For almost the whole of the war, the town of Péronne was occupied by German troops. It was finally liberated on the 2nd September 1918 by Australian troops.
Life under German rule deeply affected the inhabitants of Péronne and the town suffered heavily with bombardments, fire and destruction.
Between 1914 and 1918, almost 30% of the town’s inhabitants became civilian victims of the war!Everyday, the bells of the Town Hall ring out “La Madelon”, a popular French song from the Great War.
Built by the Conseil Général de la Somme in 1992, the Historial, Museum of the Great War is imbedded in the old mediaeval castle: it is a harmonious transition between the remains of the past and an audacious modern construction.
The architect, Edouard Henri Ciriani, describes it as “a symbolic journey through war to peace”. The Historial is a rich and absorbing museum but also inspires humility and decency.
Following the chronology of the war, it gives a comparative and objective view of the painful experiences of the three main nations at war.Careful with its descriptions, it allows visitors to freely consider the emotional context, life and human suffering in a universal dimension.
The objects and artefacts have been selected with care and are authentic. Some, being everyday objects, can initially seem insignificant, but will allow you to discover the small stories and histories of our ancestors.
The Historial’s collections of over 1600 exhibited objects, and the quality of its temporary exhibitions give visitors an excellent understanding of the historical and military dimensions of the First World War.
The Historial is also a museum of comparative history, comparing the mentalities of the different belligerent nations.
The Historial’s Research Centre unites eminent specialists from universities all over the world, who have been associated with the creation of the museum since its beginning. The Centre’s main objective is to promote scientific research of the First World War.