Foreign commemorative projects
Several countries have already made arrangements for large scale commemorative events both at home and abroad. With the deaths of the last surviving veterans, the governments of the former warring countries consider that it is no longer a case of simply honouring their memory, but of advancing scientific and educational work on the subject.. Indeed they wish to devote a large part of their commemorative programs to cultural events. As for the countries where the battlefields were located, they see the opportunity of attracting visitors to join in the remembrance during the 2014-2018 centenary.
On 7 December 2012, the Belgian Prime Minister announced the dates for the three international ceremonies which will be held in Belgium: 4 August 2014 in Liège for the one hundredth anniversary of the invasion of Belgium and the violation of its neutrality, 28 October 2014 at Ypres and at Nieuport to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the first battle of Ypres and 11 November 2018 in Brussels for the one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice.
In addition, a host of cultural projects, as well as the renovation of the sites of the most legendary battlefields will be unveiled. More information on the ideas and projects which the Flanders and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation have planned to mark the Centenary is available on the following websites :
- www.100jaargrooteoorlog.be et www.vlaanderen.be for the Flanders ;
- www.commemorer14-18.be for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.
On 11 October 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the British Government would be setting aside 50 million pounds (62 million euros) for commemorations to mark the Centenary of the First World War which is an historic event and true moment of national unity. The lion’s share of these funds will be earmarked for the refurbishment of the Imperial War Museum. Several million pounds will be allocated to projects which are essentially educational, so that the commemorations of the Centenary can provide a durable legacy for the younger generations. With this goal in mind the British program will include a project in which two pupil “ambassadors” from each school in the country, accompanied by a teacher will visit the battlefields in Belgium and in France. The Imperial War Museum will be working very closely with the authorities. More information about the projects can be found on the website www.1914.org.
In Italy, a decree from the President of the Republic of 3 August 2012 named Mr Paolo Peluffo as under-secretary of State to the presidency of the Committee, with the task of coordinating the work to be carried out as part of the Centenary. Mr Peluffo has since announced the building of a “Great War museum” and restoration work to a number of the 12,000 monuments and sites in Italy. A website will also soon be up and running. For its side of things, the autonomous province of Trentin already has its own website : www.trentinograndeguerra.it.
Australia has set aside a budget of 83 million dollars (67 million euros) for organising the different commemorative events. As in other countries, special emphasis will be placed on the teaching sector and cultural initiatives with the organisation of different exhibitions around the country. The Australian authorities will also play an active role in the ceremonies which will be organised at Gallipoli (Turkey) and on the western Front (notably in the Somme and Nord-Pas-de-Calais). Further information is available on the following website www.anzaccentenary.gov.at.
New-Zealand has four aims for its commemoration of the Centenary: to make sure the public gets involved, to ensure that the legacy lives on, promote the recognition of its history and to strengthen relations with its partners from abroad. New Zealand also intends to participate in the ceremonies which will be held at Gallipoli and on the battlefields of the western Front. Under the direction of the Minister for the Arts, Culture and Heritage, a committee with responsibility for supervising the commemorative program has been set up. Further information is available on the following website : ww100.govt.nz.
Although it hasn’t as yet appointed a national coordinator nor set up a website, Canada is every bit as prepared for the commemorations of the Centenary. Just as the battle of Gallipoli was for Australians and New-Zealanders, the battle of Vimy (Pas-de-Calais) was for Canadians a founding cornerstone to their nation. The 9 April 2017 will be the opportunity for the Canadian authorities to commemorate the centenary of this terrible battle in which more than 66,000 young Canadians died. 2017 will also be the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.
If as of now only a few countries have started to prepare a commemorative program for the centenary of the First World War, no-one doubts that, as 2014 approaches, they will soon be joined by many other nations whose destiny was shaped by the Great War.