History of the Building

Up to 1945

The Arno Breker State Atelier

Kunsthaus Dahlem is located in the former State Atelier of the sculptor Arno Breker. The building, designed by architect Hans Freese, professor at the Technical University Dresden, featured multiple studio spaces and was built for the sculptor Arno Breker in Berlin’s Dahlem district between 1939 and 1942. Arno Breker was, alongside Josef Thorak, one of the busiest sculptors of the »Third Reich«. Since 1937, he had produced ornamental sculptures for Albert Speer’s monumental constructions. Hans Freese based his design for the Berlin atelier on Speer’s monumental atelier building for Thorak, built in Baldham near Munich between 1938-42.

Excavation work for the Dahlem building complex began in June 1939 on a section of deforested woodland that the City of Berlin had provided to the state “at the request of the Führer,” as indicated in construction documents. An atelier was planned that was to be outfitted with the latest technical equipment such as a crane, hydraulic lift, and a freight elevator with basement access.

In November 1941, prior to the atelier building’s official completion in February 1942, Breker received the first guests in the central space: a group of French artists, among others, visited the site as part of an excursion to Germany organized by the Ministry of Propaganda.

Breker himself, however, only used the atelier sporadically or for a short period of time. Increasing bombings and associated damages to the building, such as broken glass skylights, soon made using the spaces impossible. Instead, Breker’s main workplace was Schloss Jäckelsbruch, a manor Hitler personally presented to him on the occasion of his fortieth birthday in 1940. In addition, a factory site with a rail link and canal port had been located in neighboring Wriezen since 1941: the Arno Breker Bildhauerwerkstätten GmbH (Sculpture Workshops).

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The Arno Breker State Atelier. By Dr. Nikola Doll.