Flanders commemorates the First World War

World War I Cemeteries and memorial sites proposed as Unesco World Heritage


Duitse Militaire Begraafplaats Langemark
Duitse Militaire Begraafplaats Langemark

A joint Unesco World Heritage nomination proposal has been submitted by Flanders, Wallonia and France, for a selection of cemeteries and memorials of the First World War. 

World War I heritage has been extensively surveyed and studied, the most important sites are already protected and resources have been made available for restoration, maintenance and accessibility. The nomination proposal as Unesco World Heritage by Flanders, Wallonia and France is intended to be the cornerstone of the heritage strategy for these sites. 

"Recognition as UNESCO World Heritage would be the icing on the cake of the commemoration of the Great War," said Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois. "Such a recognition would constitute an appropriate and lasting memory of the events that occurred in our Flanders fields, even after the end of the centenary in 2018." 

The cemeteries and memorials of the First World War are unique heritage of outstanding universal values. 

  • It is the first time in history that all fallen soldiers, regardless of rank, class or nationality, are commemorated individually. The bodies were buried individually and names of missing persons were inscribed on monumental memorials. 
  • The military cemeteries and memorials are also unique because of the high quality of their architectural design and their scenic implantation. 
  • The sites have also become places for reflection. They are an ethical appeal for man and society. 

The Flemish part of the dossier has been developed in close cooperation with a wide range of partners. The owners and managers of the 19 selected sites, the Government of Flanders, the province of West Flanders, municipalities, agricultural and environmental organizations and local businesses were all involved. The nomination file also pays particular attention to the harmonious coexistence of the conservation of World War I heritage and the sustainable development of the region. 

The application will be assessed at the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee in the summer of 2018.

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