Hitler Plans a New German Capital

Hitler Plans a New German Capital

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In 1937 Hitler’s architect Albert Speer was given the task of transforming Berlin from the sprawling metropolis that it was into Germania, the gleaming new capital of a Greater German ‘World Empire’, the centrepiece of the civilised world.

It was a vast undertaking. Plans, swiftly drawn up by Speer’s office, were presented to the public on January 28th, 1938. The reaction within Germany was predictably enthusiastic, with newspapers carrying detailed explanations and commentaries. Der Angriff stated that the designs were ‘truly monumental … far exceeding all expectations’, while the Völkischer Beobachter proclaimed grandly that ‘from this desert of stone, shall emerge the capital of a thousand-year Reich’. The foreign press, though less effusive, nonetheless concurred. The New York Times, for instance, described the project as ‘perhaps the most ambitious planning scheme’ of the modern era.

The plans certainly did not want for ambition. In accordance with Hitler’s original sketches they centred on a grand boulevard, which was to run from north to south for around seven kilometres through the heart of the city, linking two proposed new rail termini. Given carte blanche in redesigning this vast swathe of the city centre, Speer and his minions had had a field day and their plans read like a catalogue of comparatives and superlatives. The vast Grand Hall, for instance, close to the Reichstag, would have been the largest enclosed space in the world, with a dome 16 times larger than that of St Peter’s in Rome. Designed to host 180,000 people, there were concerns among the planners that the exhaled breath of the audience might even produce ‘weather’ beneath the cavernous coffered ceiling. The 117-metre tall Arch of Triumph, meanwhile, was designed – on Hitler’s express instruction – to carry the names of Germany’s 1.8 million fallen of the First World War engraved upon its walls. Similarly massive, it would have comfortably accommodated its Parisian namesake beneath its arch. Linking these monuments along the new axis would be a plethora of new buildings, civic and commercial, flanking broad avenues, ornamental obelisks, an artificial lake and a vast ‘circus’ peppered with Nazi statuary.

The image that will be familiar to many is of Hitler inspecting the white scale-model of this main axis, which was presented to him on his 50th birthday in April 1939 and was erected in a side-room of the Reich Chancellery. Though Hitler’s interest in the project was restricted almost exclusively to the north-south axis – and he would often return to muse over the model – the plans were not limited to that one area. Speer had succeeded in incorporating those headline designs into a much more thoroughgoing reorganisation of the city’s infrastructure.

First of all, Berlin’s rail network was to be overhauled, with the two new stations replacing three old termini and with many miles of sidings being replaced by a new line that would circle the city centre. Roads, too, were to be redrawn. The two new boulevards – the proposed north-south axis and the east-west axis, completed in 1939 – were only the centrepiece of a radical redevelopment. In addition Speer foresaw the city’s formerly organic urban growth being rationalised by the addition of radial thoroughfares and four concentric ring roads, the outermost of which would provide a direct connect-ion to the German autobahn network.

Entire suburbs were to be constructed to provide modern housing stock, administrative buildings and new commercial developments, which, it was planned would accommodate over 200,000 Berliners, moved out of the slums of the city centre. New airports were foreseen, including one for seaplanes on the lake at Rangsdorf. Even the city’s parks would be revamped, with horticultural studies being commissioned to report on the species that were required to restore the 18th-century flora of the region. Such was the scale of the Germania plans that, when Speer’s father – himself an architect – saw them, he summed up the thoughts of many of his contemporaries, saying: ‘You’ve all gone completely crazy.’

Of course only a tiny fraction of these grandiose designs would ever be realised. The visitor to Berlin today will struggle to see much evidence of Speer’s Germania unless he or she knows where to look. Most obvious is the boulevard west of the Brandenburg Gate, which is the old east-west axis and which is still illuminated by some of Speer’s original – and rather elegant – street lamps. Meanwhile the Victory Column (inaugurated in 1873 following Prussia’s victories over Denmark, Austria and France in the 1860s and 1870s) was moved to its present location to make way for the projected north-south Axis. Most bizarrely, the southern suburb of Tempelhof still contains a huge circular concrete block weighing over 12,000 tonnes – the Schwerbelastungskörper, or ‘heavy load-bearing body’ – which was supposed to help Speer’s engineers gauge the ability of Berlin’s sandy soil to take the vast weight of the proposed Arch of Triumph. Too large and too solid to demolish, the block stands to this day as a silent monument to Nazi megalomania.

More than a pipedream

Given that so little of Germania was ever completed and that only a fraction of it remains, it is easy to underestimate its significance. Speer’s planned rebuilding of Berlin is too readily dismissed as a Nazi pipedream a still-born manifestation of Hitler’s architectural fantasies thankfully confined to the drawing board. Yet, in spite of the fact that Germania never came into being it would be a mistake if we were to allow ourselves to view it merely as an abstract: a folly, or an architectural curiosity somehow divorced from the odious regime that spawned it. For, as we shall see, Germania was in many ways a rather perfect representation of Nazism.

First, the issue of its feasibility must be assessed. Despite its soaring ambition the plan to re-model Berlin was part of a veritable orgy of building that had gripped the later, peacetime years of the Third Reich. Much of that, certainly, was relatively small-scale – barracks, settlements, schools and so on – but a number of projects showed similarly monumental tendencies and were themselves considerable feats of planning and construction. Most famously, perhaps, there is the example of Hitler’s vast new Reich Chancellery, which stretched the entire 400-metre length of the Voss Strasse in Berlin and was completed in 1939 at a cost of over 90 million Reichsmarks.

Other Berlin landmarks were similarly grandiose: the Olympic Stadium, opened in 1936, seated 100,000 spectators and was part of a much larger complex that was intended as much for political as for sporting ends. Göring’s Air Ministry, meanwhile, also completed in 1936, was once the largest office building in the world, offering 2,800 rooms across seven floors with 4,000 windows and nearly seven kilometres of corridors. Today it is home to the German finance ministry.

Elsewhere construction was no more modest. In Nuremberg Speer’s famed tribune on the Zeppelin Field was dwarfed by the nearby Congress Hall, modelled on the Colosseum in Rome, which was built to accommodate 50,000 of the Nazi faithful. Though it only reached a height of 39 metres – as opposed to the 70 metres that was planned – it is still the largest surviving building of the Nazi period while at Prora, on the Baltic coast, a huge holiday resort was constructed, which, though unfinished at the outbreak of war in 1939, stretched for 4.5km along the seafront and would have housed over 20,000 holidaymakers. Even Hitler’s folly above Berchtesgaden – the Kehlsteinhaus, or ‘Eagle’s Nest’ – was an ambitious project. Completed in 1938, after little over a year in construction, it was sited atop an Alpine ridge at an altitude of over 6,000 feet and was accessed via a purpose-built seven-kilometre mountain road, which had to be blasted into the mountainside.

When considering Hitler’s plans for Berlin, therefore, one must bear in mind the wider context of Nazi construction and the astonishing track record that Hitler’s architects already had in successfully realising his visions. Germania was not mere Nazi ‘pie in the sky’. It was a part of a concerted programme to provide Germany with a portfolio of grand-scale, monumental architecture, which, Hitler believed, would be seen as the defining buildings of the age, rivals to Egypt, Babylon and Rome, inspiring future generations of Germans. It was certainly not merely a dictator’s architectural wish-list.

Quarries and camps

Given its central importance to the Nazi vision, the building frenzy – of which Germania was part – was thoroughly integrated into the Third Reich’s economy and terror networks. Indeed it is not widely understood just how close the relationship was between the building programme and the concentration camps. The vast expansion of the camp system from 1936 onwards had, in fact, been fuelled primarily by the demand for labour and materials from the burgeoning construction sector, with Albert Speer – and Germania – in the vanguard.

Consequently, many of the most infamous concentration camps of the Nazi era – Mauthausen, Gross Rosen and Buchenwald among them – were established close to quarries. The camp at Mauthausen, for instance, was set up in 1938 alongside the granite quarry that had supplied much of the stone used to pave the streets of Vienna, while the camp at Sachsenhausen, outside Berlin, was close to what was intended to be one of the largest brickworks in the world. The camp-quarry at Flossenbürg in northern Bavaria, meanwhile, was the source of much of the white-flecked granite that was going to be used in Berlin, some of which is still stacked inside the Congress Hall in Nuremberg. Thus Germania was not only central to the Nazi aesthetic, it also played a vital role in the establishment and maintenance of the concentration camp network. Nazi architectural planning, it seems, had synchronised perfectly with the interests of the SS.

Germania’s financing was also not as utopian as one might imagine. Speer estimated the total cost of the project, perhaps optimistically, at six billion Reichsmarks, five per cent of Germany’s GDP in 1939. Yet such was the Byzantine nature of economic relationships in the Third Reich that only a fraction of that figure would have to be paid directly by the Reich government. For one thing, the vast majority of the building materials that were prepared for the project came from the concentration camps dotted across Nazi Germany, while the quarries and brickworks themselves were owned or leased by an SS-owned company, DEST (Deutsche Erd-und Steinwerke). So Germania effectively got its materials for free, with the added bonus – in Nazi eyes – that their political opponents were being ‘re-educated by labour’ in the process.

In addition the construction and demolition costs were to be spread across the annual budgets of numerous ministries, organisations and Nazi fiefdoms. And there was no shortage of willing donors, with some, such as the Nazi Labour Front, being deliberately kept at arm’s length for fear that they might wield too great an influence. The city of Berlin was required to shoulder much of the financing, with various appeals for donations and contributions to make up any shortfall. It also would not have escaped Speer’s attention that his projected costs equated exactly with the total estimated value of Jewish property in Nazi Germany. By these measures, Speer recalled, the costs of the project could be divided (and effectively concealed), leaving central government directly liable only for the Great Hall and the Arch of Victory. Hitler, meanwhile, tended to wave away any complaints from his ministers by stressing the large numbers of wealthy tourists that – one day – would visit the new capital of the Greater German Reich.

So, although little of it was actually constructed, Germania was not merely theoretical, it was very real. And it would have felt all the more real to those concentration camp inmates at Mauthausen or Flossenbürg, who had to quarry the granite slabs for Berlin’s new Reich Chancellery or the Soldier’s Hall. Even sites that never saw the light of day were prepared for stone was cut, bricks were fired and men died. It is reasonable to assume that, of the 100,000 or so concentration camp inmates who perished at Sachsenhausen, Flossenbürg and Mauthausen, a large proportion of them died preparing the stone for the rebuilding of Berlin.

Germania was also very real for ordinary Berliners. From 1939 to 1942 the areas of the city earmarked for the project were being cleared and existing properties demolished. Even the nocturnal visits of the RAF in 1940 were welcomed by Speer’s staff as providing ‘valuable preparatory work’ for the demolition programme. Preparations elsewhere were similarly thorough. The district of the Spree-bend to the west of the Brandenburg Gate, for instance, was criss-crossed with test trenches and foundations, while to the south, by the end of 1939 the project’s first building, the Foreign Travel Office, was already completed in its essentials. Beneath it all, meanwhile, the complex of underpasses that would take through-traffic away from the new centrepiece of the Reich, had already taken shape.

The human cost

In all this demolition and construction countless thousands of people were directly affected in the German capital. Foremost among them were prisoners of war and forced labourers, who were housed in often substandard conditions and made to work around the clock and in all weathers. Despite his later protestations of innocence, Speer was never shy of exploiting PoWs as labour. Indeed in November 1941, after the opening successes of the war against the Soviet Union, he petitioned Hitler with a request for some 30,000 Soviet PoWs specifically for use in the construction of the ‘new Berlin’. Hitler acceded to the request, thereby bringing the total workforce overseen by Speer’s staff and working directly on Germania to around 130,000.

Civilians, too, faced considerable disruption. Those ‘Aryans’ who found themselves living in the way of Speer’s plans were rehoused, either in modern, purpose-built accommodation in the suburbs or else, as was more usual, in properties from which Jewish owners had been evicted. Already in 1938 Speer had suggested that the capital’s Jewish community should be moved into smaller properties, thereby freeing up larger buildings for the use of those Aryan Berliners displaced by the ongoing demolition works. By 1940 this process was well under way and many thousands of Jewish properties were being vacated.

