eye to eye with eyewitnesses
The museum follows the chronicle of the First World War, but in parallel sets out a course of eyewitnesses. Those who were there are called up again to have their accounts told by real-life actors.
Richard Wybouw who fled with his family to France, four soldiers who lived through the Christmas Truces, the German pioneer Willi Siebert who explored the gassed terrain on 22 April 1915 (and the chemist Fritz Haber who had convinced his army commanders to use this weapon), Achiel Van Walleghem who worked and continued to work as a village priest a few kilometres behind the front, Jerome Verdonck who helped counter the spring offensive in 1918 just a stone's throw from his parental home, and Eric Hiscock who lost his friend in the last month of the war: this is the first-hand reality of the First World War.
the insight of aid workers
In the cinema room, three British medical service workers recount their immense task of caring wounded people. The famous American neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing was working in a rear area field hospital in the summer of 1917. On the screen, he is flanked by the American nurse Ellen Newbold La Motte, who worked mainly for the French, and the young British volunteer Enid Bagnold.
the voice of poets, thinkers and dreamers
The fear that the struggle for world power and the arms race would one day result in a major war prompted many to choose a radically different path. Even though history would ultimately not follow them, their dissenting voices are to be noticed here and there in the exhibition.
Also during and after the war - when all the suffering and loss had to be officially justified - voices of poets, thinkers and dreamers were heard pleading for inclusion and reconciliation, and for international cooperation and pacifism.