BHS / ENG
Second Curator, Historial de la Grande Guerre – Museum of the Great War in Péronne
The Historial is in charge of the Thiepval Monument Visitor’s Centre. The monument itself is Franco-British and commemorates over 72 000 British and South-African soldiers of the battle of the Somme who have no known graves. I have been instrumental in organizing the exhibition on the Missing of the Somme: this exhibition retraces the stories of 180 soldiers who have no known grave and explains how Remembrance has developed until nowadays in the United Kingdom. In partnership with the associations “Le pas de côté” and the IF-Man, we have organized a day of cooperative games to introduce the notion of non-violent resolution of conflicts to our visitors.
The museum systematically compares the soldiers and societies in Germany, France and Great-Britain. If some visitors complain that Germany occupied the top row of our three levels, it is more complicated to find correct translations as the mentalities are not the same. In Germany, the image of the soldier is not always positive whereas in Great-Britain, the “Tommies” are viewed as heroes. During battlefield tours, this can for example cause frictions when wreaths are laid on the tombs of German soldiers. The bodies of many soldiers are still regularly found on the battlefield. Though this is not longer a “hot” subject, it still is cause for concern and diplomatic discussions, notably when economic growth is hindered by memorials.