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The Project

The project "transboundary European World Heritage – a topic for UNESCO project schools" aims to familiarize students and teachers with the topic of the transboundary World Heritage Sites: the Mining Cultural Landscape Erzgebirge/Krušnohori, the German-Polish Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski and the German-Danish Hedeby / Danevirke. At the example of these three heritage sites, the students and teachers explore their joint European history and discover which themes link them, as well as which set them apart. In binational workshops they develop themes and questions regarding the transnational heritage sites and visualize them into contemporary formats, such as videos.

Erzgebirge / Krušnohoří Mining Region

The Erzgebirge / Krušnohoří mining region is a European border region on both sides of the German-Czech border. Evidence of eight hundred years of mining, associated technology and traditions can be traced throughout the region through numerous monuments, mines, and towns from that time. Because of this unique mining heritage, the region is slated to become as the first German-Czech transboundary World Heritage site (status: summer 2019).

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Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski

The Muskau Park / Park Mużakowski and the geological formation of the Coal Crescent/Łuk Mużakowa are located on both sides of the German-Polish border. The park was founded by Prince Pückler at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The landscape park has already been part of 200 years of European history. The negative consequences of the Second World War and the division of Europe characterize the area even as do the achievements of the merging of East and West in the 1990s. In 2004 the park became a German-Polish binational World Heritage Site.

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Hedehy / Danevirke

As an important seaport and a defensive system between Scandinavia and continental Europe, Hedeby and Danevirke were significant places during the Viking Age. In the period between 800 and 1000 AD. a multitude of European peoples and ethnic groups came in contact with each other here to exchange goods, technical and cultural knowhow and stories. Today, nature and conservation authorities in Germany and Denmark ensure the preservation of this unique archaeological site. In 2018 the site was inscribed in the World Heritage List.

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What does UNESCO World Heritage mean?

In November 1972, UNESCO made the decision to protect the cultural and natural heritage of humanity. For this purpose, the so-called World Heritage Convention was adopted. This lays out what constitutes a World Heritage Site: it must have extraordinary significance for the whole of humanity and should encourage people to recognize the significance of their history for the future. Both cultural (e.g. buildings) and natural (e.g. nature parks) sites, places and regions can be declared World Heritage Sites. Currently there are 1,092 sites in 167 countries worldwide (2019).

What does transboundary European World Heritage mean?

All World Heritage sites have what is deemed "outstanding universal value,” which must be proven by each application from the countries, who ask for the inscription of one of their cultural or natural sites in the World Heritage list. Most of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites are therefore on the territory of the state that signed the World Heritage convention. At the same time, borders have changed over the course of time. For this reason, so-called transboundary World Heritage sites are also found worldwide. In Europe they are known as transboundary European World Heritage. The number of such sites in Europe is currently at twenty-one.

Beispiel Erzgebirge: Weltkulturerbe seit Juli 2019

 
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The UNESCO World Heritage

What is the connection between the Pyramids of Giza and the Statue of Liberty in New York? What connects the Ausschwitz Birkenau Memorial with the Wadden Sea, or the Cologne Cathedral with the Rammelsberg Mine in the Harz Mountains? They are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage sites are valuable material traces, objects, buildings, or landscapes of humankind and the earth. The history of human beings and the planet can be experienced at these sites. Accordingly they belong to the heritage of all peoples and should thus be protected through our common efforts. The definition of what is to be protected as a World Heritage site can be found in the World Heritage Convention adopted by UNESCO in 1972. With 1,121 currently protected sites in 167 countries the World Heritage Convention is one of the most important instruments for the protection and conservation of the cultural and natural heritage of humankind.

But what exactly is UNESCO World Heritage today? What makes these sites special? Test your knowledge with the World Heritage Quiz! Mark the correct answers by clicking on them. (These may be more than one!)

