Reconstruction of Sevastopol: An Inevitable Disaster?

Reconstruction of Sevastopol, following the Nazi’s attack on this vital naval city, started the Soviet’s regime of rebuilding the country’s architecture and infrastructure. The Soviet Union created the Committee on Architectural Affairs; I think this is a testament to the State’s commitment to rebuild cities with the State’s ideal in mind. The Soviet Union wanted these new building to be dedicated to the great heroes such as Marx and Lenin. Streets and squares were renamed in an attempt to return to historical roots. As the article, “To Agitate and to Render Service: Replanning the Hero-City Sevastopol” says, “name changes suggested political shifts.”

A problem with housing emerged as the city of Sevastopol was rebuilt. Although promised adequate housing, overcrowded and infectious residences were overwhelming. The money of the State had gone to other projects and resources to fix these housing dilemmas were in short supply. People began taking matters into their own hands; workers began building housing illegally, without approval of the State. With poor, overcrowded housing came poor hygiene, causing a spike in disease. These health problems could not be fixed due to the lack of equipment such as x-ray to diagnose patients.

Could these health problems have been avoided or with overcrowded, non-regulated housing, was it inevitable?

Replanning Sevastopol

Students know of the widespread devastation that resulted from WWII, but most history lessons stop just short of how those countries, cities and towns picked up the pieces and rebuilt their homes. As this reading shows, it wasn’t an easy task. Sevastopol needed to be completely rebuilt–and not just the buildings, but social services as well. Infrastructure was close to nonexistent, public health services were failing the population and all the while, architects and city planners were attempting to “russify” the Ukrainian city with a city-wide face lift in the Russian style.



In typical Soviet Union fashion, the state wanted Sevastopol to be rebuilt in the Russian image. As Professor Qualls wrote in his article, “the perceived reversion to tradition meant a Russian ethnic identification wrapped in a Greek architectural façade, yet devoid of all hints of competing identifications.” When I read this, I was completely unfazed. Why of course the government would use this opportunity to impose Russian culture on  Sevastopol. It would be logical for the people of Sevastopol to want to rebuild their own heritage, commemorate their losses in their own fashion and construct a city of their own choosing–but this wasn’t an option under Soviet rule.

It was this “top-down” approach to reconstruction that most caught my attention in the article, but the health and safety conditions plaguing the city were of great importance as well. It took several years before disease began to decline, living conditions (such as apartments with adequate space so as not to spread disease) improved, health services (such as ambulances) were restored and the population began to rebound. Of course, the important thing is that the city did achieve this stability, but I’m sure that if compared to the reconstruction timelines of Western European nations, the case of Sevastopol look quite bad.