Ecumenical News International

UNESCO awards Memory of the World status for 14 Luther manuscripts

March 18, 2016

Wittenberg (epd). 14 early Reformation documents have been added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register at an event in Wittenberg. They include a manuscript of Luther's edition of the Hebrew Bible, a poster with the 95 theses on indulgences and his translation of the Bible. On 17 March the vice-president of the German UNESCO Commission, Christoph Wulf, confirmed this status by presenting to the directors of the eleven institutions in which the originals are preserved.

The ceremony took place in Wittenberg's Lutherhaus museum, which contributed Luther's letter to Emperor Charles V in 1521 to the UNESCO list. The museum is run by the Foundation of Luther memorials in Saxony-Anhalt. Martin Luther (1483-1546) started the Reformation when he posted his 95 theses in Wittenberg in 1517.

Luther looms large

The 14 manuscripts, letters and prints were added to the documentary heritage register. The other originals are in libraries and museums in Wolfenbüttel, Dresden, Dessau, Berlin, Weimar, Gotha, Heidelberg, Worms and Jena.

Luther's writings influenced social development for centuries, underlined education minister Johanna Wanka (CDU). The UNESCO recognition takes on particular importance in view of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, she underlined in Berlin before the award ceremony.

The minister expressed particular appreciation to the Leibniz Institute for European History in Mainz, which is funded by the federal and state governments. Together with other international Luther experts, the Institute had prepared the application and nomination dossier for UNESCO, drawing on extensive research on the religious history of 16th century Europe.

The Unesco Memory of the World Register is a digital network with collections of books, manuscripts, scores, films and other video and audio documents. It currently comprises 348 documents from all over the world. They include the theses of the Polish Solidarnosc (solidarity) movement, the archives of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Göttingen Gutenberg Bible.



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