The German National Library has recently inaugurated a new exhibition and this time you can visit it from your home. The web portal 100 Jahre erster Weltkrieg gathers together a wide range of materials and sources and arranges them in chronological and thematic order. The curators introduce this virtual exhibition retracing the long history of the collections related to WWI. Already in 1914 it was clear that the Great War was a decisive and incomparable event of the human history. The rising mass media intensified the content and the forms of production and distribution of information and penetrated the everyday life of the whole society.
This both written and visual production immediately drew the attention of many librarians of the time, who tried to gather as much material as they could, but also of single citizens. Private and public war-collections arose everywhere, most of them claiming to be complete and assembling all kind of materials: books, newspapers, placards, letters, pictures, medals, drawings, postcards, musical pieces, etc.
The results of the war collection launched by the former union of German Libraries in Leipzig in October 1914 was amazing according to the report written in 1921: 35.000 books and brochures, 1.300 war maps and more than 600 war newspapers from the trenches, but also from the prison camps or the hospitals, and then again 15.000 posters and many other stuff were collected. Today the old alphabetical catalogue contains a list of about 40.000 cards, which were recently reconverted into the database of the German National Library, so that the items are now searchable in the web. All posters and thousands other – mainly graphical – items were however not included in this alphabetical catalogue and are currently object of a new large project on the WWI Collection, which aims to digitalized also these printed materials and make them available online.
It is on this background that the virtual presentation 100 Jahre erster Weltkrieg was conceived, in order to make visible part of this collection. The website enables the visitors to discover in particular the “media history” of the Great War, and this is the particularity of this exhibition. Besides two units related to the war collections and their history – Krieg Ausstellen and Krieg Sammeln – special attention is directed to the media, i.e. newspaper, literature, posters and postcards. A wide range of digitalized material concerning the regulation and control of the everyday life, both on the front line and of the civil society, can be consulted. A specific section is then devoted to all aspects of the propaganda. Each unit offers a short historical and thematic introduction, as well as a gallery of images in high definition. This is an interesting exhibition, moreover at your fingertips here.