Contested Histories Onsite

Clashing perceptions of history can be the source of serious divisions in society. The Memory Studies Association (MSA) and EuroClio work to turn these challenges into learning opportunities. When done well, education can be the best way to convey the complex perceptions of the past. We noted the potential of contested historical sites as spaces for teaching, learning and working towards social and historical justice. 

The project Contested Histories Onsite aspired to offer toolkits to educators and other stakeholders to better understand and address the complex legacies of Europe’s totalitarian past. By doing so, the aim was to highlight that historical complexity and contestation are universal themes across European societies and to motivate conversation surrounding histories. 

A Project for Citizens

With support from the EU’s Europe for Citizens programme, Onsite offered insights into different memory case studies in Europe through lectures, tours and podcasts on four contested sites across Europe.

History and how history is represented in the present concern us all. Memory construction is part of the very fabric of society, and the growing questions of history and identity on the left and right are increasingly placing memory to the fore of the political arena. 

We believe this critical deconstruction of historical narratives will raise awareness of practices of remembrance, common history and values, thereby strengthening a sense of unity that transcends national differences.

Four Sites, Four Contested Histories

Four sites were chosen in Poland, Estonia, Italy and Spain. Lectures and tours were 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 were combined with project meetings with experts to develop a toolkit for providing tours that promote dialogue and civic engagement (Click to download CHOS Information Template).

Valley of the Fallen, Spain

April 2022

Image by xiquinhosilva via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Chosen for its complex legacy and ongoing resignification process, the Valley of the Fallen is widely considered one of the most contested historical sites in the world.

Warsaw Uprising Museum, Poland

July 2021

Xiquinho Silva CC BY 2.0

Selected for its narrative representation of warring regional nationalist movements that serve to deepen the understanding of the violent context of World War II’s Eastern Front. 

Bas-Relief in Bolzano-Bozen, Italy

January 2022

Bartleby08 CC BY-SA 4.0

The bas-relief of Benito Mussolini in Bolzano reminded locals of the Fascist regime and divided public opinion. This casechosen for the artistic intervention to recontextualise the contested site.

Statue of the Bronze Soldier, Estonia

October 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.

Introducing a Toolkit for Critical Tours

Throughout the duration of the project, a core team of educators and academics worked together with MSA and EuroClio to develop, test and improve tours for the general public and create a toolkit for educators and other stakeholders interested in knowledge-sharing on contested sites. 

Prior to the tours, a public lecture was held to give historical and contemporary context to the sites. At each site, attention was paid to the European dimension of disputes over historical legacies, to the complexities of historical memory, multiperspectivity, and drawing transnational connections. The toolkit has been peer-reviewed and translated into Estonian, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish.


  • Warsaw Uprising Museum
  • Bronze Soldier of Tallinn
  • Bas-Relief in Bolzano
  • Valley of the Fallen


  • Warsaw Uprising Museum
  • Bronze Soldier of Tallinn
  • Bas-Relief in Bolzano
  • Valley of the Fallen


  • Warsaw Uprising Museum
  • Bronze Soldier of Tallinn
  • Bas-Relief in Bolzano
  • The Contested Histories. The project wrap-up
  • Valley of Cuelgamuros.


English Version
Spanish Version
Italian Version
Polish Version
Russian Version
Estonian Version

Video Tutorials

Valley of Cuelgamuros
The Fascist Boulevard
Uncomfortable Oxford

Project Team

  • Aline Sierp
  • Silvina Cabrera
  • Lorena Ortiz Cabrero
  • Jules Ortjens

  • Steven Stegers
  • Marie-Louise Jansen
  • Paula O’Donohoe
  • Catalina Gaete
  • Jadé Botha

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