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Old March 21st, 2013, 10:52 AM   #1
Suburbanist
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Removal of communist references slowing down on Eastern Europe

There is something that is bugging me recently. Several Eastern European countries stopped or drastically slowed down the removal of communist architectural references from their building stock, even if there is still plenty of disgusting totalitarian items to be defaced/removed/plastered/covered/replaced.

Notice I'm not talking about demolishing buildings that are functionally usable just because they are remind soviet architectural style at all, but instead of removing things like hammer and sickle symbols, low-relief inscriptions and signs mentioning communist names of current countries or former communist politicians (such as plaques on a school mentioning when it was opened and members of Politburo present at the occasion).

Some countries did a great job wiping themselves out of most references in a short period of time (Poland, Latvia), but some haven't. In former Eastern Germany areas, a worrying practice can be seen: some old signs have even been restored on buildings or public works because some old folks (not politicians) argue that it is unfair their good-faith efforts under the communist regime to build a dam, a railway station or a hospital shouldn't be wiped out because their bosses were puppets of Moscow. So certain signs commemorating people who died in a given project have been re-erected, including SPD inscriptions and lingo.

This is outrageous and sad.

In any case, I'm worried that with passage of time whatever sign that is left will be seen as "historical" or "vintage" and some people who never lived under communism will start looking at them as something worth keeping just because they are different. Hence, it would be important to make a concentrated effort to deface, remove, cement over whatever is still left before too much time passes.

There are even higher profile examples, such as younger people thinking the Berlin Wall remnants (around 5km of the former 160km+) are something extremely cool that should be preserved, never mind it was something hated and loathed by those kept prisoners by SPD with it. I read some people think it is a pity they demolished the wall near Postdamer Platz even, that parts of the wall should have be left all over the city.

Do you live in a former European communist country? Have removal of tyrannical signs stalled in your country? Do people born after 1989 think they are "cute" things to have regardless of the regime that brought them?

I'm a bit pessimistic, I think whatever is not destroyed or removed next 5 or 6 years will become some magnet of nostalgia and backwardness that will be considered worth preserving. Hence, my hopes some rich people on those countries would come up with some money for foundations for removal of totalitarian architectural signs from their buildings. If I were a billionaire, I'd certainly fork some money to help on the efforts. But I'm worried that some stuff might survive for the long haul and become timeless references, which is negative for something that should be shunned and thrown away (communism ideology) for all evil it has caused on states oppressed by Moscow for 5 decades.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 11:24 AM   #2
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I think it's all beautiful and should stay.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 02:24 PM   #3
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So you want to rewrite history? No surprises here. Of course major symbols and flags had to be removed from government buildings etc, however, removing every reference to the old regime is simply reconstructing, forgetting and changing history. Should buildings and monuments built by European powers during the age of empire be destroyed as well? After all they represent imperialism, war, slavery and crimes against humanity?
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Old March 21st, 2013, 10:40 PM   #4
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That's a pretty provocative thread. Do you want to say: "Let's tear down all the bridges and flood all the metro stations built during communist regime, no matter how useful they are and how terrible the traffic would be, as representing communist regime". Tearing down socialist architecture is the same crime as the socialist demolition of imperial architecture.
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Как только проедят напечатанные амерами баблосы, нефтя будет падвацать, хас папиисяд, а толяр - пасто диривянных. И ражко сразу развалиццо. Патаму шо она сичаз разваливаиццо, хотя нефтя ещё не падвацать
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Old March 22nd, 2013, 12:22 AM   #5
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Communism was an important part of history, we don't want to completely forget about it.
Good, or bad. We must still learn from the past.
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Old March 24th, 2013, 05:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dars-dm View Post
That's a pretty provocative thread. Do you want to say: "Let's tear down all the bridges and flood all the metro stations built during communist regime, no matter how useful they are and how terrible the traffic would be, as representing communist regime". Tearing down socialist architecture is the same crime as the socialist demolition of imperial architecture.
I'm not advocating taking down the buildings themselves (except monuments without other functions) or the infrastructure, only removing visual references to communist dictatorships.

