Located in the centre of the Westhoek, the IFFM conceives itself as a caretaker of the Belgian WW1-battlefield. From there rose the project of setting up, for this war theatre, an inclusive register of victims: a list including both civilians and soldiers, irrespective of nationality, former friends and foes alike, Belgians who died in their own country or abroad, and non-Belgians who lost their lives or were fatally wounded here before dying somewhere else.
Remembering the war is not new in itself. During, and definitely after the war, its victims were already commemorated. It is remarkable however that being a victim as such never has been enough a reason to be commemorated. For public recognition as a war victim, first and foremost another identity had to be proved. Victims needed further qualification as members of specific groups: football teams and companies, schools and railway companies, villages and nations endeavoured to compile a list of their own dead. Each register would therefore always be limited to a list of 'proper' names, a list of Our Comrades, Nos Enfants, Our Heroes, or Unsere Toten. Public remembrance continuated the dividing logic of us versus them. Unconsciously, perhaps. But it is clear enough that the Name List of the Own Dead afterwards was intentionally used as a powerful and sharp weapon against new enemies.
The centennial of the First World War is also the ideal opportunity to re-think the remembrance of the past century. This area once was the battlefield for almost the whole world: people from fifty different nationalities, from five different continents, walked over this ground. Beyond the division that once brought them here, all victims will forever more share this single characteristic: they all passed away, here, in this street, in this village, on the old but tangible battlefield. Enough a feature that should be for all of them to be named and commemorated in a contemporary way.
For the years to come, the project of 'The Name List' therefore is a central item for the IFFM and for GONE WEST, the remembrance programme 2014-2018 of the province of West Flanders.