In addition to a completely definite set of political principles, totalitarianism also has inherent symbolic and cultural signs, which are reflected, among other things, in architecture. We are talking about the outstanding architectural monuments created under the conditions of authoritarian regimes, and about the secret buildings of dictators.
According to the triad of the Roman encyclopedic scientist, mechanic and architect Mark Vitruvius, the artistic meaning of architecture should ideally be embodied in three main aspects: strength, utility, beauty. In different historical eras, the emphasis could be on one of these elements. Once - for example, during the Renaissance - architects managed to combine them harmoniously, and in the 20th century, marked by the emergence of totalitarian aesthetics, the utilitarian function of architecture was put at the forefront - it acted as a propaganda tool.
In addition, the era of totalitarianism also saw the flourishing of fortifications - bunkers, secret bases and fortifications. Such objects are investigated in the Discovery Channel project "Secret Nazi Bases" - these tunnels, fire towers and mysterious buildings still hide the truth about Hitler's terrible plans and ambitious dreams, and today Albania is called the country of a thousand bunkers - about 700 of them were built here. thousand pieces. We will tell you about the decorations that were erected by various totalitarian regimes, and about the ideological tasks that architecture performed.
"Square Colosseum": architecture of fascist Italy
Many dictators, having come to power, almost immediately took a course not only for political and social transformations, but also for a cardinal reversal in the organization of space. The new regime always needs a new architectural language that would express the goals and objectives of the government, carry the necessary message and constantly broadcast the current ideological agenda. Authoritarian states are characterized by the desire for gigantomania and scale.
First, such a grandiose scale has the desired psychological effect, suppressing the personality and at the same time allowing one to feel belonging to the power and unshakable reliability of the ruling regime. Secondly, monumental buildings are a way to demonstrate their own strength and stability, another weapon in competition with other regimes that cannot be inferior in greatness.
In Italy, things were a little different. In Rome, huge buildings and world-famous monuments of impressive size were erected a long time ago - it was only necessary to emphasize their impressiveness. This could be done using the surrounding space, that is, to design the background for the existing figures.
Benito Mussolini chose the architecture of the heyday of the Roman Empire as a starting point - including to create the illusion of the heritage of the great past and the connection of his own power with one of the most famous historical eras in Italy. Therefore, the main vector in architecture was the appeal to the classical forms of antiquity and partly of the Renaissance, but in a truncated, even simplified form. More modest lines, devoid of form grace, columns - and those often without capitals.
Despite the idealization of the past and some admiration for it, the fascists did not hesitate to get rid of it where it was necessary. So, in order to build the Imperia Avenue from Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, it was necessary to destroy the ancient forums, which were previously protected as cultural heritage. But they were quickly dealt with, and the new avenue, surrounded by ancient ruins, became one of the places for the spectacular military parades. The same fate awaited two small streets of the old buildings, which were located on the path of the projected Conchiliazione street.
Today, this monumental road leads to St. Peter's Basilica, and in 1937, Mussolini himself, with a blow of a sledgehammer on a dilapidated building, launched the demolition of both the former buildings and the symbolic past. Conchiliazione Street turned out to be just such as to emphasize the grandeur of the already long-built St. Peter's Square: powerful buildings and chains of heavy stone lamp posts stretch along the wide avenue. Later, a colonnade was supposed to appear here, but this idea was abandoned. The scope of the construction plan was so impressive that the project dragged on for more than ten years: the street was completed after the overthrow of Mussolini in 1950.
The new government did not manage without the new Colosseum. The Palace of the Italian Civilization, aka the Palace of the Civilization of Labor, aka "Square Colosseum" has become one of the most memorable architectural structures of Italian fascism. It was erected for the World Exhibition, which was scheduled for 1942, and the project was presented back in 1937 by architects Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Bruno La Padula and Mario Romano. According to the idea, the Palace was to become a symbol of world fascism: and at the same time resemble the ancient Roman Colosseum.
