Design of the Third Reich

Design Museum Den Bosch presents the first major retrospective of design of the Third Reich.

League of German Girls Dancing during the Reichs Party Congress. (Photo by Hugo Jaeger/Timepix/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

The exhibition entitled Design of the Third Reich shows the contribution of design to the development of the evil Nazi ideology. It includes the Volkswagen Beetle, the Olympic Games of 1936, the swastika and the films of Leni Riefenstahl and other key pieces from the Netherlands and Germany.

The structure of the exhibition

Design during the Third Reich was in its essence contradictory. The Design of the Third Reich exhibition is therefore organised on the basis of various contradictions. The main theme was purity, meaning that various population groups, such as Jews, homosexuals and Roma, had to be eradicated. Nazism devised and based itself on its own history but, at the same time, focused fanatically on the future. It was full of romance, but was also obsessed with modern technology. To the outside world Nazism portrayed an alluring image of prosperity and carefree amusement while, in 1933 the first concentration camps were being set up. Together these paradoxes show how, within twelve years, Nazism initially underwent a huge development, and then resoundingly collapsed. They also show how design played a key role in that process.