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Updated by GOAT Series Staff on Apr 17, 2018
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Greatest War Memorial of All Time

What is the greatest war memorial of all time?
1

USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial
Most memorials are either located away from their original battlegrounds, or have been cleaned of any trace of a battle occurring. Hawaii’s USS Arizona Memorial, however, has made its name from the powerful and striking decision to leave the titular battleship’s remains just beneath the water’s surface. Visitors to the above-ground compound, which serves as a place of remembrance for those lost in the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks, are able to look down into Hawaii’s crystal-clear waters and witness a piece of living history. The memorial does not make physical contact with the Arizona’s wreckage, but the sunken battleship serves as the focus point for the building and its observation areas. Although Pearl Harbor has fully recovered from the strike and holds the same beauty as other Hawaiian destinations, the USS Arizona Memorial is a poignant reminder of losses in war.

Location: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA | Faction(s) Memorialized: USS Arizona sailors | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Attack on Pearl Harbor | Date of Unveiling: May 30, 1962

Description: An expansive white structure sitting over the remains of the USS Arizona, fixed over the vessel but not in direct contact | Designer(s): Alfred Preis | Date of Conflict(s): December 7, 1941 | Total Height/Area: 42,492 meters sq.
2

Löwendenkmal

Löwendenkmal
Known more commonly as The Lion Monument, this Swiss carving is one of the most ingenious and tragic memorials ever created. Dedicated to the Swiss Guards killed in the assault on the Tuileries Palace during the French Revolution, the piece was designed to evoke heartbreak and a sense of pain. Its titular lion lies sprawled out in its alcove, fatally wounded by a spear and preparing to die. Above the lion is an inscription dedicated to the loyalty, bravery, and memory of the guardsmen killed during the assault. A stagnant pool of water sits beneath the lion, contrasting sharply with the wounded animal and promoting an atmosphere of serenity and reflection. Mark Twain, in fact, once visited the Swiss memorial and found himself moved by its mournful presentation, later writing extensively about the site and its tranquility.

Location: Lucerne, Switzerland | Faction(s) Memorialized: Swiss guardsmen | Conflict(s) Memorialized: The French Revolution | Date of Unveiling: 1821

Description: A wounded lion, carved from a rock face and designed to evoke sorrow, sitting in an alcove and flanked by an inscription as well as a calm pool of water | Designer(s): Bertel Thorvaldsen | Date of Conflict(s): 1789–1799 | Total Height/Area: 60 meters sq.
3

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe
Those who visit Paris are often quick to seek out The Louvre, the various palaces, and the Arc de Trimophe, but many people are unaware of the symbolism behind the latter. Built to commemorate the French losses in the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars, the arch is richly detailed with images, quotes, and the flawless masonry of France’s best builders. Its grandiose nature does not fully reflect the same sense of sorrow that other monuments hold, but this is one of the arch’s defining traits. Rather than only mourning France’s losses, the Arc de Triomphe serves as an embodiment of victory, national pride, and cultural merit. Indeed, those who visit Paris are often overwhelmed by the arch’s size and stonework, which only serves to accomplish one of the arch’s many aims.

Location: Paris, France | Faction(s) Memorialized: French soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: The French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars | Date of Unveiling: July 29, 1836

Description: An enormous stone arch inscribed with images of French adolescents, Germanic warriors, and multiple scenes correlating with historic events in France | Designer(s): Jean Chalgrin | Date of Conflict(s): April 20, 1792 – March 25, 1802 and May 18, 1803 – November 20, 1815 | Total Height/Area: 50 meters
4

The Motherland Calls

The Motherland Calls
After the enormous casualties suffered by both German and Russian troops during the Battle of Stalingrad, the question of a memorial loomed over the Soviet Union and its leaders. Constructing something of adequate size, prominence, and symbolism would prove to be difficult, but not impossible. Years after the horrific fighting, the Soviets unveiled a striking statue depicting the metaphorical leader of the Motherland, her sword outstretched and ready to lead the people into the trials of the coming years. The statue is a towering example of Soviet architecture and knowledge of structural integrity, and despite the best efforts of the Soviet builders and designers, the structure has started to suffer from a pronounced lean in recent times. This Volograd monument is frequented by Russians as well as travelers of all nationalities, and succeeds in capturing the essence of a determined nation.

