Remains of the Third Reich: The heavy load-bearing body

There are traces of the Third Reich everywhere in Berlin: buildings, memorial sites and of course the scars of the war.

Driving south with the S2 while looking out of the window of the train you can spot one of the strangest remains of the twelve years of Nazi rule in Berlin: The heavy load-bearing body.

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Hitler had big plans for Berlin. He wanted to remodel the city into ‘Germania’, the world capitol.

He wanted to dwarf London and Paris especially, make it only comparable to Babylon or Rome.

He said: „Nowadays we look back at the ruins of old Rome and are still impressed by them!“

The same should be said about the buildings in Berlin, even in a thousand years as ruins they should still be impressive.

He had several ideas on how the new Germania should look, up until the end of the war he still discussed with his architect Albert Speer details of the realization.

At the heart of their plans was a long avenue, going from north to south with monumental buildings along the street.

As part of the big plans they also planned several ring streets around the center. Where the second ring and the north-south-axis met Hitler wanted a triumph arch, similar to the one in Paris – he just wanted it to be 2,5 times the size.

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But Speer was concerned about the stability of the ground. As you already know from a previous entry the Berlin underground can be quite unstable.

To test the ground the company Dyckerhoff & Widmann constructed a big cylinder that went more than 18 meters into the ground. On top of this they put a wider cylinder made out of concrete to apply enough pressure to the ground. In the end the whole construction weighed around 12.650 tons, applying a pressure of 12,65 kg per cm2!

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Even during the construction the Degebo (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Bodenmechanik) started to measure the effect on the ground.

Speer said, that the ground was only stable enough if the heavy load-bearing body wouldn’t sink into the ground more than 6cm.

But before the measuring stopped in 1944 it had already sunken into the ground more than 19cm.

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What really prevented the realization of ‘Germania’ in the end was of course not the unstable ground, but the loss of the war.

In the post war time nobody really bothered to take down the big chunk of concrete. It would have cost quite a bit of money and it was close to a residential area, detonating it would have been complicated.

The Degebo continued to measure the ground until the end of the 70’s, after that the area was mostly ignored.

But since it is basically the only thing left of the ‘Germania’ – plans of the Nazis in 1995 it was declared a protected monument. 5 years ago it was renovated, information for visitors was added and the whole place was opened up to the public. It can be visited between April and the end of October.

For more information check out the website: http://www.schwerbelastungskoerper.de/

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At the end of the war, at a point where Hitler was already living in the bunker, he came out to meet with Speer. Standing beside the big model that Speer had built for Hitler of ‘Germania’ they talked for the last time. Leaning over the model Hitler said:

“Well, my dear Speer, there is at least one good thing about all those bombings: Once we’ve won the war we won’t have to tear down so much ourselves!”

One week later Hitler committed suicide.

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