The interdisciplinary project “I see something you don’t see”, worked on by a small group of students from the faculties of design, geography and archaeology, was initiated by the University of Applied Sciences and the University of Münster as part of the “Expedition for Peace” and the “Expedition Münsterland”. The aim of the project was to bring a relatively unknown prisoner of war camp closer to the population 100 years after the First World War by means of an exhibition.
The Expedition Münsterland is a project initiated by the Research Transfer Office of the University of Münster (AFO) in 2010. The Expedition Münsterland aims to present science and research in the region at “science locations”. In this way, university researchers get to know the Münsterland and the university can present itself to an interested audience. With innovative concepts and ideas, the contact and communication between research and the population in the Münsterland should be established, borders overcome and the region experienced anew.Expedition Münsterland
Few traces in the Münsterland still show today the events of the First World War. In the peasantry Nienberge near Münster lies an inconspicuous “Cemetery of Honor,” which on closer inspection as a memorial to prisoners of war from the World War I turns out to be. The cemetery was created 1915 by French prisoners of war, who were killed in the of the estate Haus Spital in a prison camp were interned. Shortly after the attack on Belgium, in mid-September 1914 a provisional “emergency camp” was set up.
The prisoners there were almost left to themselves. In earth huts and tents they protected themselves provisionally from the autumnal weather. The internees were guarded by a Münster “Landsturm”, who was in the nearby
Gutshof Haus Spital was accommodated. About one month later, a hastily built Barracks complex. By the end of the war more than 20,000 prisoners from Russia, France, Britain and Italy interned here. In 1915, the guards of the POW camp a nailing site on the Horstmarer Landweg one. The people of Münster now made a pilgrimage there for nails into a wooden cross, donate and thus their solidarity with the German soldiers at the front to show. With the capitulation of Germany and the end of the war, November 1918, the prison camp dissolved. The barracks were demolished and the site built over time. Next to the cemetery of honour of the prisoners of war today only the foundation of the nailing site of the events at the time. The POW camp was although researched by different people, the level of awareness the place, its history and its importance but today the majority of the population low.
The project was implemented by us students with a very small budget and few helpers between February and July. The exhibition finally took place on 6 July 2014 near the Hof Spital in Münster. For about 300 visitors we gave a total of three guided tours along a path designed by us and provided information about the living conditions in the camp. The interest in this topic was immense and many Münsterians had their own stories about
to tell this place. Especially during and after the Guided tours led to stimulating discussions about what had happened and events in this context, there were still a lot of questions. Some of the participants also talked about experiences that had something special for her personally had to do with this place. It made it clear to us how very much our event moved people.
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