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2 minutes to read Posted on Tuesday January 28, 2014

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

WW1 launch in Berlin

Europeana 1914-1918 is the most important pan-European collection of original First World War source material. It is the result of three years of work by 20 European countries and will include:

  • 400,000 rare documents digitised by 10 state libraries and two other partners in Europe
  • 660 hours of unique film material digitised by audiovisual archives
  • 90,000 personal papers and memorabilia of some 7,000 people involved in the war, held by their families and digitised at special events in 12 countries

The Minister of Culture, Monika Grütters, said on the occasion of the launch:

'Among the numerous projects the Federal Government of Germany is initiating and financially supporting during the current Centenary 2014, Europeana 1914-1918 is a highlight due to its pan-European dimension. It shows the stark difference between the European disruptions of that time and our way of cooperating nowadays. It is vital for the Government to point out, especially to young people, that today’s Europe is a union based on shared values, policies and justice. That’s the best way to avoid the wars, terror and fragmentation that Europe suffered in the 20th century. We don’t just want to show historical events, we want to use them for the present and the future. The Europeana project will help shape our views of that time and it will make a great contribution to the mutual understanding of the European people, despite the conflicts of history.'

Hermann Parzinger, the President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation to which the Berlin State Library belongs, said,

'The launch of the Europeana 1914-1918 is a visionary start to the commemoration year "1914.Aufbruch.Weltbruch" run by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and all its related institutions. The outcomes of the new website will be of long-lasting value. The worldwide access to this tremendous collection of highly relevant documents from the First World War offers a great basis for researchers and the general public to understand the events one hundred years ago.'

Europeana 1914-1918 is full of original source material – digitised photographs, maps, diaries, newspapers, letters, drawings and other content that can be used by teachers, historians, journalists, students and interest groups to create new resources. Already, the site is providing content for a new exhibition called The First World War: Places of transition and a new multilingual educational site developed by the British Library in London.

Jill Cousins, Executive Director of Europeana, said,

'It's a unique collection of raw materials – rare, fragile and hardly seen before. We're encouraging everyone - history teachers, Wikipedians, apps developers - to use it in new ways. Most of the content is under an open licence, because we want people to re-use it to help broaden everyone's understanding of our European past.'

The launch marks the beginning of an important programme of events to open this Centenary year:

30/31 January – two family digitisation days at the Berlin State Library, 10.00 – 18.00.

Anybody with family papers and memorabilia from the First World War can bring them along to be photographed and put online. The family digitisation days are from 10.00 to 18.00 on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 January at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.

Also on the 30-31 January, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is running the Unlocking Sources conference. It will be attended by 300 experts from across Europe. At the conference they will reflect on how online resources can add to our understanding of the conflict – including a session on whether video games harm or help our interpretation of the tragedy.

Barbara Schneider-Kempf, the Director General of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz said,

'Our partner libraries have provided a rich mix of materials, showing different sides of the historic conflict and never before seen together. This raw material will allow historians, curators, teachers, researchers and digital developers to shape new interpretations of the experiences of 1914-1918. Our Unlocking Sources conference is their first introduction to Europeana 1914-1918 and the opportunities it will offer them.'

Using the major War Collection of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the exhibition Unlocking Sources 1914-1918 – The Making Of shows how a cultural institution digitises their hidden resources and presents them online so everyone has access and can find new ways to use and share them.

As part of the exhibition, a specially made short film tells the story of the war writer Walter Flex, author of the acclaimed Wanderer zwischen beiden Welten (The Wanderer between Two Worlds), whose personal documents, including a bullet-holed map, letters, manuscripts and photographs, are preserved in the Staatsbibliothek.

The First World War on Film

In the evening of 30 January, delegates at the conference will have a special showing of selected films from the period, accompanied by the renowned pianist Eunice Martins in the Zeughaus Cinema.

These films, together with a further 660 hours of moving images, have been contributed to Europeana 1914-1918 by 21 European film archives under the direction of the Deutsches Filminstitut [DIF]. Director of the DIF Claudia Dillmann, said,

'The contribution that film makes to our understanding of the period is immense. Barely 20% of the silent film produced at the time has survived and most of the newsreels, documentaries, fiction and propaganda that we have put online have not been seen by the public for a century. We have also digitised anti-war films that reflect on the catastrophe at first hand.'

