By David Pescovitz at 9:28 am Thu, Jun 20, 2013
Accidental Mysteries posted an excellent collection of "then and now" photos of Normandy in 1944 and 2009. (Color image by Patrick Elie). "World War II: Then and Now"
It’s amazing to see many of these buildings still standing – even some with major damage from shelling. Of course the pictures wouldn’t be in the set if the buidlings hadn’t survived, but it’s still impressive.
It is amazing how often buildings in Europe tend to get re-used and repaired over the decades and even centuries. In the U.S. they tear down an old McDonald’s just to build a new one in the same spot.
Well at least we tear down our own buildings instead of having it done by the next country over.
There are loads of stories about WWII officers “sparing” this or that city or building because of their beauty and significance.
On this side of the pond, at times, we can be quite civilised in our savagery, old chap.
Apparently, London was exempt from those esthetic considerations.
As were Hamburg, Dresden, Berlin, Tokyo, Leningrad…
Some English cities were targeted specifically because they were culturally significant, rather than being of any military importance.
Having said that, postwar town planning probably did rather more damage.
You don’t seem to be averse to tearing down buildings in other countries.
Oh, we’re just helping our friends around the world to “upgrade their infrastructure.”
I saw the same thing when I was living in Germany in the 60s — my host family would point out a building and describe what had happened to it during the war.
I think the willingness to rebuild rather than tear down had a great deal to do with post-war European economic conditions
It’s not just fate: because our countries have a humongous number of historical buildings (some older than 2000 years!), when technology was still rough, it was cheaper to repair than to rebuild; later, a number of very stringent laws were passed to safeguard old buildings at various points. Once those legal frameworks were put in place, some areas went above and beyond, passing further laws to safeguard the overall feeling of towns and cities. It’s been extremely difficult, for example, to build anything in Rome or Milan which would go over 5 storeys (only recently Milan started to abandon these restrictions, but who cares, that city is much more historically irrelevant than they’d like to believe).
This can often be maddening, especially in Italy. Some areas in Naples are crumbling because the city is poor but buildings are still protected, so they can’t be bulldozed but nobody has the money (or the will) to repair them. A new tramway line in Bologna took 15 years to be put in place, because the original track was too close to the historical central tower and the tower would shake when trams passed by… and let’s not even talk about Venice.
The reparation contractors would vote for total bombardment, but hey, can’t hit everything insight even if they wanted too.
Why did the bakery become a baker?
I love these photos. Thanks for reminding me.
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