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Conference to explore impact of the Great War on Aberdeen and its twin cities

07/02/14

A conference exploring different aspects of the Great War and its impact on Aberdeen and its European twin cities takes place in Aberdeen next month.

The two-day conference, which will feature speakers from Aberdeen, Clermont-Ferrand in France and Regensburg in Germany, is a one-off Aberdeen City Council-led event to mark the centenary of the Great War.

Topics being presented include war artists, war literature, conscientious objectors, social democracy and The Gordon Highlanders.

School groups from Clermont-Ferrand, Regensburg and Belarus will attend the event, which will include a schools conference during which students will learn about the impact of the "war to end all wars" on their respective cities and countries. Gordon Highlanders 'living historians' will help bring the occasion to life for the youngsters.

The Great War, which was triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, claimed the lives of more than nine million people and paved the way for significant political changes in many of the countries involved, and the re-drawing of Europe.

A free evening conference for the general public and interest groups will be held on Thursday, 27 March in the Beach Ballroom, with doors opening at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Speakers from the three cities and representatives of the Gordon Highlanders' Museum, the NHS, Aberdeen Art Gallery, and the University of Aberdeen, will discuss the short and long term impacts of the 1914-1918 war.

A Young People's Discussion has been arranged for 28 March, in conjunction with information service Europe Direct. The young people from Aberdeen, Clermont-Ferrand and Regensburg will discuss the Great War, their cities, and the future of Europe. Their discussions and questions will be led by the speakers from the Conference.

Museum visits, including the Gordon Highlanders Museum and Aberdeen Art Gallery, have been arranged for the young people taking part in the conference, as well as social and cultural activities with local school children.

An evening of Scottish entertainment, including a ceilidh, music and poetry has been organised to round-off the event and leave the visitors with a lasting, favourable impression of Aberdeen as a city which is both proud of its heritage and looking to the future.

Lord Provost of Aberdeen George Adam said: "The sacrifices made by ordinary people during war time are nothing short of extraordinary, and that was particularly true during the Great War. Those sacrifices ultimately made life better for millions of people and should never be forgotten.

"The Impact of the Great War conference brings together children and adults from Aberdeen and her European twin cities, and celebrates the friendship of our cities which were once at war. It will provide a fascinating insight into both the short and long-term impacts of the war on the different countries and its people. In doing so, it presents a fantastic learning opportunity for the young people involved, as well as for members of the public who attend the open event."

External funding and policy executive Amye Robinson, who played a key role in organising the conference, said: "There has been great support and interest from all three cities involved in this project. The conference will reap benefits for everyone involved, provide an interesting learning experience not only for school pupils, but also members of the public, and bring individuals and organisations together.

"Bringing together school pupils and speakers from three twin cities which were each very differently affected by and impacted on by the war will give each group a very interesting and 'real' insight into the horrors of the war, the changes it brought about, how it shaped democracy. It will also help people to understand and commemorate what those involved in the Great War gave up for us."

Entry to the public conference is free. To book your ticket, visit http://www.eventbrite.com/myevent?eid=10163704915

The event is being supported by a €5,000 grant from the EU Europe for Citizens fund and Aberdeen is the first city to secure this type of funding for a town twinning meeting.