Remembrance Monuments

May 22, 2015

The First and Second World Wars were era-defining, earth-shattering conflicts, which both fundamentally altered the political landscape of Europe. The First World War was dubbed the “War to End All Wars” but unfortunately, not even its recent memory could prevent the outbreak of the Second World War.

The nature of the two wars meant that memorials were built on a larger scale than before. People on all sides recognised the sacrifices that were made by both soldiers and civilians, as well as some of the atrocities committed throughout the conflict.

There are cemeteries for those who lost their lives in the wars all over Europe, but some of the most famous sites are in the Flanders region, such as Tyne Cot and Passchendaele.

There are 173 cemeteries for British soldiers in Flanders, and St George’s Memorial Church was built in 1929 in Ypres especially to honour British troops.

One of the most important battles of the First World War was the Battle of the Somme, and in Thiepval there is a memorial built to honour the 72,000 British and South African troops who were lost in the battle. The monument bears all of their names, and there is also an Anglo-French cemetery.

Those interested in visiting memorials for the Second World War should head to Normandy, where they can discover the sites of the D Day Landings, as well as the cemeteries immortalised in films such as Saving Private Ryan. The Normandy American Cemetery lies on a hill overlooking Omaha Beach, so is easy to take in as part of a trip to the sites of the battle too.

Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is one of the most famous memorials to the holocaust in Europe, along with the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin. Both are haunting, poignant reminders of the true scale of the holocaust, and both approach the subject from different angles.

There are many other monuments to the First and Second World Wars across Europe, built to remind us of the true human cost of both campaigns, and in the hope that Europe will never again be enveloped in such a huge conflict. Having had such a huge impact on European history, it really is vital that we educate ourselves on the history of these wars.

Comments are closed