0253 The Architecture of the Third Reich in Cracow – a Dissonant Heritage?

  • Jacek Purchla (Author)

    Jacek Purchla is a Polish art historian and economist, professor of Humanities, and a member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the founder of the International Cultural Centre in Krakow, and was its director since its inception in 1991 until 2018. He is the head of the Department of Economic and Social History and the UNESCO Chair for Heritage and Urban Studies at the Kraków University of Economics. He specializes in urban studies, social and art history, as well as the theory and protection of cultural heritage. Since 2015, he has been the President of the Polish National Commission for UNESCO. Between 2016 and 2017 he was the President of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. He is the author of over 400 academic works, including a number of books published in many languages.

Identifiers (Article)


On 12 October 1939, Hitler signed a decree creating the Generalgouvernement (General Government), which comprised the Polish lands occupied by Germany but not subsumed directly into the Reich. Cracow became the capital of the General Government. This decided the fate of the city, for which the Nazi authorities had essentially predestined the role not only of capital of this Nebenland, but also that of a model German city in the East.
How, then, should we evaluate the contribution of the Third Reich to the shaping of Cracow's cultural landscape during the 1,961 days of the city's enforced status as capital? There is no unequivocal answer to this question, and the building stock left by the Germans in Cracow is extremely heterogeneous. We do have a certain number of intriguing examples of the dissonant heritage left by the German Third Reich in Cracow today. These represent above all a broad spectrum of conflicts of memory, and also the problem of non-memory.


Cracow, General Government, Generalgouvernement, architecture of the Third Reich, memory