The Power of Past Greatness: Urban Renewal of Historic Centres in European Dictatorships
The redevelopment of historical centres became an important policy field in the era of European dictatorships following the First World War. At that time historical centres were regarded as shabby and as tarnishing the desired image of a magnificent new city, of a showcase of the dictatorship. This led to the widespread demolition of older buildings. Historical streets and squares disappeared and were replaced by new apartments and workplaces for the loyal middle classes, by car-friendly roads and ostentatious new buildings. Nevertheless, the redevelopment of historical centres did not exclusively mean the eradication of the ‘old town’. The aim of the dictatorship in many cases was also the preservation, and often the cultic display, of historical testimonials to past greatness. The book presents examples of the redevelopment of historical centres in Mussolini’s Italy, in Stalin’s Soviet Union, in Hitler’s Germany, in Salazar’s Portugal and in Franco’s Spain.