Europeana News

Subscribe to Europeana News feed Europeana News
Updated: 9 hours 10 min ago

The Embroideress Euphemia: an Egyptian mummy with a unique story

Thu, 10/12/2020 - 11:26

At the end of the Nineteenth Century the French archaeologist Albert Gayet excavated a few fascinatingly unique graves in Egypt. Gayet had been sent to Egypt to do excavations in Antinoöpolis, a city founded by Emperor Hadrian in 130 AD. Gayet not only excavated the temple of Ramses II in that region, but also cleared the fascinating Coptic necropolis of Antinoöpolis.

Several widely studied grave ensembles were found in the Antinoöpolis necropolis, among them the graves of goldsmith Kolluthos and his wife Tisoia, and also the grave ensemble of ‘the Embroideress Euphemia’. This blog tells the story of Euphemia, a woman with a unique life, preserved in a unique way, found in a unique grave. 

‘The Embroideress Euphemia’, with grave goods, Antinoë, radio-carbon dating of the hair of the ‘mummy’: 430-620 (95.4 % probability), RMAH

Euphemia wasn’t mummified along the tradition of the Ancient Egyptians which included removing organs from the body. Euphemia is a ‘natural mummy’, her body preserved almost impeccably by chance. She was dressed in several tunics, wrapped in shrouds and buried without a coffin. Salt on her skin and clothing had helped the preservation process. 

Three fragments of Euphemia’s coffin. Royal Museums of Art and History, Belgium, CC BY-NC-SA.

Multidisciplinary research revealed that she was over 40 years old when she died and that she was correctly nourished and hydrated during her life. The number and quality of the clothes and textiles she was buried with, confirm her wealthy social background. 

Detail of fabric in Euphemia’s grave, Royal Museums of Art and History, Belgium, CC BY-NC-SA.

 She was identified by Gayet as an ‘embroideress’ because he considered some of the textiles and objects in her grave to be embroideries and embroidery tools. Afterwards, however, they turned out to be tapestry fabrics, spinning and weaving instruments. In an inscription on a fabric, Gayet thought he recognized the name ‘Euphemiâan’. This inscription was not found later. 

Spindle and weaving cards found in Euphemia’s grave. Royal Museums of Art and History, Belgium, CC BY-NC-SA.

‘Euphemia’ recently underwent a significant conservation and restoration treatment, thanks to the generous support of a private sponsor through the King Baudouin Foundation.

The recent examination of all the elements of the grave contents revealed that some textiles have already been restored in the past. On the other hand, some other splendid fabrics have never been treated. Damage, sometimes very significant, was clearly visible and required intervention. In particular it can be observed that the textiles were holed, torn and that their seams were relaxed or loose. The fibres, in turn, are brittle and visibly extremely fragile. 

Detail of the restoration of parts of the Euphemia mummy. Royal Museums of Art and History, Belgium, CC BY-NC-SA.

Old restorations performed on several fabrics posed conservation problems. Some threads used for the consolidation of the textile were breaking and therefore no longer fulfilled their role. Other threads, on the other hand, were creating too much tension. These textiles were restored by using small pieces of Japanese paper.

Check out these videos about the restoration of the mummy Euphemia:

If you want to visit the mummy in person, The mummy and burial goods feature in the exhibition ‘Crossroads. Travelling through Middle Ages’ at the Art and History Museum (27.10.2019 – 29.03.2020).

By Alexandra Van Puyvelde, Scientific collaborator ‘Art of the Islamic World’ and ‘Art of the Eastern Christianity’ collections – Koninklijke Musea voor Kunst en Geschiedenis – Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire

Feature image: Spindle from the graves of the ‘Embroideress Euphemia’, E.01031d, Antinoë, RMAH

The post The Embroideress Euphemia: an Egyptian mummy with a unique story first appeared on

Club of the Eagle: the history and heritage of Sport Lisboa e Benfica

Wed, 09/12/2020 - 10:00

This is the story of Benfica, which started as a group of boys who wanted to play football and became an international club.

On 28 February 1904, a group of boys who used to play football in Belém, on the riverside of Lisbon, decided to create a sports club. Sport Lisboa, named after the group, chose the red colour, the eagle, and the motto ‘E Pluribus Unum’ for its symbols.

They met at the Franco pharmacy, showered in a backyard with a well, and made the public playgrounds of the area their ground. 

Despite these poor conditions, they quickly rose to become the only team made up of only Portuguese players to defeat the powerful English players of the Carcavellos Club.

The trophy that symbolises the third victory over Carcavellos Club.
Equestrian Image – offered by Bernardino Costa, 1911, Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Photo: João Freitas, CC BY-NC-SA Um belo santo de Victor Hugo in Bemfica Carcavelinhos match, photograph in Sport Lisboa e Bemfica Boletim Oficial, April-May-June 1927, Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa, Public Domain

Four years later, the lack of facilities became more acute and the solution appeared in another neighbourhood of the city: the merging with Grupo Sport Benfica, which had headquarters and a field, gave the ‘red’ team a new home, a new name – Sport Lisboa e Benfica – and a new incentive to become even greater.

Symbols of the identity of Sport Lisboa e Benfica: the red colour, the emblem, and the motto ‘E Pluribus Unum’

Sport Lisboa e Benfica pennant, Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig, CC BY-NC-SA

In the 1910s, Benfica confirmed its position as the best club in the capital after winning three Lisbon Championships in a row twice. 

Fame spread throughout the country in the 1930s, with the conquest of the National Championship three times in row for the first time. It was the first of many.

Still the world had to be conquered – a feat Benfica pulled off in the 1960s. The club achieved stardom with two consecutive wins in the European Champions Clubs’ Cup and became a regular presence in this competition. 

The symbol of the eagle achieved international recognition and the name Benfica came to be pronounced in all the languages of the world.

Benfica e Manchester s’affrontano a Wembley, Il Popolo, 29 May 1968, Istituto Sturzo, Roma, In copyright

It may have been football that gave the Club its international dimension, but Benfica’s sporting success is eclectic.

Over the course of the club’s history, there have been more than 40 sports practiced in the stadium, pavilion, track, road, and water, in collective or individual sports. What started with the first athletics races, with associate members competing, and cycling achievements around Portugal, grew with gymnastics and swimming. These were consolidated by crowded pavilions supporting the winning team in several sports.

Sporting Lisboa e Bemfica cycling team, c. 1926, photograph in Sport Lisboa e Bemfica Boletim Oficial, March 1927, Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa, Public Domain 1º Festival Motorizado do IIL, organizado pelo Sport Lisboa e Benfica em colaboração com os finalistas do IIL, Fundação Mário Soares, In copyright Sporting Lisboa e Bemfica Waterpolo team, c. 1926 – 27, photograph in Sport Lisboa e Bemfica Boletim Oficial, March 1927, Hemeroteca Municipal de Lisboa, Public Domain

With more than 100 years of history,  the club is inseparable from the history of Lisbon, Portugal, and the world. The history of each athlete, leader and supporter are the memories and expressions of the community. 

The rich heritage of the club – material and immaterial – is today recognised as essential in the protection and reinforcement of its identity. Preserving, appreciating and communicating this heritage is the mission of the Cultural Heritage Department of Sport Lisboa e Benfica. 

Sharing between generations at Benfica Museum – Cosme Damião.
Sport Lisboa e Benfica, photo: João Freitas, CC BY-NC-SA

Taking care of the past, we guarantee the future and, in the Benfica Museum – Cosme Damião, to different generations, we share the history and values which made Benfica the club that it is today.

By Benfica Museum – Cosme Damião

Feature image: Sport Lisboa e Benfica, photo by Roland Oliveira, Sport Lisboa e Benfica, CC BY-NC-SA

The post Club of the Eagle: the history and heritage of Sport Lisboa e Benfica first appeared on

Pole-vaulting into politics: Władysław Kozakiewicz’s 1980 Olympics gesture

Tue, 08/12/2020 - 10:00

The 1980 Olympic Games – the XXII Olympiad – took place in Moscow in the Soviet Union, from 19 July to 3 August. These games were politically fraught, boycotted by representatives of 63 countries as a result of the Soviet–Afghan War.

Moscow 1980, Sportimonium, CC BY-NC-SA

Following the inauguration of the Games at Łużniki Stadium, 5,217 athletes took part in 203 events, setting 36 world records, 39 European records and 74 Olympic records. 

Banner, Hellenic Olympic Committee, Library of International Olympic Committee, CC BY-NC-ND

EXPLORE MORE: Olympic Games posters and graphic design

One of the most famous events taking place at these Games was the pole vaulting competition – a track and field event in which a person uses a long flexible pole as an aid to jump over a bar. 

The Polish pole vaulter Władysław Kozakiewicz came to Moscow as a favourite, having won multiple European championships in the years before these Olympics. 

Władysław Kozakiewicz getting ready for the pole vault, Jacek Miroslaw, Biblioteka Multimedialna, Ośrodek Brama Grodzka Teatr NN.PL, In copyright

However, on the day, conditions in the stadium were not in his favour. The audience were very disapproving of non-Soviet athletes, jeering and shouting at foreign competitors. Even the organisers of the Games tried to influence the results by opening and closing the stadium’s gate, caused the wind direction – crucial for pole vaulting – to change. 

Władysław Kozakiewicz during the pole vault, Biblioteka Multimedialna, Ośrodek Brama Grodzka Teatr NN.PL, In copyright

Despite these efforts, Kozakiewicz won, with successful jumps of 5.70m, 5.75m and 5.78m, guaranteeing him the Olympic gold medal. With his last jump, Kozakiewicz broke the world record. 

After that successful jump, Kozakiewicz made a gesture which was written into the history books.

The ‘Kozakiewicz gesture’ as it became known is made by bending an arm in an L-shape, with the fist pointing upwards, while the other hand then grips the biceps of the bent arm as it is emphatically raised to a vertical position.

The gesture was considered offensive. In Poland, it is also called ‘wała’ (which translates as shaft). In France, it is known as a bras d’honneur (France), and the Iberian slap or Italian salute elsewhere. 

