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Bayeux Tapestry and ICRC WWI Prisoners Archives listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register

20-11-2007 (Paris)
Bayeux Tapestry and ICRC WWI Prisoners Archives listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register
Harold blinded by an arrow.
Detail of the Bayeux Tapestry.
© French State
Two new inscriptions on UNESCO's Memory of the World Register were celebrated last week: the Bayeux Tapestry (France) and the Archives of the International Prisoners of War Agency, 1914-1923 (International Committee of the Red Cross).
The unveiling of the Memory of the World plaque at the Bayeux Tapestry Museum took place on 12 November in the presence of the Mayor of Bayeux. Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Abdul Waheed Khan, who represented UNESCO at the ceremony, highlighted the exceptional character of the Tapestry. "This Tapestry, or embroidery, is not only an exceptional work of art; it is also an essential source of information on the way of life in the Middle Ages. It is a unique documentary record, which fully deserves its place in the Memory of the World Register," he said.

The Bayeux Tapestry is a documentary record which employs particular narrative techniques and makes use of symbolism. It retains to this day an element of mystery, as several questions have not yet been fully answered. The truly exceptional character of the Tapestry also lies in its size: it is 68.80 metres long, 50 centimetres high and weighs close to 350 kilograms (original cloth and lining).

The Archives of the International Prisoners of War Agency (IPWA), a body created by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during the early days of World War I, cover a unique and internationally significant body of records. The Director-General of UNESCO agreed with the assessment that emphasized the importance of this archive for the benefit of humanity by inscribing it on the Memory of the World Register. This inscription, the first from an international organization, was celebrated on 15 November, just days after the 89th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. It took place at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, Switzerland, and was attended by Swiss Vice-President, Pascal Couchepin, and the ICRC President, Jakob Kellenberger.

The ICRC archives document the extensive scale of suffering of the victims of World War I, an event that transformed and affected the modern world. The task of the IPWA was to re-establish contact between people who had been separated by the war. It carried out pioneering work in civilian protection. Its archives illustrate its efforts to humanize prison conditions and make it possible to follow individually the tragic fate of two million victims from all continents.

The ICRC plans to restore and digitize the archives by 2014, the 100th anniversary of the start of the war – and make them available on the Internet.
Bayeux Tapestry and ICRC WWI Prisoners Archives listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register Bayeux Tapestry
© French State

Bayeux Tapestry and ICRC WWI Prisoners Archives listed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register ICRC Archives
© ICRC
Related themes/countries

      · Memory of the World Register
      · Abdul Waheed Khan
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