At World Heritage sites, one can experience the history of mankind and the planet. World Heritage sites include monuments, groups of buildings and cultural and natural landscapes that –
a) have a meaning for Germany and must therefore be protected by Germans;
b) reflect an important historical epoch in Europe and must therefore be protected by Europeans;
c) have a value for all of us in the whole world and therefore must be protected by all human beings.
At World Heritage sites, one can experience the history of mankind and the planet. World Heritage sites include monuments, groups of buildings and cultural and natural landscapes that –
Answer c) is correct. World Heritage sites are not only important for the local people. Rather, they represent the heritage of all mankind. They should therefore be protected by all of us.
What is understood as a World Heritage Site is laid out in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Since its initial adoption, 193 states have signed the treaty. This makes it one of the most important conventions for the protection and conservation –
a) of the cultural and natural heritage of humanity;
b) of the cultural heritage of humanity;
c) of the natural heritage of humanity.
What is understood as a World Heritage Site is laid out in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Since its initial adoption, 193 states have signed the treaty. This makes it one of the most important conventions for the protection and conservation –
Answer a) is correct. The Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, in short, the World Heritage Convention, has set itself the task of protecting unique monuments such as the Cologne Cathedral, groups of buildings like the Historic Centre of Florence, and sites such as Palmyra in Syria – so-called cultural heritage. In addition, natural landscapes and geological phenomena such as the tidal flats of the Wadden Sea – this is called natural heritage – are to be preserved for humanity.
It is no coincidence that the UNESCO World Heritage Convention was adopted in 1972. What historical event gave rise to the adoption of the Convention?
a) The Italian flood of 1966, which destroyed large parts of the lagoon city of Venice;
b) the Vietnam War, which from 1955 to 1975 destroyed valuable Asian temples;
c) the construction of the Aswan Dam, which in 1963 threatened to flood the Egyptian temple Abu Simbel.
It is no coincidence that the UNESCO World Heritage Convention was adopted in 1972. What historical event gave rise to the adoption of the Convention?
Answer c) is correct. In 1963 the construction of the Egyptian Aswan Dam threatened to destroy the temple of Abu Simbel. To save the temple, it had to be dismantled and reassembled further inland. It was impossible for Egypt to accomplish this task alone. In an unprecedented international relief campaign, UNESCO succeeded in attracting more than 3,000 experts from all over the world and donations of 80 million dollars. Thus the temple could be saved. This marked the beginning of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.
World heritage means cultural heritage (monuments, groups of buildings, sites) and natural heritage (including landscapes and geological structures). Which of the following are cultural World Heritage sites?
a) Aachen Cathedral;
b) Muskauer Park;
c) Town of Bamberg;
d) the Wadden Sea.
World heritage means cultural heritage (monuments, groups of buildings, sites) and natural heritage (including landscapes and geological structures). Which of the following are cultural World Heritage sites?
Answers a), b), and c) are correct. Aachen Cathedral was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List as Germany's first cultural site. The Town of Bamberg is also a cultural heritage site; to this day it reveals the medieval plan and development of a central European town. Muskauer Park is a man-made cultural landscape and is therefore part of the cultural heritage. The Wadden Sea, on the other hand, is part of humanity’s natural heritage.
World heritage means cultural heritage (monuments, groups of buildings, sites) and natural heritage (including landscapes and geological structures). Which of the following are natural World Heritage sites?
a) The Statue of Liberty in New York;
b) the Dinosaur Provincial Park in America;
c) the Messel Pit Fossil Site;
d) the Wadden Sea.
World heritage means cultural heritage (monuments, groups of buildings, sites) and natural heritage (including landscapes and geological structures). Which of the following are natural World Heritage sites?
Answers b), c), and d) are correct. The Messel Pit Fossil Site was the first natural heritage site in Germany to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Dinosaur Provincial Park was also awarded the title in 1979. To this day, it is one of the most important dinosaur discovery sites in the world. Of course, the Wadden Sea is also a natural heritage site. The Statue of Liberty is a UNESCO cultural heritage site.
World Heritage sites should be protected and preserved for a long time. Why is it important to protect the heritage of the past?
a) Because today heritage sites give us important knowledge about the epochs and cultures of the past;
b) because heritage is an important economic factor;
c) because heritage can create a sense of belonging to different cultures, even to the whole world.
World Heritage sites should be protected and preserved for a long time. Why is it important to protect the heritage of the past?
Answers a) and c) are correct. World Heritage sites convey how people lived, dwelled and worked in the past. They also show how the earth developed. Thanks to many World Heritage sites, we know a lot about our past today. At the same time, cultural and natural sites create an understanding of the different cultures of the world. In this way, they create cohesion among peoples. It is therefore important to protect them from destruction. Tourists, on the other hand, and the resulting economic growth, are positive side effects of World Heritage status.
A total of 1092 sites are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2019. Of these, 44 are located in Germany and 514 in Europe and North America. Why is that so?
