First World War on the Macedonian Front: Remembrance through the cultural heritage. An initiative by ALDA International Summer School

We would like to give evidence to this initiative by ALDA International Summer School about World War One and the Macedonian front. ALDA organizes its first International Summer School on the topic of “Remembrance through the cultural heritage of the First World War on the Macedonian Front”. This experience provides a unique opportunity to visit and research untouched cultural heritage from the First World War in the Republic of Macedonia. This summer school will take place in Bitola (R. Macedonia) from 25 to the 30 June 2016. More information is available in this brochure. The summer school is open to students of history, archeology, ethnology or other related fields, civil society representatives or activists on remembrance questions, history enthusiasts (age: 18 to 30). The deadline for application is 25 May 2016.

Historical Context
Battle of Kaymakchalan
The Macedonian Front is also known as “the forgotten Front”, it is true that History celebrates the triumphs and losses of the Western Front, while the Macedonian Front also known as the Salonika Front, Front d’Orient or the Southern Front has been disregarded. Nonetheless, all the belligerent armies were stationed and battled at one point thousands of soldiers perished on the Macedonian Front, often because of the terrible conditions due to sicknesses and famine. Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia (which encompasses the current territory of the Republic of Macedonia) and Albania were at the heart of the Macedonian Front. The losses on the Macedonian Front of the First World War were heavily neglected throughout history, even though, nearly one million soldiers of ten different armies fought and died there between autumn 1915 and September 1918. The Commemoration of Centenary of the First World War is an opportunity to remember and contextualize this forgotten Front. 

The remains from the First World War in the Republic of Macedonia is an invaluable terrain for research in social, military and cultural history, ethnology and archeology. This school is an opportunity for pioneer work on the subject of First World War in the Republic of Macedonia for it has been scarcely researched as is the case for the whole history of the Macedonian Front. The battle of Monastir (now Bitola) is one of the crucial battles where the Allied forces won. As a result of that battle the city was almost completely destroyed. One hundred years later the cultural heritage of that period (cemeteries, war constructions, trenches) is a silent witness of the struggles and victories of soldiers and locals. 

In September 1918, the Allied troops led by French General Franchet d’Esperey overthrew the enemy forces and conquered the current territory of the Republic of Macedonia. Indeed, the great battle that took place near Bitola (formerly Monastir) is considered as a crucial event which led to the eventual defeat of the Central Powers. The current territory of the Republic of Macedonia was the battle scene between the Austro-Hungarian armies, German, Bulgarian and Turkish, on the one hand and the French armies, English, Greek, and Serbian on the other. Thus, the current territory of the Republic of Macedonia was one of the most affected territories in the action of the Macedonian Front. The cities: Bitola, Dojran, Gevgelija, Kukush, Ohrid, Prilep, Krushevo were almost completely destroyed during the War. In Novaci, the trenches and remains of the Allied as well as the Central Powers front’s positions are still visible and can be visited on the field.

The poet and the world war: "I Looked Up From My Writing" by Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy (Upper Bockhampton, 2 June 1840 – Dorchester, 11 January 1928) was of course too old to take part to the war. Nevertheless he wrote a relevant number of war poems and poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke (he wrote about the Boer War, too). The poem we choose today, taken from Poems of War and Patriotism (1917), seems to reply to two fundamental questions: how is writing poetry in war time? And what does writing poetry mean under the bombs? The action of writing is a blinkered gesture. The beginning in the first stanza looks like a typical full moon scenery and a dialogue between the soldier and the satellite begins. The turning point is perhaps the fifth stanza and the crucial moon's words ("And now I am curious to look / Into the blinkered mind / Of one who wants to write a book / In a world of such a kind”.)


I looked up from my writing,
And gave a start to see,
As if rapt in my inditing,
The moon’s full gaze on me.

Her meditative misty head
Was spectral in its air,
And I involuntarily said,
“What are you doing there?”