Photographs and footage of Kozakiewicz with his gesture flashed around the world, causing repercussions between Poland and Soviet Union. Boris Aristov – then the USSR Ambassador to Poland – demanded that Kozakiewicz be stripped of his golden medal and banned for life from any future Olympics. 

Others have interpreted the gesture as a symbol of overcoming the bar or a gesture of joy from Kozakiewicz. The Polish authorities gave an official statement saying that Kozakiewicz had muscle cramp. 

His gesture was supported in Poland, which in the early 1980s was seeing many labour strikes against Soviet control over Eastern Europe, which led to the creation of Solidarity trade union soon afterwards.

EXPLORE MORE: Read the exhibition Solidarity: A Peaceful Revolution

Politics played a role in Kozakiewicz’s later life. As part of the Soviet-led boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Poland did not participate. He defected to West Germany in 1985 but his career was hampered by the Polish authorities. He retired in 1989, later becoming a member of Gdynia city council between 1998 and 2002.

By Natalia Jeszke, PSNC (Federacja Bibliotek Cyfrowych)

Explore more blogs, galleries and collections about sporting heritage on Europeana

This blog post is a part of the Europeana Common Culture project, which explores varied aspects of our shared cultural heritage across Europe.

The post Pole-vaulting into politics: Władysław Kozakiewicz's 1980 Olympics gesture first appeared on

Fair representation? LGBTQ+ in 20th-century photography and film

Fri, 04/12/2020 - 11:00

The path toward fair representation of LGBTQ+ people has proven to be a long and daunting one. In this blog, we look at the representation of the LGBTQ+ community in photography and film throughout the 20th Century.

Even though homosexuality gradually gained visibility in popular culture from the early 1900s onwards, early depictions mostly involved cross-dressing or gender-bending as an element of comedy.

Early star of drag, John Lind, featured as ‘Special added attraction’, early 20th century. Blekinge museum. CC0

EXPLORE MORE: John Lind, early drag icon

This practice was halted by the Motion Picture Code, issued in 1930 and effective until 1968. This set of rules for what was permitted and excluded from the big screen included ‘general principles’ and ‘particular applications’ aiming at preventing films to ‘lower moral standards’. 

The Polish film Niedorajda, featuring cross-dressing as a gag, 1937. Mazowiecka Biblioteka Cyfrowa. Public domain

Though not explicitly mentioned, homosexuality or any suggestion of same-sex relationships were forbidden under the denominator ‘sexual perversion’, as were interracial relationships and any positive portrayals of sexual relations outside of the marriage. Henceforth LGBTQ+ characters would continue to exist in metaphors, suggestions and implications, but not as a real and realistic reflection of societal diversity.

EXPLORE a diversity of families in the exhibition ‘Family Matters’

Queer characters and relationships were often associated with crime, illness or anti-social behaviour – rhetoric that only strengthened during World War II. In 1952 the film ban was followed by The Code of Practices for Television Broadcasters, used until 1983 to prevent depictions of homosexuality on tv. 

The codes of the American film and television studios started to erode from the early 1960s onwards, heavily influenced by European movies questioning gender bias and discrimination. A Taste of Honey, a British film directed by Tony Richardson, was one of the motion pictures addressing the reality of homosexuals, single mothers and people in mixed-race relationships.

Scene from A Taste of Honey, 1961. EFG – The European Film Gateway. In copyright

The end of the decade saw more complex and intricate LGBTQ+ depictions by independent cinema such as that of Andy Warhol. Furthermore, after the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, the LGBTQ+  community was discovered as a possible lucrative movie market (‘the pink pound’).

Even though stereotypical depictions didn’t cease to exist, the occurrence of gay protagonists increased and issues at the core of the community – such as AIDS, same-sex marriage and adoption – became cinematic themes. 

Frank Ripploh’s Taxi zum Klo : a dark comedy of manners with explicit scenes, depicting  gay culture in West Berlin, 1981. Wellcome Collection. CC BY-NC

In Gefahr für die Liebe a love triangle turns into a network of support when one of the protagonists has been diagnosed with AIDS.

On the set of, 1985 Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF / ABA (Artur Brauner Archive). In copyright

Piotr Łazarkiewicz’ Pora na czarownice (‘Time for witches’) features a female prostitute and a homosexual boy, both HIV positive, who become a couple and try to deal with aggressive opposition of a local community.

From Piotr Łazarkiewicz’ Pora na czarownice, 1993. Filmoteka Narodowa. In copyright

As the late 1990s marked the beginning of meaningful LGBTQ+ representation, showing gay people in a positive, family-related context remained exceptional well into the 21st century: gay characters were often portrayed as threatening family life instead of instigating relationships. 

Fair representation, just as legislation and societal acceptance, remain the topic of activism on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. Between the rigid and dichotomous concepts of a nuclear family and a group of friends among which the main driver appears to be sexual innuendo, an unbiased depiction of ‘the queer family’ formed on the basis of mutual affection and appreciation has yet to become mainstream.

Sofie Taes, KU Leuven – Photoconsortium

This blog is part of the Europeana XX. A Century of Change project which focuses on the 20th century and its social, political and economic changes.

The images used in this blog that are In Copyright were used with permission of Filmoteka Narodowa, Deutsches Filminstitut DIF, and the European Film Gateway.

Feature Image: Two Jewish men in drag snapped by photographer Jenny Wesly for Sjalhomo, an organization aimed at raising awareness of homosexuality in the Jewish community, and of the Jewish identity in the LGBTQ+community, 1993. Joods Historisch Museum. Public domain

The post Fair representation? LGBTQ+ in 20th-century photography and film first appeared on

Geniuses and their (dis)abilities

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 11:30

On 14 October 1992, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the 3 December as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day highlights how disability inclusion in our society is essential to respect human rights and to improve common social justice.

In relation to this principle, it is crucial to be aware of how people with disabilities continue their professional career to build a better future for all.

In this blog, we explore the scientific and artistic careers of Ludwig van Beethoven, Louis Braille, Mileva Marić, and Francisco de Goya. 

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was one of the most important figures in the history of Western music. During his career, he worked as a pianist, arranger, teacher and composer. Some of his most well-known pieces are the Piano Sonata no. 14 called ‘Moonlight Sonata’, the Bagatelle no 25 called ‘Für Elise’, the Third Symphony called ‘Heroic Symphony’, the Fifth Symphony or Destiny Symphony and the Ninth Symphony or Choral.

Beethoven [R], Universität Osnabrück, CC BY-NC-SA

From an early age, Beethoven had hearing problems, which deteriorated later in life. In 1802, when his deafness was increasing, he suffered a huge depression until his last days. Then, he wrote what is known as the Heiligenstadt Testament. In this letter to his brothers, he explained that he contemplated taking his own life, but he believed his artistic career should not end at this moment.

Despite his disability, Beethoven went on to complete most of his works like the 9th Symphony – assisted by hearing aids and his sense of rhythm and harmony. 

EXPLORE MORE: Beethoven’s Ode to Joy : a cultural kaleidoscope

Louis Braille

Louis Braille (1809-1852) was a French teacher and inventor of one of the most extended systems of reading and writing used by blind people. 

J. M. Ritchie, Concerning the blind, Wellcome Collection, CC BY

Louis Braille was only 3 years old when one day, helping his father in his leather workshop, he had an accident with an awl. Following this event, his eye was infected and finally, he lost sight in one of his eyes. Later on, due to a sympathetic ophthalmia, he lost sight from his other eye. 

During his school days, he learnt the Haüy system, a way for visually impaired students to read and write based on the shape and depth of letters. This system was uncomfortable because of the size and the weight of the books and was difficult to learn. Louis Braille became a teacher of history, geometry and algebra. 

In 1821, from Captain Charles Barbier of the French Army, he learnt a system of communication based on 9 points. This system was adapted by Braille to 6 points and published in 1829 – the first version of the Braille system. Later on, he adapted it for musical notation.

Since then, Braille has been adapted for typewriting and computers. Nowadays millions of visually impaired people from all over the world have used braille in their education and day-to-day life. 

EXPLORE MORE: Louis Braille and the braille alphabet

Mileva Marić

Mileva Marić (1875-1948) was a brilliant Serbian mathematician and theoretical physicist. The scientific advances made together with her husband, Albert Einstein, led to him being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921.

Vertrek van Albert Einstein naar de Verenigde Staten, KIK-IRPA, Brussels (Belgium), CC BY-NC-SA

Mileva Marić was born with a congenital disease which gave her a limp. For this reason, in her school days, she had issues with social interaction.

At university, she started to study medicine but changed to study physics and mathematics. She studied at a university at a time when female students were not very common. At this time, she met Albert Einstein who became her husband and workmate.

Although she developed brilliant works on theoretical physics, Albert Einstein did not recognise her widely as a co-author of his works. The only reference Einstein made to their work is in letters they sent each other.

Despite a difficult childhood and living in a time when women were not recognised for their scientific advances, Mileva dedicated her life to science –  a great example of her perseverance.

Francisco de Goya

Francisco de Goya (1746-1828) was one of the most important Spanish artists in the history of art. He worked as a painter for the upper-class aristocracy in Spain like Count of Floridablanca and the Duchess of Alba among others, before working for the Spanish royal family under Kings Charles III and Charles IV.

Portret Francisco Goya, Rijksmuseum, Public Domain

Goya went to school in Zaragoza and was an apprentice to the painter José Luzán. Some years later, he moved to Madrid to study with Raphael Mengs and tried to be accepted into the Royal Academy of Art. In 1770, he moved to Italy but, in 1773, he came back to Spain to work with Francisco Bayeu developing his own style based on neoclassical and rococo styles. 

During the 1770s and 1780s, he painted major religious artworks. From 1783, he worked for the upper-class aristocracy painting portraits. In the late 1780s, he started to work for the Royal Family of Spain.

From 1792 to 1793, Goya is thought to have suffered from a serious disease which left him deaf, as well as possibly making him deeply anxious. This coincided with the most important period of de Goya’s career, painting the disasters of the Peninsular War, the caprices, and the portrait of King Charles IV of Spain. Some of these works like Los Caprichos are related to the time when he suffered a huge depressive episode. For this reason, during this period, there are lights and shadows in his artworks – from formal portraits to artworks connecting with his darkest feelings.

