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I haven't written a diss. on the topic (I'm strictly stone tools archaeology now), but I have written about it for a graduate level class, and I am an archaeologist with a Classics minor for my BA and MA. Is it that difficult to see that all over DC, and all over the country, we have buildings and monuments that mimic greco-roman art and architecture? And yes, the Nazi's and the Italian Fascists imitated this style of architecture as well, especially the Roman side of things. What's more, asking someone who wrote a dissertation on Nazi art and architecture, what exactly do you expect them to say? Not exactly asking a random person on the street. Just because when I walk down the street and see a rock I automatically categorize it as to whether or not it would make a good hammer stone for making stone tools does not mean anyone else is thinking that.

Are you seriously saying that the use of arches, eagles and wreaths makes something Nazi? Have you seen the Ara Pacis Augustae?

Citing the Lincoln Memorial as an alternative is curious, given that it's a huge white building with columns in the front, just like a typical roman temple! And I'm surprised you don't object to the Washington Monument's obelisk style as being too French. (Why? I have no idea. It's a projection onto you that makes about as much sense as projecting Nazism onto the WWII monument.) I've seen obelisks in Paris. No wait, hmm, maybe some obelisks are from Egypt? The obvious conclusion being that George Washington was a pharaoh, or something...

OK, I've wasted enough of my time thinking about this. I'm done.


Except for the water features. Germans generally, and Nazis especially, don't seem to go in for water features...


"Except for the water features. Germans generally, and Nazis especially, don't seem to go in for water features..."

What about Speer's oh-so disciplined uber-lake for the new Berlin?

Matt Steinglass

Obelisks are actually the preferred feature for Vietnamese Communist war memorials, though they tend to have the tops angled relatively or completely flat. I'm not entirely sure where the Vietnamese flat-topped obelisk reference comes from -- it resembles nothing in traditional Sino-Vietnamese architecture, but it does have an appropriately modernist-Communist feel to it.

But I disagree with Matt: the WWII memorial in DC is unusually fascist for an American war memorial. Its invocation of Roman forms in a faintly modernized version is in itself precisely a fascist trope. It's not necessary to evoke order, regimentation, and Golden Age nostalgia in a war memorial; the Iwo Jima memorial doesn't, and it's far more moving. The Vietnam Memorial obviously is in a class by itself. But even the WWI 2nd Division memorial on Constitution Ave. -- a flaming sword in a kind of gateway -- has few fascist associations; it's got more of a late-19th-century Symbolist or Pre-Raphaelite feel to it.

An American war memorial should not celebrate force, order, ornateness and regularity. It should celebrate creativity, diversity, directness, simplicity, individuality; it should feel like jazz, not Wagner. The Iwo Jima memorial does that. The Vietnam Memorial feels more like the Doors than jazz, but it feels like America -- simple, direct, Quaker or Ray Eames American modernism, an American treatment of tragedy and redemption. The World War II memorial doesn't speak to me -- it speaks to me only of an adolescent fantasy of the war.


Yeah, and in general, this is a Monument to War, glorifying War in an of itself (something the Nazis did aplenty to keep their worldview moving along). It's really too much.


WW2 War memorials like this, this and this strike me as being far more poignant than the one in Washington, which, I must admit, I have never seen in person.

Perhaps the only other WW2 memorial that should be allowed for the war against Germany is this one in Berlin although I think it should have been built on the site of the Brandenburg Gate.


I must disagree with Matt, as well. Neoclassicism in and of itself is not a particular trope of fascist, as opposed to any other architecture. There are obviously lots of neoclassical buildings in the US.

What is fascist is that kind of modernized neoclassicism, I think. It's not really very common in the United States, and pretty much everyone I know who's seen the WWII memorial and is even vaguely familiar with Nazi architecture notes the distinct resemblance.

The monument is essentially what Albert Speer's WWII memorial in Berlin would look like in an alternate universe where Germany won the war. Surely this ought to be troubling.


