Nazi Architecture: Berlin's status as the capital led to flourishing construction activity as early as 1933. The Nazi regime used the building policies—accompanied by targeted propaganda—to stage its claim to power within the German Reich and its public image internationally. Even prior to the plans to rebuild the city that were pushed through starting in 1937, numerous administrative and prestigious buildings for the government and for party and administrative organizations were built. Monumental formal design elements, often beyond measure, were to epitomize the claim to power, but there was no uniform “Nazi style”. The architects oriented themselves around the diverse architectural schools of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Until around 1937 there was a stronger tendency toward conservative modernism, and later a traditional neo-Classicism could be observed. Some private contractors also built prestigious buildings (such as impressive company headquarters) in the monumental style that was common at that time.
The first large government building built for the Nazi regime was erected between 1935 and 1936, based on the designs by architect Ernst Sagebiel. This is where Hermann Göring, one of the most powerful Nazis, was commander-in-chief of the German air force (Luftwaffe) and pushed ahead arms buildup. The monumental edifice, built around several internal courtyards and up to seven floors high, comprised roughly 2,000 offices and about 56,000 square meters of usable floor space. A prominent structural feature of the building is the severe style of uniform rows of sharp-edged windows, which stand out against the smooth shell limestone facade of the building, which is partly reinforced concrete and partly a steel frame construction. After 1945 the Nazi insignia were removed, representing the building's superficial “denazification.” The complex history of what is today the Federal Ministry of Finance was taken into consideration when the building was renovated from 1996 to 2000.
One of the most important institutions of the Nazi dictatorship moved onto Wilhelmstrasse opposite the former Reich Chancellery in 1933. Committed to the “mental mobilization” in the service of the ruling ideology, Goebbels's Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was initially housed in prestigious old buildings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries at Wilhelmplatz. Due to the insufficient space there, architect Karl Reichle created spacious extensions between 1934 and 1938. The rear facade of the extant new wing on Mauerstrasse offers a good impression of Nazi state architecture: Conservative modernism and monumental austerity are reflected in the shell limestone facade with its uniform serial pattern. After the first ministerial building was destroyed in the war, a remnant marked by archways remained standing on Wilhelmstrasse. As of 2001 the building has housed the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.
Already in the Weimar Republic an extension of the Reich Bank was considered. Shortly after Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor, the construction project was pushed through, in February 1933, with a Reich-wide competition. Renowned modernist architects of the Neues Bauen (New Objectivity), such as Walter Gropius, submitted designs. With Hitler's intervention, Reich Bank building director Heinrich Wolff was awarded the contract. Between 1934 and 1940 a massive building with a steel frame construction was built, in conservative modernist style with seemingly endless natural stone facades perforated with uniform rectangular windows. The Reich Bank played a tragic role in the economic system of the Nazis and in preparations for and financing of the war. From 1959 to 1990 the monumental building at Werdersche Markt was used by the Central Committee and the Politburo of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), the state party in East Germany. Following renovations, which took into account traces of all periods of the building's history, it has housed the German Foreign Office since 2000.
The General Building Inspector (GBI) planned several large buildings along the East-West Axis. Only the House of the German Council of Municipalities (DGT), designed by Walter Schlempp, was partially built, in 1938–42. The building housed the GBI's Main Office for Administration and Economy, one of whose responsibilities was to organize the expulsion of Berlin's Jews from their residences. This forcibly cleared housing was made available to the so-called national comrades who were affected by the demolition within the scope of the “Germania planning.” The 209-meter-long frontage borrowed features from stately homes of the nineteenth century and Speer's neo-Classicism. As compared with earlier state projects, the design here was more decorative and traditional. Today the building carries the name of West Berlin's first mayor Ernst Reuter and it houses the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR).
