Heritage preservation during the Occupation

Martijn De Jong
Between 1940 and 1943, during the German Occupation, restoration activities continued unabated in the Netherlands. Existing studies have already shown that, in the context of a reorganization of cultural policy and legislation, the occupier attached great importance to heritage preservation. There was an attempt (ultimately fruitless) to introduce a national historic buildings act and the National Socialists interfered actively in reconstruction and restoration matters in the (exceptional) case
more » ... (exceptional) case of Middelburg. They also set up the Nederlandsche Kultuurkamer and the Nederlandsche Kultuurraad with the aim of reorganizing the cultural sector along National Socialist lines. Yet there has been scarcely any research into the possible influence of this ideology on 'ordinary' restoration work in the Netherlands during the Occupation. The author hopes that this article will encourage further research into 'National Socialist restoration' in the Netherlands. The author argues that in the long term, the Gleichschaltung (in effect, Nazification) of cultural organizations like the Kultuurkamer and the Kultuurraad had hardly any impact on institutional heritage preservation or restoration practice. Nor did the National Socialist tendencies of restoration architects like Jan Gratama, C.B. van der Tak and G.A.C. Blok affect restoration practice during the Occupation. Finally, an analysis of the National Socialist cultural journal De Schouw indicates that although attention was paid to restoration issues, no specifically National Socialist restoration principles were advanced that might have served as guide for Dutch heritage preservation. Based on these sources, the author concludes that there was little sign of any clearly defined National Socialist restoration principles in the Netherlands in the 1940s, let alone any that would have been relevant to heritage preservation, and draws a parallel with the continuity of 1920s conservative restoration ideas in Germany after 1933.
doi:10.7480/knob.117.2018.1.2024 fatcat:66iyo2ej5vhtnlvveljqrxtjxu