The Feldherrnhalle or ‘Field Marshals’ Hall’ in Munich was commissioned by King Ludwig I of Bavaria in honour of his army. Built in the mid-19th century, the design of the monument was based on the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.
However, the Feldherrnhalle took on further symbolic duty under the Nazis when in 1933 it was the site of a short conflict ending in Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch. From then on, Feldherrnhalle was the site of many Nazi parades including an annual celebration.
The Feldherrnhalle was first built between 1841 and 1844 on the command of King Ludwig I of Bavaria as a symbol of the honours of the Bavarian Army. The structure replaced a former Gothic style gate and instead reflected the more fashionable Italian taste of the Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence.
Representing Bavarian military might were 2 statues: leaders Johann Tilly and Karl Philipp von Wrede, the first who led Bavarians in the Thirty Years’ War and the second against Napoleon. Another sculpture was added in 1892 to mark the French defeat and German unification, as well as several Medici lions added in 1906.
It was also here on 9 November 1923 that Adolph Hitler had been part of a clash between Bavarian State Police and the Nazi Party SA which ended the infamous Beer Hall Putsch – a failed coup attempt. As a result, Hitler was arrested and sentence to prison, during which he wrote ‘Mein Kampf’.
Under Hitler, the Feldherrnhalle became home to a monument, called the Mahnmal der Bewegung, to his comrades who died that night. The structure was always guarded by the SS and was square was used for SS parades and became the site of oath ceremonies for new recruits.
After the war, Feldherrnhalle was restored to its pre-Nazi appearance. In 1995, a veteran committed self-immolation in front of Feldherrnhalle to protest what he saw as the continued “demonisation of the German people and German soldiers”.
Today, the open hall continues to face the square and displays the monuments to the Bavarian military. Watching the square with idle tourists, it is hard to imagine the space full of parading SS recruits.
You might notice that behind Feldherrnhalle is a lavish palace, in front of which is a small lane which has been nicknamed ‘Drückebergergasse meaning ‘shirker’s lane’. This small detour provided a small act of resistance for those unwilling to salute the Feldherrnhalle – a Nazi expectation for all passing by.
Getting to the Feldherrnhalle
Situated opposite the beautiful Theatine Church, Feldherrnhalle is easily found on foot or via public transport. The subway services U3, U4, U5 and U6 all stop at Odeonsplatz just by the Feldherrnhalle, as well as buses 100, 153, N40, N41 and N45.