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Walter Gropius and Paul Schultze-Naumburg, "Who is Right? Traditional Architecture or Building in New Forms" (1926)

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A particularly German characteristic is the granting of such great influence to alien forms that we are not only capable of penetrating deeply into other cultures but we become carried away by a desire to adopt the alien forms ourselves. No doubt this inclination played a central role as the heritage of classical cultures was taken over so comprehensively during the Renaissance. Yet one should not overlook the fact that the Renaissance was undertaken by people with very closely related bloodlines. If one now characterizes it somewhat harshly, though not altogether unjustly, as theater when someone builds an Italian palace under our northern skies—despite the plethora of climatic contradictions that thereby arise—what kind of theater is being indulged when one recommends to Germans dwellings whose models are clearly seen in East Asian, Indian, or even Negro art?


Alongside these hybridizations, often the cause of strange bloomings indeed, others occur of much greater magnitude when one makes the vulgar assumption of a genuine blood relation between Germans and peoples utterly alien to them.

Since the German national body represents a universal mingling in which Mongoloid, Negroid, and several other bloodlines play a considerable role, it should not be surprising that aesthetic instincts sometimes diverge quite sharply as well, for they are a matter not so much of education as of inheritance. There will therefore occasionally appear personalities who, without necessarily knowing it, do not feel themselves drawn by blood to the world of our Nordic forms but who are commanded by their blood to separate themselves from it.

Source of English translation: Walter Gropius and Paul Schultze-Naumburg, “Who is Right? Traditional Architecture or Building in New Forms” (1926), in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg. © 1994 Regents of the University of California. Published by the University of California Press, pp. 439-45. Reprinted with permission of the University of California Press.

Source of original German text: Walter Gropius and Paul Schultze-Naumburg, “Wer hat Recht? Traditionelle Baukunst oder Bauen in neuen Formen,” Uhu, no. 7 (April 1926), pp. 30-40.

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