“Oh, I’ve been scanning pond and hole
And waterway hereabout
For the body of one with a sunken soul
Who has put his life-light out.

Did you hear his frenzied tattle?
It was sorrow for his son
Who is slain in brutish battle,
Though he has injured none.

And now I am curious to look
Into the blinkered mind
Of one who wants to write a book
In a world of such a kind”.

Her temper overwrought me,
And I edged to shun her view,
For I felt assured she thought me
One who should drown him too.

The Great War of Mario Puccini. The special project of "IoDeposito" dedicated to the Italian writer

A special thanks to the "IoDeposito" organization and in particular to Chiara Isadora Artico, Tancredi Artico and Joshua Cesa. They kindly accepted the invititation to reply to the below interview about their special project dedicated to Mario Puccini, an Italian writer whose legacy is particularly connected with the First World War in the Eastern front between the regions of Friuli and Veneto and Slovenia.

Mario Puccini
Would you briefly explain who is Mario Puccini to the International audience of World War I Bridges and could you state why he is a crucial point in the understanding and study of World War I in Italy?
TANCREDI ARTICO: Mario Puccini was a prolific and versatile Italian writer: born in 1887, he voluntarily took part of the WWI and eventually became an officer, between 1915 and 1918. He wrote thousands of pages: not only novels and collections of short novels, the genres for which he’s best known, but also poems, essays, translations, articles.
In a large quantity of his works he depicts the war experience, and he is able to do that in a poignant way, that touches the soul of the reader. His pen is emotional and precise, shows us not only the most terrible aspects of the conflict, such as death and human degradation, but also highlights what conflict - not only war - means to people, and how it destroys the simplicity of humanity. Puccini describing the WWI speaks to the present: he teaches to respect diversity and each form of life.

"Davanti a Trieste"
Q: Let's go now specifically inside your recent project namely the edition of the works by Mario Puccini. Could you describe it? How did you cooperate for the new edition of the books that Mario Puccini dedicated to his experience on the Kars and after Caporetto?
TANCREDI ARTICO: The aim of the project is to print Davanti a Trieste, the third (and least) Puccini’s war book, in the hope that this could be the first step of a Puccini’s “renaissance”. With that book I want to give to the reader the full text of this war diary (which is very difficult to find in libraries and is not available online), but at the same time I expect to give a general idea of Puccini’s three war books and a complete discussion of bibliography. This is not an useless operation, if we consider that the last research on Puccini’s literary production was done in the early 80’s, and that it doesn’t give an overview of his war books.

Q: This project is not only on paper. There's a multimedia side of it. Is it bilingual or are you planning to make it available as a multimedia bilingual project soon?
JOSHUA CESA: Technically speaking, the integration of a multi-language system is quite simple: the heart of the multimedia system created is a database which, because of its nature, lends to the cloning of the individual fields, automatically predisposing the translation.
Nevertheless, there is an issue intrinsically tied to the specific contents we want to propose in the project: Davanti a Trieste is a very complex work of literature, the interest of the project lies specifically in the nuances of the Italian language used by Mario Puccini: pulling up alongside a didactic apparatus in a different language besides the Italian one, could be a dangerous operation, if seen from the point of view of the Italian studies.
We are reflecting on the possibility of a multi-language hypertext, but the first step would be to prepare an accurate translation of the Puccini's text, which captures all the specificities of the author's writing style (and than, it would be possible to create also a critical apparatus in other languages).

"Il soldato Cola",
a popular novel by Puccini
Q: How are you going to promote your project? Are you planning presentations also outside Italy?
TANCREDI ARTICO & JOSHUA CESA: We have already started the promotion of the project: we have just organized a tour presentations in Italy (in libraries, universities and museums mainly in the region of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia) and in Slovenia, interesting areas for our projects, rich of materials and experiences connected the theme of the world's conflicts.
We plan to continue the presentations again next year in Italy and abroad. The project has always had an international vocation: it was presented in London, and we are planning presentations and book trailers projections in Canada, United States, Australia, Belgium (leveraging on our network of international research partners).
This project is strongly connected with the area of the Italian studies, and as you know is not yet multilingual, but the methodologies we are using, and the author's literary production itself, it is raising a lot of interest in the international research community and towards the audience from different countries.

