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Article posted Jan 22 2006, 3:26 PM Category: History Source: London Telegraph Print

Hitler 'told Speer to recreate the Eternal City in Berlin'

Adolf Hitler intended to recreate the Vatican's St Peter's Square in the centre of Berlin to honour his ally Benito Mussolini, newly discovered documents have revealed.

Albert Speer, the fuhrer's chief architect, was commissioned to draw up the plans, which have been discovered by historians examining his papers.

They had been stored in a secret room inside Moscow's Museum of Architecture after being taken to Russia at the end of the Second World War.

In total, there were more than 200 boxes of files belonging to Speer, whose grand designs for the rebuilding of Nazi Berlin under Hitler were already well known.

But the plans for a new, Germanic version of St Peter's Square - complete with a giant statue of Mussolini - in Berlin have astonished historians.

Speer built a scale model of how he planned to recreate the columns of St Peter's Square, which encircle the piazza in front of the Basilica.

The Moscow museum's director, David Sarkisian, told the Sunday Telegraph: "The plan was for the new Berlin to be ready in 1950 after Nazi Germany had defeated the Allies.

Hitler would declare Germany the ruler of a world empire and at the centre of its capital Berlin was to be a recreation of St Peter's Square in the Vatican.

"Speer's plans included the columns from the square and at the centre instead of a fountain as in Rome there would be a huge statue of Benito Mussolini.

"Hitler considered the Eternal City [Rome] to be the only city in the world to rival Berlin so he wanted to better it in every way possible." Speer's documents show that Hitler took a great interest in the plans and was delighted with the architect's model.

He also viewed several castings of Mussolini's statue which were commissioned but the plans were eventually abandoned at the end of 1943 as Germany neared defeat.

At the end of the war, Speer was tried at Nuremburg and sentenced to 20 years in prison. After his release from Spandau in 1966, he published his memoirs and died in London 15 years later.

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