Therefore, the facade of the building is constructed from loggias placed in six tiers, each of which has nine arches. The main difference from the original Colosseum is the shape of the palace: it is not a circle, but a parallelepiped on a square base. The area of the building is 8,400 square meters and the height is 68 meters. The inscription on all four sides of the Square Colosseum serves the propaganda purposes: "People of poets, artists, heroes, saints, thinkers, scientists, navigators, immigrants" - this phrase is taken from Mussolini's speech of October 2, 1935. The World's Fair was canceled in 1941, and the unfinished palace remained abandoned for just over a decade: it was only opened to the public in 1953.
A word made of stone: the totalitarian architecture of Nazi Germany
In Nazi Germany, the politicization of architecture reached incredible proportions that no other dictator could have imagined. This was largely dictated by the fact that Adolf Hitler considered himself not devoid of artistic and architectural talent and personally paid close attention to many projects.
“If peoples internally experience the times of their greatness, then they express these experiences and reflect them also in the external world. In this case, their word is stronger than what is simply said. This word is made of stone”- the Nazi leader formulated such a doctrine in relation to architecture, thereby setting the vector of development for all new architectural designs.
The architects of the Third Reich, as well as their colleagues in other totalitarian countries, were faced with the task of creating a special architectural style that would correspond to the ideological and propaganda goals of the state. In Nazi Germany, this form of expression was neoclassicism based on national traditions, but modernism - even the famous German Bauhas - was not just rejected, but persecuted as "soulless".
Nazi aesthetics rejected almost all artistic and decorative expressions, especially avant-garde ones, but, like in Italy, Spain and Romania, totalitarian architecture in Germany was supposed to create easily readable allusions to the country's great past, the revival of ancient powerful civilizations, which the Third Reich inherits.
Another feature that makes the totalitarian construction of Hitlerite Germany related to the architecture of other dictatorial regimes is gigantomania. The buildings were supposed to suppress the personality of citizens and at the same time emphasize the greatness of the state, therefore, streets, avenues, buildings, stadiums and even sculptures were distinguished by their monumentality and depressing grandeur.
One of the clearest examples of such plans is the assembly hall in Nuremberg, the largest preserved monumental structure of the era of National Socialism in Germany: today it is under state protection. The construction of the building, which was supposed to become a meeting place for the NSDAP and accommodate 50 thousand people, began in 1935, but it remained unfinished. The meeting room is like the Colosseum, cut in half in the shape of a horseshoe. The design height was indicated at 70 meters, but only 39 meters were realized.
The Cyclopean approach was embodied not only in big cities: for example, in a modest seaside resort on the island of Rügen in 1936-1939, the so-called Pror Colossus (from the city of Prora) was erected. This huge recreation complex for employees and workers consists of eight equally faceless buildings, stretching in one line for 4500 meters - they could accommodate 20 thousand people at once.
The size of the building of the new Reich Chancellery, which Hitler commissioned to build his favorite architect, Albert Speer, amazed the imagination with its dimensions. According to the Fuhrer's idea, the building was to become a symbol of the victory and domination of the ideas of National Socialism - accordingly, the size of the building should inspire awe.
The bulk of the new Reich Chancellery appeared in just a year, since Hitler provided Speer with almost limitless opportunities and inexhaustible resources - no money was spared for propaganda. In 1939, a building more than 440 meters long already towered on Berlin's Wilhelmstrasse, and with the outbreak of World War II it was additionally used as a place for headquarters meetings. Moreover, the Führer's personal apartments, which occupied over 400 square meters, were also located here, and in 1943 an underground bunker for Hitler, known as the Führerbunker, was built in the garden.
It became the refuge of Adolf Hitler during the last four months of his regime in Germany. Here he and a number of other Nazi leaders and associates of the Fuhrer, including the main propagandist of the Nazi regime, Joseph Goebbels, committed suicide. However, the Fuehrerbunker was far from the only refuge erected for Hitler and the bureaucratic elite during the Second World War and shortly before it. Many of these buildings have long been discovered and even destroyed, but some still remain a mystery.
So, the island of Guernsey was turned into one large fortress, where bunkers and watchtowers were located, and a whole house was erected on the Canary Islands for the German army. Experts will tell about these and other most unusual and secret Nazi bases, their history, purpose and structure in the "Secret Nazi Bases" program, which aired on Discovery Channel on Tuesdays at 22:00 Moscow time.
