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I was cruising the 'net, and found some photos of the construction of the giant eagle that was mounted on top of the German Pavilion for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris.

The architect of the building was the infamous Albert Speer. The commission to create a giant eagle on top of the tower was awarded to famed sculptor Kurt Schmid-Ehmen. These snapshot photos came from an album that belonged to a family who owned Preussische Bergwerks u. Hütten AG, located in the outskirts of Berlin in the community of Gleiwitz. This company was selected to cast Schmid-Ehmen's sculpture in bronze for the display at the World's Fair in Paris.

This eagle was 9 meters tall.

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I found a reference that said to keep the peace, the French organizing committee gave an identical Grande Prix prize to Vera Mukhina for her big sculpture Factory Worker and Collective Farm Girl on top of the Russian Pavilion, which was directly across the street from the German Pavilion.

Speer also won one, not for his Pavilion design, but for a scale model of his plans for the expansion of the Party Rally grounds in Nürnberg.

Speer's award-winning model on the table in the foreground, inside the German Pavilion.

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Speer was an interesting character. A gifted architect for sure. Too bad he fell in with the wrong crowd (like so many others at that time). I actually had an opportunity to speak with him briefly in '78 I think. Very charming. He was still listed in the phone book in Heidelberg and his occupation was listed as architect. I think he died in '80 or '81.

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Amazing stuff. I have read several of Speer's books. He was the one and only Nazi, that I have heard of at least, who admitted responsibility for the wrongdoing of the regime and of his own actions. He made such statements at the Nurnburg Trials. In one of his books, he describes how he defied Hitler's orders to destroy German factories in the final weeks of the war and that he confronted Hitler with the fact that the orders had not been followed. In addition, he insists the he considered poisoning the air ventilation shaft attached to the Berlin bunker in order to make a much quicker end of the Third Reich and its henchmen in that rats' nest. In any event, had he not sold his soul to the devil, he might have found great success as a viable architect is some decent venue. However, when I do read about his life, I often think that some credit must be given to a person who admits to his errors and accepts responsibility and punishment and makes efforts to atone.

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Great pictures and story, Randy. Thanks for posting those.

Speer was talented architect coming from a distinguished architectural family: His grandfather, father and son were/are all architects. The last three generations of Speer men have all been named Albert, BTW. Speer's son has won awards for his work and is best known for his urban planning projects, especially in China. However, unlike his father, who favored monumental architecture, the younger Speer favors "people friendly" designs. He published a book in the early 1990s, entitled The Intelligent City that discusses his architectural and urban design philosophy. Perhaps the younger Speer's work gives us some idea what the father might have been capable of had he been born at a different time or in a different place. Here's a pic of the younger Albert Speer -

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Interesting photos. Thanks for posting. I recently found a link off of CNN's website to photos of the Third Reich in Ruins. Some incredible pictures there too. Lots of "revised" and unrevised Nazi eagles on that site.

By the way, the first photo of the monument at night shows the incredible way that the light accents the monument. Architects are such artists.

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Amazing to think about how just a short while later, Hitler and Speer would be "visiting" Paris again-- but this time like they owned the place.

An estimated 390,000 soldiers were killed attempting to defend France during the German Invasion.

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From StevenLehrer.com:

After the German Army had overrun France in June 1940, the victorious Hitler, along with architect Albert Speer, sculptor Arno Breker, architect Hermann Giesler, and others proceeded to Paris, landing at Le Bourget at 5:30 in the morning. Three Mercedes sedans were waiting. Hitler sat as usual in the front seat, beside the driver.

The first stop was the Opera, Charles Garnier’s neo-baroque masterpiece. The tour continued past the Madeleine, down the Champs Elysées, and on to the Trocadero, where there was another stop. Hitler posed for a famous photograph in front of the stone balustrade, overlooking the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. From the Arc de Triomphe, with its tomb of the unknown soldier, the party drove on to les Invalides, where Hitler stood for a considerable time gazing down at the tomb of Napoleon.

