Jacek Purchla, Żanna Komar (red. nauk.)

Dissonant heritage? The architecture of the Third Reich in Poland [EN]

Format:  hardcover book
Translation:  Jessica Taylor-Kucia
Date of issue:  2020
Pages:  384
Language:  English
Cover:  hardcover
Dimensions:  19 x 26 cm
ISBN:  978-83-66419-16-2
Shipping:  48 hrs

40,00 79,00 


Product description

Heritage can be troublesome, as the former Auschwitz concentration camp or the Palace of Culture and Science are the best witnesses. However, the biggest problem we have is with what the Third Reich left behind in our country. How complex this issue is is shown in the latest book by the International Cultural Centre. And it provides the most comprehensive and often surprising overview of these “ill-born” buildings to date.

The territory of present-day Poland is also the area of a great spatial experiment, which was the creation of the German Lebensraum. An experiment on all architectural scales: from the “model province” through the “ideal German city in the East” to the “model village” and the “model dwelling for a German family”. It was realised differently in the lands that belonged to Germany before the war and in the areas of the conquered Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, which were either incorporated directly into the Reich or made into the General Government. While in Gdańsk, Szczecin or Wrocław the Nazi architecture is not surprising, its presence in Ciechanów, Pułtusk or Wawel may come as a surprise.

Some plans have been realised, others have remained on paper. Some buildings still bear their troublesome stigma, but many have blended into their surroundings. The authors investigate their origins, reconstructing their messages: for example, the Ordensburg in Zlocieniec in Western Pomerania – a training centre for the new Nazi elite, similar to a Teutonic castle – or the Eichenkamp near Gliwice – a model settlement for SA and SS officers, with a Germanic oak tree not only in its name. There was symbolic violence behind many of the projects. Without persistent Germanisation, without erasing Polishness, it would not have been possible to transform Poznan into the “new administrative and cultural centre of the German East”, to create the “new German city of Warsaw” or to “restore” Krakow’s “ancient Germanness” and turn it into the Nuremberg of the East.

Behind the architecture was ideology, behind the ideology was crime. The reverse of what was built and rebuilt for the “master race” were the ghettos and the displacements. Prosperity based on the slave labour of subhumans. An infrastructure of extermination – death factories and camps providing almost free labour according to the doctrine of “destruction through labour” so perversely paraphrased on the gate at Auschwitz.

A troubled legacy is not easy to come to terms with. Even scarred, it is a vestige of injustice, violence, crime. Eighty years since the war, however, have allowed researchers to look at it “without anger and without liking it”. And, at the same time, to pose an important question: are we, as a society, able to move from emotion to debate, from controversy to reflection, to consider why and on what principles such dramatic historical testimony as the legacy of hatred left by the Nazis in Poland can also be preserved.

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