Archive of European Projects

A retrospective look at World War I from a regional point of view
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The background of the project is as follows: In our ongoing Comenius project ”Our past is unifying us, a contribution to the European principle: Unity in diversity” we have emphasized – as the topic implies – more on the positive aspects of European civilization. Thus it is understandable that we had the idea to examine one “dark side” of our past. But dealing with World War I (WWI) in its centenary year will not be a stand-alone project. There is a lot of support from around the world. After looking for new partners via the internet (eTwinning plus), we are now in contact with similar projects in Australia, Japan, China and other countries. WWI had an impact even in the most remote corners of the world. In this context our project objectives were defined: We will deal less with the battles, less with major political issues, which could not or did not prevent WWI and WWII. Instead we chose the regional level as a perspective and we will try to work innovatively, beginning with the years before WWI and using authentic sources (e.g. regional newspapers). We will ask questions as: How was the mood in the regions? Was there a real enthusiasm for the war in some countries? Were there alternatives? People read in their region newspapers about the cruelties of the Italo-Turkish War, which started in 1911, followed some months later by the Balkan War. In both wars the most modern weaponry like airplanes was used. At the same time there was a strong peace movement all over Europe. For instance in the spring of 1914 there was a controversy in regional newspapers on both sides of the border between Bavaria and Austria-Hungary. Bavarians did not want to fight for their neighbors, but they did not want to fight for Berlin either. In order to examine the issue as effectively as possible we had to rethink the structure of our previous Comenius partnership. So we limited the number of participants to a maximum of 7 – finally we included 4 newcomers to the world of Comenius/Erasmus as partners. Every partner will contribute their specific approach to the topic or/and they will complement each other and will be able to benefit from the project in the long term. We will hold our meetings in Limnos and Çanakkale to ensure an annual peace conference after the end of our project, alternating between these two places. From the war cemeteries in Çanakkale and Limnos we found quite literally our oversea partners. Australians and New Zealanders come every year to maintain the graves of their ancestors. There are also a lot of unknown soldiers from Réunion and Tahiti (and other regions), so we got in touch with schools there, which deal with WWI according to their information on eTwinnings. We got into a lively contact because German students found material about a German attack on Tahiti in 1914 at home. Similarly to that the contacts with the “Lycee Saint Charles” in Réunion came about. An exhibition on WWI is being prepared by the students in Réunion. WWI had disastrous consequences for the island, which will find their way into our project, including an exhibition in Réunion. The "Battle of Riga" by its significance can be compared with the battle at the Dardanelles. In a different way in Riga and Pécs we will deal with the problem of nation building during the wartime and the problems of cultural disaster compared to the former diversity in these European regions. Munich as the coordinating partner was at the “home front”. Being a cosmopolitan center up to 1914, in the aftermath of WWI despite a short period of political experiments it became immediately the stronghold of extremely anti-democratic activities. The question remains – why? These are the subjects of our research. We will use a descriptive research design. The project is divided into three blocks: Prehistory of WWI (first year), WWI (second year) and the aftermath (third year). We will concentrate on regional newspapers, material of the local authorities, memoirs etc. We will document the events around our schools in order to keep the memory of the victims alive. In addition we will renovate and/or create new commemorative stones in collaboration with the regional authorities. The envisaged results are relevant as a supplement to the dominating picture of WWI. We will edit two books – one e-book with all relevant results of the project. One reader with the most interesting stories and the best essays by the students will also be published in all languages of our participants. Both publications will be freely available on the internet. According to our results, we will then work out proposals to continue our work.
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