Those displaced Jews, however, often found themselves – perversely – being moved into the path of Speer’s bulldozers. As the housing crisis in the capital worsened, many of them were unable to rent property and were forced into so-called ‘Jew-houses’, which were often those substandard blocks, already slated for demolition, that stood along the route of the construction works. There, amid chronic overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions, with as many as 200 families inhabiting a single block, they were effectively stripped of their few remaining legal rights as tenants. They could have had little inkling that worse was to come, but in October 1941 many of them would be aboard the first transports that would leave Berlin, destined for the ghetto at Łódz.

In this way the Germania project, despite being largely stillborn, had profound consequences, becoming a catalyst not only for the evolution of the concentration camp system but also for the development of Nazi policy against the capital’s Jews.

Speer’s plans for Berlin are fascinating. In an architectural sense, they are – if nothing else – a potent display of the astonishing extremes that can be reached by sycophantic architects. Yet any assessment of the Germania plans must reach beyond the narrow sphere of architecture, even if only a fraction of those designs ever graduated from the drawing board. Speer’s plans cannot simply be viewed from the architectural perspective alone: in examining them one is morally bound to consider not only the designs themselves but also the brutal methods by which they were brought into being.

Germania, though largely unrealised, nonetheless projected its malign influence into many other spheres of life – and death – in the Third Reich. Its contempt for mankind was demonstrated not only in the treatment meted out to those doomed to cut its stone in the concentration camps or those who found themselves living in its path it also extended to those who might one day have walked those granite-clad boulevards. It is notable, for example, that in all the plans a human dimension is almost completely lacking. Hitler, it appears, had absolutely no interest in the social aspects of the planning that he oversaw his passion was for the buildings themselves rather than for the human beings who might one day inhabit them. Indeed it has been plausibly suggested by Frederic Spotts that the plans for Berlin’s reconstruction were themselves simply a manifestation of Hitler’s desire to reduce cities and even individuals to the status of mere playthings. When one recalls the images of the Führer stooped like some malevolent deity over his architectural models in the Reich Chancellery this is an interpretation that becomes instantly and chillingly persuasive.

Just as Albert Speer was never just an architect, therefore, Germania was never merely an architectural programme. It was, in fact, a perfect reflection of the dark, misanthropic heart of Nazism.


Racial theories Edit

Nazi racial ideology regarded the Germanic peoples of Europe as belonging to a racially superior Nordic subset of the larger Aryan race, who were regarded as the only true culture-bearers of civilized society. [10] These peoples were viewed as either "true Germanic peoples" that had "lost their sense of racial pride", or as close racial relatives of the Germans. [11] German Chancellor Adolf Hitler also believed that the Ancient Greeks and Romans were the racial ancestors of the Germans, and the first torchbearers of "Nordic–Greek" art and culture. [12] [13] He particularly expressed his admiration for Ancient Sparta, declaring it to have been the purest racial state: [14]

"The subjugation of 350,000 Helots by 6,000 Spartans was only possible because of the racial superiority of the Spartans." The Spartans had created "the first racialist state." [15]

Furthermore, Hitler's concept of "Germanic" did not simply refer to an ethnic, cultural, or linguistic group, but also to a distinctly biological one, the superior "Germanic blood" that he wanted to salvage from the control of the enemies of the Aryan race. He stated that Germany possessed more of these "Germanic elements" than any other country in the world, which he estimated as "four fifths of our people". [16]

Wherever Germanic blood is to be found anywhere in the world, we will take what is good for ourselves. With what the others have left, they will be unable to oppose the Germanic Empire.

According to the Nazis, in addition to the Germanic peoples, individuals of seemingly non-Germanic nationality such as French, Polish, Walloon, Czech and so on might actually possess valuable Germanic blood, especially if they were of aristocratic or peasant stock. [17] In order to "recover" these "missing" Germanic elements, they had to be made conscious of their Germanic ancestry through the process of Germanization (the term used by the Nazis for this process was Umvolkung, "restoration to the race"). [17] If the "recovery" was impossible, these individuals had to be destroyed to deny the enemy of using their superior blood against the Aryan race. [17] An example of this type of Nazi Germanization is the kidnapping of "racially valuable" Eastern European children. Curiously, those chosen for Germanization who rejected the Nazis were viewed as being racially more suitable than those who went along without objections, as according to Himmler "it was in the nature of German blood to resist". [18]

On the very first page of Mein Kampf, Hitler openly declared his belief that "common blood belongs in a common Reich", elucidating the notion that the innate quality of race (as the Nazi movement perceived it) should hold precedence over "artificial" concepts such as national identity (including regional German identities such as Prussian and Bavarian) as the deciding factor for which people were "worthy" of being assimilated into a Greater German racial state (Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer). [19] Part of the strategic methods which Hitler chose to ensure the present and future supremacy of the Aryan race (which was, according to Hitler, "gradually approaching extinction" [20] ) was to do away with what he described as the "small state rubbish" (Kleinstaatengerümpel, compare Kleinstaaterei) in Europe in order to unite all these Nordic countries into one unified racial community. [21] From 1921 onward he advocated the creation of a "Germanic Reich of the German Nation". [2]

It was the continent which brought civilization to Great Britain and in turn enabled her to colonize large areas in the rest of the world. America is unthinkable without Europe. Why would we not have the necessary power to become one of the world's centres of attraction? A hundred-and-twenty million people of Germanic origin – if they have consolidated their position this will be a power against which no-one in the world could stand up to. The countries which form the Germanic world have only to gain from this. I can see that in my own case. My birth country is one of the most beautiful regions in the Reich, but what could it do if were left to its own devices? There is no possibility to develop one’s talents in countries like Austria or Saxony, Denmark or Switzerland. There is no foundation. That is why it is fortunate that potential new spaces are again opened for the Germanic peoples.

Name Edit

The chosen name for the projected empire was a deliberate reference to the Holy Roman Empire (of the German Nation) that existed in medieval times, known as the First Reich in National Socialist historiography. [23] Different aspects of the legacy of this medieval empire in German history were both celebrated and derided by the National Socialist government. Hitler admired the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne for his "cultural creativity", his powers of organization, and his renunciation of the rights of the individual. [23] He criticized the Holy Roman Emperors however for not pursuing an Ostpolitik (Eastern Policy) resembling his own, while being politically focused exclusively on the south. [23] After the Anschluss, Hitler ordered the old imperial regalia (the Imperial Crown, Imperial Sword, the Holy Lance and other items) residing in Vienna to be transferred to Nuremberg, where they were kept between 1424 and 1796. [24] Nuremberg, in addition to being the former unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, was also the place of the Nuremberg rallies. The transfer of the regalia was thus done to both legitimize Hitler's Germany as the successor of the "Old Reich", but also weaken Vienna, the former imperial residence. [25]

After the 1939 German occupation of Bohemia, Hitler declared that the Holy Roman Empire had been "resurrected", although he secretly maintained his own empire to be better than the old "Roman" one. [26] Unlike the "uncomfortably internationalist Catholic empire of Barbarossa", the Germanic Reich of the German Nation would be racist and nationalist. [26] Rather than a return to the values of the Middle Ages, its establishment was to be "a push forward to a new golden age, in which the best aspects of the past would be combined with modern racist and nationalist thinking". [26]

The historical borders of the Holy Empire were also used as grounds for territorial revisionism by the NSDAP, laying claim to modern territories and states that were once part of it. Even before the war, Hitler had dreamed of reversing the Peace of Westphalia, which had given the territories of the Empire almost complete sovereignty. [27] On November 17, 1939, Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary that the "total liquidation" of this historic treaty was the "great goal" of the Nazi regime, [27] and that since it had been signed in Münster, it would also be officially repealed in the same city. [28]

Pan-Germanism versus Pan-Germanicism Edit

Despite intending to accord the other "Germanics" of Europe a racially superior status alongside the Germans themselves in an anticipated post-war racio-political order, the Nazis did not however consider granting the subject populations of these countries any national rights of their own. [10] The other Germanic countries were seen as mere extensions of Germany rather than individual units in any way, [10] and the Germans were unequivocally intended to remain the empire's "most powerful source of strength, from both an ideological as well as military standpoint". [22] Even Heinrich Himmler, who among the senior Nazis most staunchly supported the concept, could not shake off the idea of a hierarchical distinction between German Volk and Germanic Völker. [29] The SS's official newspaper, Das Schwarze Korps, never succeeded in reconciling the contradiction between Germanic 'brotherhood' and German superiority. [29] Members of Nazi-type parties in Germanic countries were also forbidden to attend public meetings of the Nazi Party when they visited Germany. After the Battle of Stalingrad this ban was lifted, but only if the attendees made prior notice of their arrival so that the events' speakers could be warned in advance not to make disparaging remarks about their country of origin. [30]

Although Hitler himself and Himmler's SS advocated for a pan-Germanic Empire, the objective was not universally held in the Nazi regime. [31] Goebbels and the Reich Foreign Ministry under Joachim von Ribbentrop inclined more towards an idea of a continental bloc under German rule, as represented by the Anti-Comintern Pact, Ribbentrop's "European Confederation" project and the earlier Mitteleuropa concept.

Germanic mysticism Edit

There were also disagreements within the NSDAP leadership on the spiritual implications of cultivating a 'Germanic history' in their ideological program. Hitler was highly critical of Himmler's esoteric völkisch interpretation of the 'Germanic mission'. When Himmler denounced Charlemagne in a speech as "the butcher of the Saxons", Hitler stated that this was not a 'historical crime' but in fact a good thing, for the subjugation of Widukind had brought Western culture into what eventually became Germany. [32] He also disapproved of the pseudoarchaeological projects which Himmler organized through his Ahnenerbe organization, such as excavations of pre-historic Germanic sites: "Why do we call the whole world's attention to the fact that we have no past? [32]

In an attempt to eventually supplant Christianity with a religion more amenable to National Socialist ideology, Himmler, together with Alfred Rosenberg, sought to replace it with Germanic paganism (the indigenous traditional religion or Volksreligion of the Germanic peoples), of which the Japanese Shinto was seen as an almost perfect East Asian counterpart. [33] For this purpose they had ordered the construction of sites for the worship of Germanic cults in order to exchange Christian rituals for Germanic consecration ceremonies, which included different marriage and burial rites. [33] In Heinrich Heims' Adolf Hitler, Monologe im FHQ 1941-1944 (several editions, here Orbis Verlag, 2000), Hitler is quoted as having said on 14 October 1941: "It seems to be inexpressibly stupid to allow a revival of the cult of Odin/Wotan. Our old mythology of the gods was defunct, and incapable of revival, when Christianity came. the whole world of antiquity either followed philosophical systems on the one hand, or worshipped the gods. But in modern times it is undesirable that all humanity should make such a fool of itself." [ citation needed ]

The goal was first proclaimed publicly in the 1937 Nuremberg Rallies. [34] Hitler's last speech at this event ended with the words "The German nation has after all acquired its Germanic Reich", which elicited speculation in political circles of a 'new era' in Germany's foreign policy. [34] Several days before the event Hitler took Albert Speer aside when both were on their way to the former's Munich apartment with an entourage, and declared to him that "We will create a great empire. All the Germanic peoples will be included in it. It will begin in Norway and extend to northern Italy. [nb 1] [35] I myself must carry this out. If only I keep my health!" [34] On April 9, 1940, as Germany invaded Denmark and Norway in Operation Weserübung, Hitler announced the establishment of the Germanic Reich: "Just as the Bismarck Empire arose from the year 1866, so too will the Greater Germanic Empire arise from this day." [27]

The establishment of the empire was to follow the model of the Austrian Anschluss of 1938, just carried out on a greater scale. [36] Goebbels emphasized in April 1940 that the annexed Germanic countries would have to undergo a similar "national revolution" as Germany herself did after the Machtergreifung, with an enforced rapid social and political "co-ordination" in accordance with Nazi principles and ideology (Gleichschaltung). [36]