The Elevator in the Cross and the 25-Storey "Spain": Architectural Quest by Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco was in power for 36 years, from 1939 to 1975. This is much more than other dictators of the 20th century have managed, and over such a long period of time, the regime of his rule has undergone significant changes. Gradually, it moved away from the fascist dictatorship and acquired the features of technocratic authoritarianism, therefore, buildings erected in the 1940-1950s can be called exclusively totalitarian architecture.
The totalitarian architecture of Spain had its own distinctive features that are not characteristic of other countries. The ideological basis of architecture was National Catholicism, which simultaneously combined interest in national roots and complete submission to Catholic subjects. At the same time, Franco did not abandon the ambition to return Spain to its former imperial greatness and glory of the mistress of the seas and colonies, therefore, in totalitarian architecture there will be noticeable appeal to the outstanding monuments of the legendary past - first of all, we are talking about the palace of the Spanish kings of the 16th century, Escorial.
The solid, austere and imposing palace-monastery became the main reference point for Franco's architectural searches, since it ideally combined both secular and religious principles. Its silhouette repeats the monumental building of the headquarters of the Spanish Air Force, and it was under the influence of Escorial that the entire complex of the Valley of the Fallen was built - the loudest architectural expression of Francoism.
This is the tomb of the founder of the fascist Phalanx, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, and a memorial complex dedicated to those who died in the civil war of 1936-1939. In the center of the Valley there are monastic buildings, a huge 262-meter basilica has been carved into the rock nearby, and on the rock itself there is a grandiose cross 150 meters high, the transverse crossbar of which reaches 46 meters. The dimensions of the cross even made it possible to mark the elevator inside it.
The gigantomania of the Spanish dictator was also spurred on by the construction of monumental buildings in other countries, including the USSR. When skyscrapers began to be erected in Moscow in the late 1940s, Franco also joined the competition, and already in 1953, a 117-meter “Spain” with 25 floors appeared in Madrid - it became the tallest building in the country, and even today it is in the top ten the highest in Spain. It is strikingly similar to the Stalinist skyscrapers of Moscow, except perhaps without a spire and a star, and the colors and alternations of beige and red leave no doubt about what projects were inspired by the architects of Spain.
The Workers' University of Gijón in Asturias stands out in the gallery of architectural portraits of totalitarian Spain. This is the largest building in the country in terms of area, the complex of which is spread over 27 hectares. It was built in 1948-1957 by Luis Moya, and the very same Escorial Palace became the inspiration for the author of the project. The university was conceived as an ideal city, but that very ideal stylistic unity cannot be found in it.
The influence of classicism and early Christian antiquity, the Renaissance in Italy and European baroque can be traced here. This syncretic approach has also become a kind of tool for the propaganda of government ideas: it symbolizes the all-encompassing cultural wealth of the most brilliant historical eras - which, according to the idea of Franco and the architects who implemented the project, Spain inherited.
The Albanian Way: Enver Hoxha's Building Paranoia
Albania is a small country, even compared to its small neighbors: it ranks 139th in the world in terms of territory. It is all the more surprising how on such a limited space of 28,748 square kilometers, half a century ago, a real construction paranoia unfolded, inextricably linked with the name of Enver Hoxha. He took over as chairman of the Albanian Council of Ministers in 1946, immediately after the end of World War II, which left the country in ruins. Therefore, his political and social course lay on the restoration of the economy and industry of Albania, and the political model of the USSR and Yugoslavia was taken as a basis.
There is no unified assessment of the period of Khoja's rule: on the one hand, over four decades in power, he managed to achieve noticeable progress in the economic and social development of the country and in such important areas as health care and education. Television, a higher education system, the first railway line appeared in Albania; the literacy rate of the adult population increased from 5 to 98 percent, and the agro-industrial sector became self-sufficient. On the other hand, all transformations went hand in hand with repressive political measures. After Albania broke off geopolitical relations with the USSR, China and Yugoslavia in the seventies, the country found itself in international isolation, and Khoja's dictatorship began to manifest itself more and more clearly.
Along with executions, sophisticated torture, the creation of the institution of the secret police, the use of forced labor camps, persecution for the "disloyalty" of the authorities, Khoja was forced, as it seemed to him, to defend himself from an external threat - little Albania, from his point of view, was surrounded by enemies … Therefore, it was necessary to intensively prepare for war, or rather, for the protection of state borders and the safety of citizens.
