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War Graves / War Cemeteries / Memorial Shrines (Berlin, 19-20 Feb 14)

  • Dates: 19 – 20 Feb, 2014
  • Location: Berlin, Germany

CONFERENCE: War Graves / War Cemeteries / Memorial Shrines (Berlin,
19-20 Feb 14)

Berlin, 19. - 20.02.2014

War Graves, War Cemeteries, and Memorial Shrines as a building task
(1914 to 1989)

Despite the spadework of scholars such as Meinhold Lurz, Monika Kuberek, Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn, and Christian Fuhrmeister, the analysis of war graves and soldier cemeteries still is a desideratum in the fields of art history and architectural history. Particularly in reference to the centennial of the events of World War I and the concomitant centenary of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraeberfuersorge e.V. (German War Graves Commission, founded 1919), a critical reflection on the current state of research is essential. The colloquium will discuss this theme from different perspectives and methodical approaches, with a focus on an analysis of memorial architecture as well as the full range of traditional visual and textual sources. The central question is to what extent an approach that is genuinely centered on objects and sources related to soldier graves, collective cemeteries, and war gravesites of the first and second World Wars can contribute to our understanding of the history of war and death in the 20th century.

Other academic fields dealing with this subject area – such as garden history, landscape and open space planning, anthropology and empirical cultural studies as well as military, social and contemporary history – provide important interdisciplinary points of contact for the colloquium. In individual cases a decidedly comparative perspective will be required in order to distinguish the singularities of the semi-governmental German commemoration of the dead from the commemorative architecture of other nations. Finally, given the current tendency towards an increasingly virtual memory culture, the history of the use of these necessarily “uncomfortable” facilities – somewhere between political funerary cult, the right of eternal rest, architectural monument, cultural heritage, and international learning center – must be addressed.

The first part of the colloquium will be hosted by the Institut fuer Kunst- und Bildgeschichte, Humboldt-Universitaet Berlin on February 19th and 20th, 2014. The second part will take place at the Zentralinstitut fuer Kunstgeschichte in Munich on September 11th and 12th, 2014.


Prof. Dr. Kai Kappel, Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / PD Dr. Christian Fuhrmeister, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, München /

Teil 1: 19.-20. Februar 2014

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Senatssaal Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin