The essay deals with urban planning in the Rhineland from the 1920s to reconstruction after the Second World War, with particular reference to Karlsruhe, Freiburg and Strasbourg. The study starts from 1918, when Alsace was annexed again by France and trans-Rhine economic relationships were interrupted. In this fragile and conflicting region, the ambitious programs of urban and political transformation were strongly influenced by national, regional and a variety of local interests. The complex process of transformation, in this boundary, and therefore much contended, region, was also conditioned by the problem of national identity and the ambiguous issue of Heimat. In that period, urban planning was of utmost importance in the rivalry among the cities of the Rhineland. The political and urban destiny of cities such as Strasbourg or Karlsruhe, which were to be connected to the more distant economic centres in the heart of each region, was conditioned by a policy of territorial expansion, by the arrival on the scene of new techniques, by the debate on modernity and all its forms. These themes, which have become entwined with symbolic issues connected to the new identities of these sites, acted, as a background to the urban plans in those years.
Keywords: Rhineland, Urban planning, Reconstruction, National identity