Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig

Monument to the Battle of the Nations

The Völkerschlachtdenkmal and its history

1814 The German poet Ernst Moritz Arndt, who took part in the Battle of Leipzig in1813, initiates the building of a memorial to the dead soldiers. He wants it to be “big and glorious, like the Colossus, a pyramid or Cologne Cathedral.”
 
1816 Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the most famous German architect, presents his draft for a “National Cathedral”, but his idea cannot be realised because of the political and financial situation in restoration-era Germany.
 
1894 The architect Clemens Thieme from Leipzig becomes involved in the “erection of a Battle of Leipzig national monument.” He founds the Deutscher Patriotenbund, a local patriotic association, to raise the money needed for the construction. Finally, the six million Goldmarks needed is raised through donations and the sale of lottery tickets.
 
1895 The city of Leipzig donates a building site of 40,000 square metres to the Patriotenbund, but again years have to go by before the final plan is agreed. The draft is presented by the famous architect Bruno Schmitz, who also planned the Kyffhäuser monument.
 
1898 The building of the monument begins: 82,000 cubic metres of earth have to be moved and 26,500 porphyritic granite blocks have to be shaped.
 
1913

After almost 15 years of construction, the memorial built of 300,000 tons of stone is inaugurated to commemorate the decisive battle against Napoleon in 1813.
 

1913-89 Between 1913 and 1989 the Völkerschlachtdenkmal is used by various political ideologies as a backdrop for mass propaganda events.
  
1989

The Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Leipzig initiates a public debate on modern approaches to national memorials.
 

1999 In May, the FORUM 1813 museum is inaugurated in the former building site hut with a modern exhibition about the Napoleonic Wars and the Battle of Leipzig.
 
2000 On the occasion of the first scientific colloquium with representatives from national monuments and museums throughout Europe, an international consortium is founded to make these places of commemoration become places of experience, communication and encounters as well as places of historical discourse.
 
2001

In July, an exhibition about the history of the concept, the construction and the reception of the monument is inaugurated in the Ruhmeshalle, the Hall of Fame of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal.
  

2002 

Establishment of the "Stiftung Völkerschlachtdenkmal Leipzig ["The Foundation for the Monument to the Battle of the Nations Leipzig"] as a registered foundation under public law of the city of Leipzig. The Museum of City History is entrusted with the task of operating the Monument to the Battle of the Nations in accordance with the declared purposes of the foundation.

2003

On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the monument in October, the second scientific colloquium "National Monuments in Europe in the 21st century – National Commemoration and European Identity” takes place with representatives from 12 European countries

 

Crypt
 

Masks of mourning and guard sculptures in the crypt
 

10m high colossal figure of bravery
 

Service centre
 

 

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