Europeana 1914-1918: A new website that brings all sides of World War One together launches in Berlin, featuring 10,000 items from the British Library's collections


The Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media in Germany, Monika Grütters, today launched Europeana 1914-1918, an online resource that opens up hidden stories of the First World War and shows the tragedy that shaped Europe from different sides of the conflict.

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 in Europe
  • 660 hours of unique film material digitised by audiovisual archives
  • the personal papers and memorabilia of some 8,000 people involved in the war, held by their families and digitised at special events in 12 countries

The British Library is leading the UK’s contribution to the site, and has contributed 10,000 items from its own First World War collections to the site, including trench journals from foreign troops, iconic war poetry, London schoolchildren’s accounts of Zeppelin raids and many more. The British Library has also produced a new website offering curated access to over 500 digitised historical sources from Europeana 1914-1918 for schools.

The new educational website [www.bl.uk/world-war-one], funded by the European Commission and developed by the 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

At the launch, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, said, ‘Europeana 1914-1918 will help us understand the crisis that convulsed Europe. It opens up unfamiliar stories to the world that will inform our reflections on the tragedy during the centenary years. This site documents Europe’s shared experience and gives us the resources to see the conflict from many different perspectives.’

Monika Grütters continued, '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.'

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 as well as the new 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.'

Notes to Editors:

To read the full press release go to http://pro.europeana.eu/pressrelease/29jan

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 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: www.european1914-1918.eu.

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.

Media contacts:

Europeana Foundation
Jonathan Purday
jonathan.purday@bl.uk, +44 (0)7885 516234

For more information contact:


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.  




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