Sunday, 26 October 2014

Hitler's Ministry of War Office in Munich

Bavarian National Museum, Munich, Germany
Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (Bavarian National Museum)

Opposite the charming Bavarian National Museum is Prinzregentenstraße 28 (or 28 Prince Regent St). It looks just like a normal government office building today, and the signboards identify it as


No, "WIRTSCHAFT" isn't  stood for "Witchcraft".

This building now houses "Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Media, Energy and Technology", and "Bavarian Chamber of Regulation ". Although I have no idea what the latter department does.

28 Prinzregentenstrasse, Hitler's Ministry of War building, Munich, Germany 28 Prinzregentenstrasse, Hitler's Ministry of War building, Munich, Germany 

But if you look closely at the details of the building, you'll quickly discover Nazi's associations.

28 Prinzregentenstrasse, Hitler's Ministry of War building, Munich, Germany 
28 Prinzregentenstrasse, Hitler's Ministry of War building, Munich, Germany
Left photo:   The lunette (arch window over a door) has daggers while door is decorated with stylised swastika motif.
Above photo: Square windows are crowned by Stahlhelms (German soldiers' helmets).

28 Prinzregentenstrasse, Hitler's Ministry of War building, Munich, Germany
The pair of eagles above the main entrance is also
the symbol of the Third Reich

This was in fact the Ministry of War building under Hitler's rule (ok, the darn post title gives the game away).

The stahlhelms (German for "steel helmet") weren't just worn by Nazi's soldiers, but German soldiers before the rise of Hitler. In fact, they were also worn by soldiers in other countries. They were just steel helmets that weren't associated with any country before the Third Reich, just as the majority of soldiers around the world today use the same style of steel helmets. Because of Third Reich's notoriety, all shapes that associated with it, like Hitler's moustache or swastika are forever being shunned afterward. The stahlhelm faced the same fate. Hitler had created many taboos in fashion, architecture, symbolism, etc for a some time to come.

Of course, swastika predated Hitler for thousands of years in the Indian subcontinent that associated with Buddhism, and Hitler adopted it for their own use. In fact, the Nazis adopted different Asian spiritual beliefs and symbolism into their regime.

Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Propaganda
Joseph Goebbels wearing a swastika armband.
Photo credit: German Federal Archives
Swastikas on a wall of a Buddhist temple in Taiwan

Closer look should reveal that the 2 swastikas are not identical, but reverse image of one another - one symbolises good luck or well-being, and the other hatred and evil - like the good and evil twins in movies, or Yin and Yang in Taoism. I hesitate to use the terms left-handed and right-handed swastikas to describe them. I don't want to reinforce the negative stereotype of the lefties.

How about the idea of the Christian (or Latin) Cross and its upside-down counterpart? The Third Reich certainly didn't see their swastika as the opposite or reverse mirror image of the Buddhist swastika with its negative connotation, nevertheless they adopted the "evil" reverse image of good without such intention! Interesting, isn't it?

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