Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the conference will take place online as a Zoom Webinar.

In 2019 and 2020, Germany marked 70 years since its post-war division into East and West and 30 years since reunification. Both anniversaries offer renewed occasion to examine the processes that led to the creation of the two German states in 1949, together with the premises on which they were founded and which seemed vindicated in 1990: premises such as the inevitability of democracy, the value of internationalism, and the possibility of a peaceful and stable world order. Given the current questioning of these ideas not only here but throughout Europe and beyond, such a re-examination seems relevant now in a way that it has rarely been before.

Architecture and Democratization:
Overlooked witnesses to Allied intervention in
occupied Germany after 1945

International conference in Bamberg / online, 3 - 5 June 2021

Conference registration

Participation in the online event is free of charge and open to all.

Please send an e-mail to konferenz.denkmalpflege(at)uni-bamberg.de.


PD Dr. Johanna Blokker
Chair in Heritage Sciences
University of Bamberg
E-mail:  johanna.blokker(at)uni-bamberg.de 
Tel:  +49 (0)951 863 2343

Architecture, too, must be part of this discussion. Both the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic were visions of a new, different and better Germany that was to be realized in part through planning and building. The rehabilitation of the country in the wake of Nazism and total war – the reform of its political and social systems, the retooling of its economy, and not least the reorientation of its population toward the values of democracy as variously defined – was to be reflected both literally and figuratively in the fabric of its rebuilt cities.

While this work was largely accomplished by Germans themselves, it was also very much an international project, one promoted and supervised by the occupying Allied powers. By supporting certain German initiatives in the area of building, by offering their own cities and structures as models and providing opportunities for knowledge exchange, and by committing significant financial, material and intellectual resources to democracy-promoting projects and programs that included a building or planning dimension, the military and civilian authorities of the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union sought to shape the character of German reconstruction in line with their respective ideological and political goals.

The legacy of this effort endures in the landscape of post-reunification Germany today. Events such as the 2009 Berlin exhibition "Geschenke der Amerikaner" (Gifts from the Americans)1 periodically recall them to mind; in that context as in others, however, it is generally only the most overt expressions of ideology and the acknowledged design highlights that receive attention. Meanwhile, the vast majority of Allied interventions in Germany's built environment – those that were to accomplish the main work of the democratization effort – continue to be overlooked. In fact, the country's built landscape on both sides of its internal border, and well beyond the confines of Berlin, is punctuated with structures bearing witness in both more and less immediately visible ways to the occupation powers' attempts to forge durable, supranational communities of value and interest around the malleable concept of democracy.

The conference "Architecture and Democratization" aims to address this oversight. Encouraged by parallel efforts in Austria2, and taking seriously the notion that "Democracy must be made visible if it is to be understood and embraced"3, the first goal of the conference will be to call attention to forgotten or neglected artefacts of Western and Soviet cultural-political intervention in Germany's built environment, with a view to creating a broader as well as a more detailed picture of this activity.

An area of particular focus concerns the value of this architectural legacy of the past as a source of insights for the present – both as a set of responses to an earlier crisis of democracy, and as one of the means by which those responses became solidified as part of the seemingly permanent structure of the post-war world. The aim is to create a basis for conserving and presenting this historical resource – by no means solid or permanent after all, but evidently quite vulnerable and fragile – and thus ensure that it is visible and accessible to current and future generations.

Supported by the Women's Representatives at Bamberg University
through the SPOT Program


Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the conference will take place online as a Zoom Webinar.

The German-language presentations will be offered with simultaneous English translation.

THURS. 3 JUNE 2021

16.00 CEST / 10:00 am EDT

Welcome, Greetings

Opening Address
Michael Dreyer, Institute for Political Science, University of Jena:
Sites of German Democratic History

Introduction to the conference theme
Johanna Blokker, Institute for Archaeology, Heritage Conservation and Art History, Bamberg University:
Architecture and Democratization

17.00 CEST / 11:00 am EDT
Jane King Hession, architectural historian, Minneapolis MN: 
Prefabricated Propaganda: The “Model American Home” at the Berlin International Industrial Exhibition

17.30 CEST / 11:30 am EDT
Hans H. Hanke, LWL - Denkmalpflege, Landschafts- und Baukultur in Westfalen:
"Gift of Freedom": amerikanische Marshallplan-Siedlungen als Beispiele für die Neuordnung der westdeutschen Wohnkultur nach 1945  (with simultaneous English translation)

