53. Mies Flees

Why Mies really left Germany

From The Guardian, “Mies and the Nazis” by Tom Dyckhoff:

“It was hard for someone to ignore politics in 1930s Germany, but Mies did his best… Starved of work, Mies tried to ingratiate himself with this new, powerful and rich state patron, signing a motion of support for Hitler in the August 1934 referendum and joining Goebbels’s Reichskultur-kammer, a progressive alternative to Rosenberg’s ministry, which asked for “fresh blood” and new forms to give “expression to this age”. Mies was shortlisted to build the state’s new Reichsbank, with a fiercely modern, abstract design; and Goebbels even pressed him to design the Deutsches Volk Deutsches Arbeit exhibition. Things were on the up.

But in 1934, Hitler, by chance, came across Albert Speer, a young architect who had caught the Nazi bug.  … With furious speed, Speer found himself spun from apprentice to chief architect for Goebbels’s propaganda ministry, then to designer for Nazi rallies at Tempelhof Field, and then, in 1934, to Hitler’s personal architect, designing, the Führer promised, “buildings for me such as haven’t been built perhaps for 4,000 years”… Hitler cancelled the Reichsbank competition on which Mies was depending financially. And every architect was forced to adjust his or her style to suit.

Modernism, the International Style, would succeed as the landscape not of communism, bolshevism or nazism, but of international capitalism. Its modern Medicis, such as Mies, weren’t interested in politics. Well, not the politics of nationalism, just the quieter, subtler politics of making money.”


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