Unesco advisory board rejects First World War as heritage

Summary

Flanders’ application to have 19 of its First World War sites recognised as cultural heritage is in danger of being rejected by Unesco, as an advisory board recommends rejecting it

Glorifying war?

A Unesco advisory body has recommended that the organisation reject an application for First World War memorial sites to be recognised as world cultural heritage. The application, which includes more than 80 sites, was submitted last year and was a joint effort between Flanders, Wallonia and France.

A Unesco advisory body has recommended that the organisation reject an application for First World War memorial sites to be recognised as world cultural heritage. The application, which includes more than 80 sites, was submitted last year and was a joint effort between Flanders, Wallonia and France.

The reason for the recommendation, reports Flanders News, is that Unesco should not glorify war by recognising cemeteries and battle sites as cultural heritage. Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois says that the intention was just the opposite and that more information will be submitted to Unesco.

Flanders is in the midst of a 100th anniversary series of events recognising the First World War, much of it fought on the front line in the region. The events associated with the centenary have brought an even larger number of tourists to West Flanders, where such seminal sites, such as the Menin Gate, Tyne Cot and Essex Farm (pictured), are located.

Ypres is an especially crucial city in First World War remembrance. Congenially known as “Wipers” by British troops, it was the centre of significant battles during the war, including the First and Second Battles of Ypres and the Battle of Passchendaele.

Ypres is still a city dedicated to First World War remembrance and draws tens of thousands of tourists year-round.

Photo courtesy Westtoer

First World War

Claiming the lives of more than nine million people and destroying entire cities and villages in Europe, the Great War was one of the most dramatic armed conflicts in human history. It lasted from 1914 to 1918.
Flanders Field - For four years, a tiny corner of Flanders known as the Westhoek became one of the war’s major battlefields.
Untouched - Poperinge, near Ypres, was one of the few towns in Flanders that remained unoccupied for most of the war.
Cemetery - The Tyne Cot graveyard in Passchendaele is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.
550 000

lives lost in West Flanders

368 000

annual visitors to the Westhoek

1 914

First Battle of Ypres