A Dictator's Place of Longing

ARD-series: "Mysterious Places"

Author & Director:
Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Jens Stubenrauch

45' | World Sales: NEW DOCS

Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

astfilm productions | RBB // ARD

February 1945. The Fuehrer is holed up in a bunker under the Reich-Chancellery in Berlin. Adolf Hitler's life is approaching its end. The city above him is being destroyed, but the dictator's thoughts are drawn to a plywood and cardboard model, a model for the transformation of Hitler's favorite city. Not Berlin, the envisioned "World Capital Germania", but Linz, a tranquil Austrian town on the banks of the Danube. Hitler had been planning to redesign Linz. The model in the bunker allows him to escape from the downfall of his Reich.

Linz was the city of Hitler's youthful dreams. They stayed with him. After Germany annexed Austria in 1938, provincial Linz was to become a magnificent center for Aryan art and architecture. Hitler envisioned Linz as flagship of the "Thousand Year Reich", the epitome of a national socialist city, with great buildings, parade grounds and a wide boulevard. Hitler sketched some of the plans himself.

He paid special attention to the "Fuehrer Museum", the intended home of his private art collection. For years, a special secret unit ("Sonderauftrag Linz") had been plundering and buying art throughout Europe. German corporations "donated" millions of Reichsmark. In the end, Hitler's collection encompassed more that 6,000 works of art. His private testament bequeathed the collection to the city of Linz. One day after writing down this "heartfelt wish", Hitler committed suicide. One of the chief buyers was art dealer Hildebrandt Gurlitt. A few years ago Bavarian authorities confiscated a trove of artwork from Gurlitt's son in Munich.

Today, unmistakable traces of the grand plans for Linz can be found in the Austrian town, including the Nibelungen-Bridge, the industrial Hermann Goering-Werke and the Hitler-apartment buildings still in use. But Linz was spared the envisioned total makeover. "Hitler's Linz" looks at what remains, what was never completed, what has become integrated into modern Linz. Introducing rate photos and archival discoveries, the film explores Linz as the place where the dictator wanted to realize his political and personal dreams.