The Alsen district near the Reichstag and the villa district around St. Matthew's Church south of the Tiergarten Park (today Cultural Forum) were demolished to clear space for the North-South Axis. Both areas were very prestigious and preferred sites for diplomatic missions since the nineteenth century. In order to compensate the countries for the loss of their real estate, the Nazi state had seven new embassy buildings built under supervision of the GBI in western parts of the Tiergarten Park area that were not threatened with demolition, which was declared a “diplomatic quarter” in 1937. German architects submitted the design plans, such as Johannes and Walter Krüger for the Spanish embassy (built 1938–43) and Johann Emil Schaudt for the Danish embassy (1938–40; today the hotel Das Stue). The two palatial neo-Classicist buildings, with their natural stone facades, form a prestigious unit along Thomas-Dehler-Strasse.
Construction of the new embassy buildings continued well into the war, demonstrating the high priority they were given. The missions for the allies of the Third Reich turned out extremely opulent, especially Italy's. From 1939 to 1942, Friedrich Hetzelt built a monumental building inspired by Italian Renaissance palaces, with a pink-colored plastered facade and a travertine-faced ground floor and cornice. Ballrooms were built in the main wing along Tiergartenstrasse, which was accentuated by a central avant-corps with huge columns, whereas the ambassador's residence and the chancellery were in the side wings. Japan's embassy nearby was built from 1938 to 1942. It is a curiosity: The neo-Classicist main building designed by Ludwig Moshamer, with its dominant colonnade, was torn down and the facade was later reconstructed true to the original, completed in 1988. Both buildings are once again being used for their original purpose.
Since the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the noble Tiergarten district increasingly became a site for corporative seats. On commission of the Krupp corporation, renowned architects Paul Mebes and Paul Emmerich created a stately, mansionlike new building on Tiergartenstrasse in 1936–38. The steel giant from Essen, one of the best-known profiteers of the rearmament, used the prestigious new building as branch office and guesthouse for his lobby efforts in the Reich capital. The clear lines of the four-winged complex with a natural stone facade and a high hip roof can be ascribed to conservative modernism. The building, which survived in part with its original furnishings, became the site of the elite Catholic high school, the Canisius Kolleg, in 1947. Since that time numerous extensions and modifications have been made to the building.
One of the most impressive architectural ensembles of the Nazi period can today still be seen in Berlin's Wilmersdorf district: Fehrbelliner Platz. In 1913 the area used for allotment community gardens and an athletic field was connected to the public transportation network through the construction of an U-bahn (subway) station. In the mid-1920s the square was further upgraded when the Preussen (Prussian) Park was built. In 1934, various large companies planned new buildings there, and a public architectural competition was conducted to create a large, uniform square. Otto Firle's winning overall development plan for the square was largely completed. Aligned in a horseshoe shape, the buildings relate to each other through their design and height, opening up toward the park in the north.
Otto Firle designed the five-story steel frame construction faced with limestone at the eastern end of Fehrbelliner Platz for a life insurance company. It was dedicated in 1936. In order to maximize use of the frontage facing the square, the narrow sides of the long curved building jutted out over the sidewalks, extending all the way to the street. The sharp-edged window-framing, between which raised stone slabs create an ornamental net structure, lessen to some extent the monotony of the rows of windows on the expansive facade. The relief sculptures by Waldemar Raemisch still exist facing Hohenzollerndamm, whereas the architectural ornamentation by Arno Breker at the opposite end was removed. The foyer of the building was inspired by art deco. It presently houses Berlin's Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment.
At Fehrbelliner Platz no. 1, a new administrative building was built in 1935–36 for the Rudolf Karstadt company. Philipp Schaefer, the department store chain's house architect, influenced German department store construction starting in the 1920s. His most famous project is the legendary Karstadt building at Hermannplatz in the Neukölln district, which was almost entirely destroyed during the Second World War. Whereas his “temples of consumerism” were often emblematic, this cannot be claimed of the austere administrative building at Württembergische Strasse. The facades of the five-story building with natural stone facing are articulated throughout by a uniform grid pattern of windows. Only the main entrance at the center stands out with its jutting wall segment and two large relief sculptures on the theme of working life. The building is presently used by Berlin's State Administration Office (LVwA).
