Adolf Hitler – speech at the industrial Art Exhibition
in the Haus der Deutschen Kunst
Munich, January 22, 1938
The merits of every great age are ultimately expressed in its architecture.
When peoples internally experience great times, they also lend these times an external manifestation. Their word is then more convincing than the spoken word: it is the word of stone! As a rule, the environment’s understanding of great works of creativity more often than not fails to keep pace with the evolution of these works. It may often be that centuries pass before the magnitude of an age is understood from the visible documentation its architecture provides. One good example is this city.
It did not understand the king who once created its greatest edifices, nor did it understand the edifices which were the product of his spirit. Today this is assessed differently. We have reason to hope that we, too, will one day be able to count on such a merciful retrospective assessment. What makes this exhibition appear so remarkable is the following:
1. This is the first time ever that an exhibition of such scope is being shown to mankind!
2. This exhibition marks a turning point in time. It documents the beginning of a new era.
3. Since the construction of our cathedrals, we see here for the first time a truly great architecture on display, an architecture which does not consume itself in the service of petty, day-to-day orders and needs, but is instead an architecture that far surpasses the scope of daily life and its requirements. It has a right to assert that it will withstand the critical appraisal of millenniums and remain, for millenniums, the pride of the Volk which created these works.
4. For this reason there are no projects being exhibited here; instead you see here plans, some of which are already being turned into reality, some of which are soon to be commenced. Everything, however, is destined to become reality-and will become reality!
5. What you see here is not the product of a few weeks’ or a few months’ work, but the product, in part, of years of effort, albeit which took place secluded from the public eye. For it is a National Socialist principle not to approach the public with difficult problems to allow it to debate them, but to first allow such plans to fully ripen, and then to present them to the Volk.
There are things which cannot be subject to debate. Among these are all the eternal values. Who would presume to be able to apply his own limited, commonplace intelligence to the work of really great characters endowed by God? The great artists and master builders have a right to be removed from the critical examination of small-minded contemporaries. Their work will be given its final appraisal and assessment by the centuries, not by the limited understanding of short-lived apparitions.
Hence all these works did not come to be yesterday or the day before; the artistic talent of architects both young and old has been trying itself on them for years now. Furthermore, this exhibition is remarkable first and foremost because, in it, a series of new names are being disclosed to the nation for the first time. Here, too, the new state has been fortunate in finding fresh personifications of its artistic will, and believe me, these names which today are still unknown to many Germans will one day number among the cultural riches of the German nation! And finally, do not forget: the curtain is being opened this very hour-for the first time before the eyes of a large audience-to reveal works which are destined to leave their mark not on decades, but on centuries! At this very moment they shall undergo the consecration so splendidly expressed in the Meistersinger: “Ein Kind ward hier geboren” (here a child was born). These are architectural achievements of intrinsic eternal value and ones which will stand forever according to human standards, firm and unshakeable, immortal in their beauty and in their harmonious proportions! This exhibition does not, however, show the great picture of the evolution of the Capital of the Reich and the Capital of the Movement. Neither Berlin nor Munich are exhibiting the great plans designed to enhance these cities.
They will not be unveiled before the public until their basic planning can be deemed finished. This exhibition shows more of Nuremberg and a great work in Hamburg. I cannot cite the names of all the architects here. They were headed by the master of our time, Professor Troost. A second deceased is represented here with an eternal work: Professor Ruff from Nuremberg. Then come Gall, Speer, Brinkmann, Haerter, Giessler, Kreis, Sagebiel, Klotz, and many more.
Of the works exhibited here, the edifices of Nuremberg are, in our opinion, even now works for eternity: the stadium, the congress hall, the Marzfeld, and the Zeppelinfeld which has already been completed. From Hamburg, you now see here for the first time the bridge spanning the Elbe which, in an overall assessment, can be called the most tremendous bridge complex in the world. From Berlin, there is essentially only one great new work, the airport. The new Munich airport as well is already part of the exhibition. KdF and Labor Front are exhibiting the seaside resort on the island of Rugen and the new KdF steamers. From Weimar you see the model of an enormous restructuring of this city and, from the same architect, a great Ordensburg on display. The Wehrmacht is demonstrating that today its edifices no longer have anything in common with the type of structure which, in various bad examples from the past, had earned the name “barracks architecture.” The Luftwaffe, the Army, and the Navy are also expressing their attitude toward the new state as embodied in their architecture.
It is a special pleasure for us to see how the German youth movement is integrating itself artistically in the new state. The Capital of the Movement and the City of German Art is represented almost exclusively in works which already exist, and with very few lesser works which are only in the planning stage. I hope, however, that the coming great works can be exhibited to the public next year. Arts and crafts have joined these achievements as a fitting partner.
When I now ask you to view this exhibition, I am at the same time expressing the hope that you will be followed by hundreds of thousands of German Volksgenossen who will here take note of what is being planned and accomplished in Germany. May they thus be able to gauge the greatness of an age which they are fortunate enough to be able to witness. In this spirit, I hereby open today’s exhibition to the public.