Insights and Perspectives
Edited By Elżbieta Katarzyna Dzikowska, Agata Handley and Piotr Zawilski
War museums at the former frontline between Austria-Hungary and Italy during World War I
1. On the significance of World War I 100 years after the beginning of the fights
In view of Jan and Aleida Assmann’s definition of a communicative or social memory, which indicates a life span of about 80 to 100 years1, a 100-year-anniversary is a particularly interesting point in time for taking a look at a historical event. Contemporary historians are currently discussing the boundaries of their own subject, which for a long time had been defined, in Rothfels’ words, as an “epoch of contemporaries”2 and thus based on the communicative memory. The enormous attention paid to World War I in 2014, however, raises the question of whether it might be more appropriate to speak of an “epoch of empathy”3.
With regard to World War I, however, numerous other facts besides the time span have had an influence on the way this event is perceived today: the collective and cultural memory regarding the war was shaped especially by later decisive events of the 20th century. Consequently, in many states the memory of World War II and National Socialism, as well as of the Cold War, has to a large degree superimposed that of World War I4. This is, for instance, reflected in the fact that World War I has not been included in various volumes on national lieux ← 217 | 218 → de mémoire5. The editors of the volume on the European lieux de mémoire, too, failed to dedicate an article to...
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