Author: Benjamin Franz
History's Bricks is a Public History project which shows and discuss the history of the 19th and 20th centuries using LEGO bricks in an exciting but demanding and responsible way. History's Bricks has launched by me, Benjii. I'm studying History at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. In this project I want to focus on two essential issues:
Discussing historical presentations made out of LEGO bricks
I'm interested in how The LEGO Group and the LEGO community deal with history and the events of the past. Crucial questions will be: Which historical images are carted in LEGO buildings related to the past? What time or what event is frequently built? And which are missing? Why are they missing? Which sources or templates are used to display those periods in the way they are displayed? How do people deal with the events of both World Wars, colonialism, revolutions and war crimes?
A very important issue will be to understand how representations of the Holocaust are made by the LEGO community. Are they even made? And if so, how do people react? Furthermore I will have a look on how - especially 3rd party companies - advertise for their historical products. Overall I want to find out and share with you which role history and the past play at the LEGO Group and more important the community.
Roman Forum by Tim Schwalfenberg that I have discussed in an article.
Creating my own builds with LEGO bricks
Not only do I want to analyse the community and their way to deal with history. Much more I want to be part of the LEGO community myself and especially of the one who engages in history and the events of the past. Since I was a little kid - like most of us - I played with LEGO bricks.
I have an emotional tie to them. So have many of you as well. That's why I think LEGO is a great medium to display historical events. It's a versatile and famous medium. I will try to display historical events and aspects with the help of LEGO bricks. Many researches, much literature and a lot of sources will be needed to reach my target. I have to find a happy medium between accuracy, artistic license, details and source based presentations. This is the task to manage if you want to do something nearly academic.
Jewish people leaving Nazi Germany after the pogroms in November 1938.
What actually is Public History? It's all non-academic ways in which people engage in any way with history. For example in movies, novels, computer games, re-enactments, model constructions and - yes of course - also in LEGO bricks.
Lately the attention of this subject laid a lot on computer games. This is reasonable due to its increasing popularity and importance. Many questions referencing to historical video games can be transferred to the LEGO medium. LEGO is a brand which values billions and every kid, all people on the world know this huge business and their bricks. They are effecting us, on how we play, how we see and therefore understand the world. Hence it's time to be more critical about the company, and even more importantly, about their products.
History's Bricks wants to be a first step towards becoming a part of a critical community. Everyone who wants to be a part of it, is welcome to join.