From June 1st to 3rd, 2023, the Jagiellonian University in Kraków hosted an international scientific conference titled “Commemoration and Heritage: First World War Memorials and Cemeteries”. The conference aimed to explore the diverse and complex ways that the First World War was remembered and memorialized across Europe, both in the past and in the present. The conference brought together researchers from more than 20 institutions representing several countries including the USA, France, United Kingdom, Belgium, Austria, Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Italy, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic.

The conference was organized by the research group “Heritage of War 1914-1918” with Kamil Ruszała as the Principal Investigator and Research Group coordinator. The event was part of the Critical Heritage Studies Hub’s Flagship Project, which is funded by the Research University – Excellence Initiative.

The keynote lectures were delivered by Professor Jay Winter from Yale University and Professor Aaron J. Cohen from California State University, Sacramento. The conference consisted of several thematic panels that covered various aspects of commemoration and heritage related to the First World War. As part of the conference, a roundtable discussion that involved representatives from several museums took place that dealt with the heritage of the First World War. They shared their experiences and challenges in presenting and interpreting this complex and contested topic for different audiences.

The conference was a chance to show how the afterlife of the memorials in the post-displacement regions look like. To this end, Karolina Ćwiek-Rogalska, presented her paper entitled “Sleeping German Soldier or a Virgin Mary? Recycling of the German Great War Memorials in Post-Displacement Slavic Central Europe” in which she proposed to work within the paradigm of recycling, and applied it to various forms of how the German war memorials were reused and reinterpreted in the region of Central Pomerania.

The conference was a valuable opportunity for scholars from different disciplines and backgrounds to share their research and insights on the commemoration and heritage of the First World War.

You can read more about the whole event here.