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It means Heavy Load Testing Body. It does what it says really. This concrete lump is as far as Hitler’s plans for the capital of his new empire got. It was built by French forced labourers to test the ability of the ground to bear the weight of a Triumphal Arch.


Adolf had big plans for Berlin. He had many architects, but his favourite was Albert Speer because where other architects tried to tone down the scale of Hitler’s plans for enormous buildings, Speer told him they should be even bigger.

The ‘Volkshalle’, with its copper clad dome rising 1000 feet above street level would be the world’s largest building and would sit at one end of a wide boulevard 5km long which would end with the world’s biggest railway station and an Arch of Triumph, so big the Arc de Triomphe in Paris would have fitted inside it 9 times over. Hitler expected all the building to be completed by 1950, but war got in the way.


Speer introduced to Hitler the notion of “Ruin Value”, that thousands of years hence the ruins of these buildings would be like the ruins of ancient Rome or Greece or Egypt. Not that he expected his Reich to end any time soon. “These buildings,” he said in 1937, “should not be conceived for the year 1940, no, nor for the year 2000, but like the cathedrals of our past they shall stretch into the millenia of the future.”

Speer got 20 years imprisonment at the Nuremberg war crimes trials where he apologised for his part in Nazism. Upon release in 1966 he became something of a celebrity, photoshopping his history to take out any knowledge of the Holocaust. But this was clearly disingenuous. Apart from those worked to death in the quarries and building sites, Speer was responsible for the eviction of thousands of Jews from their homes. And in his efforts to maintain industry, Speer prolonged the war for many months and so was responsible for the deaths of thousands more. He died in London in 1981.

Hitler and Speer admire a scale model of their designs for Berlin. When Speer showed the models to his father (also an architect) the older man said “You’ve all gone completely mad.”


A scene from Downfall showing Speer indulging Hitler in his megalomaniac fantasies as the Allies and Soviets closed in.

see this blog for photos of the models Speer made for Hitler.…

More on the Schwerbelastungskörper here

Roger Moorhouse, 2010, “Berlin at War”
Albert Speer, 1971, “Inside the Third Reich”
Maik Kopleck, 2007, “Past Finder, Berlin 1933-1945”

26 comments on “Schwerbelastungskörper
  1. Keartona says:

    I wonder how many modern buildings anywhere in the world are built with ruin value in mind.

  2. SolarScot. says:

    if i ever go on Countdown im going to remember that word Ian !

  3. Keartona says:

    [] That would make one heck of a countdown conundrum.

  4. Ian D B says:

    [] []
    It’d certainly win a game of scrabble.

  5. The Neepster says:

    few too many letter for countdown, but certainly a conundrum. Interesting shot – and thanks for the info. Completely mad? Oh yes.

  6. gastephen says:

    That certainly looks like a pretty substantial chunk of masonry. Nicely shot, Ian, and some interesting background.

  7. mick cooke says:

    thats some stone in that building ian interesting story as well

  8. nondesigner59 says:

    What kind of world would we be living in now if things had gone differently.??

  9. Ray~Watson says:

    That sure is a weighty piece of maisonary! Nice angle to this shot which, reveals good texture/detail. Like the blue sky, very contrasty against the stonework… Thanks for your kind comments on my work, much appreciated!

  10. Tech Owl says:

    I am interested by the different shaped bricks/stones. There seems to be certain phases in this building – well captured by the way

  11. amyrey says:

    You gotta love the German language for its descriptiveness, if not its beauty.

    "Ruin value"….. great concept, that should be thought about more often these days.

  12. IANLAYZELLUK says:

    Interesting Shot.

  13. het broertje van.. says:

    Speer a brilliant man Ian………………..just the wrong party man!!!


  14. Neal. says:

    Monuments to mans folly, how many of those have been built?

  15. Ian D B says:

    Many thanks everyone.


    Just this one Neal. It would have been destroyed, only it’s pretty solid and too close to houses to blow up. You can go inside and view it from above from a platform. No buildings of Speer’s remain in Berlin.

  16. **Hazel** says:

    Interesting photo Ian, and interesting information on this lump!!!!:-) Great capture!!!:-)

  17. pasujoba says:

    Interesting stuff Ian looks very industrial like this , rather than momumental!

  18. Stezzer says:

    Maybe this one will stand the test of time. It looks stronger than castle walls and how long have they lasted?

  19. Hotpix [LRPS] Hanx for 1.5M Views says:

    Evil he was, but he had big architectural ideas!
    I like it my friend, I have learnt something again! 😎

    Seen in my contacts photostream……


    Billy & Suzy

    Walk a year in my shoes, see whats up my street or see my world in selective Colour.

  20. f3liney says:

    Fascinating background info. I never considered the prep work for Speer’s overblown designs might still exist.

  21. stuant63 says:

    great posting, Ian. It’s fascinating stuff but the world is surely a better place without those horrendous monuments which they planned.

  22. *Psycho Delia* says:

    Excellent shot and all the info is amazing

  23. Richard Tierney says:

    Well the 3rd Reich has its last surviving "Ruin Value" piece of history… looking at this, it might well still be still around in a few millennium…. not a bad thing, as good as a museum to mankind, to remind the human race of just what it can do if not challenged by good.

    You certainly know where to look to search out these fascinating bits of history Ian.. I hope you and Lucy managed some light relief whilst in Berlin :-))

  24. Ian D B says:

    Thanks Richard. A bit of light relief eh? Yeah we did other stuff too – a boat ride on the Spree, lunch at KaDeWe, a walk through Tiergarten. But it was mostly Nazis.

  25. Richard Tierney says:

    Very nice 🙂 I hope Lucy accepted gracefully your desire to "probe and record" 🙂

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