EXPLORE MORE: Gallery of disabilities portrayed in art

By Raul Gomez Hernandez, Europeana Foundation

Feature image: Hjelpemid.funks.hemm, Telemuseet, CC BY-SA

The post Geniuses and their (dis)abilities first appeared on

Controlling the sea: painting the Zuiderzee engineering works

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 10:02

With the majority of the Netherlands at or below sea level, the Dutch have battled the seas for centuries.

Along the Dutch coast, systems of dykes and barriers have been built, some of which have been in place for centuries.

One of the most ambitious of these – the Zuiderzee works – was built in the early 20th century.

In the wake of devastating flooding in 1916, the Dutch government decided to close off the Zuiderzee sea with a system of dams and dikes, land reclamation and water drainage work, creating instead an inland sea.

EXPLORE MORE: The Watersnoodramp: the 1953 Dutch battle against water in moving image

Aerial photo of the Afsluitdijk, Beeldbank van de Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed, CC BY-SA

Massive construction works took place through the 1920s and 1930s to build this system – including the main dam – the Afsluitdijk – which opened in September 1933.

Closure of Afsluitdijk May 28 1932, NV Vereenigde photobureaux, Zuiderzee Museum, CC BY-SA

These construction works inspired artist Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek whose paintings and sketches from the time capture the gigantic extent of the project.

EXPLORE MORE: Engineering photography: Eduards Kraucs and the construction of the Ķegums hydroelectric power plant in Latvia

De dag voor de sluiting der Zuiderzee, 27/28 mei ’32, Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek, Zuiderzeemuseum, CC BY-SA Ophoogen der dijk door een keileemtransporteur, Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek, Zuiderzeemuseum, CC BY-SA Bij de Blinde Geul, Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek, Zuiderzeemuseum, CC BY-SA Brug te Den Oever, 27/28 mei ’32, Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek, Zuiderzeemuseum, CC BY-SA Sluiting der Zuiderzee, Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek, Zuiderzeemuseum, CC BY-SA Keileem transporteur, Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek, Zuiderzeemuseum, CC BY-SA Steenzetters aan het werk, Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek, Zuiderzeemuseum, CC BY-SA

EXPLORE MORE: Browse the digitised collections of the Zuiderzee Museum

By Adrian Murphy, Europeana Foundation

Feature image: Werk aan de Blinde Geul, Johan Hendrik van Mastenbroek, Zuiderzeemuseum, CC BY-SA

The post Controlling the sea: painting the Zuiderzee engineering works first appeared on

Let’s light up December with Europeana Advent Calendar

Tue, 01/12/2020 - 10:48

For many among us, this year’s Christmas will look different than usual.

To brighten up this December, we have an Advent Calendar for you – filled with beautiful artworks and pictures exploring the theme of togetherness from the collections of cultural institutions across Europe.

Enjoy and share it with your loved ones!

By Aleksandra Strzelichowska, Europeana Foundation

The post Let's light up December with Europeana Advent Calendar first appeared on

Remembering the Jews of Arab Lands

Mon, 30/11/2020 - 10:00

The 20th century has seen massive demographic shifts around the globe. Some are well known, like the millions of Europeans who crossed the Atlantic to seek fortune in North America, or the upheaval caused by the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947.

Others, however, have remained less noted, like the dissolution of the Jewish communities of the Arab world which is commemorated every year on November 30.

Map in 6 colours of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Le Petit Parisien, BnF, France, No Copyright – Other Known Legal Restrictions

In 1947 it was estimated that over a million Jews lived in the Middle East and North Africa. Many of these communities had been existing for centuries and formed an integral part of the larger Arab societies in which they lived.

Jews in Southern Morocco, c.1930, Center of the Judeo-Moroccan Culture. In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted Jewish home in Tunisia, early 20th century, Luigi Fiorillo, Hungarian University of Fine Arts, Budapest, CC BY-NC-ND

In the first half of the 20th century Jewish communities flourished throughout the Arab world, with the European interest in the Middle East and North Africa bringing new economic and educational opportunities.

Courtyard of the Israeli school for girls in Damascus (Syria), 1905, Bibliothèque de l’Alliance israélite universelle, Public domain

Furthermore, Jewish philanthropic organizations such as the Alliance Israélite Universelle, the Anglo-Jewish Association, and the American Joint Distribution Committee partnered with local communities to build schools, develop vocational training programs and provide medical care. 

Students at the training center for teachers of the Alliance Israelite Universelle, 1935, B.M. Lew, Bibliothèque de l’Alliance israélite universelle, Public Domain A young Jewish child receiving treatment for trachoma from a nurse provided by the America Joint Distribution Committee, 1950, Z. Schulmann, Center of the Judeo-Moroccan Culture. In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted A survey by the Alliance Israélite Universelle on the state of the Jewish Communities in the Muslim World, 1950. Jewish Heritage Network, Public Domain Jewish girl receiving vocational training in Casablanca, c. 1960, Center of the Judeo-Moroccan Culture. In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted Jews preparing to leave Morocco for Israel, c. 1960, Center of the Judeo-Moroccan Culture. In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted

Yet from 1947 until 1973, these communities were uprooted, and today virtually no Jews are left in the Arab world.  The reasons for the emigration of Jews from the Arab world are numerous. Some left due to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Although many also left as a result of local, political, and economic instability caused by decolonisation and nationalist movements.

The majority of Jews from the Arab world migrated to Israel as this was the only country that would accept them. Some were forced to flee with barely the clothes on their backs, whereas others had more time to prepare for their departure.

Left and Right: Newly arrived immigrants in Israel, 1962
Center of the Judeo-Moroccan Culture. In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted

 Many Jews from North Africa managed to immigrate into France, thanks to the 1870 Crémieux Decree granting French citizenship to  Jews living in the coastal region of Algeria. Others were able to settle in  Europe owing to their education in French, English or Italian.

Marseille, newly arrived Jewish immigrants from North Africa, c. 1960
Center of the Judeo-Moroccan Culture. In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted

Today, France has the third-largest Jewish community in the world, due to the wave of North African Jewish immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s.

By the close of the 20th century, only a few thousand Jews still lived in the Arab world. However, their rich cultural heritage continues to be preserved wherever their communities have resettled. 

Moroccan art – Vases, lanterns, rugs
Center of the Judeo-Moroccan Culture. In Copyright – Educational Use Permitted

By Sasha Goldstein-Sabbah, Jewish Cultural Quarter Amsterdam

This blog is part of the Europeana XX. A Century of Change project which focuses on the 20th century and its social, political and economic changes.

The images used in this blog that are In Copyright were used with permission of JHN – the Jewish Heritage Network.

Feature image: Man with fez and girl at a round table with crockery and candlesticks, 1996, Han Singels, Jewish Historical Museum, In copyright

The post Remembering the Jews of Arab Lands first appeared on

Stvor – Testimony to the Soviet Union’s forced labour system

Fri, 27/11/2020 - 10:00

Forced labour is an often marginalised aspect of labour history.

This blog looks at the Stvor (Створ) camp, which was part of the Soviet GULag system. The term GULag is an acronym for what is known as the Central Administration of Education and Labour Camps of the Soviet Union. In its colloquial use, ‘the Gulag’ is used for the overall system of repression in the era of Stalin’s rule.

Stvor: Nature and Topography. Hauke Jacobs, CC BY-SA.

Stvor was founded at the bank of the Chusovaya river (Чусовaя), following the decision by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) from the 27 November 1942 to build a number of hydro-electric dams and small-scale power plants in the region. Stvor remained in operation until 1972, although the construction of the dam for which it was established was halted in 1944 and never finished.

The camp was situated far away from any settlements or infrastructure. The nearest city – Chusovoy (Чусовой) in the Cis-Ural region Perm (Пермь) – is  25 kilometres away. A railway station Vsesvjatskaja (Всесвятская), which served the camp during its operation, is 18 kilometres away. Stvor was part of an extensive network of smaller and bigger forced labour camps and prisons in the region.

Fence at the Stvor campsite. Hauke Jacobs, CC BY-SA

Because of its remoteness, the inmates had to build the whole camp infrastructure from the ground up by themselves. Maintaining the camp was in itself an integral part of the forced labour system of Stvor. 

In the beginning, the prisoners – whose number quickly rose from around 1,300 in late 1942 to 6,700 people in 1943 – lived in tents, as the camp was supposed to only serve the temporary construction site. The prisoners had to fell and process trees, work the steep bank into terraces, build the camp infrastructures, and lay the groundwork of the dam.

Birch tree grown inside one of the remaining buildings. Benedikt Funke, CC BY-SA

When it became clear that the camp would be turned into a permanent forced labour camp, several wooden and brick buildings were set up. These buildings are the most visible remains that can be found today. 

Since the camp’s closure in 1972, weather, vegetation, erosion and vandalism have changed the historical site. Scattered across the terrain are objects from different time periods of the camp: barbed wire, enamel cups, tools and even leather shoes. Nowadays, the former road between railway station and camp is only accessible for heavy all-terrain vehicles. Today, for most people, the former campsite can only be reached by travelling the Chusovaya river.

Artifacts of forced labour – a spade. Hauke Jacobs, CC BY-SA A shoe found on the site of the former camp. Hauke Jacobs, CC BY-SA

The history of the camp is tightly connected to the ideas in the Soviet Union to dominate nature and rapidly industrialise, after the civil war following the 1917 October Revolution. So-called ‘Great Construction Projects of Communism’ were launched in the 1930s and 1940s. They often relied on the use of forced labour and were therefore organised by the GULag. From 1917 until the death of Stalin in 1953, about 18 million people were detained. After 1953, the number of camps and prisoners decreased. Under the new leadership and the course of ‘de-Stalinization’, the GULag was officially dissolved and the repressive system changed its form.

