The monumental Palace of the Soviets, slated for construction in a starving Soviet Union in the years before the Second World War was the material representation of the ideal of Communism which so captivated Western intellectuals in the 1930s. It was intended by Stalin to be the largest building in the world, constructed for effect on the site of Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which was demolished for the purpose in an act of heavy-handed symbolism.
The total height of the building was planned at 415 meters (1365 feet), taller than the Empire State Building, the tallest building at that time. The Palace would have housed several museums, the main and secondary auditoriums, with lower and underground levels given to the traffic handling, storage, and technical equipment. The building was supposed to give an impression of an enormous ladder to the sky. The utilitarian purpose of the building was to house Congresses of Soviets, likely the World Congress of Soviets.
The Palace was only a small part of the proposed reconstruction of Moscow. A display of totalitarian art at a Northwestern University website shows how the building would have looked along a monumental avenue leading to it. The avenue, apparently wider than a football field and many miles long, would shrink trucks and buses into insignificance. Even a zeppelin, itself longer than an ocean liner, is shown hovering the distance no larger in comparison than a hyphen, swallowed up in a cityscape that would have done justice to Coruscant. The Eiffel Tower placed beside it would hardly reach the pedestal of its crowning statue of Lenin which would rise to more than twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. Stalin's vision was a rival to Hitler's plan to rebuild Berlin on an equally epic scale. It would not be hard to imagine the Star War's Galactic Senate assembled in Hitler's planned Grosse Hall. There is an air of inhuman evil about these architectural plans. They remind us of a future that never happened despite the efforts of the cleverest intellectuals in Europe. It is a representation of what the capitals of Eurasia would actually have looked like without England's stubborn heroism and America's might.
But the foundations of these huge structures would not in a sense, consist of mighty piles driven into the earth by countless slaves, nor even of the mounds of corpses in concentration camps scattered through the dark forests and grimy little industrial towns of those nightmare empires. Totalitarianism is ultimately founded on an idea; the exact reverse of the notion that all men are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights. How much of this idea still lives on in visions of a new European superstate whose constitution runs to thousands of pages is hard to say. But it is not unfair to assert that the greatest scar inflicted by the totalitarianisms of the 20th century was not on the material landscape, but on the soul of the West. The Communism and Fascism which abolished God and disabused civilization of the sacredness of human life in the name of enlightened progress also destroyed much else. If we are lucky Islam is simply progressing through a Western vacuum that has not yet been filled, stepping over a population still mesmerized by the illusions of the 20th century. If we are unlucky it is coming to build the cities that we ourselves have dreamed, the necropolis over the ruins of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.