Q: What are your personal points of view on the several initiatives popping up for this Centenary?
TANCREDI ARTICO & JOSHUA CESA: We see around us that people are critical towards the idea of the Centenary: it is happening a moltiplication of the activities on the theme, and sometimes these activities seem a little bit forced. But we also see that the Centenary is bringing a new sensibility, which is more and more necessary today.
We believe that this centenary represents a real opportunity to give voice to the collective memory and to the investigation of the human experience during the First World War, exploring other perspectives on the conflict, looking at the individual and collective point of view, searching for the 'B sides' of the story, not considering anymore only the nationalist visions.
The centenary is a possibility to help us in facing the contemporary legacies of the conflict (invisible but still very present in our daily life) of which the today's generations are heirs.

IoDeposito Ong:
Direct links to the web page about this project:

Conference of the International Society for First World War Studies ‘War Time’ - 10-11 November 2016, Oxford (CfP)

We are happy to share today the following call for papers:

The 9th Conference of the International Society for First World War Studies, "War Time" will be held at the Maison Française, University of Oxford, on 10-11 November 2016.

Following the success of previous events, the International Society for First World War Studies is delighted to announce its 9th conference, to be held at the University of Oxford in November 2016. The conference will explore the theme of ‘War Time’. 2016, as the midpoint of the First World War formal centenary period, marks a significant opportunity to reexamine and reflect upon the ways that time has been conceptualised both during the war itself and in the hundred years of scholarship that have followed.

Traditionally, periodisation has been considered a useful framework for understanding the
war. This has neglected a plurality of timelines, both within the years of conflict and those which traverse and connect pre- and post-war narratives. The war marked a rupture in the way individuals experienced time, and interrupted usual rhythms and patterns. The conference will seek to reveal and contextualise new chronologies, pursued along flexible and multiple timelines. All approaches (social, cultural, military, etc) and disciplinary perspectives are welcome. We invite papers which address aspects of the following themes, particularly through comparative and transnational lenses:

• communication and time (including methods and posthumous communication)
• desynchronised and/or simultaneous relationships (between hemispheres, between fronts, across spaces)
• the war’s effect upon conceptions of age groups, life cycles, and rites of passage
• processes of evolution, development, learning curves, and cycles of learning
• materiality of time
• varying perceptions and experiences of time: pauses, waiting, anticipation, suspensions, time slowing down, boredom, time stopping, ‘the end of times’, losing/lost time, running out of time
• institutional measures to control time (such as differing calendars, curfews, time zone boundary changes, and the introduction of Daylight Savings Time)
• war generations, e.g. ‘lost generations’
• military coordination and precision

Conference papers will be circulated in advance to all attendees. Panels will focus on
discussion rather than presentation; each paper’s time-slot will commence with a commentary, before the floor is opened to broader discussion in order to promote engaging and interdisciplinary conversations. We therefore strongly encourage proposals from graduate students and early career researchers.

Proposals should be approximately 300 words in length, with the final papers a maximum
of 7,000 words. Applications should also be accompanied by a short CV. Please submit
proposals to by 16th May 2016. Successful applicants will be
invited to submit their final research papers by 31st August 2016. The working language of the conference and all submissions is English. The organisers intend to publish the proceedings of this conference.