The ultimate goal of the Gleichschaltung policy pursued in these parts of occupied Europe was to destroy the very concepts of individual states and nationalities, just as the concept of a separate Austrian state and national identity was repressed after the Anschluss through the establishment of new state and party districts. [37] The new empire was to no longer be a nation-state of the type that had emerged in the 19th century, but instead a "racially pure community". [27] It is for this reason that the German occupiers had no interest in transferring real power to the various far-right nationalist movements present in the occupied countries (such as Nasjonal Samling, the NSB, etc.) except for temporary reasons of Realpolitik, and instead actively supported radical collaborators who favored pan-Germanic unity (i.e. total integration to Germany) over provincial nationalism (for example DeVlag). [38] Unlike Austria and the Sudetenland however, the process was to take considerably longer. [39] Eventually these nationalities were to be merged with the Germans into a single ruling race, but Hitler stated that this prospect lay "a hundred or so years" in the future. During this interim period it was intended that the 'New Europe' would be run by Germans alone. [29] According to Speer, while Himmler intended to eventually Germanize these peoples completely, Hitler intended not to "infringe on their individuality" (that is, their native languages), so that in the future they would "add to the diversity and dynamism" of his empire. [40] The German language would be its lingua franca however, likening it to the status of English in the British Commonwealth. [40]

A primary agent used in stifling the local extreme nationalist elements was the Germanic SS, which initially merely consisted of local respective branches of the Allgemeine-SS in Belgium, Netherlands and Norway. [41] These groups were at first under the authority of their respective pro-National Socialist national commanders (De Clercq, Mussert and Quisling), and were intended to function within their own national territories only. [41] During the course of 1942, however, the Germanic SS was further transformed into a tool used by Himmler against the influence of the less extreme collaborating parties and their SA-style organizations, such as the Hird in Norway and the Weerbaarheidsafdeling in the Netherlands. [41] [42] In the post-war Germanic Empire, these men were to form the new leadership cadre of their respective national territories. [43] To emphasize their pan-Germanic ideology, the Norges SS was now renamed the Germanske SS Norge, the Nederlandsche SS the Germaansche SS in Nederland and the Algemeene-SS Vlaanderen the Germaansche SS in Vlaanderen. The men of these groups no longer swore allegiance to their respective national leaders, but to the germanischer Führer ("Germanic Führer"), Adolf Hitler: [41] [42]

I swear to you, Adolf Hitler, as Germanic Führer, loyalty and bravery. I pledge you and the superiors which you appointed obedience until death. So help me God. [44]

This title was assumed by Hitler on 23 June 1941, at the suggestion of Himmler. [44] On 12 December 1941 the Dutch right-wing nationalist Anton Mussert also addressed him in this fashion when he proclaimed his allegiance to Hitler during a visit to the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. [45] He had wanted to address Hitler as Führer aller Germanen ("Führer of all Germanics"), but Hitler personally decreed the former style. [44] Historian Loe de Jong speculates on the difference between the two: Führer aller Germanen implied a position separate from Hitler's role as Führer und Reichskanzler des Grossdeutschen Reiches ("Führer and Reich Chancellor of the Greater German Reich"), while germanischer Führer served more as an attribute of that main function. [45] As late as 1944 occasional propaganda publications continued to refer to him by this unofficial title as well however. [46] Mussert held that Hitler was predestined to become the Führer of Germanics because of his congruous personal history: Hitler originally was an Austrian national, who enlisted in the Bavarian army and lost his Austrian citizenship. He thus remained stateless for seven years, during which, according to Mussert, he was "the Germanic leader and nothing else". [47]

The Swastika Flag was to be used as a symbol to represent not only the National Socialist movement, but also the unity of the Nordic-Germanic peoples into a single state. [48] The swastika was seen by many National Socialists as a fundamentally Germanic and European symbol despite its presence among many cultures worldwide.

Hitler had long intended to architecturally reconstruct the German capital Berlin into a new imperial metropolis, which he decided in 1942 to rename Germania upon its scheduled completion in 1950. The name was specifically chosen to make it the clear central point of the envisioned Germanic empire, and to re-enforce the notion of a united Germanic-Nordic state upon the Germanic peoples of Europe. [49]

Just as the Bavarians and the Prussians had to be impressed by Bismarck of the German idea, so too must the Germanic peoples of continental Europe be steered towards the Germanic concept. He [Hitler] even considers it good that by renaming the Reich capital Berlin into 'Germania', we'll have given considerable driving force to this task. The name Germania for the Reich capital would be very appropriate, for in spite of how far removed those belonging to the Germanic racial core will be, this capital will instill a sense of unity.

Low countries Edit

The German plans of annexation were more advanced for the Low Countries than for the Nordic states, due in part to their geographical proximity as well as cultural, historical and ethnic ties to Germany. Luxembourg and Belgium were both formally annexed into the German Reich during World War II, in 1942 and 1944 respectively, the latter as the new Reichsgaue of Flandern and Wallonien (the proposed third one, Brabant, was not implemented in this arrangement) and a Brussels District. On April 5, 1942, while having dinner with an entourage including Heinrich Himmler, Hitler declared his intention that the Low Countries would be included whole into the Reich, at which point the Greater German Reich would be reformed into the Germanic Reich (simply "the Reich" in common parlance) to signify this change. [22]

In October 1940 Hitler disclosed to Benito Mussolini that he intended to leave the Netherlands semi-independent because he wanted that country to retain its overseas colonial empire after the war. [52] This factor was removed after the Japanese took over the Netherlands East Indies, the primary component of that domain. [52] The resulting German plans for the Netherlands suggested its transformation into a Gau Westland, which would eventually be further broken-up into five new Gaue or gewesten (historical Dutch term for a type of sub-national polity). Fritz Schmidt, a ranking German official in the occupied Netherlands who hoped to become the Gauleiter of this new province on Germany's western periphery stated that it could even be called Gau Holland, as long as the Wilhelmus (the Dutch national anthem) and similar patriotic symbols were to be forbidden. [53] Rotterdam, which had actually been largely destroyed in the course of the 1940 invasion was to be rebuilt as the most important port-city in the "Germanic area" due to its situation at the mouth of the Rhine river. [54]

Himmler's personal masseur Felix Kersten claimed that the former even contemplated resettling the entire Dutch population, some 8 million people in total at the time, to agricultural lands in the Vistula and Bug River valleys of German-occupied Poland as the most efficient way of facilitating their immediate Germanization. [55] In this eventuality he is alleged to have further hoped to establish an SS Province of Holland in vacated Dutch territory, and to distribute all confiscated Dutch property and real estate among reliable SS-men. [56] However this claim was shown to be a myth by Loe de Jong in his book Two Legends of the Third Reich. [57]

The position in the future empire of the Frisians, another Germanic people, was discussed on 5 April 1942 in one of Hitler's many wartime dinner-conversations. [22] Himmler commented that there was ostensibly no real sense of community between the different indigenous ethnic groups in the Netherlands. He then stated that the Dutch Frisians in particular seemed to hold no affection for being part of a nation-state based on the Dutch national identity, and felt a much greater sense of kinship with their German Frisian brethren across the Ems River in East Frisia, an observation Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel agreed with based on his own experiences. [22] Hitler determined that the best course of action in that case would be to unite the two Frisian regions on both sides of the border into a single province, and would at a later point in time further discuss the topic with Arthur Seyss-Inquart, the governor of the German regime in the Netherlands. [22] By late May of that year these discussions were apparently concluded, as on the 29th he pledged that he would not allow the West-Frisians to remain part of Holland, and that since they were "part of the exact same race as the people of East Frisia" had to be joined into one province. [58]

Hitler considered Wallonia to be "in reality German lands" which were gradually detached from the Germanic territories by the French Romanization of the Walloons, and that Germany thus had "every right" to take these back. [6] Before the decision was made to include Wallonia in its entirety, several smaller areas straddling the traditional Germanic-Romance language border in Western Europe were already considered for inclusion. These included the small Lëtzebuergesh-speaking area centred on Arlon, [59] as well as the Low Dietsch-speaking region west of Eupen (the so-called Platdietse Streek) around the city of Limbourg, historical capital of the Duchy of Limburg. [60]

Nordic countries Edit

After their invasion in Operation Weserübung, Hitler vowed that he would never again leave Norway, [54] and favored annexing Denmark as a German province even more due to its small size and relative closeness to Germany. [61] Himmler's hopes were an expansion of the project so that Iceland would also be included among the group of Germanic countries which would have to be gradually incorporated into the Reich. [61] He was also among the group of more esoteric National Socialists who believed either Iceland or Greenland to be the mystical land of Thule, a purported original homeland of the ancient Aryan race. [62] From a military point of view, the Kriegsmarine command hoped to see the Spitsbergen, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Isles and possibly the Shetland Isles (which were also claimed by the Quisling regime [63] ) under its domination to guarantee German naval access to the mid-Atlantic. [64]

There was preparation for the construction of a new German metropolis of 300,000 inhabitants called Nordstern ("North Star") next to the Norwegian city of Trondheim. It would be accompanied by a new naval base that was intended to be Germany's largest. [54] [65] This city was to be connected to Germany proper by an Autobahn across the Little and Great Belts. It would also house an art museum for the northern part of the Germanic empire, housing "only works of German artists." [66]

Sweden's future subordination into the 'New Order' was considered by the regime. [67] Himmler stated that the Swedes were the "epitome of the Nordic spirit and the Nordic man", and looked forward to incorporating central and southern Sweden to the Germanic Empire. [67] Himmler offered northern Sweden, with its Finnish minority, to Finland, along with the Norwegian port of Kirkenes, although this suggestion was rejected by Finnish Foreign Minister Witting. [68] [69] Felix Kersten, claimed that Himmler had expressed regret that Germany had not occupied Sweden during Operation Weserübung, but was certain that this error was to be rectified after the war. [70] In April 1942, Goebbels expressed similar views in his diary, writing that Germany should have occupied the country during its campaign in the north, as "this state has no right to national existence anyway". [71] In 1940, Hermann Göring suggested that Sweden's future position in the Reich was similar to that of Bavaria in the German Empire. [67] The ethnically Swedish Åland Islands, which were awarded to Finland by the League of Nations in 1921, were likely to join Sweden in the Germanic Empire. In the spring of 1941, the German military attaché in Helsinki reported to his Swedish counterpart that Germany would need transit rights through Sweden for the imminent invasion of the Soviet Union, and in the case of finding her cooperative would permit the Swedish annexation of the islands. [72] Hitler did veto the idea of a complete union between the two states of Sweden and Finland, however. [73]

Despite the majority of its people being of Finno-Ugric origin, Finland was given the status of being an "honorary Nordic nation" (from a National Socialist racial perspective, not a national one) by Hitler as reward for its military importance in the ongoing conflict against the Soviet Union. [73] The Swedish-speaking minority of the country, who in 1941 comprised 9.6% of the total population, were considered Nordic and were initially preferred over Finnish speakers in recruitment for the Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS. [74] Finland's Nordic status did not mean however that it was intended to be absorbed into the Germanic Empire, but instead expected to become the guardian of Germany's northern flank against the hostile remnants of a conquered USSR by attaining control over Karelian territory, occupied by the Finns in 1941. [73] Hitler also considered the Finnish and Karelian climates unsuitable for German colonization. [75] Even so, the possibility of Finland's eventual inclusion as a federated state in the empire as a long-term objective was mulled over by Hitler in 1941, but by 1942 he seems to have abandoned this line of thinking. [75] According to Kersten, as Finland signed an armistice with the Soviet Union and broke off diplomatic relations with her former brother-in-arms Germany in September 1944, Himmler felt remorse for not eliminating the Finnish state, government and its "masonic" leadership sooner, and transforming the country into a "National Socialist Finland with a Germanic outlook". [76]

