Europeana1914-1918.eu

Wonderful pan-European website of digitized photos and documents about World War One from libraries, archives, online submissions and, among other things, family history roadshows taking place in many European cities. Now available in the languages Danish, Dutch, English, French, German and Slovenian, the website’s collections are intended to tell the stories of regular people, “simple soldiers,” and their families who were involved in the “war to end all wars.” The collections, research and electronic documentation have been going on for three years now. Organizers said this might be the world’s largest collection so far of European WWI items from private owners, i.e. the families involved. It is intended to “show, well, perhaps unity in suffering,” said historian Frank Drauschke.

Even public school systems that teach more than 0–1 year of history have problems with societal forgetting, it seems. As part of their commemorations of the centenary, German television news programs recently did street interviews with German high school students asking basic facts about the First World War but discovering a shocking lack of answers. Apparently teaching the atrocities of World War Two to German schoolchildren has over time come to overshadow teaching about its causes and its first iteration.

This Europeana.eu project also seems wonderful because it probably preserved so many materials by digitizing them and posting them online. It saved the stories of descendants who still remember why each item is important. The format allows people to see the war from inside more than one of the countries that participated in it. While providing jobs to historians and translators!

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