Introducing CEDOS, Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on WW1 (Piave area)

The CEDOS (Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on WW1) is a small but lively cultural association with a strong focus on WW1 photography. It is located in San Polo di Piave, a small hamlet on the left shore of the river Piave, whose history – it defined the WW1 front in Italy after the rout of Caporetto – and geography – still today it is a breathing memory for all those living in the region – offers the natural habitat of the CEDOS. The Centre promotes researches and cultural events on the legacy of the Great War and in the last years its interests revolve in particular around the south-eastern warfront, not only in Italy but also in the Balkans and in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Soldiers crossing the Piave River in the Grave of Papadopoli. Juni 1918
The CEDOS was established in July 1992 in conjunction with the donation made by Eugenio Bucciol of an important collection of WWI pictures with the intent to preserve and valorize this visual material. Bucciol, who was a member CEDOS till last year, lived for a long period in Vienna, where he collected in the city war archive a series of about 1.500 photos took by the Austrian Army when it occupied Friuli and part of Veneto after the rout of Caporetto in the timespan 1917-1918.

Refugee children in Ponte di Piave. November 1917
This first collection supplied the sources for five photo-books edited by Bucciol and the CEDOS itself: Inediti della Grande Guerra – Immagini dell’invasione Austro-Germanica in Friuli e Veneto Orientale (Trieste, 1990), Il Veneto nell’obiettivo austro-ungarico – L’occupazione del 1917-1918 nelle foto dell’Archivio di Guerra di Vienna (Treviso, 1992); 1915-1918 – Foto italiane e austro-ungariche fronte a fronte (Portogruaro 1995); Dalla Moldava al Piave – I legionari cecoslovacchi sul fronte italiano della Grande Guerra (Portogruaro 1998); Albania – Fronte dimenticato della Grande Guerra (Portogruaro 2001).
A second wide collection arrived in the CEDOS archives in 1994, when the Fototeca della Regione Veneto donated 3.500 photos in diapositive, which were originally hold in the Istituto per la Storia del Risorgimento Italiano – Museo Centrale del Risorgimento in Rome.
In the following years smaller collections were donated to the Centre in San Polo, which gathers today more than 1.000 photos shot during or short after the Great War, most of them coming from Italian archives (70%), but also from Austrian, French and English collections. 
7th British Division in Cimadolmo, near the river Piave. November 1918.
Indeed, almost all these documents are nowadays available (in low resolution) also in the main public digital archives, for instance in Europeana1418, and yet the CEDOS offers a valuable resource for all researchers interested in the ww1 photography and history.The Centre in San Polo arranges in fact its materials coming from different part of the world into a specific thematic and chronological frame and offers historical and technical advices, so that comparative approaches and also studies focused on the south-western front can take particular advantage of this archive.

Besides this wide photo-archive, the CEDOS tries to support the historical research on the – someway still neglected – south-eastern front by publishing a biannual series – named Quaderni del CEDOS –, by promoting cooperation with other museums or associations and, finally, by organizing cultural events and international conferences, like the forthcoming meeting in San Donà di Piave on 23rd April which will discuss the Great War in the lower Piave region, considering both the Austro-Hungarian and the Italian Army, as well as the local population.
Destroyed houses and church in Ormelle, Piave region. June 1918
You can find further information on the website (unfortunately at the moment only in Italian – but don’t hesitate to write in English or in other languages: the staff will answer you as soon as possible) or you can receive some previews of the historical photos and of pics taken today along the former frontline by following the Twitter account, or keep yourself updated checking the FaceBook profile.

"Nella demenza che non sa impazzire". Live reading of a short poem dedicated to World War One along the Piave

The video below replaces the one with similar content posted on December 30, 2015 on this blog site. The reason of this change is basically due to the better quality of images and sound. 

The video was taken from the reading of the last 19th of March in Treviso, Italy. It can be considered an experiment resulting from the combination of the short poem "Nella demenza che non sa impazzire" (taken from the book Pertiche by Alberto Cellotto) and the percussionist Lucio Bonaldo. We apologize that this piece is only in Italian. This short poem is fundamentally a text born running along the river Piave and running over the few signs of the Great War remaining today in this landscape.

