Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

Maria - July 20, 2016

Germans had a special admiration for ancient architecture – that of Rome and Greece in particular, and Adolf Hitler was no exception. For him and his Nazi regime, though, there was more than admiration for this sort of architecture. They saw it as a means to impose fear and respect at the same time.

The totalitarian regime aimed to use the architectural plan as one way of communicating its purpose. Architecture had an important part to play in the plans by the Nazi party to fashion a cultural and spiritual renaissance in the country as a key agenda of the Third Reich.

Instead of adopting the rapidly changing art at the time, Hitler decided to embrace a conservative, notably monolithic architectural style which was both impressive and chilling to many people in equal proportion.

The German ruler had all the intention to establish a lasting regime. With these robust structures and their outstanding aesthetics, Hitler’s power within Germany would be completely undeniable. With the help of Albert Speer, his chief architect, Hitler market his rule with a rich variety of conservatively designed buildings some of which were destroyed during the war. But some of these structures were spared; either to be put to other uses or simply to serve as reminders of that dark era in the history of Germany. Here we look at ten of these epochal buildings that exist to date.

10. Prora Holiday Resort

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

Rugen Island, Germany’s largest island by area, located off the coast of Pomerania is the location where Hitler’s administration chose to put up the holiday resort. Prora was built in the period between 1936 and 1939 as a Strength Through Joy project. The beach resort features huge eight buildings boasting of well over 10,000 rooms.

The Strength through Joy project was a large state-operated leisure organization in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. It was meant to promote the benefits that came with National-Socialism. And as such, the construction of Prora Holiday Resort was central to its very objective – the structure would be a place for the hard-working Nazis to go and unwind. Somewhere in the 1930s, the Strength Through Joy became the largest tourism operator on planet Earth.

Prora was the handiwork of Hitler and Speer’s design competition winner Clemens Klotz. With his design in place, more than 9,000 construction workers were brought on board to see the project through. Measuring 4.5 km long, the central building was located precisely 150 meters from the coastline. Outside the numerous rooms housed inside the enormous building were swimming pools and a cinema theater.

The building was intended to accommodate 20,000 guests at the same time. It however never saw any guest through its doors, partly because the war interrupted its construction process. Hitler had to shift his attention into preparing for the looming World War II instead.

The building was also used during the Second World War as an ancillary female personnel resort and a refugee asylum. When the war ended, the building ended up on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain, using as part of their army base. When the East German Army was later founded in 1956, the country used the beach resort to house some of its own units. The structure has recently experienced some real estate developments and is in a better shape.

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

9. Keroman Submarine Base

This historic base was constructed under Großadmiral Karl Dönitz’s request. While he was on the French shores of the Atlantic Ocean, he needed a base for his operations and thus four gigantic structures named K1, K2, K3, and an incomplete K4 were built in the period between February 1941 and January 1942. This German base became a starting point of numerous U-Boat operations and was particularly used to target Allied supply convoys during the U-Boat Happy Days. Because of its huge size, it was capable of sheltering about thirty undercover submarines.

During the war, several German bases became targets and were heavily damaged by Allied bombing raids. However, this naval base was able to survive through to the end of the war. The structures are said to have been difficult to destroy and even though the American Army surrounded them, the Nazi Germany army still did not back down. In that case, the Allied forces decided to flatten the town of Lorient, thus cutting the base from its main supply line.

After the war, Keroman Submarine Base was rechristened as Base Ingénieur Général Stosskopf in July 1946 by the French, who had taken control. The name was used to commemorate the death of Jacques Stosskopf, an Alsatian Frenchman, who was working as the deputy director of naval construction for the Germans at the base and secretly providing valuable information on submarine movements to the Allies during the French Resistance. When the Germans later discovered his activities, he was executed at Struthof camp in Alsace on 1 September 1944, just before the arrival of the Allies.

The base has been used as a tourist site since the French abandoned it in 1997.

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

8. Olympiastadion

If you have heard of the infamous 1936 German Olympics where African-American sprinter Jesse Owens infuriated Hitler by garnering four gold medals in both the sprint and long-jump category, then you have a remote idea of the Olympiastadion. By the time the Olympics were scheduled for Berlin Germany, it was 1916, several years before Hitler came to power. And these games were slated for the Deutsche Stadion, a multi-use stadium located in Berlin, Germany initially used as the arena of German football championship matches.