Barbed wire, grown together with a birch tree. Benedikt Funke, CC BY-SA

As captured in the propaganda term ‘perekovka’ (перековка), hard labour was supposed to ‘re-forge’ the inmates into supporters of the Soviet system – creating the ‘New Soviet Person’. The Soviet theory of crime assumed that crime was rooted in social circumstances. By changing these circumstances and through working, people could accordingly be re-educated and transformed into the Soviet ideal. In criminological theory and everyday camp life, work and re-education were inseparably linked – yet with different inclinations for ‘criminal’ and ‘political’ prisoners. The Bolshevik idea of the fundamental changeability of nature, man and society was closely related to this.

During the 20th century, in many countries – and particularly in the USSR – large-scale hydro-technical constructions were important propaganda to show proposed accelerated industrialisation and all-encompassing transformation. An especially prestigious Soviet hydro-technical project of this era was the Volga-Kama cascade (Волжско-Камский каскад), the construction of various water reservoirs and power plants on the river courses of the Volga and its tributary river Kama. 

The first of the planned hydro-electric power plants was completed in 1937 near Ivankovo (Иваньково). To realise these projects, a camp complex with almost 200,000 camp prisoners and forced labourers was established. The ambitious goal of these undertakings was to transform the entire course of the Volga river into a cascade of power plants. Not all the hydro-technical construction projects of the 1930s and 40s, however, were of such gigantic dimensions. Various small-scale projects were planned in all regions of the Soviet Union.

The prisoner cemetery at Stvor. The graves were marked – unusual for a labour camp – with metal signs, displaying most likely prisoner numbers. Photographs by Hauke Jacobs, CC BY-SA.

Since the Perm Region has a vast amount of water and rivers, three middle-sized hydro-electric dams and a number of smaller-sized dams were planned, with the respective establishment of a forced labour camp complex. The respective NKVD decision of 1942 also needs to be seen in the context of the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941, the following evacuation of industries from the Western parts of the country and the related increase in energy demand in areas of the USSR that were less industrialized up to this point. The dam projects were named Ponyshstroy (Понышстрой), Vilukhstroy (Вилухстрой) and Shirokstroy (Широкстрой).

Barbed wire can be found across the former campsite until today. Benedikt Funke, CC BY-SA

Stvor was established as part of the Ponyshlag camp complex (Понышлаг) for the Ponyshstroy project. Of the three launched building projects, only the Shirokovskaya dam (Широковская ГЭС) was completed and is still in use today.

The construction work at the Ponyshstroy was halted in 1944 to redirect the work and the materials to Shirokstroy. In 1948, the dam construction plans were finally abandoned. At the end of World War II, Stvor was temporarily used as a so-called ‘filtration camp’ for Red Army soldiers returning home from German prisoner of war-camps who were treated as alleged ‘traitors’ by Soviet authorities.

One of the bricks produced at Stvor. Hauke Jacobs, CC BY-SA

From 1948 until the closure in 1972, the official camp status changed several times, the number of prisoners decreased and the use of forced labour in the camp became more diversified. 

The prisoners had to build wooden furniture, harvest wood, do metal work and produce bricks. A workshop for disabled inmates was erected, as groups of ‘invalid’ prisoners were transferred to Stvor. Camp guards and staff lived with their families in a small settlement next to the campsite, which was also abandoned in the mid-1970s.

Remains of one of the buildings at Stvor. Benedikt Funke, CC BY-SA

Over the following decades, nature reclaimed most of the site piece by piece. Dense vegetation and harsh climate conditions buried or erased many of the remaining traces of Stvor – yet nature also keeps bringing hidden remnants to light. 

Infrastructure materials and objects were carried away by the local population and people travelling the river during summer. The few visitors arriving at the site today may find it difficult to identify the remains as traces of a former labour camp.

Sign by Memorial Perm for the ‘Museum Without a Guide’. Benedikt Funke, CC BY-SA

In the 1990s, the human rights NGO Memorial began to work with the historic camp site. In order to visualise its history and to gain public attention for the in-today’s- Russia marginalised topic of political repression, forced labour and state terror in Soviet history, they created a ‘Museum Without a Guide’ in the 2000s. 

Visitors – locals travelling the rivers or activists – are invited to participate in researching and shaping the places of memory of the Soviet repressive system along the rivers of the Perm Region. Memorial has named this activist form of remembrance ‘Along the rivers of memory’ (По рекам памяти). Self-made direction signs and information boards provide information on the site of Stvor.

The ‘Museum Without a Guide’ at Stvor, created by the NGO Memorial. Hauke Jacobs, CC BY-SA

EXPLORE MORE: Gallery with more images of Stvor

A deeper archaeological exploration and historiographical analysis of Stvor remains difficult due to the restricted accessibility of both the site itself and archival materials as well as lacking financial resources and government support. Hence the future of Stvor and its place in the national or regional culture of remembrance in post-Soviet Russia remains uncertain.

By: Larissa Borck, Melanie Hussinger, Hauke Jacobs, Julia Schulte-Werning, Johanna Werner, Gero Wollgarten
Photographs by: Benedikt Funke, Hauke Jacobs

The excursion to Stvor was part of the 2017 joint German-Russian summer school “Rekonstruktion eines Chronotops – Das ehemalige Straflager Stvor als Raum des sowjetischen Strafvollzugs” (“Reconstruction of a Chronotope – The Former Stvor Prison Camp as Space of the Soviet Penal System”). More information on the project available here.

Realised in co-operation with Memorial Perm and Tomsk State University, funded by the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) GoEast Programme.

Feature image: The Museum without a guide at Stvor. Hauke Jacobs, CC BY-SA.

The post Stvor – Testimony to the Soviet Union’s forced labour system first appeared on

Donnay: How a Belgian company became the world’s largest tennis racket maker

Thu, 26/11/2020 - 10:00

For tennis players, their choice of racket is all-important – influenced by game-play, precision and, in some cases, superstition.

Donnay is a tennis racket brand favoured by many players – from dedicated amateurs to world champions.

Founded in 1910 by Belgian Emile Donnay, the company initially made wooden handles for tools.

Environs de Couvin Mariembourg, la Place, Ghent University Library, CC BY-SA

From a small family business with a staff of six based in Couvin, Belgium, they began to diversify to wooden sporting goods, including gymnatic equipment and bows for archery.

A Donnay rhythmic gymnastic cone, Sportimonium vzw, CC BY-NC-SA

Beginning in 1934, the company began to manufacture wooden tennis rackets. The name Donnay became synonymous with tennis and success, in particular when they signed a deal, in the 1950s, to make rackets for major American sporting equipment producers.

Donnay tennis racket Match 1950, Sportimonium vzw, CC BY-NC-SA Donnay tennis racket 1950, model ‘Flash’, Sportimonium vzw, CC BY-NC-SA

By the 1970s, Donnay was the world’s largest manufacturer of tennis rackets. Donnay sponsored globally famous champion players such as Rod Laver, Margaret Smith Court and Cliff Drysdale, all of whom played with Donnay’s rackets.

Donnay tennis racket Rod Laver Pro, Sportimonium vzw, CC BY-NC-SA

Following his first Grand Slam win in the 1974 French Open, from 1975 until his retirement in 1983, Donany sponsored Björn Borg who played with their rackets in European tournaments.

Poster, Jamtli, CC BY-NC-ND

By the 1980s, Donnay was producing millions of rackets annually, almost all made from ash. They continuted producing wooden racket until 1984. However, the company failed to adapt to the growing market for graphite rackets which ultimately led to the company’s closure in 1988.

Donnay Flash 60, tennis racket for children, Sportimonium vzw, CC BY-NC-SA

Today, after changing ownership a number of times, the Donnay brand is sold around the world – a reminder of the company’s role in tennis’ rich sporting heritage.

By Adrian Murphy, Europeana Foundation

Feature image: Donnay tennis racket “International tennis team”, Sportimonium vzw, CC BY-NC-SA

The post Donnay: How a Belgian company became the world's largest tennis racket maker first appeared on

Precursors to the Reformation: Paving the way for social change

Wed, 25/11/2020 - 10:00

The Reformation is most commonly known to have started in 1517, when, as legend has it, Martin Luther, a German monk, was reputed to have nailed his (in)famous 95 theses to the door of the church at Wittenberg. This act started a religious revolution across Europe, particularly in light of the fact that Gutenberg’s printing press helped spread Luther’s work and reach many people.

Prent met Luther en Calvijn in studeervertrek. Deventer Musea, Netherlands, CC BY-SA

However, not only was Luther not the first to criticize the church, his work would also likely have been received differently if the current of thought had not already been in the process of change. In fact, a lot of the ideas that fuelled the Reformation were voiced well  before 1517. 

Luthers Thesenanschlag,  Karl Jauslin, 1842-1904, CC BY-SA

While Luther, Calvin, Cranmer and others are commonly regarded as the leaders of the Reformation in the first half of the 16th century, their ideas were based on the work of previous reformers.

Here are some of the precursors to the Reformation that are not as well known as Luther, but whose ideas inspired him greatly.

Arnold of Brescia

Arnold of Brescia was one of the first vocal opponents of the political and economic power of the Church. He was expelled from Italy in 1139 for revolting against the bishop of Brescia. When he was allowed to come back, in the later 1140s, Arnold found himself engaging with another popular revolt, which drove the Pope from the city. He became a figurehead of this revolution, and called for the end of the Church’s involvement in politics. Arnold was hanged, his body was burned, and his remains thrown into the Tiber.

Monument of Arnold in Brescia, Author, Brescia, Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin in der Universitätsbibliothek. CC BY-NC-SA Peter Waldo

Peter Waldo was a rich merchant who renounced his position in society and wealth to imitate the life of early Apostles. His teachings were based on the pillars of poverty and simplicity. He gained more and more followers but was not allowed by the Pope to preach. Since he continued his practices, him and his followers were excommunicated in 1184 and constantly persecuted until the Reformation.

