Friday, February 20, 2009


Hitler’s favourite project was our model city, which was set up in the former exhibition rooms of the Berlin Academy of Arts. In order to reach it undisturbed, he had doors installed in the walls between the Chancellery and our building and a communicating path laid out. Sometimes he invited the supper guests to our studio. We would set out armed with flashlights and keys. In the empty halls spotlights illuminated the models. There was no need for me to do the talking, for Hitler, with flashing eyes, explained every single detail to his companions.

There was keen excitement when a new model was set up and illuminated by brilliant spots from the direction in which the sun would fall on the actual buildings. Most of these models were made on a scale of 1:50; cabinetmakers reproduced every small detail, and the wood was painted to simulate the materials that would actually be used. In this way whole sections of the grand new avenue were gradually put together, and we could have a three-dimensional impression of the building intended to be a reality in a decade. The model street went on for about a hundred feet through the former exhibition rooms of the Academy of Arts.

Hitler was particularly excited over a large model of the grand boulevard on a scale of 1:1000. He loved to ‘enter his avenue’ at various points and take measure of the future effect. For example, he assumed the point of view of a traveler emerging from the south station or admired the great hall as it looked from the heart of the avenue. To do so, he bent down, almost kneeling, his eye an inch or so above the level of the model, in order to have the fight perspective, and while looking he spoke with unusual vivacity. These were the rare times when he relinquished his usual stiffness. In no other situation did I see him so lively, so spontaneous, so relaxed, whereas I myself, often tired and even after years never free of a trace of respectful constraint, usually remained taciturn. One of my close associates summed up the character of this remarkable relationship: ‘Do you know what you are? You are Hitler’s unrequited love!’

These rooms were kept under careful guard and no one was allowed to inspect the grand plan for the rebuilding of Berlin without Hitler’s express permission.

Source: Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, 1971, pp. 195–7

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