Adolf Hitler – speech at the opening of the Second German Architectureand Industrial Art Exhibition
in the Haus der Deutschen Kunst
Munich, December 6, 1938
Let me take up the topic of just one single project: the blueprint for a new opera house in Munich. For many years, it was worked upon, and it is now that its outlines are taking shape and form. Yet it still will take a long time for this work to reach its final completion. And the same applies to the great buildings in Berlin and the enormous building projects all over the Reich.
Let us never forget: we are not building for our time, we are building for the future! That is why the structures must be grand, solid, and durable, and thereby they will become beautiful and worthy. May every man commissioning a work, every architect who finds himself enchanted with some latest fad that he thinks remarkable or interesting, may he think again and ask if his project will be able to stand up to the criticism of the centuries. Because this is what counts! That is easily said. But we have countless examples for works, works where evidently someone was not thinking, works which evidently were not built with a purpose in mind and hence do not do justice to this purpose, either in size or in the long run.
Let me just cite one of these examples. In Germany there are about forty million Protestants. The Confessional Church537 built for itself a cathedral in Berlin which serves as the central church for the three and a half million Protestants living in the capital of the German Reich. The cathedral holds 2,450 seats, each of which is numbered in order to accommodate the more prominent Protestant families in the Reich.
My Volksgenossen! Something like this is happening in an age of so-called democratic evolution. Here the churches ought to lead by example being the most democratic since after all they deal with souls and not with professions or even social classes. Now it is somewhat difficult to follow how this church of 2,450 seats can possibly do justice to the spiritual needs of three and a half million faithful. The dimensions of the building structure are not the result of technical necessities but rather they are the net result of a narrowminded and thoughtless building process. Actually this cathedral ought to accommodate 100,000 persons.
You might ask me: “Do you believe that 100,000 persons will actually go there?” It is not my business to answer this question, a question that would have to be answered by the Church! But you will now understand that we, as a true Volk movement, must keep the needs of our Volk in sight as we carry out our building projects. Hence we must build halls into which 150,000 or even 200,000 persons will actually fit. That means: we must build them as big as the technical possibilities of our day permit, and we must build for eternity! Another example can be found in the realm of theater buildings. Around 1800, a small town of 15,000 to 20,000 inhabitants built for itself a theater with 1,200 seats. Now in the course of the years, commissioners from building inspection authorities and fire protection agencies come along and begin to limit the number of theatergoers for security reasons. In this same time period, the small town grows; 100,000 or 150,000 people live there now. In other words, while the number of seats in the theater declines, the number of inhabitants of the city increases continuously. It becomes necessary to build a new theater.
And now the city of 150,000 people begins to build yet another theater holding 1,000 or 1,200 seats, as many seats as the old theater already held a hundred years ago.
Well, it seems that one has forgotten the fact that the orchestra has swollen to sixty musicians today instead of the sixteen musicians of the past. This is largely due to our new composers-I need only name Richard Wagner. Both supernumeraries and choir also have an increasing membership, and overall technical requirements today demand the participation of far more people.
Today this same theater needs to accommodate 450 or 500 stage hands, members of the choir, soloists, dancers, that is 450 or 500 members and an audience of one thousand. That means every member of the audience must support two members of the crew. That is possible perhaps in a capitalist age. For us, this is impossible, for we must finance our theaters through contributions from the Volk.
Because this alone necessitates that the masses of our Volk go to our theaters, these theaters must have a certain size.
Now we are asked: “What? You want to build an opera with three thousand seats here?” Yes, indeed, we would like to increase that number even more because we want thousands of our Volk to partake of the fruits of German art.
Another objection might be: do we have to build so much just now? Yes, we do! We must build more now than ever before, because before us, they built either nothing or pitiful miserable structures.
And secondly: we just happen to find ourselves today in an epoch of great rejuvenation for the German Volk! He who has not realized this yet, he must nonetheless believe it! That is a fact! Posterity will have greater appreciation of the years 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, and 1938 than certain of our contemporaries who seem to live behind the times! Posterity will see this epoch of the greatest resurrection of the German Volk ever in the context of the foundation of an enormous, great and mighty Reich.
These years will one day be seen as corresponding to the ascent of a movement to which we owe that the German Volk emerged from the confusion of party politics, segregated classes, and various confessions and melted into one entity of great spiritual strength and willpower. Such an epoch has not only the right to leave its mark upon eternity in the form of great monuments, it has a duty to do so! If someone says to me, “Why do you build more than earlier?” all I can reply is: “We build more because we are more than we were earlier.” Today’s Reich is different from that of yesterday. It is not just a passing fancy since it is supported not by merely a few individuals or certain interest groups. For the first time in its history, the German Reich has its foundation in the willpower and consciousness of the German Volk. Hence it well deserves that monuments now built will one day testify to its greatness even when its people have long been silent.
Furthermore, this art of building also spawns other arts, such as sculpture and painting. How true this is you can see by looking at the two wonderful sculptures exhibited here. They represent Party and Wehrmacht and no doubt they belong to the most beautiful art ever created in Germany. [-] We are incapable of assessing what countless German artists have created with truly painstaking diligence and zealous dedication. As the speaker for the German Volk, I wish to express its gratitude to those involved since it cannot possibly thank each artist individually.
Naturally, the true recompense lies within the work itself! Through it, the artist makes his way into eternity. I have the honor of declaring this exhibition open to the public, an exhibition that will prove to you that there are indeed many artists making their way here in our country, finding it, and continuing upon it.