During the German occupation of Norway from 1940 to 1945, Hitler wanted to build an “Aryan” society with gleaming highways and ideal cities. The Nazis wanted to reshape occupied Norway with a remarkable building campaign.
In a new book, HITLER’S NORTHERN UTOPIA: Building the New Order in Occupied Norway, published by Princeton University Press, Despina Stratigakos tells the story of how Nazi architects and planners began to build a Nordic empire in Norway during World War II. Under the swastika, Hitler and his planners envisioned a modern world and began to reconstruct Norway, and the Nazis wasted no time leaving their mark as the Greater German Reich expanded and stretched beyond the Arctic Circle.
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Despina Stratigagos tells the largely unknown story of how German occupiers transformed Norway into a vast construction zone and turned the Scandinavian country into a racial utopia. Architect Albert Speer and other Nazi leaders believed they would improve their genetic stock and confirm their destiny as a new order of Vikings.
The construction campaign involved building ideal new cities as well as a scenic superhighway stretching from Berlin to northern Norway. The Nazis believed that Norwegians were racially, although not culturally, superior to Germans.
With ambitious architecture and infrastructure projects, Hitler sought to literally and figuratively build bridges to Norway’s citizens, bringing them into the fold of his Greater German Reich.
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Drawing on extraordinary unpublished diaries, photographs, and maps, as well as newspapers from the period, Hitler’s Northern Utopia tells the story of a broad range of completed and unrealized architectural and infrastructure projects far beyond the well-known German military defenses built on Norway’s Atlantic coast. A plan to create quintessential National Socialist communities out of twenty-three towns damaged in the German invasion, was an overhaul Norwegian architects were expected to lead.
In spite of the official building campaign, the most ambitious scheme – a German cultural capital and naval base – remained a closely guarded secret for fear of provoking Norwegian resistance.
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The Nazis began to develop sweeping plans for the transformation of Norway within months of the April 1940 invasion. The Nazis had also no intention of withdrawing, even as they publicly promised the Norwegians that the occupation was only a temporary measure to “protect” them from British aggression.
Despina Stratigakos’ book conveys a gripping story of the rise of a Nazi landscape in occupied Norway. Hitler’s Northern Utopia reveals a haunting vision of what might have been – a world colonized under the swastika.
Feature image (on top) Albert Speer and Adolf Hitler. Photo: World Architecture
The Nazis Wanted to Reshape Occupied Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg