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"Battlefields" as WHS?

Author Solivagant
#1 | Posted: 21 Jun 2017 03:53 | Edited by: Solivagant 
As a contribution to this subject started recently in relation to the possible inscription of US Civil War Battlefields I have raised a separate topic and surveyed current WHS and T List sites for those which relate primarily to a "Battle". This excludes a large number of forts/cities etc where any "Battles" are incidental to the existence of the physical aspects which make the sites "special". The word "Battle" needs a bit of definition too - it doesn't necessarily have to be 2 armies confronting each other across a muddy field. The important aspect is the conflict with "sides", deaths, winners/losers etc etc – a "War event" might be a better phrase. I have then tried to identify any patterns in the criteria used for WHS or intended for TWHS, together with comments about how the "War" for which the site is presented is handled

Genbaku Dome.
Inscribed on a single associative criterion only - Crit vi ("to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);") Specifically "The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) is a stark and powerful symbol of the achievement of world peace for more than half a century following the unleashing of the most destructive force ever created by humankind." So
a. A specific physical "memorial" has been identified as possessing the OUV - the memorial is stated to have absolutely NO artistic etc value but the fact that it remains as close as possible in the condition which it pertained immediately after the event is given "value".
b. It is not the act of war which is memorialised but the Peace which followed – somewhat controversial at the time and still somewhat difficult to argue.

The St Petersburg inscription contains 4 locations which are only present because of WWII (or "Great Patriotic War") events – The Green Belt of Glory Memorial, The Blocade Ring, The Road of Life and the Orianenbaumsky Springboard. One of these is purely a "memorial" and could be argued to be a valid element in representing St Petersburg's history along with all the other aspects of the nomination. AS far as I am aware the other 3 are more "associative" than demonstrating any physical aspects?

I think there are just 6 Tentative List sites directly/significantly related to "Battlefields"
Sites funéraires et mémoriels de la Première Guerre mondiale (Front Ouest) Crit iii, iv, vi
Çanakkale (Dardanelles) and Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Battles Zones in the First World War Crit vi (added by jonathonfr - see later posts for comparison/evaluation)
Mamayev Kurgan Memorial Complex "To the Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad" Crit i, iv, vi
Les Plages du Débarquement, Normandie, 1944 - Crit iv, vi
Le Champ de bataille de Waterloo, la fin de l'épopée napoléonienne - Crit ii, iii, vi
Arbel – Crit Mixed unspecified
So – 1 Crusader, 1 Napoleonic War, 2 WWI and 2 WWII/Great Patriotic War.

Sites funéraires et mémoriels de la Première Guerre mondiale
Mamayev Kurgan Memorial Complex

These are both to be nominated for the artistic/cultural/associative value of their "Memorials" created after the event rather than for the Battles themselves. The WWI locations follow this "rule" pretty strictly but the Mamayev Kurgan description does include buildings where fighting took place which otherwise have no architectural value – presumably the inclusion of these as subsequent "memorials" is as valid as the inclusion of Genbaku Dome? Both sites go firmly for Criteria iv and vi – claiming both "outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;" as well as the associative value (Crit vi) deriving from .... ? But what? And there lies a problem!!
The WWI locations include representation for all/most nationalities involved and are pretty successful in avoiding ANY hint of nationalism or justification for the War, instead highlighting the wish "de perpétuer l'identité individuelle de la victime de guerre répond aux besoins de ré-humanisation des sociétés décimées par la disparition d'une grande partie de leur jeunesse. Pour la première fois dans l'histoire humaine, unanimement, les victimes sont reconnues de manière égale dans la mort." There is nothing about the historic significance on WWI, who "won" or "lost" etc etc.
Mamayev Kurgan has a different approach – it celebrates the "Heroes" of the Battle (presumably ONLY those fighting for the Soviets?) - "The battle, giant in scale and significant by its impact on the further course of the war, became a kind of prologue of the Great Victory. On Volga banks the fascist Germany and its satellite states suffered the most powerfully attack which they could not withstand. The international importance and the results of the Battle of Stalingrad determined the post-war balance of military and political power in the world." Possibly a "valid" argument but a very different one from that adopted for the WWI memorials!