On the initiative of Khoja, the massive construction of bunkers, pillboxes and other fortifications began, and this was done in an open, demonstratively, contrary to all the rules for the construction of fortifications. But, according to the dictator's plan, the people had to, on the one hand, realize the inevitability of war, and on the other, understand that the government is doing everything possible to protect the population.
In total, more than 700 thousand bunkers were built - with the then population of 3 million people. The most common type has received the name Qender Zjarri ("firing point"). It was a structure made of reinforced concrete, similar to a mushroom and reaching 3 meters in diameter. Such a firing point was dug into the ground along the "hat" and accommodated one or two people. The dome was supposed to be strong enough to withstand the impact of shells. The average construction plant produced a little more than one mushroom per day.
Another common type of bunker, which was actively built under the program of enhanced fortification of Albania, was called Pike Zjarri ("firing position"). These were already more solid fortifications - about 30 square meters in area, designed for about 10 people. For the political elite and the bureaucratic elite, their own shelters were built - spacious and comfortable, mostly underground and invisible on the surface of the earth.
After the death of Enver Hoxha, the state program for the construction of bunkers was quickly curtailed, and the residents, already ruined by the costs of building fortifications, had to look for funds to destroy the bunkers. However, it costs a lot of money to demolish even a small pillbox, so almost all the fortifications left over from the time of the Khoja dictatorship still remain intact. They are used for a variety of needs: warehouses, chicken coops, temporary housing, hotels, cafes, exhibition and meeting rooms.
A parade that never happened: Romania's totalitarian architecture
If Enver Hoxha built monuments to his own paranoia, then the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu sang his megalomania in stone. However, it manifested itself not only in architecture: the cult of personality of Ceausescu surpassed the cult of personality of Mao in China and Tito in Yugoslavia. His portraits were hung everywhere, daily news newspapers and television broadcasts were devoted mainly to the achievements of the leader of the country and his successes. So, gradually, Ceausescu developed a reputation as the "Father of the Motherland" - and for a person of this magnitude, of course, you need suitable conditions for work and rest. Moreover, over time, the conductor (that is, the "leader") increasingly began to draw parallels between himself and the great figures of the past, initiating the development of the concept of the origin of the Romanians from the Romans.
At the beginning of his reign, Ceausescu did not interfere with the architectural appearance of the country, but everything changed after the 1977 earthquake, in which one and a half thousand people died and 33 high-rise buildings were completely destroyed. The conductor decided to rebuild Bucharest - new, grandiose and great, to match himself. Like many dictators, Ceausescu was a conservative and was very distrustful of everything new, so Romanian architecture quickly experienced a rollback from Art Nouveau to Neoclassicism, tending towards simplicity of forms, minimalism in decor and monumentality in a grand scale.
The most outstanding idea of the dictator was the Palace of the People in the capital of Romania, Bucharest. Ceausescu wanted to build himself a grandiose residence, from the balcony of which he would receive parades. Therefore, the building turned out to be impressive: the palace is 86 meters high, 92 meters deep and covers an area of 350 thousand square meters. It is considered the largest civil administration building in Europe, the largest parliament building and the heaviest administrative building in the world. There are 1100 rooms on 12 floors. The construction of such a giant took about one million cubic meters of marble, 3500 tons of crystal, 700 thousand tons of steel and bronze and 900 thousand cubic meters of wood.
Construction, which involved more than 20 thousand workers, began in 1984 on the Spyrius Hill. The materials used were mainly Romanian-made - not least for patriotic reasons. Therefore, there was an incredible demand for some local materials: for example, due to a shortage of marble, tombstones throughout Romania were made from alternative raw materials. In addition, during the construction of the palace, the historic center of the city (almost a fifth of the old Bucharest) was destroyed, which caused a massive wave of protests.
Ceausescu was not destined to solemnly receive the parade from the balcony of the Palace of the Peoples: the dictator was shot in 1989, when the interior decoration of the last rooms was in full swing. After the execution of Ceausescu, the building was renamed the Palace of Parliament.