7 March 2006

The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War

The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War by Robert Bevan (Reaktion, £19.95)

前南斯拉夫總統米洛舍維奇在海牙國際戰爭法庭上被控「肆意毁壞文化建築物罪」,成為歷史上首位被控此罪的戰犯。Robert Bevan在其出版的新書《The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War》中,追溯在戰亂中被蓄意毁壞的建築物。就如尼采以紀念碑作為權力慾望的象徵,並以建築物作為權力武器,毁壞建築物就是對敵國政權的侮辱和文化上的「連根撥起」。早在公元146年羅馬帝國殲滅Carthage城(即今非洲北部突尼斯)後,在一片廢墟上撒鹽,要它從此寸木不生,不能再建起一磚一瓦。二戰時的柏林和倫敦幾乎被摧毀,德軍戰敗撤出巴黎時,因統軍Dietrich von Cholt不忍破壞她的美,巴黎才得而幸存;聯軍方面,Eisenhower將軍下令尊重意大利建築物,但那些日耳曼建築則未能逃過厄運,就如Dresden的Frauenkirche大教堂般化為灰燼。亞洲這邊厢,二戰期間,當美軍即將大反攻時,梁思成先生指出對日本京都、奈良等重要歷史建築需予以保護,結果使許多重要文物建築得以免遭戰火襲擊。或者,現在最大的疑案便是究竟紐約世貿中心倒塌誰是罪魁禍首?

"The intentional and wanton destruction of religious and cultural buildings of the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat communities" – a charge set out in The Hague for the war criminal, Slobodan Milosovic, the former Yugoslavia president. This is the first time that anyone has been properly charged in a court of law for wartime attacks on architecture as well as civilians, and a direct connection noted between the two. This is an important moment, argues Robert Bevan in his powerful new book, The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War, "that all the conventions in the world would not change anything without people understanding and realizing what is going on when architecture is attacked. And of absolute importance is prosecuting the crime of cultural genocide." Nietzsche identified in monuments "the stamp of the will to power", and books aplenty catalogue architectural creation as a weapon of authority. This is the first, though, to suggest that architectural destruction has the same function. Architecture is targeted because it is collectively symbolic, even if this symbolism is arbitrary. Architectural destruction is like a drug. It's addictive. It's instant proof of change, of authority. That's why it is so popular. And that's why it can become so rabid. Carthage was not only destroyed by the Romans: its site was scattered with salt to make sure that nothing ever rose again.

Before and after -- the ruins of the Frauenkirche, 1945
(Image credits : http://www.npj.com/homepage/teritowe/frk.html)


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