As the one-hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War One approaches, TransConflict is pleased to present a CRIC Project (Conflict and Identity) film, entitled ‘Places that Died for France – Commemoration and Memory on the Verdun Battlefield’.
The film provides an overview of research examining a unique form of commemoration that remembers nine villages which were destroyed during a particularly brutal battle in 1916. As Dr Paola Filippucci of Cambridge University explains, this case study highlights the extent of civilian losses in the Great War and it shows that not only people but also places can die in war, bringing an equally painful impact to communities and individuals.
In 1919 the nine villages were declared ‘dead for France’ (‘mortise pour la France’) , awarded medals, and retained a mayor and municipal councils named by the state.
Each municipal commission holds an annual ceremony to recall the village’s ‘sacrifice’ for the nation. However new forms of commemoration have also emerged by which descendants of the former inhabitants remember the lost village: heritage trails, excavations of the village remains, searches for archival documents, genealogies and photographs of the pre-war village, some of which are exhibited at the village site.
This case study is being used by the University of Cambridge to make a longer documentary to mark the centenary of World War One.
CRIC (Cultural Heritage and the Reconstruction of Identities after Conflict ) background
The CRIC project has been investigating the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage in Bosnia, France, Cyprus, Spain and Germany and the impact at local, national and international levels of the reconstruction processes that have followed.
See longer research films on CRIC’s Vimeo Channel – including contested sites of memory in Dresden and the ongoing demonstrations over the Allied bombing of 1945 – available by clicking here.
The CRIC Research project has been funded by the European Commission within the Seventh Framework Programme.