Militaria Archive

Leipzig, Germany - Völkerschlachtdenkmal 'Monument to the Battle of Nations'

Leipzig, Germany - Völkerschlachtdenkmal 'Monument to the Battle of Nations' - Up until the first World War the largest battle fought in European History was the 1813 Battle of Leipzig (also known as the Battle of Nations). This battle was part of the War of the Sixth Coalition. In this war Austria, Prussia, Russia, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, Spain and a number of German States defeated France (the French Army included conscripted Germans) and eventually sent Napoleon to exile on the Island of Elba. Over a half a million soldiers from across Europe & Russia fought in October 1813 in the battlefields around Leipzig. An estimated 110,000 men lost their lives in a battle which broke Napoleon's domination of Europe. The people of Leipzig spent many months burying the dead. The Monument to the battle was built by public subscription between 1898 and 1913. It was opened for the Centenary on 18 October 1913. Many Irishmen fought on both sides of this battle, in Napoleons army and also on the 6th Coalition side. William Theobald Wolfe Tone, son of Wolfe Tone (Founder of the United Irishmen) fought on the French side and suffered 6 lance wounds at the Battle of Leipzig, was promoted to lieutenant and aide-de-camp of General Bagneres and was decorated with the Legion of Honour. For his part in the battle of Leipzig on the Coalition side Joseph O'Rourke was made General-Lieutenant and decorated with Order of Alexander Nevsky. For his exploits in the 1813–14 campaign, O’Rourke was awarded the Prussian Iron Cross, the Order of the Red Eagle and the Swedish Order of the Sword (O’Rourke had previously been awarded the Order of Saint Anne for his part in the Battle of Varvarin and the Russo Turkish war of 1812). The Völkerschlachtdenkmal structure is 91 metres tall and gives views across Leipzig city. Built of sandstone and Granite, this structure was used by 150 men of the SS in 1945 to hold out against the allied advance. Adolf Hitler used this monument as a backdrop to his speeches in Leipzig. The monument entrance shows the Archangel Michael and Guardian figures (Wächterfiguren). The interior contains a crypt on the first story with by eight large statues of fallen warriors, each one is next to smaller statues called the Totenwächter (Guards of the Dead). The second story ‘Hall of Fame’ (Ruhmeshalle) features four 31 ft statues representing the qualities of bravery, faith, sacrifice, and fertility. Also included here are pictures from the museum within the monument.

Leipzig, Germany - Völkerschlachtdenkmal 'Monument to the Battle of Nations' Museum.