Monday, July 5, 2010

Speer son attacks plan to make Nazi complex a world heritage site

Albert Speer, son of the man who designed Adolf Hitler's pompous Nazi Party rally grounds in Nuremberg, attacked Sunday a plan to declare the tourist-magnet complex a UNESCO world heritage site. 

Albert Speer senior designed the vast park as a place where hundreds of thousands of fanatical Nazis could worship Hitler as he spoke. It includes an avenue wider than an airport runway for parades and a vast, unfinished indoor congress centre.

The municipality of Nuremberg, fed up with the cost of maintaining the crumbling, cracked buildings, decided last month to seek UNESCO recognition for a swathe of buildings as a heritage site, effectively handing over the problem to the international community.

Albert Speer junior, 75, who is also an architect, said, in an interview with the German news magazine Focus, that a UNESCO listing was "a weird idea," the wrong way to deal with the Nazi site, and totally out of line with other nations' ways of preserving a repugnant past.

The city council, which is turning the site of the Nuremberg War Crimes trials into a museum, argues that this should be the principal part of the UNESCO heritage site, with the nearby Nazi monuments added to the set as "Exhibit A" of Hitler's crimes.

The Frankfurt architect said he was not necessarily arguing the whole Nazi site should be ripped down. He said Italy had demolished most of the monuments put up by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini "which was not right either."

His father, who was Hitler's chief architect in the 1930s but repented of his misdeeds after the Second World War, created the overall park plan and designed one of the multiple sites where Hitler could speak to vast audiences of uniformed Nazis, the Zeppelin Field.

Its grandstand, where Hitler could stand surrounded by hangers-on while he reviewed the parades, was based on a Greek temple and 360 meters wide. Nuremberg's trade-fair grounds now abuts the field.
A stadium, a plaza and the congress hall were the other venues.

Tourists from round the globe visit the vast Nazi site to get a feeling for Hitler's megalomania. A museum in one of the battered buildings explains how the Nazis impressed Germans with big, torchlit parades in the park.


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