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Prof. Dr. Maya Dimitrova Grekova Sofia University ‘St Kl. Ohridski’, Faculty of Philosophy

A manual is generally associated with a transfer of knowledge: knowledge collected and presented by experts, and then communicated to a target group of future experts. MANUAL OF WISE MANAGEMENT, PRESERVATION, REUSE AND ECONOMIC VALORISATION OF ARCHITECTURE OF THE TOTALITARIAN REGIMES OF THE 20TH CENTURY certainly shares knowledge with its audience. Yet, its focal point and its major significance rest rather in the invitation it extends to us to reconsider some questions:

    • What kind of planning and architectural visions were recreated in the material structures?
    • Why did these material structures in particular fit the rulers’ ideologies?
    • Did the creators of the material structures consciously submit to the ideological prescriptions – and if so, to what extent? Or did they follow the dominant urban-planning and architectural trends of their epoch?
    • How did people fill these material structures with their lives within the context of a (specific) totalitarian regime?

To think about the preservation of the cultural heritage of totalitarian regimes implies neither forgetting that these regimes were totalitarian, nor reconfirming their totalitarian essence. It rather implies that totalitarian regimes existed and prevents their reemergence. It also indicates that people used to live in totalitarian regimes, and they did create material values. Even though they might be labelled as “made in totalitarianism”, some should be preserved to remind the future generations how not to structure the world they live in. Others are worth preserving because their authors de facto contested totalitarian ideology by creating their works – an urbanist and/or architectural structure, and/or an artefact.

Preserving the cultural heritage of totalitarian times does not imply transforming it into a monument (to bow our heads to), nor does it imply preserving its original functions.

The manual encourages us to consider which parts of the cultural heritage of totalitarian regimes to preserve in our cities today. For this is not a question for a matter-of-fact decision of the administrative or political authority. It is a question that would certainly raise different opinions supported with different arguments. The opinions and arguments deserve to be heard and discussed by all citizens. They are those who should decide what should be preserved as cultural heritage of the past and what should be erased from our memories.


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