DURING THE WAR of 1914-18 the Dutch alone, of all nations who had contributed to the growth of a new architecture, enjoyed the benefits of neutrality, and in the development of their architecture alone can the break between the first and second phase of the developing twentieth-century style be seen unobstructed by the confusions of the War. Outside Holland, major architects whose careers effectively span the War years are rare-- Gropius and Perret are almost alone in having done work of equal interest before 1914 and after 1918--and most of the personalities who characterised the post-War scene, such as Mendelsohn, Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Lurçat, have insignificant or non-existent pre-War careers. But in Holland the war years were, if anything, a period of increased building activity, forcing on the development of talents that were maturing after 1910, which rapidly brought young men to the top, and drove pre-War currents of ideas to their logical (or illogical) conclusions--all without any serious breaks or interruptions of development except those precipitated by the ideas and personalities involved. The break--and it is a real break with the past--comes in late 1917 with the foundation of the group de Stijl, but the ideas of this group, far from being born of the agonising experiences of the War, were the product of discussions, experiments and building work that had been going on since 1911, or thereabouts. That the ideas of de Stijl (and similar bodies of thought) were taken up so enthusiastically in countries that had been involved in the War, seems to be less due to their applicability to post-War conditions (which is doubtful) than to the fact that theorists in most of those countries would have arrived at similar conclusions themselves at about the same time, had they not been otherwise engaged.
The rapid evolution of de Stijl theory and practice may be largely attributed to the clear-cut polemical situation in which the group's architects found themselves, with their own Rationalist, mechanistic, abstract approach in direct opposition to the fantasticated, handicraft, figurative approach of the Wendingen group in Amsterdam. But, as is so often the case in polemics of this kind, the violent opponents had a great deal in