A Paris Made to Be Destroyed

Before Radar was invented warfare tactics could rely on visual tricks and trompe-l’oeil as a means of passive defence. The half-accomplished project of a Sham Paris outside Paris (Faux Paris, 1918) was a fake city to be largely exposed and to attract the most attention from German bomber planes flying above at night. Sham Saint-Denis, sham Aubervilliers, sham Gare de l’Est, and sham Champs-Élysées…

< The powers that were in Paris at the end of World War I tried to […] create a Sham Paris located on the outskirts of the real city – it was to be doomed, offered with confusing lights and displays that would disorient German aviators into bombing and destroying it rather than the real city. […] There were to be sham streets lined with electric lights, sham rail stations, sham industry, open to a sham population waiting to be bombed by real Germans. It is a perverse city, filled with the waiting-to-be-murdered in a civilian target. […] Sham Paris is a city of created murders to save the innocent. > 

Manipulating aerial views is a tool that has lately been empowered by Google Earth. In 2006, ecological activists denounced regional authorities in the Spanish Canary Islands for providing Google with out-dated photographs. Hence, irregular urban developments destroying the coastline could be hidden from the public eye.

Contrary to Sham Paris that built a new territory to be destroyed, the tactic in the Canary Islands was to build a new image of a sham coast in order not to be destroyed.

[text & images from the Illustrated London News, 6/11/1920 via Ptak Science Books]

thanks tito!

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