Protecting cultural assets – almost impossible in the Ukraine war | NDR.de – Culture

Status: 03/23/2022 10:41 AM

The UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Culture and World Heritage celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. The protection of cultural assets has become more urgent than ever as a result of the war in Ukraine.

by Jens Büchsenmann

There is something poignant and terrifying at the same time when you see the people of Lviv or Kyiv covering their monuments with wood and sandbags in front of the perpendicular theaters and the magnificent church gates of the old city of Odessa. The war in Ukraine is also a war against culture, just as all wars in this world always destroy the cultural identity of people. Yesterday, at Herrenhausen Palace, this was exactly what was discussed with a first-class cast. The occasion is the fiftieth anniversary of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Yesterday evening in Hanover acquired a frightening objectivity.

Do the Russians want to destroy culture?


This photo, provided by the Azov Battalion, shows the theater in Mariupol, Ukraine, damaged after the bombing.

To get straight to the point: with the topic, with the explosive nature of the topic, it was difficult at first to get to the podium – hard academically. For a good hour, male and female professors discussed ancient strategies for destroying cultural assets on battlefields. What a sharp sword in international law. Until the audience asks, and eventually becomes tangible: “Is the destruction of cultural assets really a strategy for the Russians? I would wonder about that because the Russians actually see Ukraine as their country and therefore they should have an interest in getting this.” The archaeologist was Hermann Barzinger wanted. He maintains excellent contacts with Russia: as a spokesman for the German-Russian Museum Dialogue, and as a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Petersburg Dialogue, he does not leave a good sense of Putin’s blunt understanding of history. His assessment that evening: “The truth is that you can accuse the Russians of many things, but they deliberately destroy the culture, even if they are not necessary, there is no evidence for this.”

Digital data of cultural assets must be preserved

For Hermann Parzinger, there is a need to work in a completely different and more practical field: “We have to offer storage capacities. An incredible amount has been digitized there. There are two Humboldt scholarship holders in Kyiv. We have been in the process of moving terabytes of data for days. These Information about the conservation of cultural assets that has already been digitized is a central task. Whenever we have a connection: it creates opportunities for us to transmit our data.”

Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry into Destroyed Cultural Property

Also sitting on the podium was a professor in uniform: Matthias Rogge, a colonel in the German Armed Forces and a military historian. He offered humorous insights into attempts to introduce soldiers to culture as a commodity worthy of protection. He stressed the central role of information: “Of course the secret services have the best image in a war like this. NATO has it. In my opinion, there is a lack of networking and exchange.” Colonel Rogge referred to a better approximation and more recent source. “There is a blogger in Ukraine. Coordinator and journalist, Konstantin Akinsha, who summarizes every day what he hears, where cultural property is threatened, destroyed. And he documents it with pictures and the like. You have to be brief.”

Since the two world wars, the destruction of cultural assets has been a matter of international law, an area of ​​research by Professor Sabine von Schurlmer. By the way, it was revealed yesterday that Annalena Baerbock also has culture protection in mind. Very tangible for the post-war period. “I also think it is very important that the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, also at the instigation of the German Foreign Minister, set up a commission of inquiry to name those responsible. This is done to give the criminal courts the opportunity to make judgments here.”

German museums will not be prepared for war

The bottom line is that the impression of a lot of goodwill still lingers, according to the head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Hermann Barzinger. “I hardly think that a German museum would be ready for war. It is something beyond our imagination, we should have a plan. Interestingly, the plans for World War II are now being carried out. What is the place, how is it outsourced The GDR has done something of this Tribe for its cultural institutions, at least in Berlin. This is an issue we must take care of.” The UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Culture and World Heritage has been in place for 50 years.

additional information

Odessa Opera © picture alliance / Photoshot

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Culture NDR | matinee | 03/23/2022 | 09:20 AM

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