Mardasson Memorial History
A huge memorial in the shape of an American star was resurrected in Bastogne to commemorate the American soldiers who fought bravely and left so much behind on the battlefields during the Battle for the Ardennes in December 1944. The Belgium – American Association initiated this idea. Plans to build the memorial started in 1946 with the presentation of a box filled with earth from this site to President Harry Truman. The monument is situated north east of Bastogne on the Mardasson hill which was the centre of the Battle of the Bulge, or Wacht am Rhein, in 1944. Mardasson Memorial was officially opened 4 years later on the 16th of July in 1950. The Belgian name for the monument is: ‘Mémorial du Mardasson’ as is Bastenaken the name for Bastogne.
Mardasson Memorial Monument
The design, the shape of the American star, was created by an architect named George Dedoyard. George Dedoyard was born in 1897 in Belgium and died at the age of 91 in 1988. With its 12 meters height the American Liberators Memorial towers over the countryside. A 20 meters wide atrium is extended with 31 meter long star tips. A spiral stairs will take you up for a great view on the countryside and the battlefield around Bastogne. On the monument are the names of 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii followed in 1959. The monument is covered with text and battalion insignia’s which refer to the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle for the Ardennes and the 101st Airborne Division, with their commander Anthony McAuliffe, who fought and defended Bastogne. And to the 76,890 soldiers who died, were wounded or went missing during this battle. In the center of the Atrium is written, in Latin, ‘The Belgian people remember their American liberators – 4 July 1946’. The written history ends with:
They who live now can witness the grandness of those who died here, they all fought with an increasing respect for freedom for which they went through an ordeal of fire to achieve it.
Under the monument is a crypt, carved out of the rock bed, with beautifully coloured mosaic by the French artist Fernand Léger. In the crypt are three altars which represent the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religion.
Bastogne War Museum
Next to the Mardasson Memorial on the Mardasson hill is the Bastogne War Museum. The museum has lots of items on display, from small gear to uniforms to vehicles like jeeps and tanks; Two Sherman tanks, a G13 tank which is a replica of the German Hetzer tank, but mostly it consists written history. If you know the story of the Battle of the Bulge and seen some Sherman tanks the museum is not that interesting, the Bastogne Barracks and the Bastogne Ardennes 44 Museum are higher up the ladder for us.
The monument is free to visit; the museum charges a fee for a visit. With 14 euro’s for an adult in 2015, a stiff fee if you ask us.