichstag building and the Brandenburg Gate, erect a memorial .

Speer's plans for a north-south axis followed the tradition of a series of designs that were first developed in 1910 with the “Greater Berlin Competition”. Among other things, the architect Martin Mächler presented plans for such an axis in 1920 with a republican government forum on the Spreebogen and the Platz der Republik. The Reichskunstwart Edwin Redslob supported these plans, which were never implemented, as a republican counterpart to the east-west axis running from the Berlin Palace over the boulevard Unter den Linden and the Charlottenburger Chaussee .

Great Hall ("Hall of Fame", "Hall of the People")

Size comparison: Great Hall with the Berlin Palace

In the Spreebogen , a little north of the Reichstag , the most important building of the Germania planning was planned, the Great Hall . It was planned to be the largest domed building in the world with a base area of ​​315 meters × 315 meters and a height of 320 meters.

Defense technology faculty and university town

In 1937, construction of the Defense Technology Faculty began in Grunewald , southwest of the Olympic Stadium . It was planned as the first section of a university town , which in turn should continue the defense technology faculty to the west. Part of the planned university city was a giant, the Parthenon reminiscent maximum Auditorium . Also in the planning stage was the large new building of a university clinic, which should serve as a replacement for the Charité , which is no longer in the city .

The defense technology faculty did not get beyond a shell, the ruins of which were covered with rubble after the war. At this point is the 120 meter  high Teufelsberg , a local recreation area. For decades, a flight surveillance and listening station of the US armed forces was located at its summit. The rubble was covered with sand and topsoil and then planted with around a million trees.

Speer's plans for the construction of the “World Capital Germania” envisaged a “Reichsuniversität Adolf Hitler”, to which the Reichssportfeld with the Olympic Stadium in Berlin would later have been added. It should then be built as an architectural highlight of a "gigantic" Langemarckhalle which leading to the 1936 Summer Olympics resulting Langemarckhalle would have dwarfed. With them the " Myth of Langemarck " should be propagated.


As an extension of the planned north-south axis, the southern city was planned with apartments for around 210,000 residents and jobs for around 100,000 workers.

Procurement logistics

The necessary land, money, building materials and workers for the construction of the world capital Germania had to be procured. This is an example of the connection with the National Socialist injustice state .

  • The urban areas, mostly built with residential buildings or used as cemeteries, which were necessary for these projects, were partially demolished, despite the great shortage of living space in Berlin, the dead were transferred to other cemeteries. Jewish apartment owners or Jewish tenants were evicted from their apartments without a legal basis on the instructions of General Building Inspector Albert Speer (see under Background and Planning .)
  • The huge projects should be financed by the peoples who were subjugated in the planned war. Hitler estimated the costs to be much higher than for the war.
  • The stone blocks would have had to be provided by forced laborers in some of the quarries operated by concentration camps . Granite blocks were to be produced by the Flossenbürg and Mauthausen concentration camps , and bricks in the SS-owned brickworks in Oranienburg , which was built in 1938 . The location was dictated by the proximity of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp : When production started in May 1939, it was found that the clay materials there were unsuitable.
  • Before the war, German workers were needed for productions that were important to the war effort; For work in connection with the world capital Germania, it was planned from the start with forced laborers and concentration camp inmates , especially Jews , Sinti and Roma , homosexuals , Jehovah's Witnesses and " anti-social ".

