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No lessons learned from the Monuments Men?

At the workshop “Protection of historical cultural values in wartime – Second World War to Syria” I recently met Isber Sabrine (Chair of “Heritage for Peace”), Prof. Paul Harris (Auburn University, Alabama), PD. Dr. Uwe Hunger (FoKos Siegen) und Sascha Krannich (Uni Münster). A fascinating workshop with many interesting conversations – a lot of inspirations and thought I brought home with me.

Especially the question crossed our minds, why we obviously weren’t able to learn our lessons from World War II regarding cultural heritage protection: Again art historians, archaeologists and other “safekeepers of the heritage” have to start from the scratch if they aim to protect cultural objects from destruction in the case of an armed conflict, as it is now happening in Syria. But additionally a whole new dimension occurs nowadays with the trade of illegally excavated artefacts from the Middle East – a great deal of these illicit objects end in the German antiquity market as well.

I gonna stay in touch with these speakers as we share some really interesting research topics!

I would like to especially recommend the website of Heritage for Peace, a NGO dedicated to the Salvage of Syrians cultural heritage. More information soon!

Protection of cultural heritage - in World World II to now

3 thoughts on “No lessons learned from the Monuments Men?

  1. ‘Lessons from history’ are rarely learnt, even events merely a decade apart fail to spark memories. May be it’s a human hope that the ‘it’ will not happen again. But it does.
    The safekeeping of culture is not only an academic topic but one that embroils entire communities. My take is that academic should look wider. Security industry for one, private investigators etc.

  2. Nazi archeologists looted and professed an altered history. I accept that many may have operated under duress. Nevertheless they pursued an alien course to overlay a distorted take on history and culture. I have asked a question recently; could archeologists be involved in ISIS or conflict artefact identifaction and extraction? The answer was NO. I cannot believe it given the collaboration in the past of professionals with an illicit regime. Any thoughts. B

  3. I assume that archeologists are involved in ISIS. The looting and distruction of historical and cultural artefacts also needs a certain expertise. But as well as we only now beginn to understand the Nazi cultural politics we will understand the ISIS behaviour regarding cultural objects in the aftermath.

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