After the Nazis destroyed the trade unions, the German Labor Front (DAF) was founded on May 10, 1933, as the unified trade union. Its treasury was set up in one of the existing buildings at Fehrbelliner Platz. The DAF originally planned a huge administrative complex incorporating the old building, but the project failed when the city of Berlin remained committed to architect Otto Firle's uniform design plans for the square. In 1941 the DAF decided after all to erect a new building at Fehrbelliner Platz no. 4, which was completed in a neo-Classicist style in 1943. Due to the war, the architect Helmut Remmelmann, who was commissioned with the construction of the building, used conventional building materials and the masonry construction was only plastered. Thus it stood out clearly among the other stone-faced buildings on the square. Worth seeing is the circular courtyard with a Tuscan colonnade.
The Nazis were particularly interested in the construction of buildings that could be used as venues for the staging of mass events, a significant mechanism of power. Without any consideration for the costs, sites were to be created that were not only facades of power, but a setting that would promote a sense of community. Impressive backdrops were to serve to instill the people with the core aspects of the ideology, such as “cult of the Führer” and the “national community,” in order to generate enthusiasm and loyalty for the criminal regime. There are two remaining sites in Germany that illustrate this in particular: Speer's Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg and the former Reich Sports Field, now the Olympic Park Berlin.
The grounds were built within the scope of the 11th Olympic Summer Games in 1936, which had already been awarded to Berlin during the Weimar Republic. After initial scepticism toward the cosmopolitan Olympic Movement, the Nazi state took advantage of the opportunity to present itself internationally as an omnipotent, major power. From 1934 to 1936, the Olympic Stadium was built. Made of reinforced steel faced with natural stone, the 97,000-capacity stadium was embedded within a sports park of roughly 130 hectares. Hitler exerted a significant influence on the basic designs of Berlin architect Werner March. The Olympic stadium was completely renovated and modernized from 2000 to 2004. Today's Olympic Park Berlin, in which all the main structures have been preserved, encompasses an area of 117 hectares.
A striking design feature is the clearly segmented East-West Axis. Approaching the stadium from a distance along the axis serves to increase the stadium's monumental impact from the outside. The end point of the axis can first be seen from the interior. Looking from there through the stadium, one's gaze is directed to the 77-meter-high bell tower atop of the grandstand of the Maifeld, a parade grounds with a roughly 280,000 capacity. The “Führer's rostrum” rose high above at the center of the grandstand; it was removed after the Second World War. The tunnel beneath it allowed participants at propaganda events “to march through and greet the Führer directly above them,” in the words of architect Werner March. The Langemarck Hall at the interior of the grandstand was a chauvinistic national memorial for German soldiers who had fallen in the First World War. Thus the point culminating the line of sight was also a shrine glorifying war.
Ambitious, only partly realized plans for expanding the exhibition grounds had existed since the 1920s, when Berlin was supposed to be upgraded to become an attractive trade fair location. The International Radio Exhibition (IFA) became the flagship, with its defining landmark for the city, the 150-meter-high radio tower built in 1924–26 by Heinrich Straumer. As of 1935 the Reich Propaganda Ministry had major new buildings erected based on plans by Richard Ermisch. The regime often used the grounds for propaganda events, such as the Deutschland show on the occasion of the 1936 Olympic Games, which was supposed to convey a deceptively positive picture of the Nazi state to international guests, and the Gebt mir vier Jahre Zeit (Give me four years' time) exhibition with a heroicizing retrospective on the economic growth since 1933, which was only possible through disastrous debt policies and rearmament.
The most striking part of Ermisch's new buildings is the 240-meter-long main hall on Masurenallee, built in 1936–37. The reinforced concrete construction faced with natural stone displays an austere pillar structure with large vertical rectangular fenestration. The wing is dominated by the towering 35-meter-high cuboid hall of honor. The buildings are influenced by the objectivity of 1920s architecture, but intensified to a monumental pathos. The 200-meter-long exhibition hall (called the “glass gallery” due to the continuous windowed facade) on Messedamm had a similar character, of which only the two-story round corner buildings are still standing. After the war the exhibition grounds were rebuilt and since then they have been supplemented by large new buildings, such as the International Congress Center (ICC), built in 1969–79. The main section of the “glass gallery” was removed to create space for the bridge linking the ICC to the exhibition grounds at the foot of the radio tower.
