From 19 April to 16 July 2023, the Akademie der Künste will present the exhibition “POWER SPACE VIOLENCE. Planning and Building under National Socialism.” It shows how the Nazis’ racist ideology was cemented in society both by spatial and urban planning and by architectural projects.
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.
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.
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.
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, approx. 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; the overall project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Housing, Urban Development and Building (BMWSB) through the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR).