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Styles and Movement


Block, Der.

German association of architects formed in Saaleck early in 1928, in reaction to the avant-garde group Der Ring and to the emerging Modern Movement in general. The most prominent members were Paul Schultze-Naumburg, Paul Schmitthenner, German Bestelmeyer and Paul Bonatz. Bonatz and Schmitthenner were both supposed to take part in the exhibition of the Deutscher Werkbund in Stuttgart in 1927, and even prepared a layout plan for the Weissenhofsiedlung, the showpiece of the exhibition. Their design was, however, rejected in favour of the modernist design by Mies van der Rohe. Schultze-Naumburg from the early years of the century had propagated a return to organic and traditional forms of architecture, for example in his series of books Kulturarbeiten (1902–17). He was the leading theorist of the Heimatschutz movement, which advocated the preservation and continuation of German traditions and values. Bestelmeyer, Schmitthenner and Bonatz were among the most prominent architects of southern Germany, all holding influential teaching posts in Munich and Stuttgart. Der Block wanted to retain traditional skills and lifestyles and rejected functional, modern architecture with its emphasis on internationalism. Their ‘Manifesto’ appeared in Baukunst 4 (v (1928), pp. 128–9; repr. in Teut, p. 29); its polemic, enriched with an emphasis on ‘German-ness’, was eventually to evolve into the fierce opposition and persecution by the Third Reich of the ‘cultural bolshevism’ of the architecture and architects of the Modern Movement. As a group, however, Der Block was shortlived, active only into 1929.

Paul Bonatz. University of Tubingen library



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