"Wacht im Osten: German Encounters with the East in World War I". Special exhibition opens Oct. 25 at National World War I Museum and Memorial

Press release:

 German soldiers excavating a Japanese 28 cm. siege howitzer near Grodno; 
a munitions or spare parts crate sitting to the side.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When the German army advanced into the western territory of the Russian Empire in the spring and summer of 1915, soldiers encountered a physical and cultural environment quite different from what they previously encountered. Those experiences are told through the eyes of German soldiers in Wacht im Osten: German Encounters with the East in World War I, a new special exhibition at the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

As historian Vejas Liulevicius describes, the German soldier formed a “mindscape” of the vast, sparsely populated, underdeveloped, alien landscape in which he found himself—something conquered by armed force, but beyond his power to fully understand and control. This landscape challenged him with a psychological learning curve beyond his capacity as a soldier or administrator to comprehend a completely new environment.

Constantly aware of this, the German occupier coped with his disoriented feelings by scrutinizing his environment more thoroughly than he might have in more familiar surroundings. The Germans’ “mindscape” transitioned from being a way of understanding the physical nature of this environment to understanding how to interact with it and eventually subdue it, by constant guarded watchfulness.

 “This special exhibition is unique in that we share the stories and experiences of common soldiers tasked with overseeing the occupation of foreign lands,” said National World War I Museum and Memorial Archivist and Edward Jones Research Center Manager Jonathan Casey. “Through their own personal photographs and diary entries, we’re able to gain an understanding of everyday life for soldiers in those circumstances.”

Wacht im Osten (“Watch in the East”) explores this encounter between the German soldier and the land and people he found himself trying to understand. An example of this is the Belarusian village of Iwje, which is depicted using commercial photo postcards illustrating its diverse mix of religious cultures, including Christian, Jewish and Muslim.

“Through Wacht im Osten, we’re able to explore an aspect of the Great War not commonly examined broadly: what life was like for soldiers serving as occupiers in lands previously unfamiliar from a cultural and environmental standpoint,” said National World War I Museum and Memorial President and CEO Dr. Matthew Naylor.

 The exhibition’s narrative unfolds mainly through the stories of two German soldiers: Georg Oertel and Friedrich Volkmann. Oertel served as a medic in a field hospital in Poland and once helped deliver a farmer’s baby during the Christmas holiday. Volkmann was a father with two small children who served in the infantry in Poland and was killed there. They are experiences of two soldiers, far from home in a foreign land, caught up in war. 

Wacht im Osten is open from Oct. 25, 2016 – March 12, 2017 in the Ellis Gallery. 

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.

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

About the National World War I Museum and Memorial
The National World War I Museum and Memorial is America’s leading institution dedicated to remembering, interpreting and understanding the Great War and its enduring impact on the global community. The Museum 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 experiences of the war. The Museum takes visitors of all ages on an epic journey through a transformative period and shares deeply personal stories of courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice. Designated by Congress as America’s official World War I Museum and Memorial and located in downtown Kansas City, Mo., the National World War I Museum and Memorial inspires thought, dialogue and learning to make the experiences of the Great War era meaningful and relevant for present and future generations. To learn more, visit theworldwar.org.

"Representing the unrepresentable: the Great War". An international conference at University of Messina

Thanks to professor Pierandrea Amato for sharing with us the program of the coming international conference "Representing the unrepresentable: the Great War", 24-26 October 2016, University of Messina (for the PDF click here).


A special thanks to iodeposito.org for sharing the below press release with World War I Bridges


(A SPECIAL Opening WEEK for the 3° edition OF THE FESTIVAL)

the artist ANA MROVLJE PROTAGONIST IN the international B#SIDE WAR festival

From October the 14th - to October the 22th, 2016 / Venice (Italy)

The B#SIDE WAR is an artistic and cultural festival of spread art, diffuse in 12 territories of Italy and Slovenia, thanks to artistic exhibitions and installations, performing, talks and conferences, researches and publications. The festival covers the area from the Mediterranean Sea to the Julian Alps, in addition, special events in Toronto (Canada), Kansas City (USA), Canberra (Australia), Verdun (France), Ieper (Belgium) and London (UK) take place every year.
Designed with the main scope of investigating the legacies that connect the First World War to our everyday life, the B#SIDE WAR project has then been devoted to the analysis of the relationship between the Human Being and the ‘900 conflicts, as well as to the examination of the kinship between our war past and the vision of the world we nowadays have. The third edition of the festival will takes place thanks to the artistic and curatorial work of several contributors belonging 39 different country: 68 artists from all round the world, 17 national museum directors, 25 researchers, a team of 25 cultural organizers.

