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June 1938 – Summer 1940, Nibelungen Bridge

Part of the building material for the Nibelungen Bridge is granite quarried in the nearby Mauthausen concentration camp under extremely brutal conditions.

The old Gitterbrücke [Bridge] in Linz dated from 1872 and in the meantime hindered not only road traffic but also shipping. Plans had been drawn up for a new bridge in the 1920s. In spring 1938 rebuilding of the Danube bridge was begun – a prestige project by the new rulers.

Even today the Nibelungen Bridge is regarded as a symbol of the economic and cultural rise of Linz during the Nazi period. A quantity of the granite used comes from the Mauthausen concentration camp and shows the connection between Nazi building policies and slave labour. The Nibelungen Bridge and the bridgehead buildings are the only pieces of monumental prestige architecture that the Nazis not only planned but actually built. Two colossal equestrian statues of figures from the Nibelungenlied were to stand at the bridgehead. These statues were not completed but plaster models of them were erected for a time.

The Nazis planned an extensive building programme: the banks of the Danube were to have a building in the style of the bridgehead buildings with a tower which was to be higher than that of St. Stephan’s Cathedral in Vienna. There was also to be a huge event hall with a square for parades. A boulevard with museums and a concert hall was to be constructed near the main station. However, what was realised above all else was the massive expansion of the armaments industry.