05 October 2007

Albert Speer Nazi Architect

Speer who was released from Spandau in 1966, published his memoirs 'Inside the Third Reich' in 1970, netting himself a personal fortune, disavowed Nazism and died on a visit to London in 1981. Krier's book is, for reasons one can only guess at, extremely hard to find...I have never seen a copy.


ARCHITECTURE. Princeton Architectural Press,1989. ISBN 2871430063

Current Prices $350-$700 /£180-£350

Elusive work on Hitler's architect by Prince Charles's pal, architect and Poundbury town planner Leon "Town" Krier. Not an apologist but clearly fascinated by the power given to one man in building Hitler's dream. I imagine it is an art book, probably not thick. It is always said that not a single Speer project has survived, so a book like this is the only record.

VALUE? Amazon Canada list a copy at $100 but then note it is not available, fairly usual for them. No other copies online for months at a time. No idea of value but anyone paying over £400 would have to be a little in love with fascism or at least Nazi kitsch...half that and one might be right on the money.

STOP PRESS. Above was written December 2006. The book has hardly shown up since then, and is not listed at Addall or Bookfinder. It must be thought of as being worth £200 minimum unless it gets reprinted. The text is in French and English and I have found at least one Speer building still standing - the Zepplintribune, at the Nuremberg parade grounds (pictured below.) There are many ruins and traces + this piece of defiant early Brutalism. Speer was concerned that in thousands of years his buildings would make noble ruins. The Nazis wer a far sighted bunch--how many architects plan for the ruins? Fortunately the ruins came fast.

In an interesting article in NYRB this week Robert Hughes talks of meeting Speer in the 1970s and asking him who he favoured in current architecture. Tellingly, he named Philip Johnson whose own far right past was unknown at the time. Hughes describes PJ's later work as 'a stream of pastiche and kitsch.' Hughes conveyed a copy of Speer's own book 'Architektur' to Johson signed to him 'in sincere appreciation of his most recent designs..' Johnson on receiving it appeared slightly shocked and quickly hid it away. A valuable 'association' item now. [ W/Q *** ]

TRIVIA. 'Fascinating Fascism'. In April this year Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry described the aesthetic behind Nazi Germany as "just amazing". In an interview with Welt am Sonntag, Ferry also revealed that he calls his studio in west London his "Fuhrerbunker". He said: "My God, the Nazis knew how to put themselves in the limelight and present themselves. I'm talking about Leni Riefenstahl's movies and Albert Speer's buildings and the mass parades and the flags - just amazing. Really beautiful." Bryan later apologised profusely.
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