Carving Out an Identity: The Monument aux Morts in Republican Strasbourg
- Author(s): Richter, Andrew
- Advisor(s): Farmer, Sarah
- et al.
War memorials serve as powerful sites of memory, symbols around which collective identity is
developed. Strasbourg’s monument aux morts is no exception, yet in content it is unique among
French monuments to the First World War. The monument aux morts depicts a mother mourning
over her two dying sons, who fought on opposing sides of the conflict. My project addresses
themes of commemoration, borderland identity, and public spectacle. It seeks to show how
Strasbourg’s unique geopolitical position, caught between the German Empire and the Third
Republic, contributed to its public representation of its wartime experience. Moreover, drawing
on the concept of invented tradition, I posit that the monument’s 1936 inauguration
ceremony served the ritual function of symbolically integrating the citizens of Strasbourg into
the French Republic – a process which was negotiated between national center and periphery.