Location: Mamayev Kurgan, Volograd, Russia | Faction(s) Memorialized: Soviet soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: The Battle of Stalingrad | Date of Unveiling: October 15, 1967

Description: A massive concrete facsimile of a woman holding a sword, embodying the spirit and endurance of The Motherland | Designer(s): Yevgeny Vuchetich, Nikolai Nikitin | Date of Conflict(s): August 23, 1942 – February 2, 1943 | Total Height/Area: 87 meters
5

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme

Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme
When approaching the Thiepval Memorial, it’s difficult to avoid being struck by a sense of awe and somber reflection. The structure itself is a collection of arches, eventually supporting one towering arch at its center, but its most memorable feature is the collection of unmarked tombstones extending out beyond its front steps. The memorial is dedicated to those who fought in World War I’s Battle of the Somme, and specifically honors those who were never located. Considering the bloody and mud-drenched nature of the battle, such a monument was almost mandatory to recognize the massive amount of unidentified and lost soldiers. In modern times, visitors are almost always silent with reverence for the site, and pay their respects to those who – in other circumstances – would not have received any commemoration.

Location: Thiepval, France | Faction(s) Memorialized: British and South African soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Somme Offensive | Date of Unveiling: August 1, 1932

Description: A series of interlocking arches joined by a larger, dominant arch over the entirety of the structure, surrounded by unadorned tombstones | Designer(s): Edwin Lutyens | Date of Conflict(s): July 1 - November 18, 1916 | Total Height/Area: 43 meters
6

Marine Corps War Memorial

Marine Corps War Memorial
Unlike many similar memorials, the monument constructed for the United States Marine Corps does not commemorate a specific battle or war. Instead, the memorial seeks to honor all those who have served in the Marine Corps since its founding in 1775, and its breathtaking composition succeeds in showing the Corps’ unfailing spirit. The memorial itself is modeled after the famous picture taken at Iwo Jima, which portrays a group of Marines raising an American flag over the island. The memorial was lovingly recreated using large statues and a solid base, and because of its powerful and symbolic image, it has become one of the most celebrated and visited monuments in America. Its late construction may come as a surprise, considering the long legacy of the Marine Corps, but the memorial’s use of an everlasting reference image will always perfectly represent the Corps.

Location: Arlington, VA, USA | Faction(s) Memorialized: United States Marines | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Multiple, includes any conflict utilizing Marine Corps deployment | Date of Unveiling: November 10, 1954

Description: Six bronze statues raising an enormous flag, designed to evoke the famous photograph taken after the Marine landing at Iwo Jima | Designer(s): Horace W. Pealee, Felix de Weldon | Date of Conflict(s): N/A | Total Height/Area: 23.7 meters
7

Saint Julien Memorial

Saint Julien Memorial
Despite the memorial’s dedication to the troops of Canada’s First Division during the Second Battle of Ypres (in World War I), this monument is located far from the birthplace of the First Division personnel. Tucked away in a quiet Belgian village, the memorial is renowned for its expressive and crestfallen soldier, peering down from atop the stone block like a silent guardian. Its placement, in truth, is derived from the committee elected to grant the Canadian government a specific number of international memorial sites, including in Canada, France, and Belgium. This monument was one of many dedicated to the carnage and loss of the war, joining sites such as Passchendaele. The Second Battle of Ypres also marked the first widespread use of poison gas in the war, which lends an even more sobering feel to the memorial. Even today, a century after the war’s outbreak, the Saint Julien Memorial remains an oft-visited and poignant site.

Location: Saint-Julien, Langemark/Sint-Juliaan, Belgium | Faction(s) Memorialized: Canadian First Division soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Second Battle of Ypres | Date of Unveiling: July 8, 1923

Description: A towering rock slab with the upper half of a Canadian soldier ("The Brooding Soldier") emerging from the piece's upper tier | Designer(s): Frederick Chapman Clemesha | Date of Conflict(s): April 21 – May 25, 1915 | Total Height/Area: 11 meters
8

Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial
The Korean War was defined by its occurrence in a still-fragile post-war world and its role as a catalyst for future hostilities, but very few textbooks or political treatises can adequately summarize the war for those who experienced it. Horrendous fighting conditions and an uneasy, uncertain battlefield were only a few of the many terrors plaguing in the conflict. In a bid to depict the solemn and freezing atmosphere of Korea’s battlegrounds, the designers of Washington D.C.’s Korean War Veterans Memorial created statues of soldiers wearing parkas and carrying rifles, each representing a particular branch of the military. The surrounding walls to the memorial are high and reflective, and a decorative walkway weaves between the soldiers to allow visitors a complete view of the statues. The Korean War may have been obscured in contemporary history between World War II and Vietnam, but those who visit this memorial will be inspired to read more about the haggard men on its pathways.