Composite manuscript of Waldensian treatises and sermons . Bibliothèque de Genève, Ms. l.e. 206), Creator Unknown, 15th century, Valleys of Piedmont, University of Fribourg – Universitas Friburgensis. CC BY-NC Francis of Assisi

Francis of Assisi (or St Francis) was born to a wealthy family, but abandoned his comfortable life to preach. He believed that a life of good work was more important than sermons and teachings. Interestingly, his teachings were approved by Pope Innocent III, despite being very close to those of the Waldesians (who were excommunicated). It appears that it was his loyalty to the Church and the Pope that led to his approval. It can thus be said that St Francis was a reformer within the Catholic Church. His being allowed to preach shows that the wider Late Medieval Church was also developing new ways to understand the true Christian life. Popes Gregory VII and Innocent III themselves allowed for different teachings and approaches to the true Christian life.

St Francis blesses the birds, one of 25 scenes painted by Giotto in a fresco at the Upper Church of St Francis in Assisi. University of Bologna. CC BY-ND John Wycliffe

 John Wycliffe was an English Theologian who argued that the English Crown should dispossess Church property, since it brought nothing but a sin to this institution. He also accused the Church of corruption and raised issues with its theological doctrines. He believed that the scriptures should be the main authority, not the church officials. He is recognised alongside others to be the author of the first English Bible.

Wickliffe promulgating his new doctrine at Oxford, the origin of the Reformation,1812, United Kingdom, Wellcome Collection. CC BY Jan Hus

Jan Hus was a learned priest who studied at the University of Prague where he was inspired by Wycliffe’s teachings. He spoke against simony (the sale of an office such as bishop, abbot or abbess or even parish priest) and indulgences, stating that man obtains forgiveness of sins by true repentance, not money. He was driven into exile in 1412 and was burned as a heretic in 1415.

Jan Hus is burned at the stake, Ulrich von Richental, 1465-1475, Institut für Realienkunde – Universität Salzburg. CC BY-NC-ND

The news of the execution of Jan Hus led his followers to rise up, driving many Catholic priests from their parishes. On 30 July 1419 a Hussite mob threw the king’s representatives and city officials out of the window of the City Hall of Prague, henceforth known as the first Prague defenestration. More than a century after the death of Jan Hus, Martin Luther was inspired by his work and started the greatest revolution in the Church.

If you are interested in learning more about the Precursors to the Reformation, or curious about how to teach about them in your classroom, have a look at Historiana’s Precursors to the Reformation source collection and elearning activity.

By Lorraine Besnier, EuroClio

Feature image: Jan Hus, 1840. eSbirky, Czech Republic, CC BY.

The post Precursors to the Reformation: Paving the way for social change first appeared on

Beethoven’s Ode to Joy: a cultural kaleidoscope

Sun, 22/11/2020 - 10:00

Ludwig van Beethoven was born on 16 December 1770 in Bonn, Germany, and died on 26 March 1827 in Vienna, Austria. He was a prolific composer but one of his works has become more memorable than others: The Symphony No. 9. 

This choral work was chosen in 1972 as the official anthem of the European Union, with Beethoven’s autographed sheet music included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2001.

This work can be understood from multiple points of view. So, let’s explore this composition from different perspectives.


Ludwig van Beethoven grew up in a musical family. His musical education started at an early age and he gave his first concert aged 7.

During this time, music lessons were very popular among the upper-classes For this reason during his career, Beethoven, as well as other artists, worked for royal families, upper-class aristocrats and religious men as a pianist, an arranger, a teacher and a composer.

Beethoven und Goethe in Teplitz 1811, Universität Osnabrück, CC BY-NC-SA

Internationally, the years of Beethoven’s youth were a revolutionary time. In 1789, the French Revolution began, and some decades later, Napoleon Bonaparte took command of the country. 

All these events were charged with values like freedom, equality, fraternity or solidarity. Artists like Beethoven expressed them in his works – moving from well-established harmonies to use new ones based on his feelings. For example, Beethoven composed his 3rd Symphony (called Heroic Symphony), dedicating it to Napoleon.

This is not the only time when he coloured his music with values. The 9th Symphony – a choral work with the text of Friedrich Schiller’s poem ‘An die Freude’ (Ode to Joy) is another extraordinary example of this.

EXPLORE MORE: Gallery about the life and works of Beethoven


When Beethoven was born, the artistic tendency in Europe was called Classicism. The classic period is identified, among others, by measured forms and topics following the national schools’ guidelines for each country. 

An die Freude, Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig, CC BY-NC-SA

Later on, as the same time the French Revolution exploded, young artists like Ludwig van Beethoven, Friedrich Schiller or Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, inspired by new values, started creating his art based only on their own feelings. This is when – in 1786 – Schiller published the poem ‘An die Freude’ (Ode to Joy). It symbolises fraternity and equality among the peoples of the world and, due to its deep meaning, became well-known in literary and artistic circles.

In 1793, when Beethoven read it, he loved it and suddenly the idea of composing a choral work with this text came to his mind. However, it was not until 1822 when Beethoven put this inspiration into practice, starting compose his symphony which he finished in 1824.

EXPLORE MORE: Gallery about Schiller’s Ode to Joy


Music has a close relationship with mathematics and physics.

There are a lot of famous musicians interested in science. Rhythm signs are based on multiples of 2, tempo is measured on double or triple beats mixing soft and hard beats like the human heart beats. Harmony is close to the science of sound and how sound waves flow in the air and they are heard by our ears.

A broker feigning deafness to avoid paying the doctor who cured him. Coloured etching, 1786, Wellcome Collection, CC BY

Beethoven’s deafness, which has an unknown origin, started very early in his life. It was not a very serious condition until later in life years. Thanks to Beethoven’s hearing aids and his senses of rhythm and harmony, he could complete the 9th Symphony – an example of an artist continuing their career in the face of a disability.


In addition to this disability, Beethoven also suffered a serious depression that accompanied him during all his life. This mental health disorder had a powerful impact on his work. 

Beethoven’s Vision, Universität Osnabrück, CC BY-NC-SA

In his 9th Symphony’s last movement, Beethoven’s musical rhythms and themes comment on his past lifetime and act as an omen of his future. For example, some parts represent ironic moments connected to the meaning of the text and other parts are most like a funeral march rhythm, as if he waits for his own death.

Apart from that, his work is full of examples of how his imagination is related to his feelings, taking for example characters of Fidelio, his unique opera, who reflects Beethoven’s dualities during his life.

EXPLORE MORE: Resources at Teaching with Europeana blog

By Raul Gomez Hernandez, Europeana Foundation

Feature image: Beethoven in Schönbrunn, Universität Osnabrück, CC BY-NC-SA

The post Beethoven’s Ode to Joy: a cultural kaleidoscope first appeared on

Writing in exile: Hungarian authors in Paris and Berlin

Fri, 20/11/2020 - 10:00

Literature is not only an author’s means of self-expression, but it can transform our perception of spaces and places. This blogs looks at a number of Hungarian writers who have lived and worked abroad, with their literature reflecting their perceptions of their new cities.

For those writers who, for any reason, feel isolated in their native cultural environment, such literary migration can be an option to experiment and explore.

Paris – in the eye of the beholder Exposition universelle de 1889, Neurdein Frères, Parisienne de Photographie, Public Domain

Due to the technological circumstances, most readers in the early 20th century could only perceive giant metropolitan cultural cities through their literary representations. Hungarian authors like Endre Ady or Gyula Illyés gained their most influential experiences in Paris, for example.  However, the very same Paris made highly different impressions on the two poets.

EXPLORE MORE: Gallery: Paris, city of art

Ady immersed himself in the bourgeois nights of Paris, enjoying the city’s pleasures while lamenting on existential questions. One of his most famous poems takes the readers to the scenic boulevard St. Michel.

‘Autumn slipped into Paris yesterday, came silently down Boulevard St Michel
In sultry heat, past boughs sullen and still, and met me on its way.’

Autumn passed through Paris, Endre Ady (translated by Doreen Bell)

Ady Endre around 1909, Hugó Lukács, Petőfi Literary Museum, In copyright

Ady’s passion for Paris derived from the cultural buzz of the urban scene. He famously described Nagyvárad (today this is Oradea in Romania), the town where he worked after coming back from Paris as ‘Paris on the banks of the Pece’. 

EXPLORE MORE: Digitised collections about Endre Ady

On the other hand, Illyés had a stronger emphasis on social issues. Paris – in his eyes – was rather the scene for the grandiose changes in French society.

Portrait of the young Gyula Illyés who had to flee from Hungary for his collaboration with illegal communist organisations. Interestingly there is a Verlaine quote on the other side of the photo.

Illyés Gyula, 1922, Petőfi Literary Museum, In copyright

Moreover, his very reason for moving to Paris was more of a political necessity. He participated in illegal communist formations in the beginning of the century, which resulted in his subsequent political persecution. After amnesty was granted to Illyés, he came back to Hungary with the social experience he had in Paris, and the politically doctrines he acquired from the Marxist thinkers he met.       

EXPLORE MORE: Digitised collections about Gyula Illyés

This divergence in their gaze is both reflected in their representation of Paris and their poetic voice. Paris was seen as both a cosmopolitan cultural point of reference and a vivid scene for a potential social transformation.

Berlin – a stage for the open world

Sándor Márai, a Hungarian author who lived and worked in Berlin, representing his emigration and an image of the German capital – based on his particular and often biased perceptions.

Due to the geographical proximity, and more importantly, to Hungary’s embedded status in German culture (thanks to the centuries long history with the Habsburg Empire), Germany has been a popular destination for Hungarian artists and writers wanting to broaden their horizons. They spoke the language, and should be familiar with the culture.

EXPLORE MORE: Gallery of views of Berlin

Reichstag in Berlin, Rijksmuseum, Public Domain View of Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, Rijksmuseum, Public Domain

When he moved to Berlin in the 1920s, Márai was initially shocked by the cultural differences. He had a hard time adapting to the cosmopolitan values. At first he found it confusing to deal with cosmopolitan gender roles that so highly differ from the conservative Eastern-European model.

Sándor Márai, Mariann V. Reismann, Petőfi Literary Museum, In copyright

‘The confusion of genders rule the fused city. I see women disguised in Prussian military uniform, wearing a monocle, smoking cigars, and some of them go so far that they keep military manuals on their bedside table. Men who are factory owners by day dress up as snake-charmers at night. Berlin wither is a long permanent masquerade.’

