HomeDocument of the WeekOppressive Architecture

Not far from our office, the heavy-load bearing body – not only a verbal monstrosity – is the last concrete witness of Adolf Hitler’s and Albert Speer’s 1937 plans to convert Berlin into the megalomaniac world capital of “Germania”. Main feature was a north-south boulevard between the stations Moabit and Tempelhof with a 117 meters high and 170 meters wide triumphal arch. To test the stability of the ground where the arch was intended to be built, Speer had this 21 meters (above ground) / 11 meters (below ground) structure erected, which reaches 18 meters into the ground like a giant plug. While the war stopped the “Germania” plan, the body couldn’t be blown up without risk and it was used for geophysical measuring until the 1980s. It is a public information and commemoration site today.

I had the pleasure there today to meet the German North Carolina based photo and conceptual artist and sociologist Gesche Wuerfel, whose exhibition entitled “Oppressive Architecture” is on display in and around the heavy-load bearing body until October 30th. The photos contrast the architecture in various concentration camps with settings of national socialist propaganda such as the Nazi party rally grounds in Nuremberg. Some of the artist’s questions are: What makes the educational value of authentic places? How to prevent to have them turned into tourist attractions? What does remain for commemoration and reminding, when all contemporary witnesses will have died? We had a stimulating talk about this and we realized that we both have just started to make interviews with contemporary witnesses in order to preserve what still can be preserved. Check out Gesche Wuerfe’s website at www.geschewuerfel.com.

All photos on this page with kind permission from the artist.

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