The final closing of the Bauhaus in 1933 and the expulsion and emigration of outstanding representatives of 1920s modernism, such as Martin Wagner, Berlin's chief city planner, and architect Erich Mendelsohn, were only a few indicators of the hostile climate under which many members of the New Objectivity suffered. Although leading Nazi ideologues never tired of denouncing the New Objectivity as “cultural Bolshevism,” it nevertheless remained active in areas such as transportation and industrial construction. Attributes associated with this style, such as functional, dynamic, rational, and progressive, were used in sectors in which the Nazis wished to stage themselves as representatives of a modern industrial country. Also, it was only possible to a limited extent to dictate styles to private contractors.
The Nazis made a great effort to showcase their enthusiasm of technology. The automobile was a particular focus for military considerations, and the modern auto sport offered a propagandistic stage. One example of this is the AVUS (Automobile Traffic and Training Road), a highway and race circuit built in 1921. This test circuit open exclusively to motor traffic had two curves; it was extended to a total length of 19.3 kilometers in 1935–36 and supplemented with a cylindrical tower that had landmark character. There were four levels offering food and beverages, and from the building's outer ambulatories spectators could watch the races at the northern curve, which had been built into a steeply banked hairpin. Across the track, an unadorned, box-shaped grandstand was built with a flying roof made of reinforced concrete. The northern curve, which was notorious for its deadly accidents, was torn down in 1967. The tower now houses a motel and the grandstand is rotting away with an uncertain future.
One of the few structures of the “Germania” plans still standing today is in the Tempelhof district. A cylindrical concrete structure towers 14 meters high and delves another 18 meters into the ground. It is 21 meters in diameter. This engineering feat was built in 1941 making use of French slave laborers. The load-bearing structure had a weight of 12,650 tons and was supposed to help determine the maximal load-bearing capacity of the ground along the North-South Axis. The construction of a gigantic, 117-meter-high triumphal arch was dependent on these results. Albert Speer planned to build the arch nearby, based on a design by Hitler. Renovation of the heavy load-bearing structure was completed in 2009. Entrance to the information site with a viewing platform is free of charge.
The airport was designed in 1935 by Ernst Sagebiel, as commissioned by the Reich Air Ministry. Berlin was to become the main air traffic hub for international flights. The Nazis planned nothing less than a “world airport” in Tempelhof, which would serve six million passengers each year. Accordingly, plans were designed for a capacity of thirty times the current demand at that time. The old airport from the 1920s remained in operation during the construction phase. The huge, empty new building was used for armaments production during the Second World War, and parts of the basement facilities were converted into bunkers. There was an assembly line for fighter planes in the subterranean railroad tunnel. Thousands of forced laborers were used for the construction; they were housed in barracks spread out over the grounds.
In July 1945 the Red Army transferred the war-damaged shell construction to the Americans, who then had 300,000 square meters of floor space at their disposal. The repairs, interior outfitting, and conversions lasted until 1962; since then about 9,000 rooms have been available for use. Behind the forecourt is the main building, framed by extensive administrative wings. The former 15-meter-high entrance hall was stripped of its massive impact when the height was divided into two floors with the addition of an intermediate ceiling. Behind that, the 100-meter-long check-in area leads to the curved facade facing the airfield, which extends for more than 1.3 kilometers. Overhanging roofs at the gates in front of the hangars protect passengers from rain and snow—an innovation in the 1930s. In 2008, after the decision was made to build the major BER airport in Schönefeld, air traffic in Tempelhof was discontinued. Sightseeing tours of the building are available.
At the intersection of the River Spree, the Landwehr Canal, and the Charlottenburg Canal, a refuse loading station was built in 1936–37. Berlin's domestic garbage was loaded onto barges with a weight capacity of 600 tons and shipped outside the city. Architect Paul Baumgarten designed an innovative facility that allowed smooth operations. The access ramp for garbage collection vehicles on the upper level with its rounded turn-around area overhung the River Spree like the bow of a ship, making the structure built in the New Objectivity style into a distinctive landmark. In the hall below the ramp, ships were filled from above using a pouring mechanism. In the late 1980s Josef Paul Kleihues set up his architectural office in the steel frame building that had ribbon windows and was faced with clinker brick.
