The Unholy Relics of Nazi Germany is a half-hour documentary from the BBC. In the show, Jonathan Meades presents the role of urban planning and architecture in establishing the Nazi regime in Germany and how it helped perpetuate its hateful ideology.
This documentary, filmed in 1994 for the BBC, analyses how the Nazi party used architecture and its buildings as a crucial part of its project. The goal was to build a new Germany, a new society, and the cities were a big part of it. Not just in the shape of the swastika and statues that called to a past that only existed in the minds of the party leader.
This new society was presented to the German people in the shape of massive holiday camps where Strength Through Joy was the motto. Schools where doctors were trained to experiment with people in extermination camps. And rally grounds that show the size of the Nazi propaganda.
Some of the Unholy Relics of Nazi Germany
The film uses Berlin as a starting point. It leads Jonathan Meades across Germany in search of architectural relics of the Third Reich. While this is happening, you can learn about the pagan death cult and mysticism that was presented in much of the symbolism behind nazism.
The first place the documentary shows is The Colossus of Prora, a holiday resort on the island of Rügen that was built between 1936 and 1939.
This structure was part of the Strength Through Joy project and still exists today in the shape of a hotel, a youth hostel, and some vacation apartments.
Later, they showed something I had never seen before, a model village for SS Doctors in the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte. Alt Rehse is a rare example of village architecture built during the Nazi era to reflect a mythical German past. There are half-timbered houses with red roofs, and each bears the name of a German district and the year of construction.
Wewelsburg also appears in the video as it was used by the SS under Heinrich Himmler. His goal was to create a complex called the Center of the World, one of the main sites of the SS death cult mysticism.
Next to it, another place I had never seen before is presented. The Ottens Hof was the gastronomy and cultural center of the Nazi regime for the villagers in Wewelsburg. It was opened to the public in 1937 with a decoration filled with swastikas, skulls, and everything related to the SS. You can see some pictures here.
The show presents the Reich Party Congress Grounds in Nuremberg, part of a museum and a truck parking lot today. The issues with keeping the Kehlsteinhaus, the Eagle’s Nest in English are also mentioned. And the Flakturm in Hamburg appears in its state at the time.
Unholy Relics of Nazi Germany is a fascinating documentary that shows how the Nazi regime was integrated with the German society of the time. And how it left a regrettable urban and architectural legacy that can still be found today.
Since the filming was done in 1994, some places presented in the video are different. However, most of them are still there and need to be seen as a reflection of the mistakes made in the past and how we can move over and learn from them.
You can watch the entire half-hour documentary on Vimeo at the link below.