Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Saving Haiti's Cultural Heritage

The Fight to Save Haiti’s Archives
Members of the International Council of Archives (ICA) in Haiti have formed a crisis cell entitled ‘Heritage in danger’ on the fringes of the official commission for the evaluation of buildings and reconstruction. They have recently issued a statement listing some of the most urgent requirements in order to save the country’s archives and cultural property. Wilfrid Bertrand is the National Archivist of Haiti and Jérémy Lachal is the Executive Director of Libraries Without Borders, who is currently on mission in Port-au-Prince. Both stressed the pressing need for tarpaulins in order to protect the records that are currently lying on the ground and risk being destroyed during the forthcoming rainy season.
ICA explained that it is urgently trying to get these materials out to Port-au-Prince. It is also working with the Blue Shield Network, the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross, which was founded in the aftermath of the Second World War to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts. The two organisations are currently trying to collect hard information as the basis for an initial report on damage to cultural property in Haiti. The report is due to provide an indication of the resources that will be needed to safeguard the country’s cultural heritage.
For further information, visit the websites of the ICA (http://www.ica.org/) and Blue Shield (http://www.ancbs.org/).

Bhutan: An Eye to History
More than 80 photographs charting the history of Bhutan were on display until the end of last month at The National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi. The images included photographs of Rinpung monastery in Paro taken in 1864 and of the King and Queen of Bhutan at the Red Fort during their first state visit to India in 1954. There is a slideshow of some of the photographs on the website of the BBC.

Hitler’s secret relationship with Eva Braun
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper concluded that Eva Braun was ‘uninteresting’. However, the first academic biography of Eva Braun: Life With Hitler by the Berlin historian Heike Görtemaker and published at the end of the month by CH Beck refutes traditional views of Braun and Hitler’s relationship.
In Der Spiegel Online Klaus Wiegrefe provides an insight into the realities of the couple’s secret relationship. The article also features a slideshow of images of Eva Braun and Hitler.
Kate Connolly also reports in The Guardian.

Light on Japan’s ‘Unit 731’ experiments
In 1989, a mass grave was discovered during construction work in Tokyo’s district of Shinjuku. The grave contained human remains which are believed to have come from ‘Unit 731’ where the medical research team of the Imperial Japanese Army carried out gruesome human ‘experiments’ on more than 10,000 people per year. Authorities in Tokyo recently announced plans to study the remains in an effort to address this dark, and previously ignored, page of Japanese history.
Julian Ryall reports in The Telegraph.

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