In the Wake of War: The Reconstruction of German Cities after World War II

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Oxford University Press, Jun 24, 1993 - History - 424 pages
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In 1945 Germany's cities lay in ruins, destroyed by Allied bombers `hat left major architectural monuments badly damaged and much of the housing stock reduced to rubble. At the war's end, observers thought that it would take forty years to rebuild, but by the late 1950s West Germany's cities had risen anew. The housing crisis had been overcome and virtually all important monuments reconstructed, and the cities had reclaimed their characteristic identities. Everywhere there was a mixture of old and new: historic churches and town halls stood alongside new housing and department stores; ancient street layouts were crossed or encircled by wide arteries; old city centers were balanced by garden suburbs laid out according to modern planning principles. In this book, Diefendorf examines the questions raised by this remarkable feat of urban reconstruction. He explains who was primarily responsible, what accounted for the speed of rebuilding, and how priorities were set and decisions acted upon. He argues that in such crucial areas as architectural style, urban planning, historic preservation, and housing policy, the Germans drew upon personnel, ideas, institutions, and practical experiences from the Nazi and pre-Nazi periods. Diefendorf shows how the rebuilding of West Germany's cities after 1945 can only be understood in terms of long-term continuities in urban development.
 

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Contents

The Air War and Its Consequences
3
Work Amidst the Rubble
18
Architectural Style
43
The Role of Historic Preservation
67
The Housing Problem
108
Planning and Planners after 1945
181
Reconstruction and Building Law
221
Organizing Reconstruction
243
Conclusion
275
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Page 4 - The idea was that buildings of modern construction were poorly suited to form that "bridge of tradition" to future generations which Hitler was calling for. It was hard to imagine that rusting heaps of rubble could communicate these heroic inspirations which Hitler admired in the monuments of the past. My "theory" was intended to deal with this dilemma. By using special materials and by applying certain principles of statics, we should be able to build structures which even in a state of decay, after...
Page 4 - To illustrate my ideas I had a romantic drawing prepared. It showed what the reviewing stand on the Zeppelin Field would look like after generations of neglect, overgrown with ivy, its columns fallen, the walls crumbling here and there, but the outlines still clearly recognizable. In Hitler's entourage this drawing was regarded as blasphemous. That I could even conceive of a period of decline for the newly founded Reich destined to last a thousand years seemed outrageous to many of Hitler's closest...
Page 4 - The iron reinforcements protruded from concrete debris and had already begun to rust. One could easily visualize their further decay. This dreary sight led me to some thoughts which I later propounded to Hitler under the pretentious heading of "A Theory of Ruin Value." The idea was that buildings of modern construction were poorly suited to form that "bridge of tradition" to future generations which Hitler was calling for. It was hard to imagine that rusting heaps of rubble could communicate these...

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