Recent Event

The Bronze Soldier of Tallinn, Estonia

© Carl-Johan Sveningsson CC BY-NC 2.0

On October 14, 2021…

Dr Karsten Brüggemann, a historian at Tallinn University specialised in contemporary Estonian history, will give a lecture on the historical background of the so-called ‘Bronze Nights’ and the memory conflict that surrounded the monument from its establishment up until 2007. His lecture will further outline the commemoration practices during the Soviet period, to explain what happened to the site after 1991 within the broader field of the ‘war of monuments’ within Estonia and how the events of 2007 have had lasting consequences on the establishment of ‘pure’ Estonian places of commemoration.

Dr Mare Oja, lecturer of History and History Didactics at Tallinn University, and Dr Linda Kaljundi, professor at the Estonian Academy of Arts, will offer an interactive workshop focused on introducing and discussing the different perspectives on the Bronze Soldier monument that explores the dynamics of this contested site of memory. They will further illustrate the potential of contemporary art as a medium for memory debates and raise the broader question of how to deal with such contested memory sites in history teaching.

Recordings of the event will be made available below in the coming weeks.  You can register for the event, to take place on October 14, at 15.00 CEST/UTC+2, here.

About the Project

This project will actively underline how contested histories are a universal theme throughout Europe when dealing with its totalitarian histories. Instances of antisemitism, xenophobia, homophobia and other forms of intolerance by totalitarian regimes will be examined to highlight how exclusionary narratives are created and how to teach students to deconstruct discourse leading to exclusion and marginalisation.

It is our belief that this critical deconstruction of historical narratives will raise awareness of practices of remembrance, common history and values, thereby strengthening a sense of belonging that transcends national differences.

Project Aims

The Onsite project builds upon the Contested Histories Initiative, which noted the potential of contested historical sites as a place for teaching, learning and working towards social and historical justice. Onsite aims to use historical sites representing past totalitarian regimes as a starting point for a discussion with citizens about the importance of pluralism, civic rights and democratic practices, and to create opportunities for debate on European history beyond national perspectives. Emphasis will be placed on multiple perspectives, debate and active public involvement in tours.

Project Partners

The Contested Histories Onsite is a partner project between the Memory Studies Association and EuroClio, with support from the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union.

Project Outcomes

In this project, EuroClio and the Memory Studies Association will create:

  • A series of 4 public lectures and virtual tours at sites in Poland, Italy, Spain and Estonia that reflect histories of totalitarianism. Each tour will engage citizens, students, educators, and experts in critically reflecting upon complex historical narratives and the diversity of history within the EU at local, national, and supranational levels.
  • A toolkit geared towards teachers, will focus on how to critically present complex historical sites to a diverse audience. By developing the toolkit based on tours at various site locations, it aims to foster public understanding of the complexities of historical memory across Europe; to draw transnational connections and highlight multiple perspectives. It will be peer-reviewed and translated into Estonian, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish.
  • A documentary-style video that showcases each site location.
  • A podcast series that will be informed by the lectures, tour content and active citizen involvement.

Project Team

EuroClio Team

  • Steven Stegers
  • Marie-Louise Jansen
  • Grace Sahota

MSA Team

  • Aline Sierp
  • Silvina Cabrera
  • Lorena Ortiz Cabrero

Experts

  • TBD

The Sites

Four sites have been chosen in Poland, Estonia, Italy and Spain. Lectures and tours will be organised about and at each site. Those sites are: Warsaw’s Uprising Museum, Tallinn’s Bronze Soldier statue, Bolzano’s Bas-Relief of Mussolini and Madrid’s Valley of the Fallen, the former burial place of Francisco Franco. These tours will be combined with project meetings with experts that will develop a toolkit for providing tours that promote dialogue and civic engagement (see below for more information). Due to COVID-19 pandemic, events are being held online, though we hope to move Onsite onsite in 2022.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland

© Destructive Compliments CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

On 1st July 2021…

Dr Maria Kobielska, a memory scholar on contemporary polish memory culture at Jagiellonian University’s Faculty of Polish Studies, gave a lecture on the site. Maria’s research focuses on new (narrative) Polish historical museums. The lecture detailed the origins and agenda of the museum, as well as criticisms of the museum from a variety of perspectives in the 15 years since its opening.

Dr Marcin Napiórkowski took us on an interactive virtual tour of the site. Marcin is a scholar at the University of Warsaw’s Institute of Polish Culture, where he specialises in mythology and the history of memory of the Warsaw Uprising. His tour detailed how the museum creates an immersive experience using the ‘time machine’ method and sensory stimulation before coming to the controversy and ethics surrounding the museum.

The Bronze Soldier of Tallinn, Estonia

October 14, 2021

© Carl-Johan Sveningsson CC BY-NC 2.0

Chosen for its representation of conflicting World War II narratives of liberation vs. occupation by the Red Army – a mnemonic dispute extending beyond the Baltics to much of Central and Eastern Europe.

Read more above and register here.

Bas-Relief in Bolzano-Bozen, Italy

January 2022

© Bartleby08 CC BY-SA 4.0

Chosen for its representation of fascism in Southern Europe and the ways in which historical narratives are woven to suit contemporary political agendas.

The Valley of the Fallen, Spain

April 2022

© Xiquinho Silva CC BY 2.0

A memorial for those who perished in the Spanish Civil War and where Francisco Franco’s remains lay until his exhumation in 2019, chosen for its representation of contested war commemorations and reconciliation in Southwestern Europe.