The city railway (Stadtbahn) already ran from east to west during the German Empire. The circle line formed a ring connecting the outer districts. A north-south connection through the city center was lacking, however, and was built largely underground starting in 1934. Since then, the route ran from Bornholmer Strasse in the north via Friedrichstrasse to Anhalter train station. It was the largest and most expensive Berlin public transportation infrastructure project of the Nazi period, with costs of approximately 170 million Reichsmarks. The final segment was completed in November 1939. A particular technological challenge was the tunnel under the Spree and the Landwehr Canal. During the Battle of Berlin presumably the SS blasted the tunnel ceiling under the canal on May 2, 1945, flooding the route. Today the S-Bahn (commuter rail) lines S1 and S2 run on this section of track.
Active since the Weimar Republic, architect Richard Brademann left his mark on the appearance of Berlin S-Bahn (commuter rail). Commissioned by the transit company, he built modest, functional station buildings faced with clinker bricks, electrical supply facilities, and signal towers. A member of the Nazi party, Brademann also designed six stations for the new north-south S-Bahn line, including the Humboldthain S-Bahn station, which was dedicated in 1935 after a year of construction. Because the station was constructed in a heavily built-up area, the section of track had to be set in a curve. The platform follows the same curve. The seven-sided station building has been preserved in its basic form; however, the facade was remodeled, extensions were added, and the aesthetics were spoiled by a kiosk right in the middle of the service counter area. Architecturally the station exhibits strong references to the transportation structures of the 1920s, and no specifically Nazi style elements can be discerned.
The extension of the East-West Axis from the city palace along the Unter den Linden boulevard and through the Tiergarten Park to the Charlottenburg district was one of the General Building Inspector's core tasks. The historical street was to be widened into a modern thoroughfare and adapted to the Nazi regime's demands for a parade mile. This is still evident today in the section between Brandenburg Gate and Ernst-Reuter-Platz: broadened to a width of 53 meters, since 1939 it gives an expansive impression and offers more space, as demonstrated at the dedication of the axis with a large military march on Hitler's fiftieth birthday. West of the Tiergarten S-Bahn station, Albert Speer's neo-Classicist dual-arm candelabras at 25-meter intervals continue to provide even lighting of the traffic lanes and sidewalks, whereby the deliberate lighting control gives the axis sharp contours, increasing its effect.
The Grosser Stern was enlarged in 1938–39 from a diameter of 80 meters to 200 meters, more to satisfy urban development aims than traffic-related ones. This was a consequence of Speer's plans for the North-South Axis, which called for comprehensive demolition in the area around the Reichstag. The monuments to the founding of the German Empire in 1871, such as the Victory Column, and the statues of Bismarck, Moltke, and Roon had to be removed from the forecourt of the Reichstag. They were rebuilt at the Grosser Stern as a new site of remembrance of the German Empire. Particularly prominent was the staging of the Victory Column. Elevated further through a raised area with steps, and expanded to include a fourth column drum, the now 67-meter-high monument on the circular plaza in the middle of the Tiergarten Park was visible from a great distance and it became a trademark of the newly designed East-West Axis.
The former industrial complex is an example of the continuity of the New Objectivity after 1933. One reason for this was the personnel continuity: Hans Hertlein, who as the chief architect for the Siemens corporation in the Weimar Republic had already created architectural classics of modern industrial construction, was also here. The spacious facility created between 1937 and 1940 housed the headquarters and production sites of the Telefunken electrical engineering company. The light-plastered steel frame buildings generally have uniform window grids, so that the building wings extending up to 130 meters in length give a very austere, homogeneous impression. The repetition was broken up by stairwell, elevator, and clock towers. The grounds were used from 1945 to 1994 by the U.S. armed forces. Despite changes that were made in the course of converting the facility to a housing complex, much of the original design concept is still visible.