Lucio Bonaldo - percussion sets
Alberto Cellotto - voice
Italy, Treviso, Sala Luigi di Francia
March 19th, 2015

The poets and the world war: "Dreamers" by Siegfried Sassoon

Sigfried Sassoon (1886 - 1967)
For the second time we choose a poem by Sigfried Sassoon. Last time it was Sick Leave. Today poem, always from The War Poems, is probably not so popular but it represents a way to introduce and to launch a promising and unexplored topic, that could be developed into many directions (new books and studies, researches both in the literature side but also the scientific and medical side of the story, etc.): the dreams of the First World War soldiers and their dreamlike activities. And the title itself is unquestionable: Dreamers. The turning line of the poem is the eleventh, where it says they are "Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats", before leaving you with the normality of the final images, so normal and gray like the images taken from everyday life in the trenches. Two normalities overlapping, war time and peace time, creating a shocking and racking sense of disbelief welded by a clockwork rhyme scheme.


Soldiers are citizens of death's gray land,
  Drawing no dividend from time's tomorrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
  Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
  Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
  They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
  And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
  And mocked by hopeless longing to regain    
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,    
  And going to the office in the train.

(Published in the hospital paper, the Hydra, 1 September 1917.)

Special Exhibition Images of the Great War: European Offensives 1914-1916 Opens March 29 at National World War I Museum and Memorial

- Press release -
(Once again thanks to Mike Vietti for sharing this information with World War I Bridges)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The onset of World War I brought about unparalleled advances in technology and heightened global relations, while leading to a permanent alteration of the human perspective. As a result, new perspectives on music, literature and art emerged. Images of the Great War: European Offensives 1914-1916, a new special exhibition at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, showcases an array of artwork from the early European theatre (beside image: Attaque de bersaglieri italiens contre les troupes autrichiennes sur les hautes et âpres montagnes de l'Isonzo by Cesare Tallone).

Opening Tuesday, March 29, Images of the Great War: European Offensives 1914-1916 presents art from the first two years of World War I, highlighting two differing styles of art from the period. Many of the works in the exhibition are representative of the modernist movement arising from the war, detailing the fighting in abstract terms. Conversely, much of the art of the time presents the war from a realistic perspective, harkening back to 19th century styles.

“The influence of World War I on artistic expression of the time was enormous,” said National World War I Museum and Memorial Archivist and Edward Jones Research Center Manager Jonathan Casey. “Images of the Great War gives us the opportunity to connect the absolute global impact of the conflict to the cultural and artistic representations it inspired.”

The exhibition features art from eight different countries: France, Britain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Turkey and Switzerland. Works range from those created by professional artists of the time as well as sketches done by soldiers on the front line. Much of the pictorial art included in the exhibition is similar to what was seen by the wartime masses through the illustrated press, and played a large role in determining public perception of the war (beside image: Chute d'avion by Evert van Muyden).

“By sharing this magnificent exhibition organized by Brown University and The President Woodrow Wilson House the Museum is advancing its mission of providing special exhibitions that educate, engage and inform,” said National World War I Museum and Memorial President & CEO Matthew Naylor. “The Great War’s impact on the world is endless and these manifestations through art allow us yet another avenue to experience its effects.”

The exhibition was organized by Brown University Library and The President Woodrow Wilson House, a National Trust Historic Site, Washington, D.C., curated by Peter Harrington & Stephanie Daugherty and sponsored by the Abend Family Philanthropic Fund.

The exhibition, located in the Research Level Gallery at the Museum, runs through Oct. 9, 2016.

The National World War I Museum and Memorial holds the most diverse collection of World War I objects and documents in the world and is the second-oldest public museum dedicated to preserving the objects, history and personal experiences of the war (beside image: Infantryman asleep in cave shelter by Anton Sussman).

Media interested in covering any of the Museum’s offerings should contact Mike Vietti at 816-888-8122 or