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Crisis and Reconstruction in European Cities 1914-1945

Staff contact: Prof. D. Schott

Over the ‚short’ 20th century – between World War I and the breakdown of communism – inhabitants of European cities lived through very difficult but also – at least in some parts of Europe – very good times.  This module will concentrate on the interwar-period which was marked by sharp social tensions and antagonisms, but also by first advances towards a  rather comprehensive welfare state in some European states.  However the experience of the great depression and mass unemployment of the 1930s in many instances undermined such advances and promoted authoritarian and dictatorial solutions

This module will deal with the question how urban experience has been influenced by general conditions of the times and how city dwellers managed to survive in times of crisis, destruction and reconstruction.  It will be led by the general question if and to what extent urban experiences in European cities have been affected by similar problems and challenges, if there are common perceptions and comparable approaches and solutions to urban problems, irrespective or only coloured by national and cultural traditions.

We will approach this wide field by highlighting cities in special situations where local and overarching social and national conflicts intertwine.  Examples will be Munich, Vienna, Berlin, Barcelona, Paris, Stockholm and other cities.  From these “spot-light” scenarios we will probe deeper into the history and texture of these cities, bring to light their specific profile as well as the general tendencies and forces at work in that particular city at that time.

Students will be encouraged to develop an understanding of the relationship between architectural reform, social policy and social planning in so far as social reform in this period involved politics of space, reshaping urban landscapes, revising the way people lived in cities

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Last updated: 15 October 2002
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