Field survey of conservation of modern cultural properties in Germany and Poland

A massive steel structure over 500 m in length that extracted coal via strip mining on one end and then transported the unneeded excavated material to dump it on the other end. (F60 overburden conveyor bridge)
Gas chambers and crematoria blown up by the German Army. Buildings have been preserved as they were when they were blown up. (Auschwitz/Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum)

 From May 24 (Fri.) to June 4 (Tues.), the Modern Cultural Properties Section conducted a field survey of 7 world heritage sites and potential world heritage sites associated with modern cultural properties in Germany and Poland. The survey also examined the conservation and restoration of railroad and industrial heritage. In Germany, the survey examined the Berlin Modernism Housing Estates (which have been inscribed as a world heritage site), the Dresden Elbe Valley (which had its status as a world heritage site revoked), Electropolis Berlin (Berlin as a locus for the heavy electrical equipment industry) and mining and the cultural landscape in Freiberg in the Ore Mountains (both Electropolis Berlin and the Ore Mountains are nominated as world heritage sites). In addition, the survey examined a massive F60 overburden conveyor bridge (a machine used to strip-mine coal that is over 500 m long), paddle steamers that travel the Elbe River, and preserved railroads that operate steam locomotives. The sites and machinery have their own unique characteristics, and they have been conserved via ingenious techniques. The Berlin housing estates appear unremarkable, but the survey revealed that residents and managers have united to save these buildings, which are cultural properties. In Poland, the survey examined the historic center of Krakow (“Old Town”) and Auschwitz concentration camp (Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim), both of which are world heritage sites. There was debate over whether to preserve Auschwitz as a museum because of its historical significance, but the site now has numerous visitors. Open to the public, the gas chambers and crematoria that the German Army blew up as they retreated have been preserved as they were. However, the buildings were red brick and mortar, so conservation techniques are an issue. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (commonly called the “Atomic Bomb Dome”) is in a similar. Sharing information on conservation techniques should prove beneficial.

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