Villa von der Heydt – Classicist Survivor of Nazi Plans

When I got off the M29 at Köbisstraße to visit the Bauhaus Archive, I spotted a beautiful, beautiful classicist mansion right across the street. I only took two quick shots and googled the place later on, as I was curious about the mansion's history.

Turns out it is named "Villa von der Heydt" and it is one of the few remaining villas in "Tiergarten" (name of this area of the city) to survive Nazi urban planning, as well as World War II.

Not particularly well-versed in German history, I was, up to the present day, totally unaware of the Nazi plan to transform Berlin into a Welthauptstadt Germania (World Capital Germania).

According to the Nazi perception, Berlin's architecture was much too provincial – as compared to Paris' splendor, for example – to become the desired World Capital after a no-doubt-soon-to-be-gloriously-won World War II.

So, a word and a blow: Along the lines of Haussmann's redesign of Paris, Albert Speer, the designated architect, wanted to demolish no less than 52,000 homes in order to make room for the ginormous project.

The surviving "Villa von der Heydt" looks back on a, so it seems, quite turbulent history.
Nowadays the seat of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), it was built in neo-renaissance style in 1862, by architect Hermann Ende, for Baron August von der Heydt.

After the Baron's sad demise in 1874, his heir rented the mansion out to a Chinese ambassador who – as word has it – used the location to run some kind of rather rambunctious tavern.
Oh, how I wish, I could travel back in time to take some wildly vicious shots of the sappy scenery ...

Afterwards the building was regained by one of the erector's grandnephews who transformed the site into one of Berlin's most brilliant salons.
After World War I the family sold the house to the "General German Sports Association" who, truth be told, didn't care much for work outs, but secretly established an illegal gambling den for its members.

In 1938 the house was bought by the Nazi regime and used as official residence for one of their ministers.

World War II put the beautiful house into ruins, leaving behind only the outer walls and the basement, where candy and chocolate was produced for a while, until the mansion was officially declared a landmark in the late 1960s, which finally led to its reconstruction in 1979.

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