Switzerland Edit

The same implicit hostility toward neutral nations such as Sweden was also held towards Switzerland. Goebbels noted in his diary on December 18, 1941, that "It would be a veritable insult to God if they [the neutrals] would not only survive this war unscathed while the major powers make such great sacrifices, but also profit from it. We will certainly make sure that this will not happen." [77]

The Swiss people were seen by Nazi ideologists as a mere offshoot of the German nation, although one led astray by decadent Western ideals of democracy and materialism. [78] Hitler decried the Swiss as "a misbegotten branch of our Volk" and the Swiss state as "a pimple on the face of Europe" deeming them unsuitable for settling the territories that the Nazis expected to colonize in Eastern Europe. [79]

Himmler discussed plans with his subordinates to integrate at least the German-speaking parts of Switzerland completely with the rest of Germany, and had several persons in mind for the post of a Reichskommissar for the 're-union' of Switzerland with the German Reich (in analogy to the office that Josef Bürckel held after Austria's absorption into Germany during the Anschluss). Later this official was to subsequently become the new Reichsstatthalter of the area after completing its total assimilation. [4] [80] In August 1940, Gauleiter of Westfalen-South Josef Wagner and the Minister President of Baden Walter Köhler spoke in favor of the amalgamation of Switzerland to Reichsgau Burgund (see below) and suggested that the seat of government for this new administrative territory should be the dormant Palais des Nations in Geneva. [81]

Operation Tannenbaum, a military offensive intended to occupy all of Switzerland, most likely in co-operation with Italy (which itself desired the Italian-speaking areas of Switzerland), was in the planning stages during 1940–1941. Its implementation was seriously considered by the German military after the armistice with France, but it was definitively shelved after the start of Operation Barbarossa had directed the attention of the Wehrmacht elsewhere. [82]

Eastern France Edit

In the aftermath of the Munich Agreement, Hitler and French Prime Minister Édouard Daladier in December 1938 made an agreement that officially declared that Germany was relinquishing its previous territorial claims on Alsace-Lorraine in the interest of maintaining peaceful relations between France and Germany and both pledged to be involved in mutual consultation on matters involving the interests of both countries. [83] However at the same time Hitler in private advised the High Command of the Wehrmacht to prepare operational plans for a joint German–Italian war against France. [83]

Under the auspices of State Secretary Wilhelm Stuckart the Reich Interior Ministry produced an initial memo for the planned annexation of a strip of eastern France in June 1940, stretching from the mouth of the Somme to Lake Geneva, [84] and on July 10, 1940, Himmler toured the region to inspect its Germanization potential. [27] According to documents produced in December 1940, the annexed territory would consist of nine French departments, and the Germanization action would require the settlement of a million Germans from "peasant families". [27] Himmler decided that South Tyrolean emigrants (see South Tyrol Option Agreement) would be used as settlers, and the towns of the region would receive South Tyrolean place-names such as Bozen, Brixen, Meran, and so on. [85] By 1942 Hitler had, however, decided that the South Tyroleans would be instead used to settle the Crimea, and Himmler regretfully noted "For Burgundy, we will just have to find another [Germanic] ethnic group." [86]

Hitler claimed French territory even beyond the historical border of the Holy Roman Empire. He stated that in order to ensure German hegemony on the continent, Germany must "also retain military strong points on what was formerly the French Atlantic coast" and emphasized that "nothing on earth would persuade us to abandon such safe positions as those on the Channel coast, captured during the campaign in France and consolidated by the Organisation Todt." [87] Several major French cities along the coast were given the designation Festung ("fortress" "stronghold") by Hitler, such as Le Havre, Brest and St. Nazaire, [88] suggesting that they were to remain under permanent post-war German administration.

However the war ends, France will have to pay dearly, for she caused and started it. She is now being thrown back to her borders of AD 1500. This means that Burgundy will again become part of the Reich. We shall thereby win a province that so far as beauty and wealth are concerned compares more than favorably with any other German province.

Atlantic islands Edit

During the summer of 1940, Hitler considered the possibility of occupying the Portuguese Azores, Cape Verde and Madeira and the Spanish Canary islands to deny the British a staging ground for military actions against Nazi-controlled Europe. [20] [90] In September 1940, Hitler further raised the issue in a discussion with the Spanish Foreign Minister Serrano Súñer, offering now Spain to transfer one of the Canary islands to German usage for the price of French Morocco. [90] Although Hitler's interest in the Atlantic islands must be understood from a framework imposed by the military situation of 1940, he ultimately had no plans of ever releasing these important naval bases from German control. [90]

It had been alleged by Canadian historian Holger Herwig that both in November 1940 and May 1941, leading into and through to the period in which Japan began planning the naval attack that would bring the United States into the war, [91] that Hitler had stated that he had a desire to "deploy long-range bombers against American cities from the Azores." Due to their location, Hitler seemed to think that a Luftwaffe airbase located on the Portuguese Azores islands were Germany's "only possibility of carrying out aerial attacks from a land base against the United States", in a period about a year before the May 1942 emergence of the Amerika Bomber trans-oceanic range strategic bomber design competition. [92]

United Kingdom Edit

The one country in Europe that spoke a Germanic language and was not included in the objective of Pan-Germanic unification was the United Kingdom, [93] in spite of its near-universal acceptance by the Nazi government as being part of the Germanic world. [94] Leading Nordic ideologist Hans F. K. Günther theorized that the Anglo-Saxons had been more successful than the Germans in maintaining racial purity and that the coastal and island areas of Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall and Wales had received additional Nordic blood through Norse raids and colonization during the Viking Age, and the Anglo-Saxons of East Anglia and Northern England had been under Danish rule in the 9th and 10th centuries. [95] Günther referred to this historical process as Aufnordung ("additional nordification"), which finally culminated in the Norman conquest of England in 1066. [95] Thus, according to Günther, Britain was thus a nation created by struggle and the survival of the fittest among the various Aryan peoples of the isles, and was able to pursue global conquest and empire-building because of its superior racial heredity born through this development. [96]

Hitler professed an admiration for the imperial might of the British Empire in Zweites Buch as proof of the racial superiority of the Aryan race, [97] hoping that Germany would emulate British "ruthlessness" and "absence of moral scruples" in establishing its own colonial empire in Eastern Europe. [98] One of his primary foreign policy aims throughout the 1930s was to establish a military alliance with both the British as well as the Italians to neutralize France as a strategic threat to German security for eastward expansion into Eastern Europe.

When it became apparent to the National Socialist leadership that the United Kingdom was not interested in a military alliance, anti-British policies were adopted to ensure the attainment of Germany's war aims. Even during the war however, hope remained that Britain would in time yet become a reliable German ally. [99] Hitler preferred to see the British Empire preserved as a world power, because its break-up would benefit other countries far more than it would Germany, particularly the United States and Japan. [99] Hitler's strategy between 1935 and 1937 for winning Britain over was based upon a German guarantee of defence towards the British Empire. [100] After the war, Ribbentrop testified that in 1935 Hitler made a promise to deliver twelve German divisions to the disposal of Britain for maintaining the integrity of her colonial possessions. [101]

The continued military actions against Britain after the fall of France had the strategic goal of making Britain 'see the light' and conduct an armistice with the Axis powers, with July 1, 1940, being named by the Germans as the "probable date" for the cessation of hostilities. [102] On May 21, 1940, Franz Halder, the head of the Army General Staff, after a consultation with Hitler concerning the aims envisaged by the Führer during the present war, wrote in his diary: "We are seeking contact with Britain on the basis of partitioning the world". [103]

One of Hitler's secondary goals for the invasion of Russia was to win over Britain to the German side. He believed that after the military collapse of the Soviet Union, "within a few weeks" Britain would be compelled either to surrender or to join Germany as a "junior partner" in the Axis. [104] Britain's role in this alliance was reserved to support German naval and the planned Amerikabomber project against the US in a fight for world supremacy conducted from the Axis power bases of Europe, Africa and the Atlantic. [105] On August 8, 1941, Hitler stated that he looked forward to the eventual day when "England and Germany [march] together against America", and on January 7, 1942, he daydreamed that it was "not impossible" for Britain to quit the war and join the Axis side, leading to a situation where "it will be a German-British army that will chase the Americans from Iceland". [106] National Socialist ideologist Alfred Rosenberg hoped that after the victorious conclusion of the war against the USSR, Englishmen, along with other Germanic peoples, would join the Germans in colonizing the conquered eastern territories. [17]

From a historical perspective, Britain's situation was likened to that which the Austrian Empire found itself in after it was defeated by the Kingdom of Prussia at Königgrätz in 1866. [99] As Austria was thereafter formally excluded from German affairs, so too would Britain be excluded from continental affairs in the event of a German victory. Yet afterwards, Austria-Hungary became a loyal ally of the German Empire in the pre-World War I power alignments in Europe, and it was hoped in vain that Britain would come to fulfill this same role for the Third Reich. [99]

Channel Islands Edit

The British Channel Islands were to be permanently integrated into the Germanic Empire. [107] On July 22, 1940, Hitler stated that after the war, the islands were to be given to the control of Robert Ley's German Labour Front, and transferred into Strength Through Joy holiday resorts. [108] German scholar Karl Heinz Pfeffer toured the islands in 1941, and recommended that the German occupiers should appeal to the islanders' Norman heritage and treat the islands as "Germanic micro-states", whose union with Britain was only an accident of history. [109] He likened the preferred policy concerning the islands similar to the one pursued by the British in Malta, where the Maltese language had been "artificially" supported against the Italian language. [109]

A military operation plan for the invasion of Ireland in support of Operation Sea Lion was drawn up by the Germans in August 1940. Occupied Ireland was to be ruled along with Britain in a temporary administrative system divided into six military-economic commands, with one of the headquarters being situated in Dublin. [110] Ireland's future position in the New Order is unclear, but it is known that Hitler would have united Northern Ireland with the Irish state. [111]

Hitler regarded northern Italians to be strongly Aryan, [112] but not southern Italians. [113] He even said that the Ahnenerbe, an archaeological organization associated with the SS, asserted that archaeological evidence proved the presence of Nordic-Germanic peoples in the region of South Tyrol in the Neolithic era that it claimed proved the significance of ancient Nordic-Germanic influence on northern Italy. [114] The NSDAP regime regarded the ancient Romans to have been largely a people of the Mediterranean race however, they claimed that the Roman ruling classes were Nordic, descended from Aryan conquerors from the North and that this Nordic Aryan minority was responsible for the rise of Roman civilization. [115] The National Socialists viewed the downfall of the Roman Empire as being the result of the deterioration of the purity of the Nordic Aryan ruling class through its intermixing with the inferior Mediterranean types that led to the empire's decay. [115] In addition, racial intermixing in the population in general was also blamed for Rome's downfall, claiming that Italians were a hybrid of races, including black African races. Due to the darker complexion of Mediterranean peoples, Hitler regarded them as having traces of Negroid blood and therefore did not have strong Nordic Aryan heritage and were thus inferior to those that had stronger Nordic heritage. [116]

Hitler held immense admiration for the Roman Empire and its legacy. [117] Hitler praised post-Roman era achievements of northern Italians such as Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, Dante Alighieri, and Benito Mussolini. [118] The Nazis ascribed the great achievements of post-Roman era northern Italians to the presence of Nordic racial heritage in such people who via their Nordic heritage had Germanic ancestors, such as NSDAP Foreign Affairs official Alfred Rosenberg recognizing Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci as exemplary Nordic men of history. [119] German official Hermann Hartmann wrote that Italian scientist Galileo Galilei was clearly Nordic with deep Germanic roots because of his blond hair, blue eyes, and long face. [119] Some Nazis claimed that aside from biologically Nordic people that a Nordic soul could inhabit a non-Nordic body. [120] Hitler emphasized the role of Germanic influence in Northern Italy, such as stating that the art of Northern Italy was "nothing but pure German", [121] and National Socialist scholars viewed that the Ladin and Friulian minorities of Northern Italy were racially, historically and culturally a part of the Germanic world. [122] To put it bluntly, Hitler declared in private talks that the modern Reich should emulate the racial policy of the old Roman-Germanic Holy Empire, by annexing the Italian lands and especially Lombardy, whose population had well preserved their original Germanic Aryan character, unlike the lands of East Europe, with its racially alien population, scarcely marked by a Germanic contribution. [123] According to him, Germans are more closely linked with the Italians than with any other people:

