Monument to the Battle of Nations

The Monument to the Battle of Nations, Frontal View, Leipzig, Germany

The “Monument to the Battle of Nations” is a war memorial in Leipzig, Germany, to the 1813 Battle of Leipzig. It was completed in 1913 for the 100th anniversary of the battle, at a cost of six million Goldmarks, paid for mostly in donations and by the city of Leipzig. 

The monument commemorates Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig, a crucial step toward the end of hostilities in the War of the Sixth Coalition, and was seen as a victory by the inhabitants of the area. The coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden were led by Tsar Alexander I of Russian and Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg. There were German soldiers fighting for both sides, as Napoleon’s troops also include conscripted Germans from the French-occupied left bank of the RhineRiver as well as from the Confederation of the Rhine. 

The structure is ninety-one meters tall, containing over five hundred steps to a viewing platform at the top, from which one can view the city and environs. The structure makes extensive use of concrete, with its facings consisting of granite. Regarded as one of the best examples of Wilhelmine architecture and one of the tallest monuments in Europe, it is said to stand on the spot of the bloodiest fighting, from where Napoleon ordered the retreat of his army. It was also the scene of fighting in World War II, when Nazi forces in Leipzig made their last stand against US troops. 

Shortly after the battle, Ernst Moritz Arndt, a leading liberal and nationalistic writer, called for a national monument to be built at the battle site. Several small monuments to veterans of the war as well as memorial stones marking key points in the battle were placed. On the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, a cornerstone for a future grand monument was placed, and twenty-three German cities pledged money for its construction. In 1894, the Association of German Patriots was founded, which raised by means of donations and a lottery, the funds necessary to construct the monument for the 100th anniversary of thee battle. 

German architect Bruno Schmitz, due to his previous works in monuments, received the commission. The city of Leipzig donated the ten acre lot and  construction began in 1898. Over twenty-six thousand granite blocks were used and the resulting total cost was twenty-eight million in 2020 Euros. On the 18th of October 1913, the ‘Völkerschiachtdenkmal’ was inaugurated in the presence of one hundred thousand people, including Wilhelm II, and all the reigning sovereign rulers of the German states.

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