TransConflict is pleased to present a second CRIC Project (Conflict and Identity) film, entitled ‘The Cemetery of France’, which examines new debates on the heritage of destruction at the Verdun battlefield.
The film’s title , ‘The Cemetery of France’ cites the words used in 1932 by French president, Michel Lebrun, to describe the battlefield of Verdun, site in 1916 of one of the most brutal battles of the Great War. The CRIC Research Project has studied the post-war reconstruction of the battlefield and in this film, researcher Dr. Paola Filippucci discusses some of the findings of the project.
As she explains, partly because of the extent of destruction the battlefield was declared off-limits for ordinary settlement and turned into a forest, containing only burials, memorial monuments and vestiges of the battlefield.
The post-war history of the battlefield landscape shows that since its reconstruction in the twenties, the forest has matured and developed significant biodiversity, with many rare plant and animal species thriving in some of the man-made wartime vestiges (shell-holes, forts and dugouts). This creates today a new type of heritage value on the battlefield, and as we move towards the centenary of the Great War in 2014, it gives rise to new debates about how to protect and valorise this landscape so as to harmonise historical and natural heritage.
This case study shows that reconstruction after conflict is a very long-term process, that leaves a material legacy that continues to change and to interrogate later generations after the disappearance of direct survivors.
This film gives an overview of a forthcoming book chapter with the same title.
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.