From the cultural point of view, we are more closely linked with the Italians than with any other people. The art of Northern Italy is something we have in common with them: nothing but pure Germans. The objectionable Italian type is found only in the South, and not everywhere even there. We also have this type in our own country. When I think of them: Vienna-Ottakring, Munich-Giesing, Berlin-Pankow ! If I compare the two types, that of these degenerate Italians and our type, I find it very difficult to say which of the two is the more antipathetic. [121]

The Nazi regime's stances in regards to northern Italy was influenced by the regime's relations with the Italian government, and particularly Mussolini's Fascist regime. Hitler deeply admired and emulated Mussolini. Hitler emphasized the racial closeness of his ally Mussolini to Germans of Alpine racial heritage. [124] Hitler regarded Mussolini to not be seriously contaminated by the blood of the Mediterranean race. [118] Other National Socialists had negative views of Mussolini and the Fascist regime. The NSDAP's first leader, Anton Drexler was one of the most extreme in his negative views of Mussolini – claiming that Mussolini was "probably" a Jew and that Fascism was a Jewish movement. [125] In addition there was a perception in Germany of Italians being racially weak, feckless, corrupt and corrupting, bad soldiers as perceived as demonstrated at the Battle of Caporetto in World War I, for being part of the powers that established the Treaty of Versailles, and for being a treacherous people given Italy's abandonment of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I to join the Entente. [125] Hitler responded to the review of Italy betraying Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I by saying that this was a consequence of Imperial Germany's decision to focus its attention on upholding the moribund Austro-Hungarian empire while ignoring and disregarding the more promising Italy. [125]

The region of South Tyrol had been a place of contending claims and conflict between German nationalism and Italian nationalism. One of the leading founders of Italian nationalism, Giuseppe Mazzini, along with Ettore Tolomei, claimed that the German-speaking South Tyrolian population were in fact mostly a Germanicized population of Roman origin who needed to be "liberated and returned to their rightful culture". [126] With the defeat of Austria-Hungary in World War I, the peace treaty designated to Italy the South Tyrol, with its border with Austria along the Brenner Pass. [126] The Italian Fascist regime pursued Italianization of South Tyrol, by restricting use of the German language while promoting the Italian language promoting mass migration of Italians into the region, encouraged mainly through industrialization and resettlement of the German-speaking population. [127]

After Mussolini had made clear in 1922 that he would never give up the region of South Tyrol from being in Italy, Hitler adopted this position. [128] Hitler in Mein Kampf had declared that concerns over the rights of Germans in South Tyrol under Italian sovereignty was a non-issue considering the advantages that would be gained from a German-Italian alliance with Mussolini's Fascist regime. [129] In Mein Kampf Hitler also made clear that he was opposed to having a war with Italy for the sake of obtaining South Tyrol. [128] This position by Hitler of abandoning German land claims to South Tyrol produced aggravation among some NSDAP members who up to the late 1920s found it difficult to accept the position. [128]

On 7 May 1938, Hitler during a public visit to Rome declared his commitment to the existing border between Germany (that included Austria upon the Anschluss) and Italy at the Brenner Pass. [130]

In 1939, Hitler and Mussolini resolved the problem of self-determination of Germans and maintaining the Brenner Pass frontier by an agreement in which German South Tyroleans were given the choice of either assimilation into Italian culture, or leave South Tyrol for Germany most opted to leave for Germany. [130]

After King Victor Emmanuel III of the Kingdom of Italy removed Mussolini from power, Hitler on 28 July 1943 was preparing for the expected abandonment of the Axis for the Allies by the Kingdom of Italy's new government, and was preparing to exact retribution for the expected betrayal by planning to partition Italy. [131] In particular Hitler was considering the creation of a "Lombard State" in northern Italy that would be incorporated into the Greater Germanic Reich, while South Tyrol and Venice would be annexed directly into Germany. [131]

In the aftermath of the Kingdom of Italy's abandonment of the Axis on 8 September 1943, Germany seized and de facto incorporated Italian territories into its direct control. [132]

After the Kingdom of Italy capitulated to the Allies in September 1943, according to Goebbels in his personal diary on 29 September 1943, Hitler had expressed that the Italian-German border should extend to those of the region of Veneto. [133] Veneto was to be included into the Reich in an "autonomous form", and to benefit from the post-war influx of German tourists. [133] At the time when Italy was on the verge of declaring an armistice with the Allies, Himmler declared to Felix Kersten that Northern Italy, along with the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, was "bound to eventually be included in Greater Germany anyway". [134]

Whatever was once an Austrian possession we must get back into our own hands. The Italians by their infidelity and treachery have lost any claim to a national state of the modern type.

After the rescue of Mussolini and the establishment of the Italian Social Republic (RSI), in spite of urging by local German officials, Hitler refused to officially annex South Tyrol, instead he decided that the RSI should hold official sovereignty over these territories, and forbade all measures that would give the impression of official annexation of South Tyrol. [136] However, in practice the territory of South Tyrol within the boundaries defined by Germany as Operationszone Alpenvorland that included Trent, Bolzano, and Belluno, were de facto incorporated into Germany's Reichsgau Tirol-Vorarlberg and administered by its Gauleiter Franz Hofer. [132] [137] While the region identified by Germany as Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland that included Udine, Gorizia, Trieste, Pola, Fiume (Rijeka), and Ljubljana were de facto incorporated into Reichsgau Kärnten and administered by its Gauleiter Friedrich Rainer. [138]

In a supplementary OKW order dated 10 September 1943, Hitler decrees on the establishment of further Operational Zones in Northern Italy, which were the stretch all the way to the French border. [139] Unlike Alpenvorland and Küstenland, these zones did not immediately receive high commissioners (oberster kommissar) as civilian advisors, but were military regions where the commander was to exercise power on behalf of Army Group B. [139] Operation zone Nordwest-Alpen or Schweizer Grenze was located between the Stelvio Pass and Monte Rosa and was to contain wholly the Italian provinces of Sondrio and Como and parts of the provinces of Brescia, Varese, Novara and Vercelli. [140] The zone of Französische Grenze was to encompass areas west of Monte Rosa and was to incorporate the province of Aosta and a part of the province of Turin, and presumably also the provinces of Cuneo and Imperia. [140]

From Autumn 1943 onward, members of the Ahnenerbe, associated with the SS, asserted that archaeological evidence of ancient farmsteads and architecture proved the presence of Nordic-Germanic peoples in the region of South Tyrol in the Neolithic era including prototypical Lombard style architecture, the significance of ancient Nordic-Germanic influence on Italy, and most importantly that South Tyrol by its past and present and historic racial and cultural circumstances, was "Nordic-Germanic national soil". [114]

Despite the pursued aim of pan-Germanic unification, the primary goal of the German Reich's territorial expansionism was to acquire sufficient Lebensraum (living space) in Eastern Europe for the Germanic übermenschen or superior humans. The primary objective of this aim was to transform Germany into a complete economic autarky, the end-result of which would be a state of continent-wide German hegemony over Europe. This was to be accomplished through the enlargement of the territorial base of the German state and the expansion of the German population, [141] and the wholesale extermination of the indigenous Slavic inhabitants and the Germanisation of Baltic inhabitants. [142]

[on German colonization of Russia] As for the two or three million men whom we need to accomplish this task, we will find them more quickly than we think. They will come from Germany, Scandinavia, the western countries, and America. I shall no longer be here to see all that, but in twenty years the Ukraine will already be a home for twenty million inhabitants besides the natives.

Because of their perceived racial worth, the NSDAP leadership was enthusiastic at the prospect of "recruiting" people from the Germanic countries to also settle these territories after the Slavic inhabitants would have been driven out. [144] The racial planners were partly motivated in this because studies indicated that Germany would likely not be able to recruit enough colonial settlers for the eastern territories from its own country and other Germanic groups would therefore be required. [142] Hitler insisted however that German settlers would have to dominate the newly colonized areas. [11] Himmler's original plan for the Hegewald settlement was to settle Dutch and Scandinavians there in addition to Germans, which was unsuccessful. [145]

As the foreign volunteers of the Waffen-SS were increasingly of non-Germanic origin, especially after the Battle of Stalingrad, among the organization's leadership (e.g. Felix Steiner) the proposition for a Greater Germanic Empire gave way to a concept of a European union of self-governing states, unified by German hegemony and the common enemy of Bolshevism. [ citation needed ] The Waffen-SS was to be the eventual nucleus of a common European army where each state would be represented by a national contingent. [ citation needed ] Himmler himself, however, gave no concession to these views, and held on to his Pan-Germanic vision in a speech given in April 1943 to the officers of SS divisions LSAH, Das Reich and Totenkopf:

We do not expect you to renounce your nation. [. ] We do not expect you to become German out of opportunism. We do expect you to subordinate your national ideal to a greater racial and historical ideal, to the Germanic Reich. [146]

‘A nightmarish city’

There is evidence to suggest Hitler had started mapping out his plans as early as 1926. The two postcard-sized sketches he made then of the Great Arch, which he envisaged as a reinterpretation of Germany’s defeat in the first world war and was to have been engraved with the names of Germany’s 1.8 million war dead, he handed to Speer in the summer of 1936.

The following year, on the fourth anniversary of his rise to power, he created the Inspector General of Buildings (GBI), appointing Speer its head. The GBI was tasked with planning and organising the comprehensive redevelopment of Berlin that was to correspond with Hitler’s conquest of Europe.

Plans for Germania involved tearing down huge sections of Berlin to build a complex new systems of buildings and roads. Photograph: Ullstein Bild via Getty Images

The plans centred around a grand, seven-kilometre (4.3-mile) north-south avenue, which was to link two new railway stations. The crowning jewel was to be the Great Hall, inspired by the Pantheon, whose dome would have been 16 times higher than that of St Peter’s in Rome. As the largest covered space in the world, designed to take 180,000, its planners harboured concerns over the effect the exhaled breath of so many might have on the atmosphere inside.

Connecting the Grand Hall and the Great Arch along the new axis were to be a vast array of new buildings for business and civic use, flanked by wide avenues (broad enough to fit large numbers of marching troops), a vast artificial lake and a large circus of ornamental Nazi statues. Plans also included a complex new system of roads, ring roads, tunnels and autobahns.

While the scale is still hard to imagine, what is clear is that Berlin would have been transformed from being an attractive living space for its citizens into a daunting, theatrical expanse, the main purpose of which would have been to allow the state to show itself off. The scale would even have reduced Hitler to an insignificant pin prick when he addressed crowds from the Great Hall – a point that concerned some of his advisers. Architects and urban planners who have analysed the city in recent years claim it would probably have been nightmarish to live in: hostile to pedestrians, who would regularly have be sent underground to cross streets, and with a chaotic road system, as Speer’s did not believe in traffic lights or trams. Citizens would have been made to feel variously impressed and inhibited by the towering structures around them.

Edgar Guzmanruiz’s sculpture superimposes a transparent mold of Germania over Berlin. Photograph: Yomayra Puentes-Rivera

Schaulinski points to a 2013 sculpture by the Colombian artist Edgar Guzmanruiz, also on display at Mythos Germania (a permanent exhibition opened in a shaft of the Berlin underground station), as giving one of the best impressions as to how the city would have looked. Guzmanruiz has superimposed a transparent Plexiglas mold of Germania over modern-day Berlin.

Schaulinski jokes that the current-day cuboid chancellery building, nicknamed the “washing machine”, which many criticised for being wildly oversized when it was completed in 2001, “looks like a garage” next to the Führerpalast, and the Reichstag building – seat of the German parliament – “like an outhouse”.