Remaining places

4th July place in Lichterfelde .
The buildings were built by Telefunken at the end of the 1930s as the company's headquarters and main plant and were a
US barracks as McNair Barracks from 1945 to 1994
  • The area of ​​the Platz des July 4th in Lichterfelde is the only section of the fourth outer ring (motorway) that was to circumnavigate Germania. During the occupation , the area served the soldiers of the US Army from the adjacent McNair Barracks barracks (until 1945 company headquarters and main factory of Telefunken ) as a place for parades and similar events, also on the occasion of the independence day of the USA on July 4th. The area received its name in 1976.
  • The Olympic Stadium , which was to become part of the university town after the 1936 Summer Olympics , and the Tempelhof Airport designed by architect Ernst Sagebiel , which was supposed to handle up to six million passengers a year - in 1934 there were just 200,000 passengers - are not part of the Germania planning been, especially since this only became official in 1937. The airport building that followed was for a long time one of the largest buildings in the world measured against its gross floor area of ​​307,000 m² (next to the Pentagon in Washington and the Parliament Palace in Bucharest ). Most of the other buildings in the project, on the other hand, have barely got beyond the planning phase due to the increasing commitment of all resources in warfare.
  • For the planned renovation of Adolf-Hitler-Platz (since 1963: Theodor-Heuss-Platz ) for the east-west axis in Mussoliniplatz , the Stuttgart company Lauster was commissioned in 1937 to manufacture 14 travertine columns. The extradition was prevented by the Second World War . You can still see them at the Stuttgart-Münster power plant .
  • The heavy load body should provide information on the subsoil. Before buildings of such size as the planned triumphal arch or the Great Hall could be tackled, a test facility had to be built to test the load-bearing capacity of the sandy Berlin soil. This building consists of a 14-meter-high and 12,650-tonne concrete cylinder that rests on a narrow base and thus simulates the high pressure on the ground that would have been created by the triumphal arch. Long-term measurements on the base should determine possible subsidence.
The cylinder , in the lower part made of solid reinforced concrete , in the upper part made of non- reinforced cast concrete, could not be blown up in the post-war period because of its location between the railway line and residential buildings and is therefore still present at the corner of Loewenhardtdamm and General-Pape-Strasse . After the war it was used for a long time by the German Society for Soil Mechanics (Degebo) for experiments. It has been a listed building since 1995 and was restored in 2007-2009.
  • The Reich Aviation Ministry on Wilhelmstrasse was built in the course of the Germania planning according to plans by Ernst Sagebiel . The complex has been called Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus since 1992 and is the seat of the Federal Ministry of Finance .
  • In the zoo , a system of road tunnels was designed for the axis cross of the east-west and north-south axes in order to ensure traffic management without traffic lights . Electric heating systems were provided for the tunnels' ramps to avoid the risk of black ice. In 1938, an underground construction work in the form of two road tunnel fragments was built in order to prevent the east-west axis from tearing open again. The tunnel fragments are still there and were discovered in 1967. However, some underground structures were removed when the Tiergarten tunnel was built. The partially preserved "tunnels of the axis cross in the Spreebogen" are accordingly registered as a monument.
Curb of the planned north-south axis, embedded in the sidewalk of Straße des 17. Juni (looking south), 2015
View of the street situation, Soviet memorial on the north-south axis (looking east), 1983
  • The first meter of the north-south axis remained structurally visible above ground. The curbs let into the sidewalk are recognizable on the south side of Straße des 17. Juni , opposite the Soviet memorial . In contrast to the 47.7 meter wide former Siegesallee from Kemperplatz to the former Königsplatz (since 1926: Platz der Republik ), today a walk to the Soviet Memorial, there was a wider connection on the southern edge of Charlottenburger Allee (today: Straße des 17. Juni ) been prepared. The curves of the curbs set into the sidewalk at the same level are 120 meters apart, as they were included in the new construction of the southern sidewalk. The western curb is on the edge of the parking bay in the direction of Yitzhak-Rabin-Straße ( western corner ), the eastern curb is opposite the eastern tank of the Soviet memorial, offset 15 meters in the direction of the Brandenburg Gate ( eastern corner ).
  • Part of the Germania planning was the military academy, the unfinished shell of which was raised to the Teufelsberg after 1945 . The Kulturforum Berlin was built on the remains of the Round Square , where the House of Tourism (architect Theodor Dierksmeier ) in the style of Fehrbelliner Platz had already been built. It was torn down after the war in favor of the New National Gallery .
  • The rather minor alterations to the Charlottenburger Chaussee in relation to the overall Germania project and the location of the Victory Column still correspond to the historical situation.


The Berlin religious philosopher Klaus Heinrich brings up in his lectures on Nazi architecture and classicism that Speer's monumental architecture such as the “Great Hall” is designed to crush its visitors and that attempts should be made to create inaccessible spaces. An essential feature of the Speer buildings is their staging with complete indifference to the active people. Heinrich deciphered the camp as the core of fascist architecture:

“My thesis is that the monumental architecture inside the cities is warehouse architecture. So the city becomes a camp from which you can march out at any time and to which you can return. "

- Klaus Heinrich

See also


  • Artem Demenok: World capital Germania. Special prize for culture of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia at the Adolf Grimme Prize 2006 , historical documentation from 2005, 53 minutes.


