In a Washington Post article titled “Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian culture are a hallmark of modern war,” A. Roger Ekirch G’91 writes about the enduring consequences of destroying cultural sites. In exploring the obliteration of cultural landmarks in modern global conflicts, he references the ACLS Committee on the Protection of Cultural Treasures in War Areas. The committee was created in January 1943 to guide the Allied Forces in the protection and recovery of art, monuments, and other treasured cultural heritage threatened by World War II. Equipped with ACLS-produced maps, guides, and manuals for the care of cultural artifacts, intrepid teams of armed forces personnel—the now celebrated Monuments Men—tracked down hundreds of pieces of art and other artifacts purloined by Nazi forces, such as the famous Ghent Altarpiece of St. Bavo Cathedral.

As illustrated by Ukraine’s wrenching experience, libraries, though powerful ‘arsenals’ in their own right, remain as vulnerable as they are appealing to enemy combatants, just as they were more than a century ago in Belgium.

A. Roger Ekirch G’91

Left: Screenshot from The Washington Post

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