Of all Adolf Hitler's outlandish schemes, there was one in particular that he was unable to make a reality - Germania. It was to be the new capital of his empire and would rise up out of a demolished area of central Berlin.
Now, the collection of buildings the Führer entrusted to architect Albert Speer has provided the inspiration for Alberto de las Heras' new exhibition of drawings, acrylic and watercolor works at Madrid's La Fresh Gallery.
The Spanish artist has immersed himself in this and other stories over the course of many visits to the German capital over the years. "I wanted to talk about the degeneration of German society in the 1930s and how the Nazis subjugated the country by abusing power, but also through seduction and propaganda that promised a new society," he says.
The first part of Germania comprises a series of five pencil drawings that reproduce the imagined ruins of Berlin after defeat to the Allies. They are the consequences of the Nazi madness. In counterpoint, there are also models posing, like ghosts, among the piles of rubble, dressed in clothes from Christian Dior's first collections, created between 1946 and 1950. "Women with corsets, big skirts and a very conservative esthetic. It was the so-called new look, the fashion that emerged out of Europe and evoked the old aristocracy," explains De las Heras, who has worked as an illustrator for designers such as Antonio Alvarado, Carlos Díez and Ana Locking.
Germania was to rise up out of a demolished area of central Berlin
After these come several paintings that De las Heras has based on the Germania that Hitler imagined - "monumental and excessive, of dehumanized buildings and squares" - but which could only be hinted at "in a few plans, models and a couple of buildings."
Among these, La noche I stands out. A night-time aerial view of the proposed Third Reich city, it is accompanied by portraits of various figures - some invented, others real - including Speer's wife and Claus von Stauffenberg, the army officer behind one of the assassination attempts on Hitler that came closest to succeeding.
De las Heras also draws attention to La noche II (Magnus Hirschfeld), which shows Nazis hurling books on to a bonfire. The name accompanying the title belongs to the German Jewish doctor who dared to defend the rights of homosexuals in Hitler's Germany.
The exhibition ends with the victims, and watercolors "of a hypothetical catalogue of objects confiscated from the Jews." They are small-format works that De las Heras exhibits as if they were real documents, with their stamp and serial number, and depict art, porcelain, clothes, candelabras, musical instruments and more. As well as their possessions, these Jews also lost their homes to allow Hitler's unrealized architectural fantasy to rise up in their place.