I tend to agree with the comments here about the general disapproval about the monument. I live in the DC area and enjoy walks along the monument area. My biggest problem with the WWII monument is that the monument seems to glorify the war over the service members who lost their lives. The other war memorials in the area (WWI, Korea and Vietnam) place the emphasis on those who fell (either by name or pictures) while the WWII monument places the glory on the battles and campaigns. The only nod to fallen service members is in the form of a field of stars which, if people were not told what they meant, would pass with little attention being paid to it.

Just my $0.02

T. Paine

The WW2 memorial is also just plain dumb:
The Pacific and Atlantic...entrances (?) are to the north and south;
The state pillars are placed in no discernible order (one has to be told that they alternate states back and forth in the order of joining the union);
The stars (as mentioned above) don't seem to stand for anything at all, unless one is told, and then it's doubly idiotic: How many casualties is each star supposed to represent? Is there any organization to them?

I recognize that some of these designs were dictated by the site, and others are merely aesthetic, but we deserved a more intelligent, and less fascistic, WWII memorial.


I've always had a fondness for Nazi aesthetics, myself. Of all the things to come out of Nazism, they pretty much top the list. That doesn't mean that our WW2 memorial should appropriate the Nazi concept- and there's no question that part of the idea is to whitewash our war effort-but I can think of a lot of monuments that are less pleasing to the eye.


I agree on the general craptasticness of the WW2 memorial. Hadn't really thought about the aesthetic similarities with Nazi memorials before, but now that you pointed them out--wowza!

By the same token, see this recent Wash Post article about the proposed MLK monument and photos of the work in progress. The statue of King--to be something like 4 stories tall--looks like something right out of the soviet playbook. Could easily be a left-over Lenin or Mao statue on which they just changed the face.


I remember initial arguments was that the generation served by the memorial (WW2 people) would recognize it as being emblematic of their ERA not just the Nazi part of it.

Personally I'm not too angry about it: the fetishism for neo-grecco/roman architecture that are the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials are a bit embarrassing.


Not sure how a memorial can "fascist." Maybe it can "resemble monuments built to glorify a past fascist regime," but calling the memorial itself "fascist" seems a bit of an abuse of the language, but whatever....

Did nobody else notice that the last two pictures of the eagles are reversed? Pretty sneaky. ;)


When I saw the monument my first reaction was shock, which was then followed by disgust and anger.

I was shocked to see a structure as large, loud, overdone and bombastic as this put right smack on the Mall. That's sacred territory man. You can't just put any damn fool thing down there. And right in the middle of it all? Not off to the side like the rest of war memorials? The other memorials are small, intimate and remind you that this vast experience is barely understandable to us. The WW2 memorial in all it's giganticness is kind of the opposite. It has a really bad vibe, an attitude that says, "I am just that important to the history of the universe" that is very much in tune with the Third Reich. 'We are the chosen people, we are the superior people, we are the greatest.'

As soon as I saw it, I said, 'this looks like the Olympic stadium from the 1936 games. I've seen it in old film footage and that's exactly what came to mind. It was bad enough to be shocked by the full on crassness of the thing, but then to see it's pretty obvious fascistic/Nazi motifs really disgusted me.

Then I thought about how those of us who live here are stuck with this idiotic thing. I thought about how douchebags like Tom Hanks can weigh in with his double-oscar influence and dump this thing off on us residents of the city. I have to live with his bogus, pompous, kiss-ass idea.


The monument is a great thing to see. This monument is for the people who fought the war so you can talk the way you are. The monument should have been up many many years before so the brave men and women could have seen this.

Lt Grüber

Donnerwetter... its plain ugly really ,and to be honest it does look very 3rd reich ..

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I think the World War II Memorial is beautiful. It has wreaths, eagles, and arches, just like the Nazi memorials? So do Christmas decorations, quarters, and McDonald's restaurants respectively, as well as a lot of other things. Get over it, will you?

PS: I also could not give a wit about what a moron like Garrison Keillor thinks.

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Are you seriously saying that the use of arches, eagles and wreaths makes something Nazi? Have you seen the Ara Pacis Augustae?

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Sybols overlap in every culture, the egal has long since been a symbol of power. Hitler and Amarica both took it from Rome, as did we that style of architechure. I see what your saying, but no need to worry.

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