Revival After the Great War

Rebuild, Remember, Repair, Reform

Edited by Luc Verpoest, Leen Engelen, Rajesh Heynickx, Jan Schmidt, Pieter Uyttenhove, and Pieter Verstraete

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The challenges of post-war recovery from social and political reform to architectural design

In the months and years immediately following the First World War, the many (European) countries that had formed its battleground were confronted with daunting challenges. These challenges varied according to the countries' earlier role and degree of involvement in the war but were without exception enormous. The contributors to this book analyse how this was not only a matter of rebuilding ravaged cities and destroyed infrastructure, but also of repairing people’s damaged bodies and upended daily lives, and rethinking and reforming societal, economic and political structures. These processes took place against the backdrop of mass mourning and remembrance, political violence and economic crisis. At the same time, the post-war tabula rasa offered many opportunities for innovation in various areas of society, from social and political reform to architectural design. The wide scope of post-war recovery and revival is reflected in the different sections of this book: rebuild, remember, repair, and reform. It offers insights into post-war revival in Western European countries such as Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and Italy, as well as into how their efforts were perceived outside of Europe, for instance in Argentina and the United States.

Contributors: Helen Brooks (University of Kent), Dries Claeys (KU Leuven), Marisa De Picker (KU Leuven), Leen Engelen (LUCA/KU Leuven), Rajesh Heynickx (KU Leuven), John Horne (Trinity College Dublin), Maarten Liefooghe (Ghent University), Ana Paula Pires (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Richard Plunz (Columbia University), Tammy Proctor (Utah State University), Pierre Purseigle (University of Warwick), Carolina Garcia Sanz (Universidad de Sevilla), Jan Schmidt (KU Leuven), Yves Segers (KU Leuven), Marjan Sterckx (Ghent University), Maria Inés Tato (Universidad de Buenos Aires), Pieter Uyttenhove (Ghent University), Joris Vandendriessche (KU Leuven), Luc Verpoest (KU Leuven), Pieter Verstraete (KU Leuven), Volker Welter (University of California), Kaat Wils (KU Leuven)

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Revival After The First World War: Rebuild, Remember, Repair, Reform
Luc Verpoest, Leen Engelen, Rajesh Heynickx, Jan Schmidt, Pieter Uyttenhove & Pieter Verstraete 


Catastrophe and Reconstruction in Western Europe: The Urban Aftermath of the First World War
Pierre Purseigle 

Reflections on Leuven as Martyred City and the Realignment of Propinquity
Richard Plunz 

Making Good Farmers by Making Better Farms: Farmstead Architecture and Social Engineering in Belgium After the Great War
Dries Claeys & Yves Segers 

“C’est la beauté de l’ensemble qu’il faut viser.” Notes on Changing Heritage Values of Belgian Post-World War I Reconstruction Townscapes
Maarten Liefooghe 

Rebuilding, Recovery, Reconceptualization: Modern architecture and the First World War
Volker M. Welter 


Reclaiming the Ordinary: Civilians Face the Post-war World
Tammy M. Proctor 

Expressing Grief and Gratitude in an Unsettled Time Temporary First World War Memorials in Belgium
Leen Engelen & Marjan Sterckx 

Remembering the War on the British Stage: From Resistance to Reconstruction
Helen E. M. Brooks 

A War to Learn From: Commemorative Practices in Belgian Schools After World War l
Kaat Wils 


High Expectations and Silenced Realities: The Re-education of Belgian Disabled Soldiers of the Great War, 1914–1921
Pieter Verstraete and Marisa De Picker

Back to work: Riccardo Galeazzi’s Work for the Mutilated Veterans of the Great War, Between German Model and Italian Approach
Simonetta Polenghi 

Competition over Care: The Campaign for a New Medical Campus at the University of Leuven in the 1920s
Joris Vandendriessche


An Argentine Witness of the Occupation and Reconstruction of Belgium: The Writings of Roberto J. Payró (1918-1922)
María Inés Tato 

The New Post-war Order from the Perspective of the Spanish Struggle for Regeneration (1918-1923)
Carolina García Sanz 

The Act of Giving: Political Instability and the Reform(ation) of Humanitarian Responses to Violence in Portugal in the Aftermath of the First World War
Ana Paula Pires 

