03 December 2007

From 1936 to 2008 Olympics - China Hires the Son of Nazi Architect

Back when Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1999, a friend and I tried to imagine where to imagine where the world was heading and if we would see another WWII-type on conflict in our lifetime. The comparisons aren't perfect, but we did feel that China is an up-and-coming power who will be chaffing at the status quo at some point in the near future. This seemed pretty analogous to the position of Imperial Germany in the late 1800s.

After WWI, Hitler wanted to show that Germany's claim on a place in the sun had not gone away. To highlight this, he chose to make the 1936 Berlin Olympics a grand gesture of German power. A large part of that message was crafted in stone in Berlin's Olympic Stadium, designed by Albert Speer.

I should clarify, Albert Speer, Sr. The favored architect of Hitler died in 1981, but his son, Albert Speer, Jr. is also architect, with the German team AS&P. Can you see where I'm going? Yes, Albert Speer, Jr. is helping to design Olympic venues for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Speer Jr. is by all accounts a talented architect and has a very different philosophy of building than the grand gestures of his father. That said, I do not believe that this is the last, or even the greatest comparison between the 1936 and 2008 games. The 2008 Olympics will be seen in the future as the new China's debutante ball.

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