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Heirlooms. European Stories

Europe: Exchange and Movement Goethe-Institut

Cube sugar, cooperatives, postcards: these inventions and achievements not only originated in Europe but also through European exchange. For example, an Austrian director of a sugar factory in Moravia invented the sugar cube and patented it in 1843, about thirty years before a Frenchman invented the first sugar cube machine. Or the cooperative: conceived in France, initially tried in England, and first widely established in Germany. The postcard had precursors throughout Europe – in Austria-Hungary, France and England – before its Golden Age dawned in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century.

Under the title “Heirloom”, the Goethe-Institut is collecting European cultural goods: these may be specialties, traditions, phenomena, music genres or architectural styles – provided only that they are related to at least three European countries. This shows that cultural heritage in many parts of Europe is never purely national in origin, but has always been born in exchange.

The collected heirlooms will be presented on goethe.de/heirlooms in the form of videos, articles and photo galleries – and answer the most important questions about cultural heritage.

In addition, the Goethe-Institut is organizing Edit-a-thons: multi-day “editing marathons” in which participants, together with representatives of the local Wikimedia groups, write and supplement Wikipedia entries. The aim is to work out, in the respective language versions of the Wikipedia article, the common European emergence of heirlooms, if this was not previously known.