Reconstruction, Reform and Peace in Europe after the First World War
John Horne 

List of Contributors 

Format: Edited volume - free ebook - PDF

354 pages

ISBN: 9789461663542

Publication: November 20, 2020

Languages: English


Jan Schmidt is a historian of modern and contemporary Japan at KU Leuven, focusing on political and media history, and Head of the Japanese Studies Research Group.
Leen Engelen is historian of media and visual culture at LUCA School of Arts/KU Leuven and president of the International Association for Media and History.
Luc Verpoest is emeritus professor at KU Leuven where he has been teaching architectural history and theory and history of heritage conservation. He is still publishing in these particular research fields.
Pieter Uyttenhove is associate professor of history and theory of urbanism at Ghent University.
Pieter Verstraete is associate professor of history of education at KU Leuven and curator of the annual Leuven DisABILITY Film festival. Pieter Verstraete is hoogleraar historische pedagogiek aan de KU Leuven. Hij is daarnaast ook curator van het Leuvense DisABILITY Filmfestival.
Rajesh Heynickx is intellectual historian at KU Leuven, Faculty of Architecture.
C’est donc sur un grand sujet que porte cet ouvrage collectif, issu d’un colloque organisé en mai 2018 à Louvain. De manière novatrice, les chapitres interrogent la pertinence de la dimension nationale dans l’étude des reconstructions d’après-guerre et présentent un modèle alternatif, qui lie fortement le niveau local aux efforts transnationaux (Pierre Purseigle). Outre leur étude des espaces de la guerre et de la sortie de guerre, les auteurs retravaillent aussi la question de la reconstruction pour en dévoiler les multiples aspects.
Bruno Cabanes, 20 & 21. Revue d'histoire 2021/4 (N° 152), pages 181 à 212, DOI 10.3917/vin.152.0181


»Revival« ist der zweite Sammelband zur Kriegsbewältigung in der europäischen Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts, den der belgische Architekturhistoriker Luc Verpoest als Emeritus an der Katholieke Universiteit Leuven federführend herausgegeben hat. Stand im gemeinsam mit Nicholas Bullock publizierten Band »Living with History« aus dem Jahr 2011 der diachrone Vergleich zwischen erster und zweiter Nachkriegszeit im Vordergrund und lag der Fokus auf dem Wechselspiel aus materiellem Wiederaufbau und Denkmalschutz, fasst der nun vorliegende Sammelband seinen Gegenstand chronologisch enger, inhaltlich jedoch breiter. »Revival« steht als Oberbegriff für ein Spektrum an Phänomenen von der Anpassung materieller Gegebenheiten und physischer Zustände bis hin zu kulturellen Deutungsakten im Umgang mit den Kriegsfolgen. Der Zeitraum der Untersuchungen ist mit der Chiffre »nach dem Großen Krieg« grob abgesteckt: Er umspannt im Wesentlichen die Jahre zwischen Waffenstillstand und Ruhrkrise, wobei letztere als Zäsur der Politik- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte im hiesigen Zusammenhang ausgespart bleibt und der Waffenstillstand als ereignisgeschichtliche Wegmarke eine Nebenrolle einnimmt. Hinzu kommen substanzielle Rückgriffe auf die Zeit des Weltkriegs, die auf der richtigen Feststellung beruhen, dass Prozesse des Reparierens, des Wiederaufbauens, aber auch des Erinnerns keine alleinigen Phänomene der Nachkriegszeit waren, sondern bereits kurz nach Kriegsbeginn einsetzten.
Anna Karla, Francia-Recensio, 2021 | 4, DOI:

Together, the four pillars of post-war memory cover the materiality of heritage-making politics, different sources of memory, ways in which the presence of war invalids affected European societies, and how to place the war in an international institutional context. Readers will draw lessons applicable to the contemporary era―for example about war-induced forced migration and the evolution of nationalism. This rich volume should naturally be of interest to WWI historians. But beyond this obvious appeal, the book speaks to scholars in memory studies and anyone exploring commemorative landscapes and processes to better understand how the past is used to forge a future (and which/whose future).
Hélène B. Ducros, EuropeNow, October 2021,