The fascinating untold story of how Nazi architects and planners envisioned and began to build a model “Aryan” society in Norway during World War II
Between 1940 and 1945, German occupiers transformed Norway into a vast construction zone. This remarkable building campaign, largely unknown today, was designed to extend the Greater German Reich beyond the Arctic Circle and turn the Scandinavian country into a racial utopia. From ideal new cities to a scenic superhighway stretching from Berlin to northern Norway, plans to remake the country into a model “Aryan” society fired the imaginations of Hitler, his architect Albert Speer, and other Nazi leaders. In Hitler’s Northern Utopia, Despina Stratigakos provides the first major history of Nazi efforts to build a Nordic empire―one that they believed would improve their genetic stock and confirm their destiny as a new order of Vikings.
Drawing on extraordinary unpublished diaries, photographs, and maps, as well as newspapers from the period, Hitler’s Northern Utopia tells the story of a broad range of completed and unrealized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. These ventures included maternity centers, cultural and recreational facilities for German soldiers, and a plan to create quintessential National Socialist communities out of twenty-three towns damaged in the German invasion, an overhaul Norwegian architects were expected to lead. The most ambitious scheme―a German cultural capital and naval base―remained a closely guarded secret for fear of provoking Norwegian resistance.
A gripping account 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.
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"Drawing from a staggering trove of archival letters, maps, plans and diaries, Stratigakos’s Hitler’s Northern Utopia gracefully juxtaposes the oppressor’s dream with Norway’s brutal reality as she examines the country’s occupation and the labor force that worked on building the Nazi fantasy state that never was." ---Lucy Tiven, Washington Post
"As well as being a fascinating account of an unfamiliar but important aspect of the Second World War, this book is an exemplary model of scholarship. . . . It is a remarkable achievement, compelling in its originality and fascination, and a vital addition to the huge literature on the most horrific war in modern history." ---Simon Heffer, The Telegraph
"If you thought (as I did) that, 75 years on from Hitler's death, there could surely be nothing new to learn about him, then this book by U.S. architectural historian Despina Stratigakos is an eye-opener." ---Tony Rennell, Daily Mail
"Unusual and provocative. . . . A special strength of the book is Stratigakos's attention to the fate of POWs―some Serbian, but mostly Russian. . . . Norwegian historians are coming to terms with both the occupation and their country's response in the 1950s and 60s. Hitler's Northern Utopia should be high on their must-read list. Nor will non-specialist readers be disappointed in it." ---Jonathan Beard, Michigan War Studies Review
"Architectural historian Despina Stratigakos mines a little-known chapter in 20th century history with insight, clarity and encyclopedic rigour. From the vision to re-fashion Trondheim into a new cultural capital to the scheme for an imposing super-highway linking the new city to Berlin, the book chronicles a darkly fascinating saga. It’s a chilling vision of the world as it could have been ― and a reminder of architecture’s role in creating it." ― Azure Magazine
"Among a younger generation of scholars unafraid to confront such once-taboo material, none has surpassed Despina Stratigakos. . . . In her latest book, Hitler’s Northern Utopia: Building the New Order in Occupied Norway, Stratigakos . . . demonstrates a keen understanding of how Hitler’s perversion of architecture reflected that thwarted master builder’s ideological values, even beyond the German fatherland. Not the least of the surprises in this admirable but unsettling new study is that among the twenty or so countries subjugated in whole or in part by the Nazis, Norway was unique because Germany spent more on development there than it extracted in booty." ---Martin Filler, New York Review of Books
"The reader gets an enormous amount of information about Norway in this beautiful and well-written book. Professor Stratigakos deserves much gratitude for a book which combines clear-headed precision and richness of detail with an understanding for the human cost of history." ---Lars Baerentzen, Krigshistorisk Tidsskrift
“Tackling a subject that has not been covered before, this original book adds to our knowledge and understanding of the Nazi occupation of Norway, Nazi expansionism, and the ideology of a new European order. Drawing on a wealth of new sources, and featuring an impressive range of illustrations, Hitler’s Northern Utopia is filled with interesting detail.” ―Tim Kirk, author of Nazi Germany
“Using underexplored archives and bringing new material to light, Hitler’s Northern Utopia is an excellent history of the construction and significance of architecture and infrastructure projects in Nazi-occupied Norway. Despina Stratigakos also gives equal and subtle attention to Speer and Hitler’s imagined Norway as part of a postwar Germanic empire.”
―Paul B. Jaskot, author of The Architecture of Oppression: The SS, Forced Labor, and the Nazi Monumental Building Economy
Despina Stratigakos is a vice provost and professor of architecture at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. She is the author of Hitler at Home and Where Are the Women Architects? (Princeton), and has written on Nazi Germany for Architect Magazine, BBC History Magazine, and the Atlantic. She lives in Buffalo, New York.