More than 75 years ago, the Olympiastadion Berlin was the center of attention for the whole world as National Socialists party, under Hitlers command, staged their gigantic propaganda spectacle on the occasion of the XI Olympic Games. Today, the powerful architecture of this modern arena is still awe inspiring – especially at sunrise.
A few months ago, I was lucky to be part of a video production at Olympiastadion. My colleague and friend Thang, ever prepared, brought his camera along to capture the incredible size and structure of this concrete behemoth ins Berlin’s Westend district.
Although renovated many times over, the Olympiastadion retains a very powerful charisma. The most significant intervention of the landmark is a new roof, which not only changed the impression of the interior, but also transformed the character of the entire complex. But the light construction also relates the politically motivated heaviness of the old stone building, which conceals a remarkably modern (for 1936 standards) concrete construction.
For the 1936 Olympic Games, the Olympic Stadium offered space for up to 120,000 people. Despite its undoubtedly modern architecture, the entire building still radiates ancient splendor and a solemn atmosphere today. Although you’d probably miss out on that notion among bawling Hertha fans on a typical Saturday afternoon game. We were lucky to have the arena all to ourselves on our visit..
The renovations have taken nothing away from the arena’s powerful appearance. In fact, it seems almost ancient until you enter its core: the backstage, training- and locker rooms of the athletes. Here, the Olympiastadion seems to be rather stuck in the 90ies.
I am, as always, intrigued by the remnants of the Nazis “Germania” plans. Similar to Tempelhof airport, the Olympiastadion architecture has a very unique power hidden in its brute structure. Even those who aren’t aware of the details of Nazi history will recognize a certain instilled sense when entering the premises. I certainly always do.