The Confessions of a Haut-Bourgeois, Sándor Márai

Though these descriptions fuelled the scepticism of Hungarian conservatives of the time about the strange, untraditional ways of cosmopolitanism, Márai finally asserts to his readers that development and civil values are the only means of progress, and it does not inevitably result in the distortion of regional customs. 

‘Always keep West. And never forget that you came from the East.’
– Sándor Márai

Márai was inspired by his German colleague, Thomas Mann, as both of them represented humanism and civil values in a menacing time. 

Thomas Mann and Sándor Márai, Petőfi Literary Museum, In copyright

EXPLORE MORE: Digitised collections about Sándor Márai

Today’s technology can help us in getting a complex image on these cultural spaces. The Petőfi Literary Museum in Budapest is digitising exhibitions and collections relating to Hungarian authors who wrote aboard, and in Europeana, we find a large digital collection on migration and cultural life. 

By Zoltán Mogyorósi, Petőfi Literary Museum

This blog post is a part of the Europeana Common Culture project, which explores varied aspects of our shared cultural heritage across Europe.

Feature image: Ady arcai, Roland Szabó Lajos, Göcseji Múzeum, CC BY-NC-SA

The post Writing in exile: Hungarian authors in Paris and Berlin first appeared on

Happy birthday? 10 birthday cards from World War I

Tue, 17/11/2020 - 10:00

We often can think of times of war as huge upheavals in humanity. Life can be put on hold. But for many people, day-to-day life does go on with great changes and stresses. 

Birthdays during World War I were not always happy times. Loved ones were distant, and the means of communicating with them difficult.

Here, we share some birthday cards and their messages from Europeana 1914-1918. Some sent from the front line, some sent to it, some bought, some hand-made, some heart-warming, some heart-breaking.

Sent with love – five printed cards ‘Many Happy Returns of the Day’ | Gertie

Coming to Europeana from The Army Children Archive, in the card titled ‘Many Happy Returns of the Day’, we see a young girl holding a photograph of her soldier-father.

This card was sent to a 13-year-old girl in October 1916 with the message ‘To dear Gertie, With fondest love, from Mam and Dad’.

‘To my Dear Daddy away on Duty.’ | Nora

From the same archive, this card – ‘To my Dear Daddy away on Duty’ – includes a handwritten message in black ink: ‘Wishing our Dear Daddy a very Bright and happy Birthday with the Best of Good luck and a speedy Return. From your Dear Little Daughters Annie & Nora’.


On the other side of the card depicting a lady in green with flowers, a hand-written message reads ‘My Dear Min, Just a little card to wish you everything you wish yourself, + may the “Great Peace” be proclaimed before your next Birthday comes along. Trusting you and Vera are quite well. With kindest thoughts, your affectionate Brother Alg.’

Geburtstagsgruß im Krieg | Oeckermann Mathilde

Perhaps an unlikely birthday card, ‘Durchalten’, is a card sent to Mathilde Oeckermann from her friends in favour of the association ‘Welfare of Female Youth’. In the third year of the war, this card calls for the home front to ‘STOP’.

Birthday card | Kay Hodgson

‘The Best of Birthday Wishes to my Brother’ came to us in a collection from Kay Hodgson, and was sent to George Atkinson Sharp. The poem on it reads ‘By this card I would convey, More than all my heart can say. By this love-sent token true, Comes my Birthday wish to you, May good luck your footsteps guide, Health, wealth, joy and love abide.’

Crafted with love – hand-made from the front Geburtstagsgrüße von Gustav Müller aus den Vogesen | Emil Arnold

A painter by profession, Gustav Müller was a member of the 2nd Replacement Battalion of the 4th Company of the 165th Infantry Regiment. This is a homemade birthday card, made it appears with foliage and straw, sent from Gustav from the field in the Vosges to his sister-in-law in 1918.

Flieger Rudolf Dreher, geb. 1896. Im Flieger als Beobachteram 30.5.1918 über Lille/Frankreich tötlich verwundet.

Sadly, not every card made it to the recipient in the manner intended.

Flyer Rudolf Dreher drew this card for his father, Otto-Hugo Dreher, who would be 50 on 3 September, 1918. The card was discovered and sent to Rudolf’s father, along with other items belonging to his son following his death on 30 May 1918.

The luxury of silk embroidery

Silk embroidered cards were made in France and Belgium during the war with thousands bought by soldiers to send home to their loved ones.

A kiss from your daddy.’ | The Army Children Archive

‘A kiss from your daddy’ includes violets, the Union Jack and the French flag (the ‘Tricolore’).

The central flap lifts to reveal a small rectangular card on which is printed a terrace scene surrounded by four-leafed clovers, along with the legend ‘A Loving Birthday Greetings [sic]’. On the reverse a message written in pencil reads, ‘Dear Daughter,  Just a line to let you know I have sent a P.C. to your Uncle John so with Best of Luck I remain your loving Dad good night tell Mamma’.

A birthday card for Cyril from his father | Cyril

Another silk embroidered card shows the French and British flags, flowers and the words ‘Happy birthday’. This one has a handwritten message on the back which reads, ‘To Cyril with fondest love From Daddy.’

Embroidered birthday card | Mrs C L Caulfield

The final card here is from a collection shared by Mrs CL Caulfield. Inside the card is a printed poem that reads ‘I send a card to wish you joy, Good health, wealth and success, And any other thing that may lead to your happiness.

By Beth Daley, Europeana Foundation

‘Birthday card’ – Kay Hodgson, and ‘Embroidered birthday card’ – Mrs C L Caulfield are shared under a ‘sharealike CC BY-SA  licence. The remainder of these images are shared under a free reuse CC0 licence.

The post Happy birthday? 10 birthday cards from World War I first appeared on

The Lanterna of Genoa, the oldest lighthouse in Europe

Sun, 15/11/2020 - 10:00

The Lighthouse of Genoa, called Lanterna, is a symbol for the city.

At a height of 77 meters (with a focal height of 117 meters), it is the tallest lighthouse in the Mediterranean Sea and the second tallest in Europe (the first is on Île Vierge, France, 82,5 meters).

The current tower was built in 1543, but there has been a lighthouse on the site since the 12th century. The lighthouse was modernised and restored during the 20th century and has been open to the public since 1994.

The lighthouse of Genoa at night, Serres, Wellcome Collection, CC BY

EXPLORE MORE Lighthouses across Europe in our gallery

Adjacent to the tower is the Lanterna Museum, within the fortifications of the walls of Genoa the New Walls.

Established in 2006, the museum covers the history of Genoa and its port, and contains a lot of archival material. The museum exhibits lanterns, lenses and technical instruments to show the workings of the lighthouse and its evolution over time.

A collection of 12 images and objects, dating from the 19th and 20th centuries, describe the various constituent parts of a lighting system with rotating optics for naval signaling. 

The collection of technical instruments includes lenses, headlights, flashers, exchangers, valves. All the instruments dated to the first half of the 20th century. Some of them are from the first quarter of the century, before modern electrification (1936).

One of the most ancient and interesting objects is an instrument from the first quarter of the 20th century uses the Fresnel lens, a type of composite compact lens originally developed by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel for lighthouses.

Fresnel lens, 1900-1924, Augustin-Jean Fresnel, Museo della Lanterna / MuseiD-Italia

The Fresnel lens is thinner and lighter compared to a conventional lens because is divided into a set of concentric annular sections. It can capture more oblique light from a light source. The light from a lighthouse equipped with a Fresnel lens can be visible over greater distances.

Other important scientific instruments show the evolution of the clockwork engine deriving from the mechanics of tower clocks. The collection includes an example of clockwork for rotating the lenses produced by Alfonso Curci e Figlio in Naples for the Italian Navy in the first quarter of the 20th century.

Rotating lens system, Alfonso Curci e Figlio, Napoli, 1900-1924, Museo della Lanterna / MuseiD-Italia Clockwork for rotating the lenses, 1900-1949, Museo della Lanterna / MuseiD-Italia

From the early 20th century, there is also an independent flashing acetal or electromechanical headlight produced in Italy.

Electromechanical headlight, 1900-1910, Museo della Lanterna / MuseiD-Italia

The collection also contains instruments which are examples of important European industrial history. There are several flashers and exchangers from France, Great Britain, Sweden and Germany. 

Exchanger, Pintsch Bamag, Germany, 1900-1949, Museo della Lanterna / MuseiD-Italia

One exchanger was produced by German manufacturer Pintsch Bamag. Founded in 1870 by Julius Pintsch, who was primarily known for the invention of Pintsch gas, this uses a compressed fuel gas for illumination purposes.

A propane flasher made by French producer Clesse Mandet (today Clesse Industries), whose long history originates with a laboratory founded by Georges Clesse in 1850.

Flasher, Clesse Mandet, France, 1900 – 1949, Museo della Lanterna / MuseiD-Italia

By Museo della Lanterna

EXPLORE MORE Optical innovation: how the Petzval lens revolutionised portrait photography

This blog post is a part of the Europeana Common Culture project, which explores varied aspects of our shared cultural heritage across Europe.

Feature image: View of Lighthouse and Port of Genoa, Davide Marzaioli, Galleria d’Arte Moderna con opere della Collezione Wolfson / MuseiD-Italia

The post The Lanterna of Genoa, the oldest lighthouse in Europe first appeared on

Lonkero: the Finnish long drinks invented for the 1952 Olympics

Sat, 14/11/2020 - 10:00

Sporting events are times for celebrations or commiseration, often marked with food and drink.

But in Finland, we find an example of a drink that was invented for a sporting ocasion – the 1952 Olympic Games held in Helsinki.

Lonkero is a Finnish term given to what are known as ‘long drinks’ – usually drinks mixing spirits such as vodka and gin with fruit-flavoured soft drinks.
In Finland, these popular drinks are sold in supermarkets, bars and restaurants. Gin and grapefruit soda is one of the most popular mixtures, but cranberry, lime and more flavours are available.