World War I reared its ugly head and together with the economic crisis they forced the momentous games to be postponed to 1936. Adolf Hitler, wanting to prove German superiority, saw the Olympics as the chance to stage a propaganda event that would succeed in aligning the German folk as the heritors of the Greek tradition.

He had the two brothers Albert and Werner March put up a great stadium, Olympiastadion, to host the 1936 Olympics. The father of these architects Otto March was supposed to handle the project before Adolf Hitler’s chancellorship.

They worked on the project between 1934 and 1936. When the Olympiastadion was completed, it measured 326 acres (1.32 square kilometers). It was comprised of the Olympia Stadion, the Waldbühne amphitheater and the Maifeld (Mayfield). The structure also featured additional facilities and buildings for various sports – equestrian events, football, swimming, and field hockey in its northern segment. Today, the Olympiastadion hosts the Hertha BSC football club.

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

7. Olympic Village

The Olympiastadion was complemented by yet another big structure, the Olympic Village built in 1934. This is located on the western perimeter of Germany’s capital of Berlin, at Estal, Wustermark. It was 19 miles (30 kilometers) from the city center. As an accommodation center built for Olympic Games, the Olympic Village consisted of both single and double-floor dormitories, a swimming pool, dining areas and various training facilities for the contesting athletes.

Jesse Owens, the American hero athlete, used these facilities that now stand only as vestiges. During the Summer Olympics, the structure housed about 4,000 participants from all over the world.

The Olympic Village was used during World War II as a hospital for injured Wehrmacht fighters. The Soviet Union took it over in 1945 following the fall of Adolf Hitler. It then became a military camp used by the Union occupation forces. There are unconfirmed claims that Olympia Village has also been used as a torture facility by the Soviet’s Committee for State Security (KGB).

Even though there are plans to restore the former village into a living museum, it remains debilitated, with the only part fully restored being the dormitory where Jesse Owens stayed.

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

6. Nazi Party Rally Grounds

Hitler is remembered to have made some of the most inflammatory speeches in the history of dictatorship. And the Nazi Party Rally Grounds, also Reich Party Congress Grounds was not just home to Nazi Party public meetings, but actually, the place where he made a considerable number of these speeches.

The grounds covered approximately 11 square kilometers, located in the southeast of Nuremberg, Germany. It hosted a total of six Nazi party rallies between 1933 and 1938. The entire Nazi Party Rally Grounds complex consisted of several structures. Some of these structures were built before the advent of the Nazi. Examples here include the Hall of Honour – built earlier to honor the soldiers from Nuremberg, who died in WWI- and the Luitpold Hall.

Today, the largest of these buildings that are also the best-kept is the Congress Hall. This was planned by Ludwig and Franz Ruff, both who were Nuremberg architects. The Congress Hall foundation stone was set in 1935, but the construction was never finished. Its project came to a stop after reaching a height of 39 meters, the intended height having been 70 meters. It was intended to serve as an assembly center for the NSDAP with a total of 50,000 seats and a self-supporting roof. But the Given its location in the Dutzendteich shore, this building marked the entrance to the rally grounds.

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

5. Flak Towers

Flak Towers were a series of anti-aircraft firearm blockhouse towers built by Nazi Germany in the cities of Berlin, Vienna and Hamburg starting from 1940. The towers were eight complexes of large structures erected above-ground that were used both as civilian shelters during bombing raids and for purposes of anti-aircraft defense in Germany and Austria. Three of these were built in Berlin. 2 of these survived the Second World War and still exist to date.

The Berlin Flak Towers are however not the only ones that are still standing. Of the three that were built in Vienna, the L-Tower, and the Obere Augartenstrasse tower also have survived till now. There were another two built in Hamburg. These flak towers have remained partly to this date.

The towers’ very existence to this date is largely because of their nearly indestructible nature. It would take a large-scale initiative to obliterate them, which was never taken. After WWII, a lot of such towers were destroyed or just left as relics. Some were however converted into nightclubs, restaurants, and music shops that exist till now.

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

4. Ministry of Aviation

Aviation ministry house, also Detlev-Rohwedder Haus stood out as the largest office space on the planet when it was erected in 1936. It housed the Ministry of Aviation of The Third Reich, for which it is most famous to date.

The Ministry of Aviation building was designed by the same architect who oversaw the reconstruction plan of the Tempelhof airport, Ernst Sagebiel. Due to its enormous size, the building was described as being in the characteristic style of “National Socialist intimidation architecture”.

