Article | Open Access
Post-War Architecture and Urban Planning as Means of Reinventing Opole’s Past and Identity
Abstract: In 1945, Opole experienced a disruption in its history—a formerly German city had been incorporated into southwestern Poland during the change of European borders. In this new geopolitical situation Opole, along with other pre-war Eastern outskirts of Germany, became a part of so-called Recovered Territories. The name itself implied that those lands were perceived as not only incorporated into the country but brought back as undeniably Polish. The process of establishing (or “regaining”) the Polish identity of those cities, among them Opole, was intended to omit some elements of the recent German past and emphasize others deemed inherently Polish at that time. This occurrence was also tied to the issue of rewriting and reinventing the city’s history, during which architecture and urban planning were used as one of the most powerful tools. The article presents how architecture and urban planning were used in the process of establishing Opole’s new, Polish identity since 1945. The attempts to rewrite and reinvent Opole’s history are exemplified by the restoration of the historic city centre, as well as by new, post-war architecture and urban development. The legacy of that process still lingers in the city’s urban fabric. The strive to emphasise “Polish” elements of the city while omitting or repurposing the German ones makes one pose questions about the role of architecture (both historic and new), urban planning, and the narratives created around them in the process of rewriting and reinventing a city’s past and identity.
Keywords: architecture; monuments; Opole; Poland; post-war period; Recovered Territories; urban planning
Issue: Vol 8, No 1 (2023): Bombed Cities: Legacies of Post-War Planning on the Contemporary Urban and Social Fabric
© Barbara Szczepańska. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.