Les Plages de Debarquement
This nomination proposes a dual element of "Value". First the physical "War technology" which remains on the Beaches - both that created by Germany to defend them (The Atlantic Wall) and that created by the Allies to achieve success (The man made harbours etc). In this respect it is similar to the many military WHS (forts, walls etc) inscribed all around the World - it might only have been "used" the once but it represents a significant historical development in "military technology" which is well preserved and authentic. It then moves on to claim associative value under Crit vi for the memorials and the "bigger" historical meaning of the entire ensemble – here it runs into the same problem as that faced by the Russians with Mamayev Kurgan and solves it in a similar way claiming that the site "illustre l'effort de solidarité des nations alliées afin de venir libérer l'Europe de l'occupation nazie. Dès sa nouvelle rapidement connue, il devint un formidable espoir collectif et individuel de recouvrement de la liberté, notamment dans les camps de concentration, au sein des organisations de la résistance et parmi les populations civiles. La date du 6 juin 1944 ou D Day devint très rapidement synonyme du Débarquement et du déclenchement victorieux de la reconquête sur l'invasion hitlérienne."

"Le champ de bataille de Waterloo, la fin de l'épopée napoléonienne".
Again a mixture of physical and associative Criteria would be used. We are told that the battlefield remains in much the same state as when the battle was fought but this seems to be simply an agricultural landscape. There appears to be NO attempt to identify any remaining physical aspect of the Battlefield which could be said to represent some military technology of the period which would possess OUV. It is suggested however that lack of developments of the area means that it would be possible to follow the events of the day ("Une procédure d'extension est en cours afin de protéger trois zones importantes qui permettront de mieux comprendre le déroulement de cette journée") – which raises the question regarding whether a field where one could trace the events of a Battle, but where nothing of that time actually remains, possesses OUV. Mention is made of the various memorials which each nation set up such as GB's "Lion's Mound" - but without identifying what the value of these might be either in terms of what they represent or in terms of their architecture. Arguments for the possible "Associative value" of the Battlefield are also rather thin. I rather liked this one - "cette victoire est celle de l'Europe contre la France mais également contre les principes révolutionnaires d'égalité et de liberté."

The nomination covers 3 elements – historic settlements with caves and a natural reserve, the pilgrimage site of the Tomb of Jethro and the battlefield itself. This latter almost seems to have been added to give the rest a bit more substance.


Author Solivagant
#2 | Posted: 21 Jun 2017 04:01 | Edited by: Solivagant 
a. All the Battlefields claim associative value to some degree or another- these places have OUV because of what happened here EVEN if nothing of that event can be seen. But only Genbaku Dome has limited itself solely to Associative Criteria. The others usually try to find some other physical aspects to hang a nomination on though the Waterloo description seems to suggest that even an perfectly standard field can have "associative value" if a battle took place there. And this of course goes back to the whole question of the definition of ~"Heritage" - if a society assigns heritage "value" to an ordinary field because of an event which took place there then it does indeed have value and perhaps should be inscribed in order to preserve it.
b. A common approach has been to assign OUV to the memorials which have either subsequently been constructed or which have been "created" from the damaged remains rather than for the Battlefields themselves. For some of these some artistic/stylistic value can be claimed but others have no such physical value which still leaves to be answered the question as to what the Memorials represent – the Victors? Humanity? Peace? The defeat of X?
c. The Normandy nomination has been able to identify a significant amount of remaining "Battlefield technology" to claim OUV for it
d. The handling of the "significance" of the Battle causes some problems – in the case of WWII it seems acceptable to state that the defeat of Nazism was a "good thing", in the case of WWI this aspect is ignored and emphasis placed on the universality of the memorials. Mamayev Kurgan only seems to value the Soviet lives. The Napoleonic site seems to have problems as to what exactly the defeat of Napoleon meant – a turning point yes, but good or bad or a mixture!
e. Generally the inclusion of "Battlefields" as WHS has been and remains "problematic". 2 of the TWHS (WWI memorials and Normandy) seem to have a good chance of gaining inscription in the near future but they would each seem to have identified some aspect beyond the mere fact that a Battle took place there which could possibly prevent the floodgates for future battles being opened. On the other hand, the Normandy nomination in particular might create problems regarding Russia since they could well expect "Stalingrad" to be treated "equally" in their view - and that would be another step down a slippery slope by which each nation wants the inscription of its victories!