Gin long drink, Hartwall Oy, Finnish Heritage Agency, In copyright

These drinks were invented for the summer Olympic Games which were hosted by Helsinki from 19 July to 3 August 1952 – 12 years after the cancellation of the 1940 Olympic Games which were due to be held in Helsinki.

Helsinki Olympic Stadium 1952, Olympia-kuva Oy, Helsinki City Museum, CC BY Helsinki Olympics 1952 Medal, Kauko Räsänen, Lusto – The Finnish Forest Museum, CC BY-NC-ND

EXPLORE MORE: The story of Hungary’s Golden Team who won the Olympic football gold in 1952

At the time, Finland had strict controls on the sale of alcohol.

Between 1919 and 1932, prohibition banned the sale of alcohol. This law was brought in as one of the first acts of the Finland as a republic following its independence from Russia. The law was overturned in 1932 following a referendum where 70% of voters chose to remove the restrictions.

Prohibition vote in progress: voters and election officials, Pietinen, Finnish Heritage Agency, CC BY Prohibition vote, votes are counted, Pietinen, Finnish Heritage Agency, CC BY

Following this, a state-company called Alko was created to control the sale of alcoholic products.

Queue when Oy Alkoholiliike Ab opens for the first time after the repeal of the Prohibition Act, Pietinen, Finnish Heritage Agency, CC BY

However, with thousands of foreign competitors, media and sports fans coming to Helsinki for the Olympics, the Finnish state loosened the laws.

Alko introduced two pre-mixed, bottled, ready-to-consume long drinks – one with brandy and a fruit / berry soft drink flavour (which has since been discontinued) and the gin and grapefruit drink which continues to be popular today.

Helsinki Olympics 1952. Temporary field cantee, Volker von Bonin, Helsinki City Museum, CC BY Helsinki Olympics 1952 in Hesperia Park, Olympia-kuva Oy, Helsinki City Museum, CC BY

Both drinks were easy for bars to sell, as they were pre-mixed and they were developed to appeal to the tastes of foreign visitors.

One of the most popular brands sold today is by Hartwall, a beverage company based in Helsinki that was founded in 1836.

English Soda Water, Hartwall Ab, Helsinki City Museum, CC BY Jaffa appelsiinijuoma, Hartwall Oy, Helsinki City Museum, CC BY

Explore more blogs, galleries and collections about sporting heritage on Europeana

By Adrian Murphy, Europeana Foundation

This blog is part of the Europeana Sport project which showcases cultural treasures relating to sporting heritage in Europe.

Feature image: Helsinki Olympics 1952, Käpylä race village gate on Koskelantie, Olympia-kuva Oy, Helsinki City Museum, CC BY

The post Lonkero: the Finnish long drinks invented for the 1952 Olympics first appeared on

Iridescence – from archaeological glass to Art Nouveau

Sat, 31/10/2020 - 10:00

Iridescence is a phenomenon where our eyes perceive spectrums of colours, based on how light falls on surfaces. We see iridescence in nature – it can be spotted on some minerals, feathers of some insects, birds, fish, shellfish, and as part of many natural phenomena such as oil films on water and soap bubbles. 

Iridescent objects and products made by contemporary manufacturers of glass, ceramics, paint, cosmetics, and even textile might seem as a modern invention – but also reflect some eclectic lustre.

Iridescence can also be seen on specimens of archaeological glass. The phenomenon occurs on them naturally, due to their long time underground, or artificially, due to specific production techniques. 

Uutarium, Medelhavsmuseet, CC BY

EXPLORE MORE: Archaelogy collections on Europeana

Optical science

Light is composed of a full continuous array of the colours of the visible spectrum. Each colour surface reflects one part of this electromagnetic spectrum, while the remaining part is absorbed.

We can see this most clearly when white light passes through an optical prism. Each colour leaves the prism following its own wavelength, causing the light to separate into the colours of the spectrum. The colour of an object is determined by absorption, i.e. the reflection of wavelengths of a certain part of the spectrum characteristic of a specific surface.

Iridescence surfaces are usually composed of one or more (semi-) transparent layers.

When white light reaches a thin transparent film (layer or coating), one part of light is reflected from the upper surface of the film while the remaining part from the surface below the layer or layers. When the reflected rays merge (constructive interference), they create the effect of iridescence. What we see depends on our position, the angle at which we are looking at the object and the angle of the ray of light.

Iridescence formed with a transparent layer of lacquer on black paper
Workshop: Iva Meštrović / Photograph: Petra Milovac Iridescence and artists

As it causes a sensation in the visual system, it is one of perceptual observations that aroused interest among applied artists. Ancient glass on which the phenomenon naturally occurs as thin flakes form on the surface resulting in an overflow of spectral colours have given a special impetus for the creation of the effect of iridescence.

In making glass and ceramics, iridescence can be ‘artificially’ formed by treating the surface with metal oxides and exposure to acid vapours in a reducing atmosphere.

Vessel, 1st-4th C., MUO 18884 / Image: Srećko Budek, Vedran Benović , CC BY-SA

Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) was an artist and designer, and son of the founder of the famed jewelry producer. He is credited for patenting the production of iridescent glass – Favrile glass (from fabrile, possibly denoting handcrafted origin). 

Tiffany Favrile, Tiffany and Company,
Jugendstilsenteret, Public Domain

He was influenced by the glass collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (former South Kensington) during his visit in 1865.

Iridescence and Art Nouveau  Löetz vase with green and silver-colored threads and a silver-colored iridescence on a blue background, Rijksmuseum, Public Domain

Objects with iridescent properties from the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Zagreb collection were manufactured by a variety of designers, artists and glassworks from around Europe and beyond.

There are objects from Louis Comfort Tiffany from the USA, the Austrian firm Pallme-König & Habel, French designer René Jules Lalique, and two glassworks from Bohemia – Wilhelm Kralik Sohn and Löetz – as well as Croatian glassworks such as Osredek. 

Vase, Muzej za umjetnost i obrt, In copyright

EXPLORE MORE: Iridescent objects from the Museum of Arts and Crafts Zagreb

Lustrous glass objects designed by Croatian painter and sculptress Antonija Krasnik were produced at the Viennese glassworks Bakalowitz und Söhne. Each of these designers and manufacturers, experimenting with their own techniques, developed unique objects and effects.

Iridescence can also be present on ceramics such as the Art Nouveau facade of Kallina House in Zagreb. The iridescent water lilies ‘inked’ on the building’s tiles rise above floral wrought-iron balconies that overlook the street intersection.

EXPLORE MORE: Exhibition: Art Nouveau – A Universal Style

Zagreb – Kallina House, Muzej za umjetnost i obrt, CC BY-SA

However, this iridescent effect can be difficult to spot above the first floor level when standing in front of the building, and, given the effect is ‘interactive’, it can be difficult to photograph or digitise even in a controlled environment.

By Petra Milovac, Muzej za umjetnost i obrt, Zagreb

This blog post is a part of the Europeana Archaeology project, which digitises Europe’s rich heritage of archaeological monuments, historic buildings, cultural landscapes and artefacts.

Featured image: Löetz vase with green and silver-colored threads and a silver-colored iridescence on a blue background, Rijksmuseum, Public Domain

The post Iridescence - from archaeological glass to Art Nouveau first appeared on

Surviving Communism: The seven tells from the Mostiștei Valley

Fri, 30/10/2020 - 12:51

The Mostiștei Valley is located in the Southern part of Romania, in Călărași County. It is composed of the main river course and several tributary valleys. The Mostiștea river springs from North of Bucharest and flows into the Danube, after 98 km. Between 1960 and 1970, following an extensive archaeological field research project, over 540 archaeological sites dating from the Stone Age to the 17th century were mapped in the region, therefore the Mostiștei Valley became an incredible archaeological reservation on all its length.

The ”Măgura Fundeanca” tell from Chiselet, INP – National Heritage Institute, Bucharest, Romania, CC BY-SA.

This highly developed hydrographic network, in relation with the Danube river, transformed the micro-region into a very fertile area, creating highly favorable conditions for the development of human communities, even since prehistory. In particular, the most important factor for these conditions was the constant and low current of the river, which didn’t allow the erosion of the banks. Aerial and satellite imagery revealed there were no former meandering or paloechannels, but only a stable course maintained due to the lakes, formed around the river, which took over the higher flows, attenuating the current forming during the heavy rainfall season.

The situation changed starting with the second half of the 20th century. The Romanian Communist regime pursued the development of agriculture by also including in the agricultural circuit as many wet surfaces as possible. This was done by systemizing the river and drying out the puddles and lakes from the meadow area of the Danube. As a consequence, between 1970-1980, Mostiștea river underwent dramatic transformations because of shore embankments and partial river drainage. The accumulation lakes, made by river embankment, caused elevation of the water level, flooding in the lower parts of the valley and the widening of the riverbed, thus the archaeological heritage of the valley was a victim of this action. Because the landscape changed radically, in a very short amount of time, millennial traces of human and natural history disappeared or were put out of context.

The ”La Movilă” tell from Măriuța, INP – National Heritage Institute, Bucharest, Romania, CC BY-SA.

Amid the remarkable archaeological sites located in Mostiștei Valley, there were seven multilayered Neolithic settlements, also known as tells, dated between 4500-3900 BC, that belonged to the Gumelnița Culture, also found in Greece, the Balkans and Romania (from the Danube up to the Carpathian Mountains), a predominantly pottery phenomenon. The settlements developed in direct relation with the river, along its course, being located on islets, terraces or into the Danube meadow, at an almost equal distance (around 12-15 km). The remaining tells are „La Movilă”, found at 200 m northeast from Măriuța village, on the right bank of the river and „Movila din cimitir”, found in the cemetery of Șeinoiu village, on the left bank of the river. The other five tells are close to the following villages: Măgureni (eroded), Gherghelăul Mare and Gherghelăul Mic, Vlădiceasca (both completely submerged at 8 m deep by Frăsinet lake), „Malu Roșu”, Sultana, located at 500 m north from the village (70 %destroyed) and „Măgura Fundeanca”, Chiselet, located at 3,5 km away from the Danube.