Anyone wanting a hint of the scale aimed at can visit Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, Tempelhof airport or the former Reich Air Transport Ministry (now the finance ministry) for examples of Nazi architecture. But remnants of authentic Germania are not easily found today. There is the avenue running westwards from the Brandenburg Gate, the east-west axis now called Strasse des 17. Juni, which is still flanked by Speer-designed, and – it cannot be denied – rather graceful doubled-headed street lamps.

The Strasse des 17. Juni, leading up to the Brandenburg Gate, is one of the few relics of Germania. Photograph: Gregor Fischer/DPA/Corbis

There is also the Siegesäule, or Victory Column, on the other end of the avenue at the Grosser Stern, which was moved from the square in front of the Reichstag to make way for a parade ground on the planned north-south axis. Originally unveiled in 1873 to mark numerous Prussian victories, the Victory Column was lengthened, on Hitler’s insistence, by the insertion of an additional drum into the pillar. In the southern city of Stuttgart there are traces of Germania: the 14 travertine columns fashioned out of “Stuttgart marble” for the planned Mussolini Platz in Berlin – but never delivered after the outbreak of war impeded their transport – today form the property border of a huge waste-incineration plant.

But it’s the test load concrete plug, which many would like to have been destroyed at the end of the war had its sheer size not made that virtually impossible, that is arguably the clearest reminder. It continued to be used as an engineering test site until 1984, before efforts were made in recent years to turn it into everything from a climbing wall with a cafe on top to a car showroom. But campaigners fought to have it preserved as a silent reminder of what might have been, and it now attracts thousands of visitors on guided tours every year. “It shows better than anything how it was a project where no compromises were to be made,” says Richter.

Hitler’s Nightmare Capital of the World

When you look at the projects that the Nazi government tackled, you cannot rid yourself of the feeling that they had a grandiosity fetish.

To put it in more direct terms: Megalomania was an intrinsic feature of the system. World domination, tank-battleships like the Landkreuzer Ratte and the drastic redesign of Berlin into the capital of the world — Germania.

Looking back, it is easy to see why this project would have ultimately been doomed to fail. But there have also been some fascinating engineering feats along the long and abortive way to its completion which deserve closer scrutiny.

The Ehrentempel in Munich, one of the first Nazi buildings in Germany, which housed the sarcophagi of the Nazis who died during Adolf Hitler’s failed putsch of 1923

Germania was the vision of Adolf Hitler, but it was the genius of Albert Speer who was tasked with making it real.

Speer is one of those historic figures who is remembered as a villain because he worked for the wrong people. If Speer’s zeal and genius had been put to work by another government, his buildings might still be standing as witnesses to his skill and talent.

Some of Speer’s work foreshadowed what Germania would have been like, but the actual project never went very far. Some minor buildings were finished, but the monumental architecture never went beyond some preliminary construction and testing. In 1943, the course of the war brought the project to a halt altogether.

Had Germania been completed, we would now have had the dubious pleasure of seeing the Volkshalle dominating the Berlin cityscape. This “People’s Hall” would have been a gigantic domed structure, somewhat resembling the United States Capitol in Washington DC and Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, but several times their size.

Fun fact: There would probably have been a constant light rain inside. Yes, the Volkshalle would have had its own microclimate, with the moisture from breath and other bodily fluid vapors accumulating under the domed ceiling and returning in downpour.

Then again, most of Germania might well have been impossible to be constructed in Berlin without some major soil work. The German capital was built on drained marshland, not the most solid of grounds.

Speer was aware of the problem and had an experimental device constructed to test the feasibility of his plans — a Prüfkörper (“testing device”). Ironically, it is the sole survivor of Speer’s work in Berlin.

The mushroom-shaped construction is now classified as a historic landmark and it is still fulfilling its intended purpose — testing wether or not the pressure that the great Volkshalle would have put on the soil could have caused it to sink. It would have. The Prüfkörper is still sinking a bit every year.

So the Volkshalle would have been doomed from the start even if Hitler and his men had gone ahead with its construction anyway. Maybe the eventual collapse of the Volkshalle would have been blamed on members of yet another unwanted group or country and used as a pretense for more pogroms and war?

Digital artwork of the planned Triumphbogen in Berlin, Germany (J.M. Charbin)

Whatever the ultimate fate of the centerpiece of Speer’s plans, other aspects of the rebuilding and reconstruction of Berlin would have been far more devastating to the historic cityscape.

The plans involved grandiose avenues leading toward the Volkshalle and official party buildings. For these broad streets, huge swathes of Berlin would have had to be torn down, effectively removing all regular housing. Central Berlin would have been turned into a sterile political center, a stage for party rallies and mad politics but devoid of real life.

Hitler and Speer had already planned for this. A new city would have been built in the Grunewald forest on the outskirts of Berlin to accommodate the Berlin citizens displaced by the monumental construction effort.

Today, little remains of Germania. Most structures were bombed or razed by the Allies, but some of the lesser buildings which would have been pieces of the grand design remain. Among them is Hermann Göring’s Air Ministry, which was finished in 1935 and now serves as the home of the Ministry of Finance of the Federal Republic of Germany. Quite an ironic twist, I think.

This story first appeared in Gatehouse Gazette 20 (September 2011), p. 19-20, with the headline “Hitler’s Nightmare Capital of the World”.

Hitler Was Financed by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England

The recent resolution of the parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE fully equalizes the role of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War, except that it had the purely pragmatic purpose of extorting money from Russia on the contents of some of the bankrupt economies, intended to demonize Russia as the successor state to the USSR, and to prepare the legal ground for the deprivation of her right to speak out against revision of results of war.

But if we approach the problem of responsibility for the war, then you first need to answer the key question: who helped the Nazis come to power? Who sent them on their way to world catastrophe? The entire pre-war history of Germany shows that the provision of the “necessary” policies were managed by the financial turmoil, in which, by the way, the world was plunged into.

The key structures that defined the post-war development strategy of the West were the Central financial institutions of Great Britain and the United States — the Bank of England and the Federal Reserve System (FRS) — and the associated financial and industrial organizations set out a target to establish absolute control over the financial system of Germany to control political processes in Central Europe. To implement this strategy it is possible to allocate the following stages:

1st: from 1919 to 1924 — to prepare the ground for massive American financial investment in the German economy

2nd: from 1924 to 1929 — the establishment of control over the financial system of Germany and financial support for national socialism

3rd: from 1929 to 1933 — provoking and unleashing a deep financial and economic crisis and ensuring the Nazis come to power

4th: from 1933 to 1939 — financial cooperation with the Nazi government and support for its expansionist foreign policy, aimed at preparing and unleashing a new World War.

In the first stage, the main levers to ensure the penetration of American capital into Europe began with war debts and the closely related problem of German reparations. After the US’ formal entry into the first World War, they gave the allies (primarily England and France) loans to the amount of $8.8 billion. The total sum of war debts, including loans granted to the United States in 1919-1921, was more than $11 billion.

To solve this problem, debtor countries tried to impose a huge amount of extremely difficult conditions for the payment of reparations at the expense of Germany. This was caused by the flight of German capital abroad, and the refusal to pay taxes led to a state budget deficit that could be covered only through mass production of unsecured Marks. The result was the collapse of the German currency — the “great inflation” of 1923, which amounted to 578 (512%), when the dollar was worth 4.2 trillion Marks. German Industrialists began to openly sabotage all activities in the payment of reparation obligations, which eventually caused the famous “Ruhr crisis” — Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr in January 1923.

The Anglo-American ruling circles, in order to take the initiative in their own hands, waited for France to get caught up in a venturing adventure and to prove its inability to solve the problem. US Secretary of State Hughes pointed out: “It is necessary to wait for Europe to mature in order to accept the American proposal.”

The new project was developed in the depths of “JP Morgan & Co.” under the instruction of the head of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman. At the core of his ideas was representative of the “Dresdner Bank” Hjalmar Schacht, who formulated it in March 1922 at the suggestion of John Foster Dulles (future Secretary of state in the Cabinet of President Eisenhower) and legal adviser to President W. Wilson at the Paris peace conference. Dulles gave this note to the chief Trustee “JP Morgan & Co.”, and then JP Morgan recommended that H. Schacht, M. Norman, and the last of the Weimar rulers. In December, 1923, H. Schacht would become Manager of the Reichsbank and was instrumental in bringing together the Anglo-American and German financial circles.

In the summer of 1924, the project known as the “Dawes plan” (named after the Chairman of the Committee of experts who created it – American banker and Director of one of the banks of the Morgan group), was adopted at the London conference. He called for halving the reparations and solved the question about the sources of their coverage. However, the main task was to ensure favorable conditions for US investment, which was only possible with stabilization of the German Mark.

To this end, the plan gave Germany a large loan of $200 million, half of which was accounted for by JP Morgan. While the Anglo-American banks gained control not only over the transfer of German payments, but also for the budget, the system of monetary circulation and to a large extent the credit system of the country. By August 1924, the old German Mark was replaced by a new, stabilized financial situation in Germany, and, as the researcher G.D Preparta wrote, the Weimar Republic was prepared for “the most picturesque economic aid in history, followed by the most bitter harvest in world history” — “an unstoppable flood of American blood poured into the financial veins of Germany.”

The consequences of this were not slow to appear.

This was primarily due to the fact that the annual reparations were to cover the amount of debt paid by the allies, formed by the so-called “absurd Weimar circle”. The gold that Germany paid in the form of war reparations, was sold, pawned, and disappeared in the US, where it was returned to Germany in the form of an “aid” plan, who gave it to England and France, and they in turn were to pay the war debt of the United States. It was then overlayed with interest, and again sent to Germany. In the end, all in Germany lived in debt, and it was clear that should Wall Street withdraw their loans, the country will suffer complete bankruptcy.

Secondly, although formal credit was issued to secure payment, it was actually the restoration of the military-industrial potential of the country. The fact is that the Germans were paid in shares of companies for the loans so that American capital began to actively integrate into the German economy.

The total amount of foreign investments in German industry during 1924-1929 amounted to almost 63 billion gold Marks (30 billion was accounted for by loans), and the payment of reparations — 10 billion Marks. 70% of revenues were provided by bankers from the United States, and most of the banks were from JP Morgan. As a result, in 1929, German industry was in second place in the world, but it was largely in the hands of America’s leading financial-industrial groups.

“Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie”, the main supplier of the German war machine, financed 45% of the election campaign of Hitler in 1930, and was under the control of Rockefeller “Standard oil”. Morgan, through “General Electric”, controlled the German radio and electrical industry via AEG and Siemens (up to 1933, 30% of the shares of AEG owned “General Electric”) through the Telecom company ITT — 40% of the telephone network in Germany.

In addition, they owned a 30% stake in the aircraft manufacturing company “Focke-Wulf”. “General Motors”, belonging to the DuPont family, established control over “Opel”. Henry Ford controlled 100% of the shares of “Volkswagen”. In 1926, with the participation of the Rockefeller Bank “Dillon, Reed & Co.” the second largest industrial monopoly in Germany after “I.G Farben” emerged — metallurgical concern “Vereinigte Stahlwerke” (Steel trust) Thyssen, Flick, Wolff, Feglera etc.

American cooperation with the German military-industrial complex was so intense and pervasive that by 1933 the key sectors of German industry and large banks such as Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, Donat Bank etc were under the control of American financial capital.

The political force that was intended to play a crucial role in the Anglo-American plans was being simultaneously prepared. We are talking about the funding of the Nazi party and A. Hitler personally.

As former German Chancellor Brüning wrote in his memoirs, since 1923, Hitler received large sums from abroad. Where they went is unknown, but they were received through Swiss and Swedish banks. It is also known that, in 1922 in Munich, a meeting took place between A. Hitler and the military attache of the US to Germany – Captain Truman Smith – who compiled a detailed report for his Washington superiors (in the office of military intelligence), in which he spoke highly of Hitler.

It was through Smith’s circle of acquaintances Hitler was first introduced to Ernst Franz Sedgwick Hanfstaengl (Putzie), a graduate of Harvard University who played an important role in the formation of A. Hitler as a politician, rendered him significant financial support, and secured him the acquaintance and communication with senior British figures.

