Nazi praise sparks Swiss rethink of Le Corbusier

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GENEVA — He's one of the titans of 20th Century architecture, but Le Corbusier is suddenly feeling the weight of history working against him.

The modernist master's legacy is coming under pressure after Switzerland's largest bank dropped an ad campaign featuring the architect and artist last week. Now, Zurich authorities are debating whether to dump plans to name a square after him.

Letters made public in recent years and a 2008 biography suggest that the visionary known for his cool, spare designs and revolutionary urban planning ideas was a Nazi sympathizer whose Fascist tendencies went far beyond what was previously known.

One letter shows Le Corbusier expressing clear enthusiasm for Hitler, even if at other times he calls the German leader a "monster."

"If he is serious in his declarations, Hitler can crown his life with a magnificent work: the remaking of Europe," Le Corbusier wrote to his mother in October 1940, at a time when he was shopping his radical ideas about urbanism across the continent. That was also shortly after Hitler's armies conquered France and much of Western Europe....

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