For instance, a bridge can surely remain, but a plaque commemorating its opening should be removed, and some party or communist government agency symbol defaced, removed or plastered over with a patch of cement.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 12:17 AM   #7
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Old March 25th, 2013, 12:40 AM   #8
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Why should they hide their history? The buildings and statues tell the story of an important part of 20th century society and history. A city like Kiev wouldn't be the same without


Wikipedia
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Old March 25th, 2013, 12:51 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
I'm not advocating taking down the buildings themselves (except monuments without other functions) or the infrastructure, only removing visual references to communist dictatorships.
Why? If people feel annoyed by something, then there's no problem with them removing it, but why should they have to remove it if it doesn't bother them?

Quote:
For instance, a bridge can surely remain, but a plaque commemorating its opening should be removed, and some party or communist government agency symbol defaced, removed or plastered over with a patch of cement.
Couldn't you just let people decide which things in their own country ought to be removed?


You are also reading far too much into it if you think that preservation of something historic, such as parts of the Berlin Wall, implies that people are supportive of that regime.

Maybe you should have a go at the Polish for preserving Auschwitz, as clearly that must indicate they are in favour of Nazi death camps.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 01:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
Do you live in a former European communist country? Have removal of tyrannical signs stalled in your country? Do people born after 1989 think they are "cute" things to have regardless of the regime that brought them?
What about the signs of tyrannical European colonialism in Latin and South America, South-East Asia? Should they be removed? Oh, and I almost forgot about the signs of "oppressive" regime of British Monarchy in Scotland and Ireland - what about these?
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Old March 25th, 2013, 04:04 PM   #11
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Maybe you should have a go at the Polish for preserving Auschwitz, as clearly that must indicate they are in favour of Nazi death camps.
If you ask me, I'm in favor of razing to the ground those abominations called concentration camps, they are reminders of horrible times and should have been eradicated from the face of Earth after World War II, at least in their current form. A cemetery and some monument to the victims on the place is admissible and a respectful solution, but preserving the structures is wrong-headed.
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Old March 25th, 2013, 11:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sorok View Post
Oh, and I almost forgot about the signs of "oppressive" regime of British Monarchy in Scotland and Ireland - what about these?
I'm not sure there are any, especially in Scotland. It's not as if the UK came about because England invaded Scotland. It was more of an early EU.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Suburbanist View Post
If you ask me, I'm in favor of razing to the ground those abominations called concentration camps, they are reminders of horrible times and should have been eradicated from the face of Earth after World War II, at least in their current form. A cemetery and some monument to the victims on the place is admissible and a respectful solution, but preserving the structures is wrong-headed.
Yet oddly the Jewish people don't seem to agree with you. They can see the difference between preserving something for historical reasons and believing preservation gives credence to those buildings. The fact that you seem incapable of that is your problem.

Preserving something in a manner similar to reality gives a sense of the history that you wouldn't get from a monument.
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Old March 28th, 2013, 06:06 PM   #13
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Is this even true at all, just because the op says it is? Have there been articles suggesting this? Are there preservationist movements of significant traction that champion the preservation or the communist architectural legacy? Or is it simply an opinion piece from somebody who really loves his one-dimensional mind-set.

If there were preservationist calls for retaining the legacy of communism, I'd be all for it. My family fled communist oppression, and I'm no big fan of living under a communist regime. At the same time, the past is real, it happened, and to erase it is absurd, bordering on paranoia and propaganda. We must bear our scars proudly, so that they may remind us of the destruction and stupidity that us, human beings, are capable of.

In my opinion, changing or erasing history says something about those doing it. In Romania, the communists tried to erase the architectural history that came before them. To me, this is a highly insecure claim on the collective consciousness. It is also eerily similar to what Suburbanist is proposing, except for the opposite camp. It is an attempt to hide something shameful, which indicates a failure to adequately learn from the past, from past mistakes. It means that the OP still sees this as threatening, uncontrollable and powerful. Luckily, most of us are mature enough to understand that one does not deal with unpleasant things through denial.
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