Key themes for the third edition of the festival are: captivity, prisons, multi-vocal and poly-focal vision of history.
For the opening (called "Venice Stage"), the art direction has involved the international artists Ana Mrovlje, Manca Bajec and Dan Allon, which will inaugurate the third edition creating a week of intense and unique performative acts, interconnected by a common necessity of re-reading the war stories the artists have experienced on their skin (the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in the Balkans), or the war stories of which they are heirs (the first and the second world war).
The Opening Week wants to involve the audience in exploring issues related to repression and inheritance of the conflict, entering into a contemplative space in which to undertake new interpretations and relive a necessary poly-focal and multi-vocal perception of war facts.

Ana Mrovlje, author of the installation Peacestool (Sit Down and Deal with War Inside of You), artist who studied as psychoanalyst, investigates something that is still part of our collective memory, lying in the subconscious and in everyone's inheritance: the lagacy of war. A chair shaped with 3000 bullet shells from the World Wars coming from different countries, appears as a witness of conflicts that with their echo nowadays are able in influencing other wars (as the Balkan conflict, of which the artist was a witness). The chair evokes also the path of introspective investigation that the artist pursued, sitting in the studio of her analyst every week, questioning herself about war from a chair. Putting the visitor in the centre of the artistic action, he becomes the protagonist of a war that takes place intimately in his/her mind and that becomes collective again in virtue of its “silent presence” in each of us.
The opening week will continue with the performance Witness Corner Marked by Manca Bajec: internationally renowned for her poetics and her research about the movement defined by James E. Young the ‘Counter-Monument’, the artist shows how contemporary art may act as an intruder, clarifying element for the grey areas of history writing. Witness Corner Marked focuses on the transmission and perceptions of multi-voice war stories (immaterial monuments of a collective past), feeding in this waya pluri-focal vision of history which still is a necessity today.
In a vacant space animated by floating voices, querying the memory of the past, sounds and objects become carriers of the experiences people endured in war. The visitor will share universal symbols and emotions, being a witness of individual moments that have never been “monumentalised”.

Than, the Israeli artist Dan Allon, who, in the performance All in Order Mr. General ponders upon the topic of repression, which is one of the principal instruments in the struggle for power. During the 7-day performance, the artist will step into the shoes of a dictator in captivity, imprisoned in a uneasy place, under everyone's eyes (being at the same time victim and executioner), creating a reverberation about some archetypal figures and re-elaborating the intense experience he lived as jailer in Kzioth (Israeli-Palestinian conflict).
Being aware of the relationship between the most powerful and the weakest in societies in war, the artist sheds a light on the complex relation between the military and civil world that are divided, so in wars of yesterday as today, by a very thin line. The performance concerns the complexity and the ambivalence of history, creating relationships and tensions with the visitor, starting from the asymmetric relation that binds the visitor to the prisoner.

Talk with the artists: saturday, october 15th, 6 PM (free entrance, booking is recommended)
Calle lunga San Barnaba (Dorsoduro), 2687, 30123 Venice, Italy
info@iodeposito.org +39 348-7768935
Press: press@iodeposito.org +39 349-0526136

IoDeposito Ngo - Founded in 2009 with the aim of contributing tothe advancement of the cultural welfare and of the young people’s cultural well-being, IoDeposito NGO works nowadays on an international scale together with a network of partners from Italy and the World (Museums, Universities, Academy, Public Institutions). It has involved around 150.000 people in its projects (workshops, laboratories, cultural events, conferences, publications). Mostly, it has developed a unique expertise in the organisation of artistic and cultural events as well as in the research field dealing withthe theme of memories and legacies of the the World Conflicts.

"Lands of memory. International contemporary artists revealing war legacies". An exhibition in Vittorio Veneto (Italy)

b#side war festival presents:
lands of memory
international contemporary artists
revealing war legacies

vernissage invitation:
October, the 6th 2016 - Battlefield Museum in Vittorio Veneto (Italy) - 6 pm
(the exhibition will run until October, 25)
Cosima Montavoci - Vanitas - Site specific - 2016

An initiative by:
Museo della Battaglia Vittorio Veneto
CEDOS Grande Guerra
Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia
Council of Europe/Conseil de l'Europe
Centenario Prima Guerra Mondiale 2014/2018
Imperial War Museum
The National WWI Museum and Memorial
In Flanders Fields Museum

Connecting images of the war time with contemporary works of art, opposed and united by the represented subject, the legacies of the First World War emerge, enlightening the places that were most intense battlefields. The exhibition shows how these territories have assimilated the tragic events of the War, consciously or unconsciously: the landscape, its natural elements and material objects (both organic and anthropized), have absorbed the grief. Burying and incorporating remains and memories, the soil have became an authentic physical body of the conflicts memory. The symbology of the natural elements is developed by contemporary artists in videos and installations, in a kind of prophetic way, not necessarily reassuring, decreeing the protagonism of the soil’s organicity, which is evoked as an element of protection and survival, but also of concealment and suffocation. 

Artists: Ilisie Remus, Claudio Beorchia, Nathalie Vanheule, Jane Glynn, Gordon Belray, Victoria Lucas, Cosima Montavoci, Luca Terenzi.

Fur further information: