Accepted Paper:

Towards collective remembrance: the Atlantic Wall as places of transition  


Rose Tzalmona (VU University / TU Delft)

Paper short abstract:

This paper intends to present the Atlantic Wall as cultural and collective spaces which depend upon recalling their forgotten history, while using its remains as catalysts for future regeneration in order to redefine these public spaces as places of collective remembrance.

Paper long abstract:

The Atlantikwall, a series of 12.000 bunkers constructed along the European Atlantic coastline (1942-1945) to protect Germany from an impending allied invasion, provided the Nazis with the opportunity to redefine German identity by manipulating recognisable images from the past and reapplying them to propagate their racial ideology through architectonic interventions.

The central question to this paper addresses how the Atlantikwall, which was conceived as a series of constructed buildings situated in the public realm, can be (re)defined and understood in terms of cultural (iconographic, mythic, symbolic) and collective (social, historical, commemorative) space that are woven together by forgotten narratives.

Cultural space as represented by the Atlantikwall was considerably altered after the war. The process included the removal of iconographical symbols (the bunkers) from the coastline allowing for the narratives to disappear from the public realm without leaving visible symbolic traces of the war for future generations.

Today, the territory of 'collective amnesia' is slowly being rediscovered as societies begin to search for remnants of their buried collective history. Collective space includes a network of organized and designed public spaces on which social interaction takes place. The relationship between 'collective amnesia' and the collective space it occupies is traced by a parallel examination of how collective memory as well as neglected public spaces evolved over time. This will ultimately lead to creating a strategy by which the sites of 'collective amnesia' (as represented by these bunkers) may be used as instruments in the (re)construction of new narrative spaces leading to their transformation as sites of 'collective remembrance'.

Panel P323
Spaces, memories, history, identity