Notes for editors:

The projects that have combined to create the Europeana 1914-1918 web resource are:

Europeana Collections 1914-1918 has brought together 10 great European libraries and two further partners to digitise over 400,000 documents from their collections – everything from rare trench newspapers to censored letters from troops. The project has been co-ordinated by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz.

European Film Gateway 1914 is a partnership of 26 institutions. A unique body of work, featuring not only all of the phases and locations of War but also all genres from propaganda to anti-war films, has been contributed by 21 film archives. Over 660 hours of film and 5,500 film-related documents have been digitised. The project has been co-ordinated by the Deutsches Filminstitut in Frankfurt.

Europeana's family history roadshows were developed in partnership with Oxford University and have been held in 12 countries so far, attended by thousands of ordinary people who want to have memorabilia digitised and to tell the stories of their family at war. In 2014, roadshows will be held in five more countries. So far, more than 90,000 contributions are accessible online. Families are also encouraged to upload their pictures from World War 1 directly onto the site:
The family history collection days in Germany have been supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and run by Facts & Files, Berlin.

Learning about World War One

The new educational website (, funded by the European Commission within Europeana Collections 1914-1918 and developed by the award-winning learning team at the British Library in London, gives curated access to content digitised as part of Europeana 1914-1918 in a number of languages. The site provides teaching materials for schools, and is designed to help students and anyone wanting to learn about the war to explore the events around 1914-1918.

Alongside the original documents and images, the site includes short films, essays and interviews with leading experts from countries across Europe on topics that defined the war and its aftermath. They include

  • the shifting boundaries of Europe
  • how technology drove the war
  • the power of propaganda
  • the class and gender struggles that emerged from WW1 to transform Europe

Countries involved in developing Europeana 1914-1918

Europeana Collections 1914-1918 European Film Gateway 1914 Europeana Family History Roadshows
Austria Austria
Belgium Belgium Belgium
Britain Britain Britain
Czech Republic
Denmark Denmark Denmark
France France France
Germany Germany Germany
Greece [will run in 2014]
Italy Italy Italy
The Netherlands The Netherlands [2014]
Poland [2014]
Portugal [2014]
Romania Romania
Serbia Serbia Serbia [2014]

Partners in Europeana Collections 1914-1918

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Germany – project coordinator
Bibliothèque nationale de France, France
Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire de Strasbourg, France
Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma "Vittorio Emanuele II", Italy
Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, Italy
Bibliothèque Royale / Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Belgium
The British Library, UK
Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Denmark
Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Austria
Narodna biblioteka Srbije, Serbia
CLIO-Online, Germany
Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico delle biblioteche italiane e per le informazioni bibliografiche, Italy

Partners in European Film Gateway 1914 [EFG14]

Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF e.V., Germany – project coordinator
Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, Germany
Reelport GmbH, Germany
Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, Germany
Arhiva Nationala de Filme, Romania
Association des Cinémathèques Européennes, German/Belgium
Athena Research and Innovation Center in Information Communication & Knowledge Technologies, Greece
Centre national du cinéma – Archives françaises du Film, France
Cinecittá Luce S.p.A, Italy
Cinémathèque royale de Belgique
CNR-Istituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell´Informazione, Italy
CulturArts Generalita – Unidad de Audiovisual y Cinematografía, Spain
Det Danske Filminstitut, Denmark
Estonian Film Archive
EYE Stichting Film Instituut Nederland, The Netherlands
Filmarchiv Austria
Fondazione Cineteca Italiana
Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna
Imperial War Museums, UK
Instituto de la Cinematografia y Artes Audiovisuales – Filmoteca Española
Jugoslovenska Kinoteka, Serbia
Hungarian National Digital Archive
La Cineteca del Friuli, Italy
Národní filmový archiv, Czech Republic
Nasjonalbiblioteket, Norway
Österreichisches Filmmuseum, Austria

Media contacts

Europeana Foundation
Jonathan Purday, +44 (0)7885 516234

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Jeanette Lamble | Generaldirektion, +49 (0)30 - 266 431444

Deutsches Filminstut e.V.
Julia Welter, +49 (0)69 - 961220-403

Facts & Files – Historical Research Institute Berlin
Frank Drauschke, +49 (0)163 – 4809862

Press images

The images in this press release are available to download at Europeana Professional or Dropbox.
Four films from European Film Gateway 1914 are also available for press use. Web-ready versions are on Europeana Professional/Vimeo. For broadcast quality versions, please email

Additional images are available at: