Looking for books about reconstruction in Europe after WWII
March 4, 2018 11:33 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to read more about how communities in bombed areas went about the process of rebuilding after WWII -- specifically from the perspective of local government, urban planning and architecture. A few questions that interest me: How did these projects get funded? How long did they take? What kinds of controversies arose? Were there battles between "traditionalists" and "modernists"? How did these play out? Thanks in advance for your recommendations!
posted by Trespassers William to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I'm afraid I can't help you much except answer your penultimate question in the affirmative. In Munich, the traditionalists largely prevailed, whereas in Frankfurt, the modernists did. I hope that meager scrap can help you find more.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:39 PM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've been to Bristol, UK a number of times - Bristol was very heavily bombed - with rebuilding going on ever since (when I was here last a local said to me that what Hitler started the city council carried on with!).

While I've only just started to look at this Bristol's reconstruction is very well documented.
This link goes to a pdf with embedded links e.g. Objectors (to the reconstruction plan). Actual plans and thinks look like they'd need to be inter-loaned or physically looked at.
posted by unearthed at 1:07 PM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for a comparative perspective, the best book is Jeffry Diefendorf (ed.), Rebuilding Europe's Bombed Cities (1990), which includes essays on Warsaw, Coventry, Hamburg, Rotterdam and Dresden, among others.

Another good collection of essays is Mark Clapson and Peter Larkham (eds.), The Blitz and its Legacy: Wartime Destruction to Post-War Reconstruction (2013). Despite the title, it's not just about England, but also includes several essays on Japan (with a particularly interesting essay by Neil Jackson on the rebuilding of Hiroshima).

For detailed studies of individual cities or countries, try: Nicholas Bullock, Building the Post-War World: Modern Architecture and Reconstruction in Britain (2002); Jeffry Diefendorf, In the Wake of War: The Reconstruction of German Cities after World War II (1993); Lisa A. Kirschenbaum, The Legacy of the Siege of Leningrad, 1941-1995: Myth, Memories and Monuments (2006).
posted by verstegan at 1:53 PM on March 4, 2018 [5 favorites]

The reconstruction of French cities is also well documented. For instance: Nantes, Brest. CNRS researcher Danièle Voldman did her PhD on this topic and have written extensively about it.
posted by elgilito at 2:06 PM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't know a direct answer to your question, but I would contact the fine folks over at 99% Invisible, as they've just run a two-part show that touches on what you're looking for; they're smart people and probably have an inordinate amount of resources on hand to point you in the right direction. They're also really nice and have done the same for me (for other shows they've aired).
posted by furnace.heart at 2:07 PM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I went to a talk by these folk on post WW2 architecture in urban areas a couple of year back - https://c20society.org.uk
posted by ozgirlabroad at 2:10 PM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Austerity Britain deals with this quite a bit, often from an interesting eyewitness point of view.
posted by Jellybean_Slybun at 2:14 PM on March 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

This book looks relevant: A Blessing in Disguise: War and Town Planning in Europe 1940–1945. It's been a while since I looked at it, but one key topic is how much planning was done in advance by those who saw the war as an opportunity for a new approach.
posted by jonathanbell at 3:54 PM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

These answers are all very helpful. Much appreciated!
posted by Trespassers William at 4:33 PM on March 4, 2018

loosely related: most of Tony Judt's Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 is about the Cold War, but the chapters that discuss The Marshall Plan look into issues about US foreign aid money funding the reconstruction, with strings attached.
posted by ovvl at 5:06 PM on March 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

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