On 6 December 1996, UNESCO recognised the ‘Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg’ as part of the cultural heritage of humanity. The recognition honoured the world-historical significance of the life and work of the reformer Martin Luther.
As Reformation research increasingly emphasises, however, the Reformation was not the work of Luther alone. Additional attention is now being paid to Luther’s numerous supporters as well as the various independent reformation approaches. Reformation, to sum up the state of the debate, is more than Luther.
At the same time, it is beyond dispute that the Reformation, as an event of world historical significance, began in Central Germany, and that it is inextricably linked with the work of Martin Luther. Our aim is to pay tribute to the breadth of the Reformation and at the same time to preserve the memory of Martin Luther as the central person, and of Central Germany as the heartland of the Reformation.
This aim gave rise to the effort to complete the list of Central German Luther and Reformation sites as part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. With this in mind, an extension application, comprising twelve new Luther sites in addition to the existing six sites, was submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris on 1 February 2016. This application contains the main stages in the life of Martin Luther as well as the most important sites for the ideas and events of the Reformation. A decision on the part of UNESCO is expected for 2017. The networking of the Luther Sites in Central Germany will help to preserve the memory of the Reformation, and of its lasting impact, in the cultural memory worldwide.