  • Matthias Donath : Architecture in Berlin 1933–1945. A city guide. Published by the Berlin State Monuments Office, Lukas, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-936872-26-0 .
  • Alexander Kropp: The Political Significance of the NS Representation Architecture. Albert Speer's redesign plans for the conversion of Berlin into the “World Capital Germania” 1936–1942 / 43 . Ars Una, Neuried 2005, ISBN 3-89391-135-9 .
  • Bernd Kuhlmann: Railway megalomania in Berlin. The plans from 1933 to 1945 and their implementation . 2nd add. And add. Edition. GVE-Verlag, Berlin 2005, ISBN 3-89218-093-8 .
  • Hans J. Reichhardt, Wolfgang Schächen: From Berlin to Germania. About the destruction of the "Imperial Capital" by Albert Speer's redesign plans . Revised and exp. New edition. Transit Buchverlag , Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-88747-127-X .
  • Dirk Reimann: The "World Capital Germania" and its consequences for Berlin cemeteries. In: Friedhofskultur . 5 (2003), ISSN  0343-3544 , pp. 40-41.
  • Christian Saehrendt : Load body "Germania". What was left of Albert Speer's Berlin? In: Die Neue Gesellschaft, Frankfurter Hefte. Bonn 2002, ISSN  0177-6738 .
  • Wolfgang Schächen: Architecture and urban development in Berlin between 1933 and 1945. Planning and building under the aegis of the city administration (= The buildings and art monuments of Berlin. Supplement No. 17). 2nd Edition. Gebr. Mann, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-7861-1178-2 .
  • Albert Speer: Memories . Propylaea, Berlin 1969.
  • Susanne Willems: The evacuated Jew. Albert Speer's housing market policy for the Berlin capital building (= publications of the Memorial and Education Center House of the Wannsee Conference, Volume 10). Ed. Hentrich, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-89468-259-0 .
  • Germania myth. Shadows and traces of the imperial capital . Exhibition catalog, Edition Berliner Unterwelten, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-943112-00-9 .
  • Germania myth. Vision and crime . Exhibition catalog, Edition Berliner Unterwelten, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-943112-28-3 .

Web links

Commons : World Capital Germania  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. See page 4233 from 1936, as well as 1910–1994, on the map under “Charlottenburger Chaussee”, search term: “Straße des 17. Juni”, X = 22680, Y = 20780
  2. Nikolaus Bernau: The long shadow of Germania. In: Berliner Zeitung . April 30, 2005, accessed June 23, 2017 .
  3. Historians on Albert Speer: "He did everything for the final victory"
  4. a b Pharus plan: Tiergarten around 1943
  5. ^ Herbert Liman: More light . Haude & Spener, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-7759-0429-8 , pp. 87 .
  6. Berlin Underworlds
  7. Development of the Siegesallee / Charlottenburger Chaussee intersection on Plan 4233 from the years 1936/1937, 1939, 1950 and 1955.
  8. Edwin Redslob: A House of the Republic, 1929 . In: Christian Welzbacher (Ed.): The Reichskunstwart. Cultural policy and state staging in the Weimar Republic 1918-1933 . 1st edition. wtv-Campus, Weimar 2010, ISBN 978-3-941830-04-2 , p. 95-98 .
  9. Defense technology faculty and university town. on, accessed on December 29, 2017.
  10. D. Thorau, G. Schaulinski (Ed.): Mythos Germania. Vision and crime. Edition Berliner Unterwelten, 2014, ISBN 978-3-943112-28-3 .
  11. Susanne Willems: The resettled Jew. Albert Speer's housing market policy for the Berlin capital construction . (= Publications of the Memorial and Educational Center House of the Wannsee Conference. Vol. 10). Ed. Hentrich, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-89468-259-0 .
  12. C. Truvé: Criminal command brickworks. Forced labor for "Germania". In: D. Thorau, G. Schaulinski (eds.): Mythos Germania. Vision and crime. Edition Berliner Unterwelten, 2014, ISBN 978-3-943112-28-3 .
  13. Travertine columns for the planned Berlin Mussoliniplatz in today's Stuttgart. In: D. Thorau, G. Schaulinski (eds.): Mythos Germania. Vision and crime. Edition Berliner Unterwelten, 2014, ISBN 978-3-943112-28-3 .
  14. Ingmar Arnold: Axis cross under the zoo. (No longer available online.) In: January 21, 2016, archived from the original on October 5, 2016 ; accessed on October 6, 2016 .
  15. zdfinfo: The underground realm (2/2) of fortresses and bunkers. In: YouTube . March 14, 2015, accessed October 6, 2016 .
  16. Straße des 17. Juni, 1938–1939, designed by Albert Speer
  17. Monument map Berlin: location of the tunnel sections compared to the Soviet memorial
  18. City map of Berlin. Richard Schwarz, map dealer u. Geogr. Verlag, Tiergarten in January 1946
  19. Sheet 4233 from 1936: Entry on Siegesallee south of Charlottenburger Chaussee
  20. Sheet 4233 from 1939: 52 meters, sheet 4233 from 1950: 100 meters
  21. ^ Map of Berlin 1: 5000: Straße des 17. Juni at the level of the Soviet memorial
  22. Niklas Maak: Believe in the great. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . August 19, 2015, accessed June 23, 2017 .
  23. ^ Bernhard Schulz: Classically decorated Nazi architecture: How Albert Speer was able to appropriate the style of the great Prussian master builder Karl-Friedrich Schinkel is shown in the Dahlem lectures by Klaus Heinrich. In: Der Tagesspiegel . August 27, 2015, accessed June 23, 2017 .