What is hidden behind the term "art protection", which was used in the First World War? To what extent were art historians and other arts scholars involved in war tactics? The research project " Kunsthistoriker der Mittelmächte im Ersten Weltkrieg – Apologeten der Vernichtung oder „Kunstschützer“?” (Art Historians of the Central Powers in the First World War" - apologists of destruction or "art protectors"?) comparatively examines the procedures and the research interests of the scholars involved in the various theatres of war.
Art historians of the Central Powers in the First World War - apologists of destruction or "art protectors"?
Already in the first weeks of the First World War, a great number of buildings, structures and monuments of art were lost on the fronts. German troops were responsible for the destruction of the historic centers of Ypres in Belgium and of 
deu. Kalisch

The Polish county seat Kalisz was first mentioned in documents around 150 AD and is therefore called the oldest city in Poland. It is located in the valley of the Prosna River in the Wielkopolska Voivodeship. In the 16th and 17th centuries Kalisz was considered one of the most important cities in the Kingdom. In 1793, in the course of the second partition of Poland-Lithuania, Kalisz became part of Prussia. Between 1807 and 1815 Kalisz belonged to the Napoleonic Duchy of Warsaw, whose territories fell to the Russian Empire in 1815. Kalish became part of the so-called Congress Poland and experienced economic prosperity in the following years. During the First World War the town was almost completely destroyed by German troops. In the 1920s and 1930s, large parts of the city were rebuilt.
During World War II, the city became part of the so-called Wartheland and was subjected to the rigorous Germanization policy of the National Socialist German Reich. On the one hand, the Jewish population, which until then had not been victims of shootings or deportations to concentration or extermination camps, was ghettoized, and later - after the ghetto was dissolved in 1942 - transferred to the Litzmannstadt ghetto. Among other things, large parts of the Polish population were deported to make room for the German population to be resettled here in "Heim ins Reich" actions from the Baltic States, Transylvania or Bukovina.
After the Second World War Kalisz belonged to the People's Republic of Poland, since 1990 to the 3rd Polish Republic.

 in the Russian partition of Poland as well as for the shelling of the cathedral of Reims. Russian offensives devastated small towns and villages in 
East Prussia
deu. Ostpreußen, pol. Prusy Wschodnie, lit. Rytų Prūsija, rus. Восто́чная Пру́ссия, rus. Vostóchnaia Prússiia

East Prussia is the name of the former most eastern Prussian province, which existed until 1945 and whose extent (regardless of historically slightly changing border courses) roughly corresponds to the historical landscape of Prussia. The name was first used in the second half of the 18th century, when, in addition to the Duchy of Prussia with its capital Königsberg, which had been promoted to a kingdom in 1701, other previously Polish territories in the west (for example, the so-called Prussia Royal Share with Warmia and Pomerania) were added to Brandenburg-Prussia and formed the new province of West Prussia.
Nowadays, the territory of the former Prussian province belongs mainly to Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast) and Poland (Warmia-Masuria Voivodeship). The former so-called Memelland (also Memelgebiet, lit. Klaipėdos kraštas) first became part of Lithuania in 1920 and again from 1945.

deu. Galizien, yid. גאַליציע‎, yid. Galitsiye, ron. Halici, ron. Galiția, hun. Halics, hun. Gácsország, hun. Kaliz, hun. Galícia, ces. Halič, slk. Halič, rus. Галиция, rus. Galizija, ukr. Галичина, ukr. Halytschyna, pol. Galicja

Galicia is a historical landscape, which today is almost entirely located on the territory of Poland and Ukraine. The part in southeastern Poland is usually referred to as Western Galicia, and the part in western Ukraine as Eastern Galicia. Before 1772, Galicia belonged for centuries to the Polish-Lithuanian noble republic, and subsequently and until 1918 - as part of the crown land "Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria" - to the Habsburg Empire.

The actions in Belgium and France were denounced by the Entente states as the work of the "German barbarians". Under growing propaganda pressure, the government of the Reich followed the concept of "art protection", which had been largely developed by Paul Clemen, in order to restore Germany's cultural reputation: German scientists were to take initial security measures in the conquered territories, document the destruction, research art monuments and draw up plans for reconstruction. Above all, these activities were to be communicated to an international public. 
deu. Österreich-Ungarn, deu. Donaumonarchie, deu. Doppelmonarchie, deu. Habsburgerreich, deu. Habsburgisches Reich, deu. Habsburgermonarchie, hun. Osztrák-Magyar Birodalom, eng. Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy, eng. Austrian-Hungarian Empire

Austria-Hungary (Hungarian: Osztrák-Magyar Monarchia), also known as Imperial and Royal Hungary Monarchy, was a historical state in Central and Southeastern Europe that existed from 1867 to 1918.

 took up this concept as well, and the two other Central Powers 
bul. Bŭlgariya, bul. България, deu. Bulgarien

Bulgaria is a South-Eastern European country and is inhabited by about 7 million people. Sofia is the capital of the republic and the largest city in the country. Bulgaria is situated on the Black Sea in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula. The largest rivers in the country include the Danube and Maritsa.

  and the 
Ottoman Empire
tur. Osmanlı İmparatorluğu, deu. Osmanisches Reich, deu. Ottomanisches Reich

The Ottoman Empire was the state of the Ottoman dynasty from about 1299 to 1922. The name derives from the founder of the dynasty, Osman I. The successor state of the Ottoman Empire is the Republic of Turkey.

 also cooperated in some areas.
Current state of research
While sound research is already available on the activities of "art conservation" in Belgium and France, it is almost completely lacking for the regions of Eastern Central and South-Eastern Europe.
This is where the project, realized in cooperation with the Leipzig Center for the History and Culture of East Central Europe (GWZO) and international partners, comes in: using a comparative perspective, the project investigates which research interests guided the art historians in the various theatres of war, which protection and reconstruction measures they actually initiated, and whether and in what form cooperation between these experts and their counterparts in the respective countries took place. An important related area of inquiry concerns opposing concepts or interferences with post-war reconstruction projects, for example in 
deu. Polen, pol. Polska

Poland is a state in Central Eastern Europe and is home to approximately 38 million people. The country is the sixth largest member state of the European Union. The capital and biggest city of Poland is Warsaw. Poland is made up of 16 voivodships. The largest river in the country is the Vistula (Polish: Wisła).

The questions also focus on the long-term effects of the research premises developed during the war in the art historiography of the interwar period ("Ostforschung"). In particular, the role of the photographic collections created over the course of the research campaigns of the First World War will be examined: The pictures published in scholarly and popular volumes evidently had a lasting influence on the perception of the German public.
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