What is the legacy?

Personal memories and public remembrance- some final thoughts

“All memory is individual, unreproducible and it dies with each person. What is collective memory is not a remembering but a stipulating: that this is important and this is the story about how it happened.” 

Susan Sontag, American essayist, philosopher and political activist. Her most influential books were On Photography (1977) and Regarding the Pain of Others (2003).


“Memory is a marvellous tool, but still it’s fallacious, its a battlefield space, full of truths and lies.”

Primo Levi, born in Turin in 1919, imprisoned in Auschwitz in 1944.  A novelist and poet, he also wrote about his experiences in Auschwitz in Se questo è un uomo (If This is a Man).


“International events as well as history itself have been understood in a bewildering variety of ways. The State and other public bodies have rarely been able to build durable and commonly agreed practices of commemoration. There has been no closure, no “truth” and little reconciliation”

John Foot, (2009) Italy’s Divided Memory, Palgrave Macmillan, p.1


“Each of these memories has roots, has motives, has reasons which have to be listened to and studied. The reasons are not to be shared because the historian has to remain detached. But they have to be listened to and, moreover, they have to be brought to light.”

Paulo Pezzino, Historian, University of Pisa and co-author of a book on the Monte Sole Massacre.


“Memory is a battlefield where nothing is neutral and where everything is continually contested.”

Luisa Passerini, Historian, University of Utrecht. Author of Memory and Totalitarianism, 1992


“All memory is construction of meaning. What we remember, what we forget and the sense that we give to our memories is not implicit in the events themselves: it obeys a selection that has got ethical and political implications.”

Alejandra Oberti, coordinator of the oral archive at Memoria Abierta, which was established by Argentine Human Rights Organisations to raise awareness of state terrorism under the military dictatorship.