The story of the encounter between modernism and the Nazis has always been one of irreconcilable conflict.

[Bauhaus] is celebrated today as a progressive, radical "powerhouse of modern culture", while the barbaric and crushing uniformity at the heart of Nazi ideology is condemned as its antithesis.

But the Bauhaus legacy is, in parts, darker than many of us like to imagine.


One Bauhaus student designed the gates to Buchenwald

But on a recent visit to Weimar, Weber came across an exhibition at the Neues Museum that revealed a more complex picture and a disturbing example of the way in which the Bauhaus legacy lived on in the Third Reich.

The subject of the exhibition was Franz Ehrlich, a former Bauhaus student who was arrested as a communist by the Nazis and sent to Buchenwald.

He survived there, in part, because of his design expertise and was commissioned to design parts of the concentration camp — most confrontingly, the gates to the camp itself.


Another designed 'shower rooms' used as gas chambers

Most historians agree that Ehrlich never identified with Nazi ideology. Indeed, other Bauhaus graduates left a far more compromised legacy, according to Weber.

Fritz Ertl, for example, was a former Bauhaus student who went on to become a high-ranking architect, responsible for the expansion of Auschwitz.