5 Must Visit European War Memorials from the WWI Era
In the early 20th century when the World War 1 broke out, millions perished as nations fought with each other to establish their supremacy. Such was the extent of sufferings incurred during the 4-year war that the world is still reeling under its after-effects, both financially and emotionally. According to historians, WWI was triggered with the assassination of Austrian Archduke, Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg. Subsequently, most Commonwealth nations and the U.S. indulged in armed confrontations across Gallipoli, Western Front, Central and Eastern Europe. As the world commemorated the centenary year of WWI in 2014, we list five European war memorials that you can visit to relive the history of the Great War. Take a look.
1. Monument to the Victor, Belgrade
Designed by Ivan Meštrović in the 1928, the Statue of the Victor is the most popular landmark in Belgrade. The Statue commemorates the Serbian victory over Austria and Hungary during the World War I and the Ottoman Empire during the First Balkan War. The iconic post-WWI war monument that stands at a daunting 14 metres (46 ft) height, depicts a standing bronze male figure holding a sword in the right hand and a falcon on the left, set on a pedestal resembling the form of a Doric column on a tall cubic base ( the base was designed by Petar Bajalović). The Victor is probably the most powerful image in Belgrade, overseeing the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, over the vast Pannonian plain.
2. The Museum of Sarajevo, Sarajevo
Sarajevo was the place where the seeds were sown by the ruthless act of Gavrilo Princip (he assassinated the Archduke), culminated in the 1st World War. Ironically, the very city hosts the most relevant collection of the world war 1 era. The museum exhibits chronologically arranged artifacts of Sarajevo’s history during the Austro-Hungarian period, from 1878 to 1918 including the belongings of the First Bosnian Regiment that participated in the WWI. The museum also famously portrays the fateful events of June 28, 1914, when the heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke was assassinated.
3. The Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna
The Military History Museum or the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum of Vienna commemorates the fortitude of the Austrian Armed Forces through documents, exhibits, and artifacts comprising weapons, photographs, medals and badges of honor. The museum contains exquisite exhibits of the WWI including the Gräf & Stift automobile in which Franz Ferdinand and his spouse were shot. Along with it, the museum also displays the Archduke’s blue uniform and other personal artifacts.
4. Przemyśl Fortress, Poland
Przemyśl fortress was a series of fortifications constructed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire to protect themselves from the Russians and bore witness to extensive combat during the World War I. After the Russian army laid siege and captured the fortress, it was recaptured by the Austrian-German offensive in 1915. While most sections of the fortress have been reduced to rubble since the war, it still features various fortifications including those of Salis Soglio, Borek, and San Rideau, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in southeastern Poland.
5. Kobarid Museum, Slovenia
Kobarid town in Slovenia bore witness to the Battle of Caporetto in 1917. The town was also mentioned in “A Farewell to Arms”, the war-time novel by Ernest Hemingway that documented the infamous retreat of Italian forces after suffering defeat at the hands of Austrian and Hungarian forces. The local populace celebrated this historic event by constructing the Kobarid Museum in 1990, which is now rated as one of the best war museums in Europe. Through its meticulous curation of relics, the museum commemorates the valiant display of courage of Austrians and Hungarians on the Isonzo front as they took up arms to defend the Empire against the Italian forces.
World War I was the first recorded instance in the modern era when entire Western civilization took up arms to establish control in 1914. As a result, millions lost their lives while property worth billions were burned to the ground. 100 years down the line, as the world commemorated the Centenary of the First Great War in 2014, it’s time that we remember those who lost everything in this Armageddon.