The Schloss Bellevue is a palace built in Berlin for Prince August Ferdinand of Prussia. It has a neoclassical architectural build and was to be used as a summer house for the prince, brother of King Frederick II of Prussia. Phillip Baumann designed this three winged palace within the surroundings of the Tiergarten grounds. The palace purposely overlooks the river spree, which its name ‘bellevue’ meaning ‘beautiful view’ accordingly derives from.
History of the palace
From its construction in 1786 until 1918, Schloss Bellevue served as a royal residence, later being reconstructed into a museum of ethnography. After the first world war, Bellevue was used as a government guest house for the third Reich. During WWII the palace was almost destroyed and in need of substantial reconstruction after the fall of the Nazi regime. After reunification of Berlin, Schloss Bellevue became the main residence of the president.
Schloss Bellevue was the first neoclassical building in Germany of its kind. Featuring its sparkling white finish and Baroque structure, the Schloss embodies the characteristics of absolute political power the third Reich government and in particular, Hitler, yearned for. Ideological representations are present, by incorporating the colour white, the palace expresses order and assures depictions of existing supremacy.
Hitler admired the architecture of Germany’s supposed Greek ancestors. Hitler’s Germania would incorporate the ideologies of eternal coliseum and fascist architecture in order to create the Nazi new order. Architecture was considered the most powerful tool for the expression of the Nazi domination as Hitler expressed;
‘The role of architecture in the creation of the new order will be like that of a book; providing a place to hold the message, the symbols to impart it and a teacher to read it’ (Baynes , 1942).
Hitler did not have one style of architecture, but used neo-classical stylisation as a baseline to enlarge and exaggerate. Schloss Bellevue personifies some of the characteristics employed by monumentalism with its Corinthian columns taking centre stage. This style of architecture is monumental in both scale and representation (Farrelly, 2007) and is used as a tool of celebration. Hitler wanted his architecture to represent the power of Germany and himself as the supreme leader, while at the same time maintaining purpose and function for its space. To create his Germania, he employed the help of German architect Albert Speer.
Nazi culture preoccupied itself with architectural monuments that celebrated and glorified victorious ideologies whilst being intimidating and used as a tool for conquest, as Speer wrote
‘My architecture represented an intimidating display of power’ (Guibert, 2001).
Greek architecture was therefore a perfect example to follow in order to create Germania and reshape Berlin as a city.
The Fundamentals of Architecture (2007). Farrelly, L. Switzerland : AVA Publishing. 138.
Guibert, A. (2001). Architecture & the Subversion of Space. [online] Available at <http://www.academia.edu/226096/Dreaming_Architecture> 03/02/2013.
Baynes, N (1942). The Speeches of Adolf Hitler. New York: Oxford University Press. 584.