Questions relating to management, preservation, and heritage of world’s historic battle sites led us to establish World Battlefield Museums Forum (WBMF) in 2018. The WBMF’s mission is to foster historical memory and the understanding of core values for which men fought and died over the centuries.
Over centuries, combatants have personified the terrifying nature of armed conflicts. But from the dust of a battlefield emerges soldiers’ dedication for humanitarian values – compassion and reconciliation. Regardless of a historical epoch, one’s sensitivity or worldview, regardless of a battle’s fortitude or chances for victory, soldiers have always held onto a set of human, universal values – often at a cost of life.
Today, most battlefields are primarily remembrance sites. They honour the dead, inspire visitors to discover and reconstruct the past, and provoke profound reflection. Within a field of contemporary archeology, battlefields yield artefacts that let us delve into unlimited resources of historical knowledge.
Yet, whether we like it or not, battlefields today also serve a heritage purpose – they attract tourism. In such capacity, they are time capsules of memory. We must therefore understand that we should strive to keep any given battlefield authentic and make sure that its relics are well preserved for the benefit of contemporary visitors and of future generations. Once we have realized this, a given battle site – with its museum, mausoleum, or monument – becomes a sanctuary where we can reflect upon the condition of man and where historical tourists find space for contemplation.