E-Journal für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte

Urban Planning and Architecture of the Period of Third Reich in Poland

Guest editors: Karolina Jara and Aleksandra Paradowska

This issue of kunsttexte.de brings articles that are based on the papers delivered at the conference organized in June 2017 in Zamek Culture Centre in Poznań, organised by the Modern Architecture and Urban Planning Research Lab [Pracownia Badań nad Architekturą i Urbanistyką Nowoczesną] at the Art History Department of the University of Wrocław. Their Polish version is collected in a book published by Wydawnictwo Nauka i Innowacje in Poznań.

The title of those editions “Urban Planning and Architecture of the Period of Third Reich in Poland” was formulated in such a way that it captures a variety of phenomena. We set out to describe multifarious spatial planning initiatives undertaken by the Germans in Polish territories, while focusing not only on the monumental undertakings to rebuild Polish cities or public buildings, which the term “Nazi urban planning and architecture” immediately brings to mind, but also spatial planning in general. This created a framework to explore a variety of phenomena, including not only spatial planning itself, but also residential architecture, transport infrastructure, and the process of appropriating local building traditions. In other words, the term we used in the title is intended to encapsulate building and architectural designs in general, while capturing a whole array of related narratives that created a new image of the occupied or annexed Polish territories. We particularly sought to describe German activity in the context of the former German experience during the colonization and expansion to the East, which particularly flourished as part of the Nazi occupation policies. The focus on Polish territories opens up an opportunity to alter the existing perceptions of the history of the urban planning and architecture of the Third Reich. Our plan is to shift the focus from the centers of power to the captured and colonized territories, which were yet to fit in with the old Reich.

The articles are presented according to geography and issues addressed; they are also preceded with a foreword by Niels Gutschow, a pioneering researcher in the architecture of Polish occupied territories. The monograph begins with two papers on the Reichsgau Wartheland, by Aleksandra Paradowska and Hanna Grzeszczuk-Brendel respectively. The former’s primary focus is on the Germanizing tradition in Polish territories and the way it was reflected in spatial plans and designs developed during World War II. The latter describes residential architecture in Poznań and the way it revealed various aspects of Nazi ideology and mechanisms of social control. Historical experiences, too, had a great bearing on spatial planning in Silesia. The architectural vision of the region was determined by its location at the eastern frontier of the Third Reich, which is examined in detail by Karolina Jara. The General Government is yet another area to be discussed in the volume. Żanna Komar offers a study on the architecture of Kraków, with a specific focus on Hubert Ritter’s designs; however, she also elucidates the institutional determinants of particular designs and their execution. Wojciech Szymański furnishes a novel perspective on the selected German realizations in Kraków. Additionally, he elaborates a new interpretation of vernacularism in architecture: the one that accounts for cultural and ethnographic contexts in German propaganda. The last two articles are documentary studies. Jagoda Załęska-Kaczko describes in detail both planned and completed undertakings in Gdańsk [Danzig], which was incorporated into Germany in 1939 as part of a newly-established Reichsgau Danzig-Westpreussen. The last article in the volume is that of Jan Salm’s, who shares insights on the study of architecture in the period of the Third Reich in the Gau Ostpreussen while offering a number of postulations for future research on Eastern Prussia and beyond.

We would like to thank both reviewers, prof. Hubert Orłowski and prof. Agnieszka Zabłocka-Kos, for their thoughtful comments and efforts towards improving our manuscript. The contributions were translated with financial support from the Uniwersytet Wrocławski und Uniwersytet Artystyczny w Poznaniu.

 

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