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Behandlingen av kulturminnen under första världskriget: dokumentation, debatt, propaganda
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Art History, Conservation.
2016 (Swedish)In: Gutilandorum Universitas Scholarium et Magistrorum: Tidskrift för Högskolan på Gotlands historiska förening / [ed] Gunilla Jonsson & Torsten Daun, Visby: Historiska föreningen på Gotland. Alumnerna , 2016, 9-48 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Treatment of Historical Monuments in World War I: Documentation, Debate, Propaganda

Mattias Legnér


The purpose of this article is to investigate why historical monuments such as churches, monasteries, libraries and museums were attacked and damaged in World War I. These kinds of buildings were targeted by both sides throughout the war despite their lack of strategic importance for the war, and despite a relative consensus among the European countries that cultural institutions should be protected from the ravages of war. Several blatant attacks on churches, museums and libraries were publicly criticised and debated both during the war and after its end. The theoretical basis of our days' conventions on the protection of cultural heritage developed during the war and later in the twentieth century. The article begins by explaining the development of laws on war in the later part of the nineteenth century. A review of previous interpretations and views on the destruction of cultural heritage in World War I follows. It becomes apparent that the view of older research, that historical monuments were targeted to a very limited extent needs to be modified. Empirical research of recent years has shown that destruction was more widespread and intentional than previously recognized. The article then goes on to treat the beginnings of the war and the German and Austrian invasion of Belgium and France. The infamous German attacks on the towns of Leuven and Rheims are analysed. These attacks were followed by vicious propaganda in France and the United Kingdom, and by counter-propaganda produced in Germany. War on the eastern front was more brutal than fighting in Belgium and France, with looting of churches and the persecution of ethnic minority groups conducted primarily by Russian troops. Cultural heritage was targeted for several reasons throughout the war on both fronts: to weaken the moral of the enemy, to take revenge by destroying visible traces of enemy culture, but also to loot for economic purposes. Even in the Versailles peace treaty national heritage became an asset as Germany had to surrender valuable works of art to Belgium.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Visby: Historiska föreningen på Gotland. Alumnerna , 2016. 9-48 p.
Gusem = Gutilandorum Universitas Scholarium et Magistrorum : tidskrift för Högskolan på Gotlands historiska förening, ISSN 2000-3870 ; 7
Keyword [sv]
Första världskriget, Kulturminnesvård, Kulturarv, Konflikter, Paul Clemen, Tyskland, Storbritannien, Frankrike, Belgien
National Category
History Architecture Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-307240OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-307240DiVA: diva2:1045891
Available from: 2016-11-11 Created: 2016-11-11 Last updated: 2016-11-30Bibliographically approved

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