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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Akademie der Künste: Power Space Violence | 19.04.-16.06.2023

Editors’ Choice

From 19 April to 16 July 2023, the Akademie der Künste at Pariser Platz presents the exhibition “MACHT RAUM GEWALT. Planning and Building under National Socialism”. It shows how both spatial and urban planning as well as architecture contributed to solidifying the racist ideology of the National Socialists in society.

Image above: Hirschbachtal, 1:1 scale model of the stands for the “German Stadium” in Nuremberg, 1938/39. Credit: Private collection. In order to check the visibility and architectural effect of the “German Stadium”, a wooden model of the spectator stands was erected on a slope in the Hirschbach Valley near Hirschbach-Oberklausen on a scale of 1:1. However, the stadium construction never got much further than the laying of the foundation stone and the excavation of the building pit in 1937.

The exhibition focuses not only on the German Reich but also on the German-occupied territories in Eastern Europe and on international linkages. It also examines continuities and discontinuities in architecture and the actors involved through to the present day. Under the Nazis, construction filtered through all areas of life and was an essential tool of the dictatorship: its ideological significance and the important role it played in Nazi propaganda were the corollary of its racist practices of inclusion and exclusion, which determined who was permitted to live in what way – and who was to die and the manner of their death.

DEED NEWS - KZ Mauthausen - Credit U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum - Courtesy Archiv der KZ
Mauthausen Concentration Camp, “Death Staircase”, c. 1942. Credit: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Photo Archive, No. 15622, Courtesy Archive of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial. The granite quarries in the region were decisive for the choice of location for the Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz. The “death staircase” connected the “Wiener Graben” quarry with the concentration camp. The prisoners – driven by the SS guards – had to carry the heavy granite blocks up 186 steps. Many prisoners were injured in the process or fell to their deaths. More than half of the 200,000 prisoners in Mauthausen concentration camp did not live to see the liberation in May 1945.

The exhibition makes use of models, photographs, films and other contemporary documents to chart the inhuman production conditions that characterised construction under National Socialism. The comprehensive body of materials is arranged chronologically and divided up into seven thematic sections: Housing and Settlement Construction; Party and State Architecture; Camps under National Socialism; Infrastructure and the Planned Organisation of Space; Internationality; Continuities in Post-war Urban Planning and Architecture in East and West; and the Architectural Legacies of National Socialism.

DEED NEWS - Häuserreihe mit Eck-Hochbunker - Credit Alfred Strobel - Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo
Häuserreihe mit Eck-Hochbunker des Architekten Walter Kratz in der Münchener Prinzregentenstraße, erbaut 1941/42. Credit: Alfred Strobel / Süddeutsche Zeitung Foto

This is the first public presentation of the findings of the research project “Planning and Building under German National Socialism: Premises, Institutions, Effects”, which was commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building. Fifteen research contracts were awarded and placed under the supervision of the Independent Commission of Historians (UHK). Convened in 2017, the commission comprises Wolfgang Benz, Tilman Harlander, Elke Pahl-Weber, Wolfram Pyta, Adelheid von Saldern, Wolfgang Schäche and Regina Stephan. The venue they have chosen to host the exhibition could not be more significant in historical terms. Its halls on Pariser Platz were used by Albert Speer, who worked there after being appointed General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital Berlin in 1937. The exhibition is curated by Benedikt Goebel, with support from Harald Bodenschatz and Angelika Königseder.

DEED NEWS - Amerikanische Soldaten - Credit U. S. National Archives, NAID 204900762
American soldiers covering the swastika in front of the globe of the cast-iron eagle at Tempelhof Airport with the central part of the American coat of arms, 12 June 1945. Credit: U. S. National Archives, NAID 204900762, catalog.archives.gov/id/204900762.

The exhibition is supplemented by symposia, guided tours and educational programmes for children, teenagers and adults. In addition, the Akademie der Künste has designed a programme of events with discussion forums, concerts and readings. A series of documentaries and art films made between 1961 and 2019 will be shown every day during the exhibition run.

A richly illustrated catalogue (320 pages, 420 images) will be available in German and English. The scholarly findings of the 15 research commissions will be published in four volumes by Hirmer Verlag, Munich.

An exhibition by the Independent Commission of Historians (UHK) in cooperation with the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, federally funded, supervised by the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building (BMWSB), and represented by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR).


Akademie der Künste
Pariser Platz 4
10117 Berlin


Exhibition opening:

Tuesday, 18. April 2023

Exhibition days:

Wednesday, 19. April to Sunday, 16. July 2023
Tue – Sun 11:00 am. – 7:00 pm.


Free entry

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