The First World War did not end all wars. The armistice 100 years ago sowed the seeds of next world war. The war retributions imposed by the allied powers on Germany and Germany´s stab-in-the-back myth, blaming the defeat on the Jews, would lead to next war and the Holocaust. From a life-saving bible and a hand-carved violin to handwritten letters from the trenches, the personal stories and objects of European soldiers and their families will be given new life at an event with roundtable discussions on 27 – 28 November in Brussels to commemorate the centenary of the armistice.
Europeana and the House of European History join together to organise this event which highlights the relevance to the digitisation of these objects to the digital transformation of our society.
At the centre of this commemoration stands the Europe-wide campaign, Europeana 1914-1918. Since 2011, more than 15,000 people from 24 countries have shared family stories and nearly 200,000 items online as part of the campaign, offering a unique perspective of the shared human experience of the conflict.
“This collection of letters written in the trenches provide a unique insight into the lives and feelings of the people who wrote them,” says Harry Verwayen, Executive Director of the Europeana Foundation.
Experts from across Europe have been invited to attend the event and take part in a series of activities that reflect on the different ways we can remember the war. A physical display of objects will run to 2 December and is open to the public without prior registration.
The display at the House of European History has been especially curated for the event, with Europeana 1914-1918 objects and artefacts from the museum´s collection, including the bible which saved the life of soldier Kurt Geiler, taking a direct hit from shrapnel as he slept. Shared online by his grandson, Kurt’s bible and his story is now part of the museum’s permanent collection.
The event is held in collaboration between the House of European History and Europeana, a platform for Europe’s digital cultural heritage, and is part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Europeana Collections is described as Europe’s digital library, museum, gallery and archive.