The proportions of the Pantheon (110 meters long, 84 meters wide and 83 meters high) greatly impressed Hitler. But other classic architectural splendors left him cold: the Places des Vosges, the Louvre, the Palace of Justice, and the Sainte-Chapelle with its exquisite stained glass windows.

Hitler became enthusiastic again only when he visited the Rue de Rivoli. So delighted was he with this street that the German Army requisitioned part of it for their military governor of Paris, whom they installed in the Hotel Meurice (no. 228).

The three-hour tour ended with a visit to the church of Sacré Coeur on Montmartre. Surrounded by several powerful bodyguards, Hitler stood for a long time appreciating this domed building. His admiration was surprising, given his taste and the fact that Sacré Coeur had been constructed just after the Germans had soundly thrashed the French in 1870, as a symbol of French confidence in the beleaguered country’s future.

By nine in the morning, the sightseeing was finished. “It was the dream of my life to be permitted to see Paris,” Hitler told Speer. “I cannot say how happy I am to have that dream fulfilled today.”

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The three-hour tour ended

"Three hour tour? Yes SIR!!!! We don't care about your background or your name. Why we already have a professor and a rich tycoon signed up for today's 3 hour tour, and a beautiful Hollywood starlet too. Welcome aboard Albert and Adolf! Have a seat right over there next to my first mate Gilligan.

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Seriously, about 20 years or so ago I acquired a large collection of photos of just about every stop on that 'tour' in Paris in 1940. Photo coverage of I think every tour stop that you mentioned. The photos were shot by Hitler's personal camerman Heinrich Hoffmann, who accompanied Speer and Hitler on the 'no notice' secret trip. (Kind of reminds me of more recent no-notice secret tours by world leaders to recently conquered territories, although the similarity ends real quickly...) <!-- s:) --><!-- s:) -->

In his autobiography, Hoffmann told of how he was awakened in the wee hours of the morning in Berchtesgaden and told 'if you want some spectacular photos, grab your camera and don't ask questions- we'll be in Paris with the Führer by the time the sun rises!'.

Staff photographers who worked for the Hoffmann studio also shot those color photos of the German Pavilion in Paris in 1937.

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worldsfairent - very interesting text. A gruesome time for France and the world.

Randy - great (or nutty minds) think alike. I thougth the same thing about bad endings for 3 hour tours.

While we are on the topic of Hitler, did anyone catch the article in Vanity Fair about 2 months ago about the "toothbrush" moustache? It originated in the USA in the 20's and Hitler made it his own. The author of the article grew one and expected to be tormented by people and was rather shocked at how he was actually the one scaring people.

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Hitler only visited Paris one time and that was following the fall of France in the spring of 1940. He did not attend the Paris Exposition of 1937.

In 1944, as the Allies were moving eastward across France (following D-Day), Hitler ordered the total destruction of the city. Explosives were planted near the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Les Invalides etc. The Allies altered their route and moved toward the city and a small French force entered the city before the explosives could be ignited.

I have read that Sacre Coeur was constructed as a form of atonement following the French defeat to Prussia (and the proclamation of the German Empire by Bismarck at Versailles in 1871) in the Franco-Prussian War.

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I have often read that Hitler spent several hours in Les Invalides "gazing" at the tomb of Napoleon. His time might have been better spent reading a history of that foolish invasion of Russia that brought Napoleon to defeat. But a lunatic generally does not learn from the mistakes of others, I suppose.

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I have often read that Hitler spent several hours in Les Invalides "gazing" at the tomb of Napoleon.

Several minutes at most.

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in order to fix broken links, I had to split the original post because it now violated a rule on image count which wasn't in effect back when this topic started.

these next four Agfacolor photos are from my own postcard collection:

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Schmid-Ehmen's eagle won the Grande Prix of the République Francaise at the World's Fair.

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That Nazi eagle may have won an award but by any standard of measure (then or now) it is an ominous symbol on a monolithic pavilion.

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Long time no posts in this topic, but there's a question I have concerning the eagle.
Is there any information what happened to the 9 meter eagle after the fair?

I searched the whole internet but couldn't find anything on this.
Most likely the statue went to Germany (Berlin?).

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