Parallel to the introduction of compulsory military service in March 1935, there was a major expansion of the military infrastructure, which was intensified even further with the second Four Year Plan. Within the Reich, roughly 500 new barracks, 200 airfields, and numerous munitions depots were built. The type of barracks for ground forces was set by the Army Construction Standard, so there were only limited options for the architectural design. A particular focus was placed on structures for the air force. Because in 1919 the Treaty of Versailles had banned Germany from having an air force, there was a lot of catching-up to do if Germany was to be capable of fighting a war of aggression against the Soviet Union by 1940—as Hitler stipulated. With respect to building new barracks in Berlin, the Reich Air Ministry was clearly the main contractor.
As of 1936 the Luftgaukommandos (Luftwaffe district headquarters) coordinated the establishment of the air force (Luftwaffe) throughout the Reich. In 1938 their commanders took charge of air-ground organizations, light fighter units, flak (antiaircraft), and civil air-raid protection. The architect Fritz Fuss was responsible for the new building in Berlin. He designed two- and three-story barracks and administrative buildings, as well as the Luftwaffe military court. The basic design feature is a main axis that runs between the two guardhouses at the entrance, through a courtyard of honor to the main command building. This was originally crowned by a bronze Reich eagle. The facades are plastered and partially accentuated with natural stone facing. The consular annex of the United States embassy is located in the former military court building. The other buildings were converted to luxury condominiums.
Between 1936 and 1939, a barracks made up of about 130 buildings was built for the General Göring air force–infantry regiment. A masonry construction with light plastering was used. In contrast to this, the pitched and hipped roofs were produced as “coffin lids,” which was the colloquial expression for 15–20 cm-thick concrete ceilings that sloped off to the sides, which were supposed to prevent incendiary bombs from penetrating. The red tile roofing conceals this construction. In interplay with many one- or two-story homes embedded in an old pine forest, an impression of an urban garden ensemble emerges. After the war, the barracks served as the Quartier Napoléon, the French headquarters in Berlin. The German army (Bundeswehr) presently uses what is now called the Julius Leber barracks.
After the Royal Air Force successfully dropped the first bombs on the Reich capital in August 1940, Hitler responded by building three dual flak (antiaircraft) towers at the Berlin Zoo, in Friedrichshain, and in Humboldthain. Four large flak guns were mounted on the platform at the top of each of the combat towers, whereas the lead towers erected at a bit of a distance, unimpeded by the smoke of the guns, assumed the fire control. The numerous rooms under the combat and observation levels were also used as bunkers for up to 30,000 civilians. The Allied forces blasted the three facilities after the war. Integrated into the Humboldthain park, the ruins of the northern side of the flak tower are open to the public. Parts of the interior rooms can be explored on Tour 2 of Berlin Underworlds, led by knowledgeable guides.
Roughly 1,000 air-raid shelters were built during the Second World War within the scope of the “bunker construction program for the Reich capital,” including the Reich Railway bunker. The massive, strictly symmetrical, towering five-story building has a weighty cornice along the top. The reinforced concrete facade is structured through small, framed ventilation openings and was supposed to be faced with natural stone after the war. The architecture is reminiscent of medieval forts and offers air-raid protection for approximately 3,000 passengers in the nearby Friedrichstrasse station. Four dual staircases facilitate speedy entry and exit of the building. In 2003, the media entrepreneur Christian Boros acquired the property for his collection of contemporary art and had it lavishly modernized. The Boros collections can be viewed by prior appointment.
With the opening of the Gesundbrunnen U-Bahn station in 1930, continuous operations commenced on what today is the U8 line to Neukölln. The platform was built unusually deep below the tracks for long distance trains and the S-Bahn commuter rail. Therefore, this became the first location within Berlin's local public transit system that used escalators. After the first air raids on the Reich capital, underground air-raid protection facilities were set up for civilians in the Gesundbrunnen station. On four levels, protective rooms were prepared in existing building shells, with an area of ca. 1,400 square meters. When air raids took place, far more people than were permissible pushed their way into the shelter, as there was a shortage of shelters throughout the city. Bunker B now houses a museum of Berlin Underworlds, whose exhibits vividly describe the subjects of the air war and air-raid protection at an authentic location.
