While in DC, I finally got to see the World War II memorial. While we were resting our feet, Queenmommy asked me what I thought of it.
"Um, I don't know if there's any good way to say this, but..."
She immediately jumped in: "It looks like a Nazi memorial!"
Queenmommy knows whereof she speaks, having written a dissertation on totalitarian art and architecture, including the Third Reich's. Even someone who is less learned in the arts, and just has spent his life reading about the Nazis and World War II, could see the similarity. Why didn't the people who approved this structure?
If you have doubts, take a look at this side-by-side comparison. On the left is the Ehrenhalle, part of the Nuremberg rally grounds. On the right is a picture of the WWII memorial in Washington.
Not convinced? Take a look at this aesthetic comparison:
And then there are the eagles:
Even if the resemblances were completely superficial, the designers of the WWII Memorial should have avoided them altogether. In fact, the two monuments on either side of it suggest alternatives. The Washington Monument, like the Vietnam Memorial, has a distinctive simplicity, without any faux classical pretensions. The Lincoln Memorial has a more human element, unlike the tiny reliefs in the entry pathway to the WWII Memorial. (If you enter from the other side, you may miss them altogether.)
There were alternatives to the design, but now we're stuck with something that the very people we defeated in WWII would have applauded.
UPDATE: Garrison Keillor doesn't like the WWII memorial either.