Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs

International Non-Governmental Organization | Special consultative status with UN ECOSOC
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The Pact Project acquired world fame. In all countries, societies for the Pact support were created. Romen Rolland and Bernard Shaw, Rabindranat Tagore and Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein and Herbert Wells supported N. Roerich’s idea .

In the hall wall-cases, documents and photos telling about the Pact promotion and establishment are exhibited.

Photograph of the Cathedral of the Holy Blood in Bruges
Photograph of the Cathedral of the Holy Blood in Bruges
In 1931, in the Belgian city of Bruges, famous for its monuments of medieval culture, the Roerich’s Pact International Union was founded. In September of the same year, the First International Conference took place there. It discussed the plan of actions for the Pact idea promotion in the whole world; Roerich’s idea of establishment of the League for Protection of Culture and Day of Culture sounded there.

Delegates of the Second International Conference dedicated to Roerich’s Pact. Bruges. August 1932.
Delegates of the Second International
Conference dedicated to Roerich’s Pact.
Bruges. August 1932.
In the same days, in the Cathedral of the Holy Blood – the most ancient shrine of the city of Bruges – the Banner of Peace was consecrated. “It was not by chance that our banner consecration was to take place in the Cathedral of the Holy Blood, the painter wrote, – in the name of all the Martyr blood shed for the Beautiful Truth. Where so many lofty symbols meet, real stronghold appears”10.

In August 1932, the Second International Conference dedicated to the Pact for protection of cultural values took place. An exhibition of photographs of ancient cities and monuments first of all subject to protection was timed to coincide with it. At the conference, an idea of proclaiming such cities as Rome, Venice, Bruges, and others, inviolable, and removing from their territories all military industry and troops, was set forth. The suggestion was unanimously supported by the conference participants, but did not get response in governmental circles.

The Third International Conference which took place in Washington in November 1933, recommended to the governments of all countries to sign Roerich’s Pact. The recommendation was supported by representatives of 36 states.

N. Roerich himself did not take part in the conferences, but, as American writer and Doctor of Science Charles Fleisher wrote, “even though he is absent today, nevertheless, he is among us, so powerful is his spirit”11.

The Pact Signing (photograph)
Roerich’s Pact signing ceremony in the White House.
Washington (USA). April 15, 1935.
Roerich’s Pact – International Treaty on protection of artistic and scientific institutions and historical monuments – was signed on April 15, 1935, in Washington, in the White House, in presence of President Roosevelt. The Pact consisted of eight clauses and called to protection of cultural values not only during the war, but in days of peace as well. “<…> for us, N. Roerich said, – the Banner of Peace is not only needed during the war, but is, maybe, even more needed every day, when equally fatal mistakes against Culture are often made, without any thunder of cannons”12.

The Pact was signed by the USA and 20 countries from the Central and South America. The USA President Franklin Roosevelt said in his speech:

“Suggesting this Pact for signing by nations of the whole world, we are striving for world application of one of the most important principles for preservation of the modern civilization.

This treaty has spiritual significance much more profound than expressed in the text itself”13.

Foreign publications dedicated to the Pact (photograph)
Foreign publications dedicated to the Pact
(photograph). 1932 – 1935
At the time when the Pact was signed, N. Roerich was in the Chinese and Manchuria Expedition. On the solemn say of April 15, the Banner of Peace was raised above the tents in the Gobi desert. Nicholas Roerich said that it was one of the happiest days in his life. He put down in the expedition diary:

“Irrespective of how many countries sign the Pact today, this day will remain in history as a memorial cultural achievement. The state element has already had its powerful hand in it, and thus many new ways for all dedicated workers of Culture have opened”14.

Active movement for Roerich’s Pact support renewed after the Second World War completion, prodigiously cruel and devastating.

“Indeed, the Armageddon of war has passed, Nicholas Roerich wrote, – but the Armageddon of Culture has just started. Any peaceful construction must get a hearty welcome. Workers on the plough-field of Culture must be encouraged as heroes of the light future”15.

In 1950, the Roerich’s Pact Committee in New York handed to the UNESCO all the documentation related to the Pact. In 1954, in the Hague, on the basis of Roerich’s Pact, the international “Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict” was passed. The Convention was signed by representatives of six countries, including the Soviet Union.

Roerich’s prophetic words said by him during the war came true: “The Banner of Peace has not died. It has just folded while the war is outraging. But there will be time when people will consciously turn again to caring about protection of cultural values <…> The peoples will remember of the past labors and supplement them with lasting achievements. Life is going on! The Banner of Peace will be unfolded again!”16.

PAGES  123Virtual tour