Hitler was prepared in politics, however, while Germany reigned in prosperity, his party remained on the periphery of public life. The situation changed dramatically with the beginning of the crisis.

Since the autumn of 1929 after the collapse of the American stock exchange was triggered by the Federal Reserve, the third stage of the strategy of Anglo-American financial circles started.

The Federal Reserve and JP Morgan decided to stop lending to Germany, inspired by the banking crisis and economic depression in Central Europe. In September 1931, England abandoned the gold standard, deliberately destroying the international system of payments and completely cutting off the financial oxygen to the Weimar Republic.

But a financial miracle occurred with the Nazi party: in September 1930, as a result of large donations from Thyssen, “I.G. Farben”, Kirdorf’s party got 6.4 million votes, and took second place in the Reichstag, after which generous investments from abroad were activated. The main link between the major German industrialists and foreign financiers became H. Schacht.

On January 4th, 1932, a meeting was held between the largest English financier M. Norman, A. Hitler, and von Papen, which concluded a secret agreement on the financing of the NSDAP. This meeting was also attended by US policymakers and the Dulles brothers, something which their biographers do not like to mention. On January 14th, 1933, a meeting between Hitler, Schroder, Papen and Kepler took place, where Hitler’s program was fully approved. It was here that they finally resolved the issue of the transfer of power to the Nazis, and on 30th January Hitler became Chancellor. The implementation of the fourth stage of the strategy thus begun.

The attitude of the Anglo-American ruling circles to the new government was very sympathetic. When Hitler refused to pay reparations, which, naturally, called into question the payment of war debts, neither Britain nor France showed him the claims of the payments. Moreover, after the visit in the United States in May 1933, H. Schacht was placed again as the head of Reichsbank, and after his meeting with the President and the biggest bankers on Wall Street, America allocated Germany new loans totalling $1 billion.

In June, during a trip to London and a meeting with M. Norman, Schacht also sought an English loan of $2 billion, and a reduction and then cessation of payments on old loans. Thus, the Nazis got what they could not achieve with the previous government.

In the summer of 1934, Britain signed the Anglo-German transfer agreement, which became one of the foundations of British policy towards the Third Reich, and at the end of the 30’s, Germany became the main trading partner of England. Schroeder Bank became the main agent of Germany in the UK, and in 1936 his office in New York teamed up with the Rockefellers to create the “Schroeder, Rockefeller & Co.” investment Bank, which “Times” magazine called the “economic propagandist axis of Berlin-Rome”. As Hitler himself admitted, he conceived his four-year plan on the basis of foreign financial loans, so it never inspired him with the slightest alarm.

In August 1934, American “Standard oil” in Germany acquired 730,000 acres of land and built large oil refineries that supplied the Nazis with oil. At the same time, Germany secretly took delivery of the most modern equipment for aircraft factories from the United States, which would begin the production of German planes.

Germany received a large number of military patents from American firms Pratt and Whitney”, “Douglas”, “Curtis Wright”, and American technology was building the “Junkers-87”. In 1941, when the Second world war was raging, American investments in the economy of Germany amounted to $475 million. “Standard oil” invested – 120 million, “General motors” – $35 million, ITT — $30 million, and “Ford” — $17.5 million.

The close financial and economic cooperation of Anglo-American and Nazi business circles was the background against which, in the 30’s, a policy of appeasement led to world war II.

Today, when the world’s financial elite began to implement the “Great depression — 2” plan, with the subsequent transition to the “new world order”, identifying its key role in the organization of crimes against humanity becomes a priority.

Yuri Rubtsov is a doctor of historical sciences, academician of the Academy of military sciences, and member of the International Association of historians of world war II

Germania: Hitler’s Design for His Massive Nazi City

The grand plans of the notorious German dictator regarding the Third Reich’s “supercapital” named Germania are disclosed in a sprawling map exhibition set in a Nazi-era bunker in Berlin. The display is titled The Myth of Germania: Vision and Crimes.

The giant map exhibit features a five mile-long boulevard flanked on either side with towering edifices that celebrate Nazi glory. The apex of the envisioned Nazi supercapital is the People’s Hall with the size twice as big as Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica and which can hold a total of 180,000 people.

Hitler envisioned Germania to be the biggest city throughout the world. Furthermore, he claimed that its grand buildings, statues and avenues will last up to a thousand years.

However, when World War Two ended, all that could be seen as the realization of Hitler’s plans for Germania were the massive street lights placed on an avenue leading to Bradenburg Gate.

The architect Hitler appointed for the making of Germania was Albert Speer — the same one who escaped death at the Nuremberg Trials after he claimed that he did not know about the extermination of the Jewish people. Nevertheless, the exhibit revealed that Hitler had told him to use the Jews as the working force that would make the plans come into fruition.

Speer was also the one to order the evictions within the demolition zones so the construction would come underway and be completed in no time once Germany won WWII.

Meanwhile, Hitler planned for the Aryan residents who would be displaced due to the demolitions to move to the 24,000 apartments formerly occupied by the Jews settling in Berlin.

Finally, so that construction materials for the planned Germania will be met, Hitler, along with the architect and the SS military commander, Heinrich Himmler, agreed to use the inmates interred in concentration camps as manpower.

It can be remembered that the Oranienburg Concentration Camp was the site for the world’s largest brick works during the war. The work was imposed by the SS military and this resulted to many inmates dying or being killed due to the gruesome labor.

The Germania Exhibit

According to Curator Gernot Schaulinski, the exhibit is not to show Germania, the supercapital that was the hobby of Germany’s most notorious dictator. The display tackles something deeper than that — the intent behind the project, the ideology in motion behind it and even those who suffered because of it.

The display is organized by the Berlin Underground Association. This organization also explores other Nazi-era bunkers as well as buildings and opens them up to the public.

1945: Reichskomissar Terboven and the Plans for Fortress Norway

On this day Josef Terboven, one of the most notorious Nazis, died. For many years he held the high function of “Reichskomissar” for Norway, where he was virtually a dictator during the German occupation. Terboven was one of the early Nazis. He joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP) back in 1923, i.e. the same year as Heinrich Himmler. Terboven married Joseph Goebbels’s former secretary and Adolf Hitler was the guest of honor at the wedding.

Josef Terboven became “Reichskomissar” for Norway in 1940, even before German troops completed the occupation of that country. This title meant that he was at the head of occupied Norway. He could rule practically by his own accord, which he, it seems, exploited abundantly. It is almost unbelievable that even the hardcore Nazi Goebbels criticized Terboven’s violent behavior in Norway, believing that his actions were turning the Norwegian population against the Germans.

The Third Reich had a total of five so-called Reichskommissariats. In addition to Norway, countries under such arrangement included the Netherlands, Ukraine, the Baltic states, and Belarus (aka Reichskommissariat Ostland), and for a short time also Belgium with northern France. Josef Terboven was the first and only Reichskomissar for Norway.

Terboven’s plans to convert Norway into the last stronghold of Nazism in Europe were very interesting. Specifically, he wanted to organize the so-called “Fortress Norway” (German: Festung Norwegen), where the Nazis could continue to resist in the event that Allies take control of the rest of Europe. There was also a plan to build the German capital in Norway, which would be called Nordstern (English: North Star). The city was supposed to be located in a strategically protected fjord position around Norway city of Trondheim. One of the few German projects that were actually completed in Norway was the German submarine base Dora 1, whose remains can still be seen today. Terboven also organized concentration camps in Norway.

Berlin history : “Germania”: what&aposs left of Hitler&aposs fantasy capital?

Adolf Hitler wanted to cement the Nazi claim to world domination by redesigning the German capital. A search for traces.

Michael Brettin , 10.12.2020 - 16:14 Uhr

Berlin - The water is ankle-deep. Brown sludge reflects the light from our flashlights. We trudge along in rubber boots. The ground is uneven and full of holes. One false step could have far worse consequences than getting wet.

The water undulates in the darkness, sparsely lit by our flashlights. The air is stuffy, the smell is musty. It isn’t cold, but we can see our own breath.

In this strange place, one question in particular echoes over and over: what if Germany had won the Second World War?

If it had, cars would be passing day and night through this tunnel, which is nearly 15 metres wide and more than 4.5 metres high. On the street, seven or eight metres above us, Wehrmacht soldiers would parade on memorial days.

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Sascha Keil lights our way through the darkness.

“We’re standing in the last walkable underground structure built during the redevelopment work for the capital of the German Reich,” says the historian. “We&aposre directly below Stra෾ des 17. Juni, near the Soviet War Memorial.” Keil is a member of the board of Berliner Unterwelten e.V., an association which occasionally offers special tours of this tunnel. Two additional unused tunnels are nearby, just a few metres to the east: one for cars, the other for a metro.

These redevelopment plans, spearheaded by Hitler’s chief architect, Albert Speer, are featured in history books as part of Welthauptstadt Germania (Germania, world capital). To learn more, we leave the tunnels below Tiergarten and head off to the district of Wedding.

A permanent exhibition titled “Hitler’s plans for Berlin: The Germania Myth - Vision and Crimes”ꃊn be found in the Gesundbrunnen U-Bahn station. It is curated by the historian Gernot Schaulinski and maintained by Berliner Unterwelten.

The exhibition space is high and long. Right in the middle of the exhibition featuring multimedia stations, fragments of columns from the Reich chancellery and objects found on the grounds of the Klinkerwerk concentration camp near Oranienburg is a large model. It presents Berlin as envisioned by Hitler and Speer: a city for a society forced into line, that should “understand National Socialism as the core and goal of its existence”, in the words of historians Gernot Schaulinski and Dagmar Thorau.

Alexander Kropp looks down at the model. He is one of the exhibition’s creators. 𠇊 large number of myths are associated with Albert Speer’s plans for the world capital,” says the historian. “The goal of this exhibition is to deconstruct these myths and provide information in the classic sense.”

The term “Welthauptstadt Germania” itself is a myth, one coined after the war. “There are two Hitler quotes,” explains Kropp. “In one, he mentions a world capital, in the other, he mentions Germania. These two comments were put together in the blurb for Speer’s memoirs. They are not mentioned anywhere else.”

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Speer himself is another myth. “Speer always presented himself as an apolitical technocrat,” says Kropp. 𠇋ut he was much more deeply enmeshed in the National Socialist plans for extermination, the persecution of the Jews and the 𠆏inal Solution’ than he wanted to believe.” His involvement did not start when he was named Reich Minister for Weapons and Ammunition in 1942, but instead as general construction inspector for the imperial capital, a post with the responsibilities of a minister which began with the redevelopment of Berlin in 1937 and was intended to end in 1950.

All work on the new capital stopped after the defeat of the Wehrmacht’s 6th Army at Stalingrad in February 1943. This also included the construction of the military-technical college southwest of the Olympic Stadium. The college was planned as the first section of a university city.

More than a shell construction was never built. Following demolition after the war, the remnants of the building were buried under rubble and trees were planted on top. This is how Teufelsberg, or Devil’s Mountain, was created. During the Cold War, its summit was used by American and British intelligence and security forces.

The Germania model that Kropp stands before is a movie prop it was filmed in Der Untergang (Downfall) and Speer and Er (Speer and Him) but 𠇎ssentially presents what was planned,” the historian assures. “This middle section of the north-south axis, about seven kilometres long, has been shortened and is thus presented less accurately in parts. This is precisely the part that always interested Hitler. It has two major features: the Great Hall in the bend of the Spree river and the Triumphal Arch to the south.”

Two main thoroughfares were intended to mark Berlin as a stage for parades: the north-south axis as the “victory boulevard of the Third Reich”, a 120-metre-wide boulevard intended to connect a northern train station in Moabit with a southern train station in Tempelhof, and the east-west axis that was intended to run from Wustermark to Frankfurter Allee via Heerstra෾, Gro෾r Stern, Brandenburger Tor, Unter den Linden and Frankfurter Tor.

Speer was able to complete a seven-kilometre-long section of the east-west axis in 1939. It featured the Siegessäule (Victory Column) that he moved from Königsplatz in front of the Reichstag to Gro෾n Stern and elevated by 7.5 metres. It also had street lighting made from two-armed candelabras whose outer shell he designed. There are still 800 of these lamps standing between Theodor-Heuss-Platz and S-Bahnhof Tiergarten.