In late 1940, the GBI commissioned to have an unused stone gasometer from the nineteenth century converted to a bunker facility. Some of the work was done by slave laborers and prisoners of war, who completed a high-rise bunker behind a historic facade for the Siemens construction union. This bunker with six floors and 720 small rooms offered space for 6,500 people. Contemporaries referred to it as a luxury bunker, because its 30 kitchens and rooms for six to eight people were certainly superior to the standard. This was a mother-child bunker, which in a propagandistic way was supposed to indicate the special care of the Nazi state for this population within a brutal air war. Starting in 2007 twelve penthouse condominiums were built under the dome of the gasometer. The interior rooms of the bunker are worthwhile seeing and part of Berlin Underworlds's Tour F.
Berlin Underworlds's Tour O begins with a small walk around the grounds of the former Humboldt Hospital, built from 1908 to 1910 in the Reinickendorf district. This is also the site of the extremely well-preserved operating room bunker from 1941, which gives visitors insight into the medical care for the civilian population during the air war. This was one of many similar facilities that were built within the scope of the “bunker construction program for the Reich capital.” For example, there was an air force field hospital on the fourth floor of the Zoo bunker in the Tiergarten Park, which was used preferentially by notables, because it was well-equipped and had high security. During the air raids, emergency operations were performed in these operating room bunkers; and many women gave birth in them.
The shortage in housing for mass usage had been a pressing problem in Berlin since the nineteenth century. Efforts to tackle it were undertaken in the Weimar Republic with the construction of large housing developments. The housing shortage continued during the Nazi period and even worsened due to the “Germania” plans, for which more than 53,000 apartments were to be torn down. Housing policies were considered a system-stabilizing factor within the Nazi regime, but the substantial new construction from 1933 on nevertheless remained far below the actual demand. For this reason, Speer's office pursued an infamous approach to solve the problem: Jews were to be registered and forced out of their residences so their apartments could be confiscated. Because the lists were also used for later deportations, Berlin's housing policies indicate direct connections to the crimes of the Nazis.
In 1938-39 the GAGFAH residential property company built the settlement once called the “SS Comradeship Settlement,” based on designs by Hans Gerlach. It consisted of one-family, two-family, and row houses in a traditional rural atmosphere in a pine forest. This, together with its location at the edge of the city, are consistent with an orientation toward older urban planning ideas of the garden city movement. The movement's demand to “return to the land” was incorporated into the agrarian, romantic notions of “Blood and Soil” Nazi ideology. This hostility toward large cities was soon revealed to be out of touch with reality. Around 1936, therefore, municipal mass housing construction gained significance. Principles of modern housing from the 1920s, including rationalization, typification, and standardization, were adopted and their influence can be identified in these homogeneous housing blocks near Argentinische Allee in the Zehlendorf district. The Krumme Lanke Forest Settlement thus represents two schools of Nazi housing construction.
The housing complex built between 1938 and 1940 on Grazer Damm in the Schöneberg district emerged against the background of Albert Speer's plans to rebuild Berlin and was intended to supply alternative housing for tenants from the demolition areas. Coordination between the GBI and the GSW (Not-for-profit Settlement and Housing Association) as contractor was thus very close. With 2,000 housing units, this was the largest individual housing project ever built up to that time in Berlin. The core area of the housing complex, designed by Hugo Virchow, Richard Pardon, Carl Cramer, and Ernst Denneberg, comprises six large four-sided blocks with green inner courtyards.
The five-story apartment buildings with high hip roofs on Grazer Damm, with uniformly structured facades up to 190 meters long, give a dismal impression. Archways at the end buildings and relief sculptures at the building entrances seem like contrived folkloristic clichés that try in vain to achieve the German sense of Gemütlichkeit (“comfort”). The small windows, scarcity of balconies, and the original coal stoves for heating are indications of the need at the time to keep building costs to a minimum. After war damage came reconstruction measures. Since the privatization of the GSW municipal housing association in 2004, the landmarked settlement has been subject to commercial marketing pressure.