Location: Washington D.C., USA | Faction(s) Memorialized: American soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: The Korean War | Date of Unveiling: July 27, 1995

Description: Tall, black walls form a triangular perimeter to the memorial, while large steel statues in the form of U.S. soldiers decorate the memorial's interior grounds | Designer(s): Cooper-Lecky Architects, Frank Gaylord | Date of Conflict(s): June 25, 1950 - July 27, 1953 | Total Height/Area: 8903 meters sq.
9

Royal Artillery Memorial

Royal Artillery Memorial
Throughout London, there are a number of well-known and acclaimed sites dedicated to a rich national history. One of these sites, however, remains as awe-inducing as its first unveiling, and makes a dramatic statement with both its aesthetic presentation and backstory. The Royal Artillery Memorial, adorned with multiple statues of artillerymen and a Howitzer gun atop its tiered structure, was commissioned to honor the Royal Artillery Regiment during World War I. A slight patina of vines and overgrowth has started to creep over the memorial, but it only adds to the timeless nature of the structure, and draws more attention from passersby. The memorial’s focal point – its cannon recreation – was specifically chosen to evoke a sense of power and finality in combat. Although the structure commemorates those lost in the war, it also honors the soldiers for their efficient and brave performances as artillerymen in the nation’s service.

Location: London, England | Faction(s) Memorialized: Royal Regiment of Artillery | Conflict(s) Memorialized: World War I | Date of Unveiling: 1925

Description: A multi-tiered structure decorated with statues of English artillerymen, rock inscriptions, and a crowning carving of a Howitzer artillery piece | Designer(s): Charles Sargeant Jagger, Lionel Pearson | Date of Conflict(s): July 28, 1914 – November 11, 1918 | Total Height/Area: 9 meters
10

Tannenberg Memorial

Tannenberg Memorial
This memorial, despite its ambitious design and cultural relevance during World War II, is only an overgrown shadow of its former self. In some ways, however, the memorial speaks to a changing cultural and political climate more than shifting borders. The original compound was a sprawling, castle-like design with soaring towers, dedicated to the German soldiers at the Second Battle of Tannenberg during World War I, and Nazi officials were known to have visited the site on multiple occasions. After the war, however, it was looted of minor treasures and dismantled in several rounds, led by the Polish government after its separation from Nazi Germany. Stones from the original monument were subsequently used to construct new monuments, buildings, and memorials throughout Poland. Although modern-day visitors may not see Tannenberg in its former glory, its symbolic rise and decline are a striking sight for history lover.

Location: Olsztynek, Poland | Faction(s) Memorialized: German soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: Second Battle of Tannenberg | Date of Unveiling: 1924-1927

Description: A now-overgrown and demolished memorial consisting of eight towers and a central courtyard, designed to evoke Teutonic Knight architecture | Designer(s): Johannes Krüger, Walter Krüger | Date of Conflict(s): August 26-30, 1914 | Total Height/Area: 20 meters (tower height)
11

Tugu Negara

Tugu Negara
During World War II, a large amount of atrocities were committed by Hirohito’s Imperial Japanese troops, including extensive campaigns of eugenics research and forced labor throughout Southeast Asia and China. Many countries were too devastated to organize resistance operations, and the few who did – including Malaysia, the site of the Tugu Negara (National Monument) – were met with extreme resistance. This Malaysian memorial commemorates the native soldiers who fought in both the Japanese occupation and the country’s post-war conflict, termed the Malaysian Emergency. It is modeled heavily after the United States Marine Corps Memorial, and enlisted the same designer to produce a stunning finished project. Tugu Negara boasts an impressive set of bronze statues, cast with fearsome poses and expressions, and draws tourists from all corners of the globe. After surviving a bomb blast and subsequently undergoing renovations in the 1960s, it also proved itself to be one of the world’s most enduring memorials.

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Faction(s) Memorialized: Malaysian soldiers | Conflict(s) Memorialized: World War II, the Malaysian Emergency | Date of Unveiling: February 8, 1966

Description: Intentionally modeled after the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, composed of a group of Malaysian soldier statues (formed from bronze) and the Malaysian coat of arms | Designer(s): Felix de Weldon | Date of Conflict(s): September 1, 1939 – September 2, 1945, and June 16, 1948 – July 12, 1960 | Total Height/Area: 15 meters