Exemplary Germanic city of Prague. Following the example of the Third Reich, the Nazis want to stop Prague
At the turn of the 1930s and 1940s, the Nazis did not even expect to ever leave the occupied territory of broken Czechoslovakia. Nevertheless, they built a millennial empire. Ideologies, based on the idea of the supremacy of the German nation and the need to fight for its living space in the east, or Lebensraum, also subordinated their plans. According to our ideas, we also want to rebuild Prague.
June 1942, the Czechs associated mainly with the heroic struggle of paratroopers with a 100-fold superiority of Germans in the crypt of today’s Orthodox Church of St. Cyril and Methodius in Resslova street. In those years, however, visions also arose as to how Prague would change if Hitler’s Germany succeeded in the war. Some later stood up. The topic was first elaborated by the historian Miloš Hořejš, who has been working on it for a long time. In 2013, he published the Protectorate audience at the Mladá fronta publishing house Prague as a German City: Nazi Urbanism and the Planning Commission for the Capital City of Prague.
The Nazi authorities wanted to stop the capital of the protectorate, especially in connection with the planned Germanization and settlement process, as evidenced by the words of the chairman of the Planning Commission, German architect Reinhold Niemeyer, which he spoke exactly two years after the occupation on March 15, 1941.
“In a few years, the face of Prague will be purely German for every visitor, even though only 21,000 Germans live in the city of a million.” The Nazis intended to create racially homogeneous closed settlement complexes for the Germans, where, by Nazi terminology, they would not mix with the Slavs and other “inferior” nations.
We prefer to concentrate the German population in the fourth with a more numerous German presence or in the relatively hygienically best parts of the city in the west and north of the city. They chose Dejvice, Střešovice, Bubeneč, Petřín, Baba or Holešovice.
Metro, highway, end of the Municipal House
The occupation authorities have big plans for the area that now borders the Vltavská metro station, through the Bubny railway station to today’s Bohnice housing estate, where extensive urban development was to take place. The construction of housing estates on the eastern and southeastern outskirts of Prague was similarly considered.
At the same time, Nazi engineers assumed the development of automobile and public transport. In other words, they prepared plans for wide traffic boulevards and an underground expressway. It is interesting that the design from 1942 provided for transfer stations at Můstek, the Museum and Florence in the underground, which really exist today, although the Prague metro did not begin to be built until three decades later.
Historian Miloš Hořejš, who now works at the National Technical Museum, warns the author of this text that the protectorate’s plans also include the construction of a large bridge over the Nuselské Valley and a traffic artery that leads to Vinohrady Street to the National Museum, around the main railway station. and directly across the Drum station, where a new German administrative and cultural center was to be built, all the way to Troy. De facto, today’s north-south highway stands on the same route, although it occupied Legerova Street in one direction.
The ideologically burdened visions of the architects of that time would have to change the surroundings of today’s Republic Square. The Art Nouveau Municipal House was to be demolished as a symbol of the Slavs. In addition, its ostentatious decoration with many elaborate details was at odds with the purposeful austerity of Nazi architecture. The Opera House was to become the cultural center on the square.
The Nazis, staring at the monumental architecture drawn from the buildings of ancient civilizations, planned massive buildings, a large square and wide avenues. The central one was to cross the city from the Opera House to the foot of Vítkov Hill, roughly in the route of today’s V Celnici Street, where the large Pod Žižkovem Square was to be built.
According to one of the designs, this area, which would be located near today’s Florenc metro station, was to be dominated by a gigantic railway station, an arched gate reminiscent of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin and a skyscraper whose character referred to one of the seven wonders of the world – the lighthouse on Faros in Alexandria, Egypt. The whole space was supposed to look spectacular for a short time, which emphasized the just-placed dominances and panoramic views.
Part of the Old Town Hall we want to demolish, then it burned down
Other major changes were planned in the very center of Prague, on the Old Town Square and its surroundings. The planning commission, in which both Germans and Czechs work, even commissioned a study for the reconstruction of the Old Town Hall, more precisely its neo-Gothic wing, which seemed too kitschy to the Nazis. It was to be replaced by a austere building in the Nordic Gothic or Classicist style. The paradox of history is that it was this neo-Gothic town hall wing at the end of the war that the occupiers set on fire during the fighting of the Prague Uprising and had to be torn down after the war.
According to historian Miloš Hořejš, the transformation was also planned in the case of Střelecký Island, which was to become a generous refuge of the Hitler Youth with representative buildings, a boarding school or a sports ground. And, for example, a new German university campus was to be built on Petřín.
In conclusion, it should be noted that some visions of architects in the Planning Commission partially followed the architectural and urban concepts of pre-war Prague. And yet, especially German ideas missed the scale and character of the Prague buildings, some designs of Czech architects are actually actually realized.