a) Because Europe is simply home to the most beautiful landscapes and monuments in the world;
b) because Europe is a very rich continent and can afford to apply for the World Heritage title better than many other countries;
c) because many countries in the world must set priorities other than achieving World Heritage status.
A total of 1092 sites are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2019. Of these, 44 are located in Germany and 514 in Europe and North America. Why is that so?
Answers b) and c) are correct. The application process for the title is very costly. Not every country can afford to make an application. Due to many economic and social challenges, developing countries often set priorities other than World Heritage status. Nevertheless, it has recently become apparent that many continents have a great interest in protecting the special places of their homeland with the help of the World Heritage listing.
The World Heritage list not only includes particularly old objects. The Peace Monument in Hiroshima, Japan, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp are also listed as World Heritage. Why?
a) Because these places are connected with an important historical event and therefore need to be protected;
b) because culture as defined by the World Heritage Convention includes not only beautiful buildings and works of art, but also commemoration of dark times in human history.
The World Heritage list not only includes particularly old objects. The Peace Monument in Hiroshima, Japan, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp are also listed as World Heritage. Why?
Both answers are correct. According to the World Heritage Convention, places that are directly related to an important historical event can be designated as World Heritage sites. The Peace Memorial in Hiroshima commemorates the dropping of the first atomic bomb in 1945, while the Ausschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp commemorates the Nazi era. Culture does not always and only refer to the beautiful; culture here is understood to refer to historically significant places.
What conditions are associated with the World Heritage title?
a) All income received by a site through the World Heritage title must be returned to the World Heritage Centre in Paris;
b) World Heritage titles do not entail any further obligations;
c) World Heritage sites must communicate their importance and need for protection to the public and visitors;
d) World Heritage sites are subject to a regular reporting obligation.
What conditions are associated with the World Heritage title?
Answers c) and d) are correct. The World Heritage title entails numerous obligations. These include, in particular, that the places awarded the title must protect and communicate their heritage. To ensure that this is done, World Heritage sites must report regularly to UNESCO. In particular, major development projects, such as construction projects, which could undermine the exceptional universal value of the World Heritage site, must be coordinated in advance with UNESCO.
Who is responsible for funding a World Heritage site?
a) UNESCO pays each World Heritage site a fixed annual amount for the conservation and management of the site;
b) the countries in which the World Heritage site is located remain responsible for funding.
Who is responsible for funding a World Heritage site?
Answer b) is correct. In principle, if a site is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this does not change the responsibilities. For example, there is no financial support from UNESCO for German World Heritage sites. Municipalities, associations or the federal state continue to be responsible for financing, administration and the preservation of historical monuments. However, in Germany, special federal funding programs can help to finance the costs of preservation.
Under what circumstances is it possible to revoke the title of a World Heritage site?
a) If newly built houses don't look good enough;
b) If the exceptional universal value, i.e. the unique significance for which the site was awarded, has been violated.
Under what circumstances is it possible to revoke the title of a World Heritage site?
Answer b) is correct. Once declared a World Heritage site, there are rules that a site must follow. This applies in particular to the protection and communication of the heritage. If these rules are violated, the World Heritage title can be revoked as a final measure. So far, this has only happened twice in the history of the World Heritage Convention: in Oman (natural heritage) in 2007 and in Germany (cultural heritage) in 2009.
The World Heritage Convention has now been in existence for almost 50 years. Which of the following statements has anything to do with the original idea of the convention?
a) The World Heritage title can make a significant contribution to the protection of a site, especially in countries where there are few protection mechanisms.
b) The World Heritage title has great economic potential.
c) Inclusion in the World Heritage List makes a site part of a large international network.
The World Heritage Convention has now been in existence for almost 50 years. Which of the following statements has anything to do with the original idea of the convention?
Answers a) and c) are correct. It is true that neither the economic upswing nor the growing degree of awareness associated with the World Heritage title should be underestimated. Nevertheless, these positive effects are not originally the main motivations for the application. The World Heritage Convention is and remains a protective instrument of international cooperation.

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Dates and Events

24-26 June 2019, Workshop for German and Czech pupils in Annaberg-Buchholz concerning the Erzgebirge / Krušnohoří mining region

12-14 September 2019, Workshop for German and Polish pupils in Weisswasser concerning the Muskauer Park/Park Mużakowski, Muskauer Coal Crescent/Łuk Mużakowa

Oktober 2019, Workshop for German and Danish pupils concerning Hedeby/Danevirke