18.00 CEST / 12:00 pm EDT   virtual coffee break

18.30 CEST / 12:30 pm EDT
Michael Mönninger, Institut für Kunstwissenschaft, HBK Braunschweig: 
Zwischen Anpassung und Verweigerung. Die Rezeption amerikanischer Wohn- und Siedlungsmodelle im deutschen Wiederaufbau am Beispiel der Bauprojekte des Marshall-Plans  (with simultaneous English translation)

19.00 CEST / 1:00 pm EDT
Ernst-Rainer Hönes, Institut für Archäologische Wissenschaften, Universität Frankfurt: 
Erfahrungen im Kampf um die Rettung von erhaltenswerten Wohnanlagen und anderen Bauten der ausländischen Streitkräfte in Deutschland  (with simultaneous English translation)

19.30 CEST / 1:30 pm EDT   virtual reception

FRI. 4 JUNE 2021

16.00 CEST / 10:00 am EDT
Johanna Blokker, Institute of Archaeology, Heritage Conservation and Art History, Bamberg University:
"Investments in Democracy“: The Special Projects Program of the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany

16.30 CEST / 10:30 am EDT

Greg Castillo, Department of Architecture, University of California at Berkeley:
Walter Gropius and his unrealized postwar masterplan for Frankfurt a.M. as a West German capital city

17.30 CEST / 11:30 am EDT   virtual coffee break

18.00 CEST / 12:00 pm EDT
Martina Schilling, Art Historical Institute, Free University of Berlin: 
"Ein großartiges Gegenstück zur Stalinallee": Walter Gropius' unausgeführter Entwurf für das amerikanisch geförderte "Spring-Projekt" in Berlin-Kreuzberg (1955/56)  (with simultaneous English translation)

18.30 CEST / 12:30 pm EDT
Christiane Fülscher, ATW Architecture Theory and Science, TU Darmstadt:
Architectural Calling Cards. Botschaften der Alliierten für das geteilte Deutschland und dessen Antworten  (with simultaneous English translation)

19.00 CEST / 1:00 pm EDT   virtual reception

SAT. 5 JUNE 2021

16.00 CEST / 10:00 am EDT
Marlen Dittmann, architectural historian, Saarbrücken:
Resonanzen: Architektur im Aufbruch zu Europa. Eine Ausstellung im Pingusson-Bau in Saarbrücken  (with simultaneous English translation)

16.30 CEST / 10:30 am EDT
Fabien Bellat, Paris Val de Seine National School of Architecture:
Architecture as a Diplomatic Tool in Occupied Germany: The Soviet and French policies

17.00 CEST / 11:00 am EDT   virtual coffee break

17.30 CEST / 11:30 am EDT
Peter Leonhardt, Stadt Leipzig - Amt für Bauordnung und Denkmalpflege: 
Der Sowjetische Pavillon auf der Technischen Messe in Leipzig (1950): Geschichte und Perspektiven  (with simultaneous English translation)

18.00 CEST / 12:00 pm EDT
Gabriele Wiesemann, architectural historian, Bamberg: 
Der Architekt Hanns Hopp im politischen Koordinatensystem der SBZ und frühen DDR  (with simultaneous English translation)

18.30 CEST / 12:30 am EDT   virtual coffee break

19.00 CEST / 1:00 pm EDT
Monika Platzer, Az W – Architekturzentrum Wien: 
Ideologieexport. Kalter Krieg und Architektur in Österreich  (with simultaneous English translation)

19.30 CEST / 1:30 pm EDT
Closing plenary discussion


1 Geschenke der Amerikaner, 9 May to 30 June 2009 in the Amerika Haus Berlin, now home to the C/O Berlin Foundation.
2 Kalter Krieg und Architektur. Beiträge zur Demokratisierung Österreichs nach 1945, 17 October 2019 to 24 February 2020 in the Architekturzentrum Wien (Az W) in Vienna.
3 Michael Dreyer, chairman of the Verein Weimarer Republik e.V., at the symposium Die Frankfurter Paulskirche. Ort der deutschen Demokratie, Frankfurt a.M., 30 September to 1 October 2019.