Places, Traces and Memories of the First World War in the Dolomites of Sesto
On Sunday September 27th, on the occasion of the European Heritage Days 2020 sponsored by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MiBACT), the Platform Cultural Heritage Cultural Production organized the walk “Places, Traces and Memories of the First World War in the Dolomites of Sesto”, an initiative that is part of the research project “Written in the Landscape: Places, Traces, and Memories of World War I in the Sesto Dolomites” (WIL). As Bellum Aquilarum describes, “For the Austro-Hungarian and German troops, the Croda Rossa was extremely important as an observation point towards the enemy positions of the Comelico, as well as an exceedingly strong defence bastion for the Sesto Valley.”
The European Heritage Days 2020 walk was led by archaeologist Rupert Gietl, expert in conflict archaeology, historian Sigrid Wisthaler, director of the Bellum Aquilarum ONLUS Association of Sesto, Pietro Michieli, vice president of Bellum Aquilarum, and Waltraud Kofler Engl, director of the Platform Cultural Heritage Cultural Production of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. The event was attended by members of the community, including several professors from the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano.
The path started from Sesto, where, after welcome greetings and an introduction by Waltraud Kofler Engl, visitors were divided into three groups. The group ascended the Prati di Croda Rossa by cable car. From here, the group followed as the path wound its way along the mountainside through various stages of the Open-Air Museum of the Great War. The group was led on an emotional journey among the material remains–artifacts and traces of settlements, shacks, posts, cable cars, trenches and caves–today barely recognizable among the rocks and paths of one of the most fascinating natural landscapes in Europe. Yet, the history and community memories were brought to life by the expertise of the guides, who skillfully intertwined the most famous events of the Great War that took place in the Anderter Alpe, the Croda Rossa, the Tre Cime and the Cima Undici with the myriad personal and daily life stories of the soldiers and populations downstream, suggesting the constantly evolving geographies of the dolomitic landscape.
The controversial and dissonant legacy of the First War thus has become a shared educational experience through a critical process of co-producing heritage with local groups, following the guidelines expressed by the Faro Convention adopted by the Council of Europe in 2005 and embraced by the Platform for Cultural Production Cultural Heritage. At the end of the walk, the group was welcomed by the mayor of Sesto Thomas Summerer, who thanked the organizers for the awareness-raising initiative on behalf of the war landscape of the Sesto Dolomites.
We thank the Bellum Aquilarum Association and Rupert Gietl for sharing their expertise with the public and for the passionate research, promotion and dissemination of the heritage of the Sesto di Pusteria Dolomite areas. This Association is carefully tracing and cataloguing through open-air exhibits the historical evidence “inscribed in the landscape” of the tragedy of the Great War
We also sincerely thank all those who enthusiastically joined the initiative and we look forward to seeing you again at the future events!
This event was organized within the framework of the new Platform’s research project Written in the landscape. Places, traces, and memories of the World War I in the Sesto Dolomites