The First World War marked the history of Europe. It has been characterized by an unprecedented effort in industrial production, which today constitutes a common European heritage. The industrial heritage of the First World War, however, seems to be invisible: it is not identified or even defined as such, whereas this war was characterized by the massive use of industrial technology, both in the field of the production of weapons, aircraft and chemicals for military purposes as well as in the civil sector, particularly for agri-food production. It is interesting to note that conversely, the industrial heritage of the Reconstruction could be the subject of work.
How to define this heritage?
The industrial heritage of World War I is that of factories and all infrastructures – railway, port, airport, electricity... – built during the war to respond to the war effort or ensure the survival of populations. It may consist of factories or extensions of factories created specifically and it also concerns factories displaced because of the fighting and resettled, with adaptations, in former industrial sites. The material traces can also be those of urban plans inherited from military bases like the American ones in France. It concerns all the actors of this war, "allies" and "enemies". Undoubtedly, there is also an intangible heritage, films or testimonies collected on this production of war, which saw in particular the massive participation of women.
We voluntarily limit the scope to industries that were used during the war for the war effort and had to expand or build new spaces. It is not a question of approaching the theme of reconstruction.
A workshop organized in December 2017 in France by the CILAC and devoted to this theme, allowed to identify some preliminary points of reflection for the French case.
Thus, the various cases studied made it possible to emphasize that for the companies, the architectural choices had varied: maintaining a prestigious and careful architecture, resorting to techniques and materials of poor quality in a context of scarcity or use of the light prefabrication (metal structure and brick) in other cases. In the first case, the company relied on the reuse of the place after the conflict because it had to be short, or conversely, from 1917, because it thought it was going to end soon. In the last, it was mainly to quickly build large spaces suitable for productions such as mechanics or shells.
The question of the conservation of these buildings and their heritage has also shown that many buildings built during World War I were destroyed during the Second World War, or later, in the context of the extension of factories for respond to the growth of the market, or conversely, after the economic crisis, in the vast movement of destruction of abandoned industrial sites. The interest of the works was focused on those who remain: very often, the current owners do not know the history of their factory and its historical importance; the same is true for the services of the State in charge of the heritage for which this criterion does not appear in the heritage analysis grids. In a few rare cases, the link with World War I is highlighted and is even a reason to visit.
The architectural, economic and political features in which the industrial sites of the First World War were built, however, fully justify their recognition alongside cemeteries and battlefields.
The organization of a European symposium, the first on this theme, is essential in order to establish an inventory of the material traces that still exist today and to draw the attention of the public authorities to the need to ensure their conservation. It would also participate in the construction of a history and a common European heritage.
Proposal to be sent by 9 July, in the form of an abstract of 300 words maximum accompanied by a short biography and 3 publication references to : email@example.com
- Florence Hachez-Leroy, Université d’Artois et Centre de recherches historiques, CNRS/EHESS, CILAC Presidente, France
- Helmuth Albrecht, Institute for Industrial Archaeology, History of Science and Technology, Freiberg, Germany
- Louis André, University Rennes 2, France
- Alain Beltran, CNRS, Sorbonne - Identités, relations internationales et civilisations de l’Europe, Labex ENHE, France
- Eusebi Casaneles, Life President of TICCIH, Former Director Museum de la - Ciència i de la Tècnica de Catalunya, Spain
- Jürgen Finger, German Historical Institut, France
- Ioana Irina Iamandescu, University of Architecture and Urbanism "Ion Mincu", Romania
- Jean-Louis Kerouanton, Université de Nantes, France
- Györgyi Németh, university oh Miskolc, Hungary
- Miles Oglethorpe, Historic Scotland, UK
- Massimo Preite, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy
- Paul Smith, French TICCIH representative, CILAC, France