Adolf Hitler had plans to build the biggest sports stadium the world had ever seen, with space for hundreds of thousands of people, but World War II brought his project to a halt.
The Deutsches Stadion – The German Stadium – would have been more then 2,600ft long and was designed to fit at least 400,000 spectators on its 300ft high grandstands.
However, the Nazi tyrant’s ambitious plans barely got off the ground, and the overgrown remains of the initial stage of the monumental construction project – a section of the grandstand built to scale – is all that is left today.
The trial stadium: Adolf Hitler, followed by Albert Speer, visits the side outside Nuremberg where construction workers built a section of the stadium seating – to scale – to help the Nazi leader visualise how the final product may turn out
Nazi delusions of grandeur: The Deutsches Stadion, seen in this concept image bottom right, would have been more then 2,600ft long and was designed to fit at least 400,000 spectators on its 300ft high grandstands
The stadium was designed by Hitler’s chief architect Albert Speer under the guidance of the Nazi dictator himself.
Not to be confused with the Deutsches Stadion in Berlin, which was built in 1913 and destroyed by the Nazi Government in 1933, this one would have been located in Nuremberg.
The city, located in Bavaria, south Germany, was the site of the annual Nazi Party conventions – the Nuremberg rallies – and Hitler intended to use the stadium both for Olympic Games and his party events.
Upon completion, Speer’s horseshoe-shaped stadium would have been 2,625ft long and 1,476ft wide.
The grandstands would have been 295ft high and each end of the ‘horseshoe’ was meant to have an even taller tower, decorated with the Nazi Party’s eagle. Each eagle’s wingspan would have been just under 50ft.
Testing, testing: Nazi officials visit the section of stadium seating on a hill near a village in Hirschbach
All that remains: Much of the test-site near Hirschbach was deconstructed in the wake of World War II, but visitors today can still find the concrete foundations of the model on the hillside
During a groundbreaking ceremony in Nuremberg in September 1937, Hitler unveiled a 6ft-high model of the Deutsches Stadion to a crowd of thousands.
However, before construction on the actual stadium was to begin, Speer and Hitler ordered a ‘test’ to be built – completely to scale.
Over 18 months, some 400 workers built an entire section of stadium seating on a hill near a village in Hirschbach, about one hour’s drive from Nuremberg.
Mini model: During a groundbreaking ceremony in September 1937, Hitler unveiled a 6ft-high model of the Deutsches Stadion to a crowd of thousands
Hitler’s playground: The Deutsche Stadion, seen marked with a number 11 on this drawing, would have been an addition to the large grounds at Nuremberg where the Nazi Party had been holding its annual conventions
Big plans: The semi-completed to-scale model can be seen in this photograph where an additional section and an end tower has been drawn on to show how the final product may have looked like
The hill had the same inclination as the finished Deutsches Stadion seating would have had, as Hitler and Speer wanted to get a feel for the ‘sightlines and acoustics,’ according to Gizmondo.
The test stadium section was nearly 90ft wide, and after clearing the hillside of trees, workers built seats that would have been able to hold 40,000 people.
Pleased with the to-scale ‘test model’, Hitler ordered construction of the real deal to begin in 1938, but the outbreak of war the following year saw the project abandoned.
The locals living near the test-model in Hirschbach ended up using much of its timber to reconstruct their homes in the wake of World War II, and all that remains of Hitler’s big stadium project are overgrown concrete pillars and walls on the hillside.