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Volkshalle

(Hall of Glory), was a hugedomedmonumental building planned byAdolf Hitlerand his architectAlbert SpeerforGermaniainBerlin. The project was never realized.

The wordVolkhad a particular resonance in Nazi thinking. The termvölkisch movement, which can be translated to English as the peoples movement or thefolkishmovement, derives fromVolkbut also implies a particularly racial undertone. Before theFirst World War,völkischthought had developed an attitude to the arts as the GermanVolk; that is, from an organically linkedAryanorNordiccommunity (Volksgemeinschaft), racially unpolluted and with its roots in theGerman soilof theHeimathomeland).

The Volkshalles Great Dome can be seen at the top of this model of Hitlers plan for Berlin. For a location comparison, theBrandenburg Gatewould have been located right on the street in front of the Volkshalle.

Just asAugustusDomuson thePalatinewas connected to theTemple of Apollo Palatinus, soHitlers palace was to have been connected by acryptoporticusto the Volkshalle, which filled the entire north side of the forum. This truly enormous building was, according toAlbert Speer,[1]inspired byHadrianPantheon, which Hitler visited privately on May 7, 1938. But Hitlers interest in and admiration for the Pantheon predated this visit, since his sketch of the Volkshalle dates from about 1925.[2]Hermann Gieslerrecords a conversation he had with Hitler in the winter of 1939-40, when Hitler was recalling his Roman Impressions (Römische Impressionen):

From the time I experienced this building no description, picture or photograph did it justice I became interested in its history [] For a short while I stood in this space (the rotunda) what majesty! I gazed at the large openoculusand saw the universe and sensed what had given this space the name Pantheon God and the world are one.[3]

Hitlers impressions of the Roman Pantheon were revived when on June 24, 1940, he made a tour of selected buildings inParis, with the German architectsAlbert SpeerHermann GieslerandArno Breker, including the ParisPanthon, which seems to have disappointed him. His disappointment is independently recorded by Giesler[4]and Breker.[5]

The sketch of the Volkshalle given by Hitler to Speer shows a traditional gabledpronaossupported by ten columns, a shallow rectangular intermediate block and behind it the domed main building.[6]Giesler notes that the pronaos of the temple in Hitlers sketch is reminiscent of Hadrians Pantheon and of the style ofFriedrich GillyorKarl Friedrich Schinkel.[7]However, there was little about Speers elaboration of the sketch that might be termedDoric, except perhaps for the triglyphs in the entablature,[8]supported by the geminated red granite columns with theirEgyptianpalm-leaf capitals, previously employed by Speer in the portico outside Hitlers study on the garden side of the newChancellery.[6]

Speers Monster-Building (German:Monsterbau) was to be the capitals most important and impressive building in terms of its size and symbolism. Visually it was to have been the architectural centrepiece ofBerlinas the world capital (Welthauptstadt). Its dimensions were so large that it would have dwarfed every other structure in Berlin, including those on the north-south axis itself. The oculus of the buildings dome, 46 metres (151ft) in diameter, would have accommodated the entire rotunda of Hadrians Pantheon and the dome ofSt. Peters Basilica. The dome of the Volkshalle was to rise from a massive granite podium 315 by 315 metres (1,033ft 1,033ft) and 74 metres (243ft) high, to a total inclusive height of 290 metres (950ft). The diameter of the dome, 250 metres (820ft), was to be exceeded, much to Speers annoyance, by the diameter ofGieslers new domed railway station at the east end of Munichs east-west axis. It was to be 15 metres (49ft) greater in diameter than Speers Volkshalle.[9]

The resemblance of the Volkshalle to the Pantheon is far more obvious when their interiors are compared. The large niche (50 metres high by 28 metres wide) at the north end of the Volkshalle was to be surfaced with gold mosaic and to enclose an eagle 24 metres (79ft) high, beneath which was situated Hitlers tribunal. From here he would address 180,000 listeners, some standing in the central round arena, others seated in three concentric tiers of seats crowned by one hundred marble pillars, 24 metres (79ft) high, which rose to meet the base of thecoffered ceilingsuspended from steel girders sheathed on the exterior with copper.[10]

