Following our artwork series on nationalist monuments in Europe (Foro Italico, Hermannsdenkmal), we have now completed a new gallery. This time is about the German Völkerschlachtdenkmal (German for “Monument of the Battle of the Nations”), one of Germany’s nationalist landmarks and the largest monument in Europe.
The Völkerschlachtdenkmal is located in Leipzig, in the former DDR. It is said to stand on the spot of the bloodiest fighting, where Napoleon saw his army defeated. The structure is 91 metres tall, making it, according to some, the tallest monument in Europe. The monument is widely regarded as one of the best examples of Wilhelmine architecture and is, like the Hermannsdenkmal, a fine example of German muscularism.
The gigantic statuary which dominates the entire structure is intended to evoke mythic images of Germanic heroism, of the sort propounded by Richard Wagner. If the monument has a nationalist tone, however, then it is in the sense that a nation should be united rather than split into parts that are forced to fight each other, as Germans were obliged to in the battle which the Völkerschlachtdenkmal honours.