The Detlev-Rohwedder Haus was seven storied and featured a total floor area of 112,000 square meters, 7 kilometers of corridors, a total of 2,800 rooms, more than 4,000 windows and 17 stairways. Its structure was made up of a concrete skeleton reinforced to the exterior with limestone and travertine. Travertine is a form of marble. It amassed stone drawn from at least 50 quarries.

The building was truly vast and as such, it served effectively the growing Luftwaffe bureaucracy in addition to being home to Germany’s civil aviation authority at the time.

The most surprising fact is that despite the immenseness of the structure, it took only 18 months to construct. This short-time completion was possible as construction personnel worked double shifts, throughout the week, and single shifts on Sundays. After just eight months of construction in October 1935, the building’s first 1,000 rooms were submitted for use. Upon its completion, it housed about 4,000 bureaucrats together with their clerks. The building is used by the Federal German Ministry of Finance.

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

3. Haus der Kunst

The Haus der Deutschen Kunst (House of German Art) is considered to be the first representational monumental structure of the Third Reich. Built between 1933 and 1937. Haus der Kunst was initially planned by the Bavarian Ministry of Culture to be a stone building for exhibitions as the replacement to the Glass Palace. Hitler, however, saw the project as a chance to create a shrine of his own aesthetic ideals. As soon as the National Socialists rose to power, Hitler moved the plan of the building to the southern border of Munich’s “Englischer Garten”. He directed Paul Ludwig Troost to design the first monumental example of Nazi architecture – the House of German Art.

Troost had never worked for the government before, but he was Hitler’s preferred architect since his neo-classical designs meshed well with Hitler’s image of the future of architecture. Troost, however, died untimely in early 1934, leaving Gerdy Troost his widow and Leonhard Gall, his right-hand employee in charge of the work. They made no significant changes to the designs and saw the construction of the Haus der Deutschen Kunst.

Roughly two years after its completion (1939), the building hosted the 2,000 years of German culture celebrations. It became an American officer mess hall after the world war. It, however, was later reverted to its initial purpose.

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

2. NS Ordensburg

NS Ordensburg is a term referring to three remote castle-like schools intended to serve as an education center for future Nazi party leaders. The power-hungry Adolf Hitler wanted to ensure the constant flow of devoted party members, and he saw the education system as a breakthrough to achieving this goal.

The first of these three schools Ordensburg Sonthofen was built in 1934, in Allgau following Hermann Giesler’s design. The other two were Krossinsee in Pomerania and Vogelsang in Eifel. All of them had sports gymnasiums, cinemas and most importantly, state-of-art technology on top of other commodities.

It enrolled as students a select group of trustworthy candidates of “pure blood”, as a way to nurture the elite status. These candidates aged between 25 and 30 years had to be both physically and mentally fit. Most importantly, they had to be members of some form of Nazi organization -Hitler Youth, the SS or the actual Nazi Party.

When the Third Reich fell, these schools were used for military purposes by the countries that inherited them. One of them, Krossinsee located in Pomerania is still used as a military base for sections of the Polish Army. The other two are currently historic sites for tourist attractions.

Top 10 Nazi Buildings That Are Still Standing

1. Eagle’s Nest

“The Eagle’s Nest,” is the name that the Allies used to refer to the Kehlsteinhaus, a construction on top of the Kehlsteinhaus summit in the Bavarian Alps. This big house on the top of the mountain rises above Obersalzberg and includes an underground tunnel. 124 meters below the structure, an elevator leads to a large parking lot. The unique house served Hitler as his lavish sanctuary. It was offered to him on his 50th birthday amid a surprise celebration. The whole project was financed by the Nazi Party though it was commissioned by Martin Bormann in 1937.

It cost the lives of 12 construction workers and around 150 million euros by modern standards to have the building erected. The interior décor was the handiwork of the celebrated architect and designer Paul Laszlo.

A charitable trust currently owns the building. It serves as a restaurant with indoor dining services plus an outdoor beer allotment. In addition, it remains a popular tourist attraction especially to those fascinated by the German history of the 30s.


Continue Reading:

War History Online – The Long Shadow Of Hitler’s Reich – Surviving Buildings From The Nazi Era

Smithsonian Magazine – Nuremberg Decides to Conserve Nazi Rally Grounds

Popular Mechanics – The Fearsome Nazi Tower That Held Off the Allies in Berlin