Blue Shield in Germany

 National Committee under construction
Situation  -  Initiatives  -  Online tool  -  Blue Shield


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Situation in Germany

During the cold war, West-Germany - as a front state - was in Europe the leading country in protection of cultural property from air attacks. The central nuclear proof shelter "Barbarastollen"in the Black Forest met the highest standards of its period.It is the only German heritage site protected by the triple Blue Shield emblem. It preserves more than 900 Million pictures on microfilm.

Since 1990, Germany continued its good programms, but was late in meeting new challenges.

A major structural drawback is that the responsability for civil protection is split between the Federal Government (in case of war) and the Federal States (in case of natural disasters).
The Federal Office of Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK) has only a small department for heritage protection.

The Federal Army ("Bundeswehr") has no separate internal structures for the protection of cultural heritage.

Initiatives and Alliances

In 2007, the participants of the first federal conference on the protection of cultural property agreed on the resolution "Ahrweiler Empfehungen". It analyzes the unsatisfactory situation in Germany, and makes suggestions to the authorities. It also highlights best practice in the neighbouring states Austria ("heritage protection officers") and Switzerland (civil protection).

Its first requisition has been met: In 2009, Germany has ratified the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention.
The suggestion (no 8), to support (local and regional) heritage emergeny alliances, was followed by several cities (e.g. Weimar, Hannover)
Concerning the other issues, unfortunately there has been no substantial progress in Germany during the past years.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kulturgutschutz e.V. (German Society for the Protection of Cultural Property) has been estblished in 1993. Its objectives are very similar to those of (later founded) Blue Shield. It is part of the International League of these societies.
In 2012, this society has decided to support the foundation of a Blue Shield National Committee in Germany.

In 2001, several major archives and libraries have established the "Allianz Schriftliches Kulturgut Erhalten" (Alliance for protecting written heritage). It is also focussing on disaster related preparedness and response.
In order to raise public awareness, since 2005 the alliance organizes the "Nationaler Aktionstag für die Erhaltung schriftlichen Kulturguts" (National promotion day for protecting written heritage) - every year in a different city.

The "Konferenz nationaler Kultureinrichtungen" / KNK (Conference of National Cultural Institutions) is a coalition of major cultural institutions located in the former East Germany. It was established in 2002. It has a special focus on the protection of cultural heritage, offering conferences and publications.
Its most relveant contribution is the
"SiLK - SicherheitsLeitfaden Kulturgut" (Details: see following paragraph), an innovative online tool for risk analysis and prevention (in German).

SiLK - SicherheitsLeitfaden Kulturgut


The "SicherheitsLeitfaden Kulturgut" (Security Guideline for Heritage Institutions) has been developed during the past four years. It integrates museums, archives, and libraries.

It covers a general introduction to security management and thirteen risks; four of them are relevant for Blue Shield matters: earthquake, extreme weather conditions, flood, and (civil) war/terror/public disorder.

For each risk the online platform offers a questionnaire as central tool. You also will find
- a short introduction
- a systematic description of a risk and the preventive measures
- printed and online resources

Questionnaire: Concept and target groups

The really new concept is the questionnaire. For each question a pull down menu with an explaining text is offered, and you may choose between several answers. Your preferred answer will be then marked by a green, yellow or red "traffic light", and you get informed, why you are classified this way, and what you should do to improve. After finishing the whole questionnaire (15 to 30 questions per risk), you get a final evaluation (pdf-document) for this risk that you may store or print.

The big advantage is that you can anonymously (and without logging in) check, whether your institution is well prepared for a particular kind of risk or not. This makes a self-critical check very easy. You can split it up in various short online session or may select just those risks you need most. Furthermore after each check you can decide, if you keep the results with you (and try first to fight the major shortcomings), or if you use the printed results in an offensive way, in order to find allies for a major improvement.

One basic aim is to raise awareness among the whole team and to give more acceptances to the demands of the security colleagues. Therefore the texts are not written for security specialists, but for heritage professionals in general. E.g. a director may 'privately' learn, whether his institution is at the state of art in risk prevention. Or he may better understand why his security department is urging to improve certain measures. But also each staff member may use this online platform to broaden his professional education, or to prepare himself for discussions with the security colleague.

Particularly useful is this tool for smaller institutions without specialized security staff, of course.

If you focus on improving in a particular field, you can easily repeat this check as often as you like (e.g. in an annual turn) and document the progress.

Blue Shield Germany - National Committee under construction

Since 2006, Germany is listed among the "Blue Shield national committees under constrution", with Thomas Schuler as contact. There had been some talks with ICOM Germany, ICOMOS Germany, the German Library Association, the Society of German Archivists and the Federal Archive. But it has been a slow procedure.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kulturgutschutz e.V. (German Society for the Protection of Cultural Property) has decided at their annual meeting in Goslar on 29 September 2012, to promote the foundation of a Blue Shield National Committee in Germany. This is a promising in intiative, because the similar societies in Austria and Switzerland have been very successful in heping to establish a Blue Shield National Committee in their country.

In April 2016 Prof. Dr. Markus Hilgert has been named as "National Correspondent for the Blue Shield in Germany" by ICBS.

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