Mobilizing Memory 100 Years Later

Memories of World War I, in both historical and popular memory, is as reflective of the context in which works of memory (e.g. memoirs, statues/memorials, literature, even works of history) were created as it is of the actual experience of eastern Europeans in the war. From eminent figures such as Josef Pilsudski and Gavrilo Princip to ordinary soliders and civilians, eastern Europeans engaged in the deliberate creation of memories to satisfy particular political agendas. The actions of otherwise ordinary people became famous in this way. Our stories investigate how the experiences of these people became immortalized or forgotten and how memory has changed over time. One article discusses how Josef Pilsudski was mythologized as part of Poland’s narrative of national reunification. The understanding of World War I has evolved in the former Yugoslav states – ground zero for the conflict – in the tumult of communist rule and collapse. Finally, the selective remembering of the Czech experience of the Great War, especially the lionization of the Czechoslovak Legion, reveals how memories were manipulated by successive political actors.

Monument to the Unknown Hero, Belgrade, Serbia