The three concentric tiers of seats enclosing a circular arena 140 metres (460ft) in diameter owe nothing to the Pantheon but resemble the seating arrangements inLudwig Ruffs Congress Hall at Nuremberg, which was modeled on theColosseum.[11]Other features of the Volkshalles interior are clearly indebted to Hadrians Pantheon: the, the pillared zone, which here is continuous, except where it flanks the huge niche on the north side. The second zone in the Pantheon, consisting of blind windows with interveningpilasters, is represented in Speers building by a zone above the pillars consisting of uniform, oblong shallow recesses. The coffered dome rests on this zone. The design and size of the external decoration of this Volkshalle, are all exceptional and call for explanations that do not apply to community halls planned for Nazi fora in other German cities.[12]

The temple-like nature of the domed building was noted by Speer,[1]who surmised that the building was ultimately intended for public worship of Hitler, his successors and the German Reich, that is, it was to be a dynastic temple/palace complex of the kindAugustusbuilt on thePalatine, where his modest house was connected to the temple ofApollo.[13]

Hitlers aspirations tohegemonyover Europe and the establishment of theNew Order, already evident from architectural and decorative features of the new Chancellery, are even more clearly expressed here. External symbols suggest that the domed hall was where Hitler ascosmocrat(Herr der Welt) would appear before hisHerrenvolk: On top of the domes lantern was the German heraldic eagle clutching the globe of the Earth (Erdball). This symbolism was well known in imperial Roman iconography, for example, the restored statue ofClaudiusholding a ball and eagle in his right hand. The vast dome, on which it rested, as with Hadrians Pantheon, symbolically represented the vault of the sky spanning Germanys empire. The globe on the domes lantern was enhanced and emphasized by two monumental sculptures by Breker, each 15 metres high, which flanked the north façade of the building: at its west endAtlassupporting the heavens, at its east endTellussupporting the Earth. Both mythological figures were chosen by Hitler himself.[10]Giesler says that Speer was wrong to represent the Volkshalle as a symbol of World Domination (Weltherrschaft). Speer in hisPlayboymagazine interview states:

Hitler believed that as centuries passed, his huge domed assembly hall would acquire great holy significance and become a hallowed shrine as important toNational SocialismasSt. Petersin Rome is toRoman Catholicism. Such cultism was at the root of the entire plan.

Nevertheless, Giesler remarked that Hitler never made plans for world domination and that to suggest as much is not only nonsense (Unsinn) but Speer Rubbish (Speerlicher Quatsch).

Robert Harriss 1992 novelFatherlandtakes place in analternate historyin which Nazi Germany won World War II and in which the Volkshalle was actually built. Several of the books scenes take place in and around it. Harris carefully used Speers plans, with the building being depicted as being 300 m (1,000ft) high. As depicted in the book, the building would indeed have had its own weather, with the breathing and perspiration of 150,000 occupants precipitating in the high dome; but rather than consider this a problem, Nazi propaganda would boast of it. In a real-world corollary to the fiction concerning the Volkshalle, the indoors condensate characteristic imagined for the Volkshalle has actually been observed happening within the Kennedy Space Centers immenseVehicle Assembly Building, if its own massivedehumidificationsystems were not turned on.[14]

The Volkshalle appears in the alternate history novelIn the Presence of Mine EnemiesbyHarry Turtledove, being used for thelying in statefor the deceased Fhrer, Kurt Haldweim.

The Volkshalles image appears in the video gameWolfenstein: The New Order, in an alternate 1960s in which (like the Fatherland novel) Nazi Germany won World War II.

Computer-generated special effectsare used to depict the Volkshalle in an alternate history Berlin in the TV production ofThe Man in the High Castle.[15]Multiple scenes in season two take place inside various parts of the Volkshalle. Unlike most other depictions of the Volkshalle, it was shown to have housed the Fhrers Office and residence.

NASA(2006).GlossaryNASA. Archived fromthe originalon November 1, 2007

Graeme Virtue (20 November 2015).The Man In The High Castle: Philip K Dicks chilling counterfactual fantasy comes to TV.

Ein anderer Hitler: Bericht seines Architekten: Erlebnisse, Gespräche, Reflexionen

(2nd ed.). Leoni am Starnberger See: Druffel.ISBN3-8061-0820-X.

Albert Speer: Plan de Berlin, 1937-1943

. [S.I.]: Aam.ISBN2-87143-034-9.

. New York: Da Capo Press.ISBN0-306-80958-3.

Hitlers State Architecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity

. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.ISBN0-271-00691-9.

. Frankfurt am Main: Ullstein.ISBN3-550-07616-9.

. New York: Macmillan.ISBN0-380-00071-7.

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This page was last edited on 27 May 2018, at 23:04.

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