Webinar: Towards an ethical charter for Atlantic Wall sites

April 22nd, 2021

The Atlantic Wall has become a symbol of oppression and exclusion experienced during the German occupation of Western Europe. This shared heritage should therefore be a place of remembrance, linking events of the past with present-day European issues and urging us to reflect on our common European values. But how should we relate to the highly visible remnants of the Atlantic Wall and their strong military connotations ethically? Could a ethical charter for Atlantic Wall sites that respects the Venice Charter on Heritage Preservation (1964) and the ICOMOS Charter on the Interpretation and Presentation of Cultural Heritage Sites (2008), be helpful in answering or addressing this question? During this webinar these questions will be discussed based on various cases.

The Atlantikwall Europe projects seeks to promote the heritage of the Atlantic Wall as a source of inspiration for cooperation with cultural and educational partners, and to develop a sustainable network of Atlantic Wall heritage sites.


15h.15 - Entry of participants 

- Rafaël Deroo, network coordinator Atlantikwall Europe

- Technical introduction: EntityOne

15h.30  -  Atlantikwall Europe Ethical Charter project presentation: Mathieu de Meyer, project leader Atlantikwall Europe (AWE) & director Atlantikwall Raversyde

15h.35 -  Introductory presentation of AWE partners at the webinars: Norway Atlantic Wall sites ‘Familiarisation Visit’: Ole-Jacob Abraham, assistant-director Museum Vest, Norway

15h.45 -  The Venice Charter and ICOMOS Charter: Marco van Baalen, Stichting Europees Erfgoed Atlantikwall, director Dutch centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage, Netherlands

15h.55 - The touchstone ‘14-’18: Heidi Timmerman, expert remembrance education, Province of West-Flanders, Belgium

16h.05 - Faith vs. Fascination: remarks on the charter from a crime scene : Marcus Meyer, Scientific director Denkort Bunker Valentin, Center for Political Education, Germany

16h.15 - The ethics of commemoration:  Valentin Schneider, historian, France (tbc)

16h.25 – ‘Design of the Third Reich’: Almar Seinen, guest-curator & developer exhibition ‘Design of the Third Reich’, Design Museum ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

15h.35 - UNESCO World heritage and conflict sites: Marc Pottier, directeur ff. La Fabrique de Patrimoines de Normandie, France

16h.45 - Introduction to the break-out rooms: some ethical questions (Mentimeter)

16h.55 - 5 BREAK-OUT sessions with the possibility for feedback and ideas on some issues for a future ethical charter 

  • 1. ‘European values’, with Rafaël Deroo, network coordinator
  • 2. ‘Education’, with Sophie Pottier, La Fabrique de Patrimoines (tbc)
  • 3. ‘Arts and Events’, with Liesbeth Gellinck, Vlaamse Landmaatschappij
  • 4. ’Merchandising, shop and promotion’, with Atlantikwall Raversyde
  • 5. ‘Re-enactment’, with Marco van Baalen, Stichting Europees Erfgoed Atlantikwall

17h.15 - Resumé of break-out rooms by each coordinator of every individual break-out room / answers to possible questions in the chat, with Mathieu de Meyer (2 min. per break-out room)

17h.35 - End of the webinar and announcement of next events


A few statements, subject for discussion in each of the break-out meetings :

1 European values

“Atlantic Wall sites can express European values like freedom, human rights, democracy and equality while maintaining universal ethical principles.”

2 Education

“Atlantic wall sites have to present their educational packages, activities, and displays in such a way that a complete and correct narrative is given to youth and the public in general. This includes the story of WWII and its origins (seen from different angles), the more specific history of the Atlantic Wall and the site, and the role of remembrance in this heritage. It should not (only) deal with (the range of ) weapons, the ‘good ones’ and the ‘bad ones’.”

3 Arts and events

“Atlantic Wall sites should, in the use of art or the organisation of events , respect the sites’ origin and heritage values. Art and events should not overtake nor depreciate or disrespect the site and should always contain a clear reference to war memory. Nor should it strive to make the visitor feel what war felt like for a soldier or civilian, as this is impossible.”

4 Merchandising, shop and promotion

“In their stores, Atlantic Wall sites will not present books and goods that embellish, vulgarize or glorify war. Besides that, the promotion of the site should be organised in a way it interferes with the solemn atmosphere which a remembrance site deserves, not as a flat commercial product or a mere symbol of power.”

5 Re-enactment

“Atlantic Wall sites will only use re-enacting in their public events when they support a specific educational storytelling action. In doing so, they must follow specific rules. Playing a war is out of the question.”