Speer also constructed three tunnel supports below the Tiergarten at the intersection of the north-south and east-west axes: two for street traffic and the third for a planned metro line G between Lﲺrs and Marienfelde.

We return to the tunnel below Tiergarten. Sascha Keil shines a light into the past: there are fixtures for a fan on the walls of the air shaft we climb down into on the ground, uneven and full of puddles, are the brick remains of a socket that once bore a staircase plastic sacks and bags of unknown origin with equally unknown contents rot away in the tunnel.

On the dry floor at the southern end of the tunnel, the light of Keil’s flashlight is reflected by the ends of steel beams that are anchored deep within the earth to provide stability to the structure. Frames made of metal bars for the cable bundles hang at the transition points from the longitudinal walls to the ceiling. Niches for lights extend through the ceiling and a part of the walls.

A brick wall with two culverts divides the structure in the tunnel base, which is filled with water behind it, the tunnel rises again and the floor is dry. “The water down here is rainwater, it comes through the air shaft,” says Sascha Keil. “The structure doesn’t leak. That continues to astonish architects and engineers.”

The 87-metre-long tunnel, which curves to the east, has been lying empty below Tiergarten since 1938. Its twin lies next to it, about the same length, four metres deeper and curving to the west. The course of the war resulted in both tunnels remaining unfinished, just like the 220-metre-long, 16-metre-deep metro tunnel located further to the east.

The tunnel envisioned for street traffic was used as a factory towards the end of the war: “Small parts for the defence industry were produced here,” says Sascha Keil. He shines his light on the floor, pointing out the remains of machine bases, at the ceiling, where a lamp still hangs, and at the wall, where there’s a niche for a fire extinguisher.

Keil thinks it is probable that this structure, with its cement ceiling and soil covering, also served as an air-raid shelter at the time: “You can imagine that not only workers, but also their close family members, took shelter here. Most of the public shelters were overfilled by the end of the war.”

The light of the flashlights plays with our shadows. Or is it the other way around?

Hitler would have cemented his claims to world dominance with the new imperial capital. The Great Hall stands as a symbol for his megalomania. The colossus was intended to tower over the bend in the Spree river, in the area between today’s Hauptbahnhof and the Bundestag&aposs administrative buildings. Covering an area of 300 by 300 metres and reaching a height of 320 metres (four times as high as the Reichstag), the Great Hall would have been the largest building in the world, a spaceਏor 180,000 “national comrades” to pay homage to their Führer. Out front, �olf-Hitler-Platz” was intended to be a place of assembly for one million subjects.

The Schwerbelastungskörper, a heavy load-bearing concrete cylinder, attests to how meticulously the urban planners worked. We leave the tunnel once again and turn our attention to Tempelhof. At the corner of General-Pape-Stra෾ and Loewenhardtdamm stands what Berliners ridicule as the “Nazi-Klops”, or Nazi meatball: a cylinder driven 18.2 metres into the ground with a diameter of nearly 11 metres with a second cylinder on top of it, 14 metres high and 21 metres in diameter. This construction of reinforced concrete that weighs 12,650 tonnes (about the weight of 22 Airbus A380 wide-bodied aircraft) was to test the load-bearing capacity of Berlin’s subsoil.

Michael Richter leads us into the cylinder, not only into the upper-level measuring chamber, but also into the one below, which is not open to the public. “What we have here is engineered uncertainty,” says the architect, who is also a member of the Berliner Unterwelten association. 𠇊t the time, the engineers weren’t sure they could build something so heavy.”

Something as heavy as the Triumphal Arch on the north-south axis: 117 metres high, 170 metres wide. The names of all the German soldiers who fell in the First World War were intended to be chiselled into its stone.

“The Triumphal Arch was meant to be the Dolchstoßlegende [the stab-in-the-back-myth, a widely spread rightwing conspiracy theory that Germany did not simply lose the First World War, but was instead betrayed] in a built, physical form,” said historian Alexander Kropp at the Mythos Germania exhibition. “Hitler wanted to reinterpret Germany’s defeat as a victory.”

We climb into the underbelly of the cylinder, over an iron ladder dotted with drops of condensation. Nine metres down, we stand in a small room from which four tunnel stubs extend like a cross and which end after three metres. There is a musty cellar smell. Stubs of conduits rise from the ground, for an altimeter, for਎xample, as well as cables for barometers and thermometers. All of this equipment has been removed. Rubbish lies here and there: the remains of a ladder, lids of pots, the shards of a beer bottle construction rubble overflows from an air vent.

“We found it like this,” says Michael Richter, 𠇊nd we left it like this.” He looks at the ground. “There are still nine metres of concrete below us.” There are about 20 metres of concrete above us. The cylinder, stuck into the earth like an enormous screw with an equally enormous head, exerts a load 12.65 kilograms per square centimetre on the ground.

The Inspectorate General working under architect Speer built the Schwerbelastungskörper from April to November 1941 with the help of French forced labourers. The surrounding area was meant to be raised so high afterwards that it would cover the heavy load-bearing body. Following this logic, it would have been possible to look straight from the Triumphal Arch (placed where Dudenstra෾ is today) to the Great Hall.

Nothing would have exerted more force on Berlin’s soil - made up of sand, gravel and clay - than the Triumphal Arch: it would have exerted a force of 116 tonnes per square metre by comparison, the Great Hall would have exerted 92 tonnes.

The Schwerbelastungskörper sank further into the ground even during its construction, as the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Bodenmechanik (the German Society for Soil Mechanics) found: by July 1944, it sank by 18.6cm and tilted 3.5cm. When a subsequent measurement was made after the war in 1948, it had only sunk an additional 0.7cm. This makes architect Michael Richter think: 𠇎ven today, it has scarcely sunk any further.”

In principle, the Triumphal Arch would probably have had to have been built on concrete pillars driven deep into the clay. There would have had to have been enough money, construction materials and labour for the redevelopment of the �pital of the world”. Years before the war he unleashed, Hitler had a new Berlin in mind, one intended to be built on the backs of subjugated peoples, enslaved labourers and doomed prisoners. The new capital would have been built on a foundation of crimes against humanity.

This included the forced eviction of 250,000 apartments and the persecution of Berlin’s Jewish population. With the help of lists that Speer had drawn up to seize the property of Jewish citizens, 55,000 Jews in Berlin were deported to extermination camps.

We return to below Tiergarten. We enter the northeast part of the tunnel, which curves to the east. We stumble over a concrete tile, a seal that would have covered the hole left in the ceiling from a pillar.

Rust brown streaks adorn the walls at waist height. They indicate the water level in 1967, when the tunnel was rediscovered during the reforestation of Tiergarten. The shafts were plugged with rubble and scrap so that the water which came from there could not evaporate.

A second shaft yawns at the end of the tunnel. It is sealed with a slab of concrete. A stone stairway stands within it, very steep, very worn. “Now we are standing directly below the Soviet War Memorial,” says Sascha Keil. It is no coincidence that it was built on the former victory boulevard. “This is exactly where Stalin wanted to leave his footprint, as a sign of his victory.”

We turn around, slogging through the water again. A thought arises: it’s monstrous that brown sludge is sloshing around in hollow skulls once more today.

The myth of Hitler's role in building the autobahn

Many people still believe that the Nazis invented the famous German autobahn, and that the construction work helped eradicate mass unemployment in Germany. But this is a historical fiction.

Adolf Hitler inaugurates work on a stretch of road in a carefully staged propaganda shot

Adolf Hitler takes a spade and sticks it firmly into a heap of sand. One of the soldiers standing around him photographs the Führer, documenting the start of work on another stretch of the famous German autobahn. The image, typical of its time, was circulated nationwide, especially in the regions where little stretches of the "Reichsautobahn" were being built.

The sole aim of all this carefully manufactured propaganda was to make sure that citizens throughout the Reich knew that the building work was going on. Whenever construction started on a new section the event was always meticulously documented and publicized, and big inaugural celebrations marked the opening of every stretch of road.

Hitler makes the autobahn his own

This was quite a turnaround. Only a few years earlier, many members of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP) - the Nazis - collaborated with the German Communist Party in sabotaging the construction of ‘car-only roads', as these concrete runways were initially called. The Nazis' argument was that the roads would "only benefit rich aristocrats and Jewish big capitalists and their interests." The Nazis stayed well clear of the political negotiations on financing the motorways. It was only when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933 that the Nazis realized they could use the autobahn for their own ends.

The Führer makes a show of getting involved in construction

Until 1929, the economic crisis and the lack of capital meant that it was impossible to build motorways in Germany. The country was struggling with mass unemployment, hyper-inflation and the payment of reparations for the First World War. It was the mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, who managed to finance and construct the first crossroads-free motorway in 1932 - now the A555 between Cologne and Bonn. The road was 20 kilometers long, and the speed limit was 120 kilometers per hour, though at the time most cars could only manage 60. The Cologne region was said to have the highest volume of traffic in the country. Shortly afterwards, however, the Nazis came to power, and the motorway had only been open a few months when it was downgraded to the status of "country road". The Nazis decided they wanted to take the credit for building the first autobahn.

Yet as early as 1909 a group of automobile enthusiasts, consisting of wealthy industrialists and influential citizens, had already formed a pressure group for the building of a road that would enable cars to drive without interruption - unimpeded by dust or mud, or by horse carriages or pedestrians blocking the way. Work began in 1913 on the so-called "Automobile Traffic and Practice Road" on the outskirts of Berlin. The intention was to construct a 17-kilometer stretch, but in the end the city could only afford to build 10 kilometers. Construction was interrupted by the First World War, and after 1921 the road was mainly used for testing fast sports cars and for motor sports races.

A car for the people - Hitler introduces the 'Volkswagen'

An association was founded in 1926 to push for a transnational road linking Hamburg with Basel in Switzerland via Frankfurt am Main. The Nazis initially rejected the so-called "HaFraBa" initiative. However, after Hitler came to power they appropriated elements of the plan, and the name of the association was changed to the "Association for the Preparation of Reichsautobahns."

Increasing people's mobility

Historians now say that Adolf Hitler simply jumped on the bandwagon of increasing mobility that was already gathering momentum across the world. He certainly recognized the potential for securing his own power and seducing an entire nation with what looked at first like a crazy enterprise. At the time, it seemed clear that very few Germans would be able to afford their own car in order to drive on the new motorways. So Nazi propaganda promised the people full mobility. The idea was to enable everybody to travel - not just the rich. This was how the idea of the Volkswagen - the "people's car" - was born. Hitler also made the German national rail company introduce omnibus transport on the first sections of the new autobahns.

Unemployed people were sent to build autobahns, but this didn't significantly reduce unemployment

The goal was to complete some 1000 kilometers of autobahn every year. These were the Führer's orders. In 1934, he spoke of the "work battle" that lay ahead, and promised that it would reduce the high number of unemployed. Autobahn construction works were supposed to create at least 600,000 jobs. In fact, even when construction was at its height there were never more than 120,000 people at work. The construction itself was marked by sickness, death, hunger and misery. There were strikes, and the strike leaders were sent to concentration camps. The public, of course, were told none of this.

Over the years, an increasing number of Germans found jobs in the booming arms industry. That was what reduced unemployment - not the autobahn construction. During the war years, more and more prisoners and Jewish forced laborers were sent to work in autobahn construction because the regular workers were fighting in the war. By 1941, a mere 3,800 kilometers of autobahn had been completed - half the projected amount. Between 1941 and 1942, construction almost ground to a halt. From 1943 onwards, the autobahns were opened up to cyclists because of the low volume of vehicle traffic..

Yet the Nazis continued to circulate films and photos of workers on autobahn building sites, long after work itself had stopped. This is why the image of colonies of autobahn workersis ingrained in the memories of an entire generation. The Nazis were successful in propagating their image as creators of the German autobahn: it's a myth that often still requires debunking today.

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