Tree memories of the Second World War: a case study of common beeches from Chycina, Poland.

Dawid Kobiałka, Maksymilian Frąckowiak and Kornelia Kajda


In contrast to other tree species such as oak or pine, beech has a thin, smooth bark that rarely flakes off (Evans 2001). These properties make beech the perfect choice for carving (Bystron´ 1980). Beech bark does not usually crack, so a word or date, once carved, can survive decades and still be decipherable.

 Kobiałka D., Frąckowiak M., Kajda K. 2015, Tree memories of the Second World War: a case study of common beeches from Chycina, Poland, Antiquity, 89, pp 688 doi:10.15184/aqy.2014.52

Abstract

During the final stages of the Second World War, a trench was dug in woodland near a small Polish village, probably by prisoners of war. There are no eye witness accounts and very few artefacts survive. The only way the story of these prisoners can be told is through the material memory held by the woodland. This paper aims to broaden the concept of material culture by considering the archaeological record that is retained in the bark of living trees. The focus is on the beech trees of Chycina that may hold the only record of the construction of a small section of the Festungsfront Oder-Warthe-Bogen in western Poland in 1944.

beech II D. Kobiałka

Tree memories: beech II (photograph: Dawid Kobiałka)

To read the full article, follow the link:

Tree memories of the Second World War: a case study of
common beeches from Chycina, Poland

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