WORLD BATTLEFIELD MUSEUMS FORUM

COURAGE SACRIFICE HERITAGE

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.

Important world battlefields define the history of civilization. They often provide necessary building blocks to reconstruct or rebuild individual nations’ historical identity. Fields of conflict reminisce past events while they also honour the fallen. We must remember that great battles were not only fought for the lust for power, the need for conquest or subjugation; almost in their entirety,  battles were fought against brutal power, prejudice, or contempt.

 

World Battlefield Museums Forum is not just another iteration of a scientific conference. It aspires at being a contemporary interpretation of a classical agora, a cyclical event for the exchange of opinions, reflections, and experiences between museum institutions that work towards a common goal. Past armed conflicts have to be remembered so that today we can arrive at the right conclusions – the horrors of war serving as a warning that will, hopefully, alert us to the pitfalls that have often lead to mindless aggression, civil wars, or religious conflict.

 

We know all too well that history that is misinterpreted or forgotten is bound to repeat itself. Whatever the battle, whatever the historical epoch, we can  learn lessons from the havoc of a battlefield. We owe a lot to those who fought for us in the name of values we hold dear today. We must learn from their sacrifice, suffering and death. We must  learn of forgiveness, reconciliation, respect and humanity.

 

That is why, it is absolutely essential that we make every effort possible to preserve the precious memory for our future generations.

 

 

Karol Nawrocki
The Director of the Museum of the Second World War

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