Designs of Destruction
Between 1943 and 1945, the Allied Air Forces produced aerial photographs of 79 Italian cities, annotated them with the location of monuments, and appended them with elaborate instructions for aerial bombers on “how to miss cultural sites.” Similar lists and maps of monuments were produced by the Allies for almost every country in Europe, expanded or shrunk to fit various phases and types of fighting. The longest German list was 150 pages; one map of 23 monuments for the whole of France was once made.
What kind of media were these? To what use were they put; how did they partake in the technologies of precision on which Allied aerial strategy hinged, and how did they help inaugurate a new global regime of cultural preservation?
Lucia Allais draws from her book, (Chicago: 2018). The book chronicles the triumph of the cultural monument as a modern and global building type between the 1930s and 1970s.