chapter  8
37 Pages

Nations in ruins

ByJonathan Hill

In the aftermath of World War Two, the concern for the monument and the ruin varied according to national histories, philosophies and needs. In Britain, devastated by wartime bombing raids, the demand for reconstruction was greater than in America. Already in 1942, UK government committees were preparing for post-war regeneration and a Ministry of Town and Country Planning was established. In the following year, a Minister for Reconstruction was appointed to the War Cabinet. 1 Heir to the liberal Enlightenment, the idea of the British welfare state was established in 1942 when the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services under the chairmanship of Sir William Beveridge presented its report to the wartime coalition government led by the Conservative Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The Labour party’s landslide victory in 1945 brought the report’s conclusions to fruition. In the UK, monumentality came to represent the monolithic self-image of the welfare state, which aimed to extend access to good schools, universities and hospitals to the whole population, but did not intend a fundamental transformation of capitalism or attempt to address financial inequalities between rich and poor.