The ”Malu Roșu” tell from Sultana, INP – National Heritage Institute, Bucharest, Romania, CC BY-SA.

The archeological sites have very thick deposit layers, measuring 2 to 5 m, and contain rich archaeological material consisting of ceramics containers, flint and bone tools and worship objects. The Sultana settlement offered the most outstanding artifacts in the whole area, such as the Lovers Vessel, the Anthropomorphic Vessel, the Tulips Vessel, the Duck Vessel, and the „Sultana Goddess”.  Also worth mentioning is the golden treasure, made up from five gold idols, a saltaleone necklace, a seven rings ornamental chain and a small ring. 

The Sultana Goddess, found in the Malu Roșu, Sultana archaeological site. Muzeul Național de Istorie a României, Romania, CC0.

The communist agricultural systematization brought all seven tells in an advanced state of degradation, with some of them lost and the surviving ones eroded, and threatened with destruction. Most probably, in the following decades, the last traces of a prehistoric landscape preserved for six millennia, will disappear. 

Bogdan Șandric – Institutul Național al Patrimoniului

This blog post is a part of the Europeana Archaeology project, which digitises Europe’s rich heritage of archaeological monuments, historic buildings, cultural landscapes and artefacts.

Featured image: Aerial view over the Southern part of Mostiștei Valley, with Sărulești lake in the foreground. INP – National Heritage Institute, Bucharest, Romania, CC BY-SA.

The post Surviving Communism: The seven tells from the Mostiștei Valley first appeared on

Processing trauma on screen: the Polish Film School

Tue, 27/10/2020 - 10:00

On the 27th of October, we celebrate the World Day of Audiovisual Heritage. In this blog, we take a peek not only behind but also in front of the scenes, investigating examples of how social changes of the 20th century have been reflected on pellicule.

Thinking about film as an observer and a witness, one can ask about the role of film in depicting and commenting on important social breakthroughs. It is a question not only about cinema itself, but also about its role in society and about ways of using moving images, especially in times of crisis or game changing moments.

In the case of Poland, it is clear that cinema is closely bound to social issues and that social changes translate directly into the history of cinema in an organizational but, above all, in an artistic sense. A good example is one of the trends for which the Polish cinema is known all over the world: ‘the Polish Film School’, created in the 1950s.

Film director Andrzej Munk and screenwriter Jerzy Stefan Stawínski receive a film critics award for Eroica: a movie about the Polish concept of heroism, 1959. Filmoteka Narodowa, InC.

 This artistic initiative, brought to life by an informal group of Polish film directors and screenplay writers among which Andrzej Wajda and Andrzej Munk, was cinema’s response to the trauma of the Second World War. In their works, associated movie directors portray war not as a historical event, but as a struggle of ideas, a romantically understood clash between good and evil, in which man finds himself in a tragic position with no way out. 

This was especially reflected in the visual identity of films, which referred to arts, literature, poetry, and any artistic realm expliciting emotional states.

Movie director Andrzej Munk filming Zezowate szczęście (‘Bad luck’), 1959. Filmoteka Narodowa, InC.

At the time, film became an exponent of the spiritual state of society suffering from or ascending after a great trauma. To reflect the emotional character, the Polish Film School was creating films of a metaphorical nature, with only limited interest in realism as such. 

The reaction of Polish cinema to the experience of war was profound and multidimensional. Cinema was no longer just entertainment, but increasingly became a socially significant art in which directors actively took a stand in public debates. The hero in these movies was portrayed as a young, noble, spiritual man, with the disposition of a poet, devoting himself to the idea of a greater good.

The characteristics of such a protagonist in socialist-realist films (aka Socrealism) were clearly present in Andrzej Wajda’s Man of Marble (1977). Socrealism itself was the idea of a brave new world, built on the ruins of the old one, using youth as a symbol of a modern, progressive political system. Through artistic films of the Polish Film School, Wajda has shown the impropriety of that idea: young people, soldiers, in his films are the victims of the war, damaged by it and unable to find a place in this new world because they are treated like enemies and as representing the previous regime. That’s why Maciek Chełmicki in Wajda’s Diamond and Ashes (1958)  dies in a garbage dump: a strong symbol of a wasted generation.

Ignacio Ramonet’s article on Andrzej Wajda and Man of Marble for the magazine Triunfo, October 1978, Gredos. Repositorio Documental de la Universidad de Salamanca, CC BY-NC-ND.

The reaction of Polish cinema to the anti-communist revolution of 1989 was similar: filmmakers again resorted to metaphors to show the spiritual dimension of this breakthrough, which interested them more than the realistic one. Examples include films by Wojciech Marczewski (Escape from the «Liberty» Cinema or The Crowned-Eagle Ring by Andrzej Wajda.

From Wojciech Marczewski’s Escape from the «Liberty» Cinema, 1990. Filmoteka Narodowa, InC.

It remains a paradox that the use of the same procedure that created the Polish Film School, namely the use of metaphors, referencing the reservoir of spiritual culture, did not yield a similar result. To the contrary, the transformation of 1989, as a great social game changer, was not so much undertaken by artistic Polish filmmakers. The hero of the mass imagination became a hero as seen in commercial cinema, breaking ethos and rejecting values, bitterly experienced by life, violent, cynical, vulgar. 

Scene from Waldemar Krzystek’s Ostatni prom, 1989. Filmoteka Narodowa, InC.

This paradox of Polish cinema as a reaction to social change remains a particular example of the complex nature of the relationship between social sentiment and the ability of filmmakers to create stories about socially relevant phenomena. And, above all, it helps to show the power of cinema to share and pass on meaningful stories.

Televised discussion on the mythologization of the Warsaw Uprising in Polish culture, September 2013. Narodowy Instytut Audiowizualny, InC.

Barbara Giza, FINA (Filmoteka Narodowa – Instytut Audiowizualny)

The images used in this blog that are In Copyright were used with permission of Filmoteka Narodowa – Instytut Audiowizualny.

This blog is part of the Europeana XX. A Century of Change project which focuses on the 20th century and its social, political and economic changes.

Feature image: Image taken from a 1989 calendar. Europeana 1989, Public Domain.

The post Processing trauma on screen: the Polish Film School first appeared on

Foreign findings: Italian archaeologists in the Dodecanese islands

Sat, 24/10/2020 - 10:00

Discussing occupation of territory by foreign forces has always been a thorny, controversial topic to write about. This isn’t any different when it comes to the Italian occupation of the Dodecanese islands. In the early 20th century, after the Italian-Turkish War of 1911, the Italian government occupied this Greek group of about 165 islands off the coast of Turkey. Most of the colonial forces settled on the largest islands: Rhodos, Kos, and the neighbouring Crete.

Crete, Gortys, historical photo taken during excavations in St. Titus, with the Italian archaeologist Giuseppe Gerola, University of Bologna, InC-EDU.

The Dodecanese had been occupied by foreign forces unbroken for 740 years when they were united with Greece after the Second World War, in 1947.  A lot can be said about occupation of the Dodecanese islands, but in this blog we’ll focus on the prominent influence that Italian archeologists in the Dodecanese had in the local history and heritage of the island group. 

Dodecanese, church, site unknown, M. Paolini. University of Bologna, InC-EDU.

Italian archaeologists contributed in no small part to the uncovering of many new archeological sites during their occupation of the islands. the historian Giuseppe Gerola was commissioned to draw up an inventory of the ancient monuments discovered on the Italian-ruled Greek territories. During the two and a half years (early 1900 – July 1902) he spent there,  he collected a vast body of material, which he then edited between 1905 and 1932. 

Giuseppe Gerola, University of Bologna, InC-EDU

In 1909 the Italian School of Archaeology at Athens was founded with the aim of coordinating archaeological investigations in Greece. In 1914 the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned Amedeo Maiuri to direct a permanent archaeological mission in the Dodecanese. Amedeo’s quest was to discover and explore new monuments and artefacts as well as to protect and restore already uncovered heritage sites. 

Rhodes, Lindos, acropolis (1912), University of Bologna, InC-EDU.

Maiuri led this mission for ten years, after which he would become the chief archaeologist at Pompeii and gained his fame in the revolutionary archaeological work he would do on the excavations of that city.

Fresco: a surgeon treating a thigh wound. From the original fresco found at Pompeii (submerged 79 A.D.), Wellcome Collection, CC BY. 

In order to promote the research activities in the Dodecanese, Italian institutions established study grants for young archaeologists, whose papers were published in scientific journals such as the “Memorie dell’Istituto Storico-Archeologico di Rodi”. In the early 1930’s, archaeologists as Luciano Laurenzi and Luigi Morricone carried on significant research in Rhodes and in Kos. In april of 1933, a short but devastating earthquake shook the island of Kos, razing the city of Kos and claiming 170 lives. This earthquake did unearth a lot of old Greco-Roman archaeological sites. Laurenzi and other Italian archaeologists worked in tandem with the rebuilding effort to conduct significant archaeological excavations in the following years.

EXPLORE MORE: Archaeological sites around Kos Town

Harbour of Kos in 1912, University of Bologna, InC-EDU.

With the outbreak of WWII, most of the on-going investigations had to stop. During the following years the main purpose of the Italian scholars was to safeguard and to hide the inestimable finds they discovered there from the destruction of war. This courageous and risky mission showed its results after the end of the conflict, when the coordination of the research activities was given to Greek institutions and the good state of preservation of monuments and artefacts was verified.

Early Christian barrel-vaulted burial chamber with Christian dipinti on the inside wall; Palatia, Saria island, Dodecanese. Open University of Cyprus. InC-EDU.

Still today, traces of the Italian interventions of  preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of the Dodecanese can be found in museums, restoration projects and depots all around the islands.

by Veronica Casali – Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna (UniBo)

The images used in this blog that are In Copyright were used with the permission of the University of Bologna.

Feature image: hellenistisen stoan rauniot ja portaat Lindoksen Akropoliksella. Finnish Heritage Agency, CC BY.

The post Foreign findings: Italian archaeologists in the Dodecanese islands first appeared on