Author jonathanfr
#3 | Posted: 21 Jun 2017 05:22 
Çanakkale (Dardanelles) and Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Battles Zones in the First World War

Also, I suggest :
- a transnational serial inscription of the Napoleonic sites (Austerlitz, Berezina ...). Austerlitz, site of the Battle of the Three Emperors and proving the tactical genius of Napoleon, could make a good complement to Waterloo (a victory, a defeat). The name of the Berezina remained in the French vocabulary as an equivalent of "rout", or rather of hecatomb, serious losses suffered during a completely disorganized situation. The battle of the Berezina is not, however, a defeat but rather a "victory" of the French army. It escaped the Russian forces led by Kutuzov thanks to a skilful maneuver of Napoleon and the devotion of the Dutch pontoon regiment which succeeded in building two bridges on this tributary of the Dnieper. Rout, burning failure, total disaster :"This is the Berezina!"
- South African battlefields (Shaka Zulu, the Black Napoleon...)
- Battlefields of the Pacific War (Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa...)
- Castillon-la-Bataille, the ultimate battle of the Hundred Years War
- Moussais la Bataille (Battle of Poitiers (732))
- Kursk, biggest tank battle of history
- Solferino, the origin of the birth of the Red Cross

Author Solivagant
#4 | Posted: 21 Jun 2017 05:40 | Edited by: Solivagant 
Çanakkale (Dardanelles) and Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Battles Zones in the First World War

Yes that was very stupid of me to miss out - we were there only 2 years ago as well!

So to continue the comparison with other battlefield sites on the T List
Çanakkale (Dardanelles) and Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Battles Zones in the First World War Crit vi
So this is being suggested SOLELY on Associative Criterion vi. A "risky" approach given UNESCO's well known dislike of its sole use! It is however being "universalised" to cover all nationalities involved and to convey a general message of "Peace" as follows -
"a landmark in the world military and political history..... The significance of these battles in the world cultural history however, is not well known. Examples of battles which turn prejudiced foes into admiring and respecting counterparts, and make war look more like a sports event or an adventure, and a the same time offer periods of calmness allowing individuals to introspect and explore the meaning of life and human experience through their immediate environment (rich in archaeology, history, flora and fauna), are extremely rare. Indeed, with large number of personal diaries kept, letters and poems written, observations sketched, sceneries painted, collections made and instances of friendly encounters with the foe. Gallipoli battles constitute the only where 'war' turns into a unique social and cultural happening and becomes an open invitation for mutual understanding, respect and tolerance, better said, for 'peace'."
Although no Criterion is apparently being claimed for the extant military remains the text does describe "Included in the Park are the sites of famous First World War Dardanelles naval and Gallipoli Peninsula land battles. The Park holds an extensive range of sunken ships, guns, trenches, forts, bastions and a myriad of other war related artefacts together with Turkish, Australian, New Zealand, English and French war graves and memorials." That would seem to require additional criteria as per the Normandy site? The Memorials are indeed very similar to those of WWI in Belgium (as would be expected given that they were designed at the same time and eg UK/The Commonwealth adopted similar design policies). The whole "atmosphere" struck me as being far more "Nationalistic" than the Belgian/French WWI sites - naturally as Turkey won! So, it hovers somewhere between Belgium/France WWI and Stalingrad, in terms of claiming "universality" and avoiding nationalism.
Again, if the Belgian/French memorial sites are successful it would seem difficult to reject any nomination which Turkey might make for this area.

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 "Battlefields" as WHS?

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