10 Ruined Buildings Transformed Into Powerful Memorials Of War

War is a living horror. Wars have resulted in unprecedented levels of death and damage. While the human cost of war is paramount, the loss of property and, with it, national cultural legacy must also be addressed. It’s no surprise that memorials are needed to remind us of the awful cost of doing so. Buildings that were nearly destroyed by bombs or blasted by atomic weapons nevertheless survive as memorials to past battles across the world. They are poignant and distressing, serving as a clear reminder of terribly lost lives.These 10 instances of bombed-out buildings stand in sharp contrast to their successors, many as stabilized ruins, as testaments to a conflict that profoundly transformed the world we live in.

1. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Germany)

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Germany) source

Berlin, as Nazi Germany’s power hub, was extensively bombarded in the final two years of the war. Few of its main structures have survived not only the collapse of the Third Reich, but also the difficult transition from a divided city to a great European capital once more. The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was built between 1891 and 1906 and was badly damaged during an Allied bombing strike on November 23, 1943. The ancient church’s intact spire currently stands alongside the modernist New Church, which was erected between 1959 and 1963.

2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Japan)

Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Japan) source

Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also known as the Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dmu, is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The wreckage acts as a memorial to those who died in the Hiroshima atomic explosion on August 6, 1945. Over 70,000 people were murdered instantaneously, and another 70,000 were killed by the radiation.

3. Oklahoma City National Memorial (USA)

Oklahoma City National Memorial (USA). source

The Oklahoma City National Memorial is a memorial in the United States that remembers the dead, survivors, rescuers, and everyone else who was impacted by the April 19, 1995 explosion in Oklahoma City. The memorial is on the former location of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which was destroyed in the 1995 bombing. This structure stood between N. Robinson Avenue and N. Harvey Avenue on NW 5th Street. The Oklahoma City National Memorial Act of 1997, signed by President Bill Clinton on October 9, 1997, established the National Memorial.The same day, it was administratively added to the National Register of Historic Places. The Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation manages the memorial, with National Park Service experts on hand to help visitors comprehend it. The National Memorial Museum and the Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism are situated in the old Journal Record Building on the memorial grounds’ north side. On the fifth anniversary of the attack, April 19, 2000, the memorial was formally dedicated. On February 19, the next year, the museum was dedicated and inaugurated.

4. St Dunstan in the East (UK)

St Dunstan in the East (UK). source

St Dunstan-in-the-East was a Church of England parish church on St Dunstan’s Hill in the City of London, half way between London Bridge and the Tower of London. The church was partially damaged after WWII, and the remnants are now a public garden. The damaged church, as seen in 2015, is nearly completely hidden behind vines and foliage. Flower baskets dangle from the ceiling. Grass grows happily through the flooring. It’s a place not only for introspection, but also for reading a book, watching the world go by, or doing any of the million other activities that come with living in a peaceful society. That, in its own right, might be the most forceful argument for peace ever made.

5. The Old Steam Mill, Volgograd (Russia)

The Old Steam Mill, Volgograd (Russia). source

The Hergert Mill, built in the nineteenth century by three ethnic-German brothers, was one of the few structures to survive the unusually bloody Battle of Stalingrad, which raged from August 1942 to February 1943. Today, the mill is maintained with the Panorama Museum, which exhibits artifacts and materials from the fight, including Vasily Zaytsev’s sniper weapon.

6. The Bombed Buildings of Belgrade (Serbia)

The Bombed Buildings of Belgrade (Serbia). source

The final Balkan War occurred in 1999, between Serbia (supported by Montenegro) and the separatist region of Kosovo. NATO intervened with a bombing campaign, fueled by concerns of genocide and painful memories of the Bosnian conflict. Serbia was bombarded with rockets for two months. Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, was severely damaged. Civilian structures, such as the TV station, were attacked, resulting in extensive casualties. Over 500 people were killed by the end. Despite allowing the structures to remain standing, the Serbian government has not formally transformed any of them into monuments. While some Serbs do regard them as such, the city usually discourages it. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to avoid the impression that the entire city has become a type of living memorial park.

7. Museum of Arms from the Homeland War (Croatia)

Museum of Arms from the Homeland War (Croatia). source

Croatian forces loyal to the government of Croatia, which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), fought against the Serb-controlled Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and local Serb forces from 1991 to 1995, with the JNA ending combat operations in Croatia by 1992. In Croatia, the war is known largely as the Homeland War, as well as the Greater-Serbian attack.

The most often used public word in Serbian sources is “War in Croatia.” The Museum of Arms, built around a historic Austro-Hungarian barracks that was heavily bombarded during the 1991 conflict, is today a fairly militant monument. It also acts as a reminder of all the citizens slain in Yugoslavia’s gradual disintegration, regardless of which side of the many ethnic divisions they were born on.

8. Murambi Genocide Memorial (Rwanda)

Murambi Genocide Memorial (Rwanda). source

The Murambi Technical School, currently known as the Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre, is located in southern Rwanda’s Murambi region. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, it was the location of a slaughter. When the killings began, Tutsis in the area sought refuge in a nearby church. The bishop and mayor, however, duped them by sending them to the technical school and stating that French forces would defend them there. On April 16, 1994, around 65,000 Tutsis rushed to the school. Water was shut off and no food was available after the victims were directed to congregate there, so the individuals were too weak to resist.

The Tutsi were overpowered on April 21 after resisting themselves for a few days with stones. The French soldiers vanished, and Hutu Interahamwe fighters stormed the school. Approximately 45,000 Tutsi were massacred at the school, and virtually all of those who escaped were executed the next day when they attempted to hide in a nearby church. According to the memorial’s guide, the French came in heavy machinery to excavate multiple trenches where thousands of dead were interred. They then built a volleyball court over the mass graves to conceal what had occurred. Many children and newborns are among the corpses now on exhibit.

The school building is now a genocide museum, with skeletons and mummified corpses of some of the hundreds of individuals who died there on display.

9. Beit Beirut (Lebanon)

Beit Beirut (Lebanon). source

Beit Beirut (roughly “the home of Beirut”) is a museum and urban culture center set to open in Beirut’s Ashrafieh area in 2013. The cultural center is housed in the renovated Barakat building, commonly known as the “Yellow House,” a Youssef Optimus-designed historic property. The Yellow House, a majestic ancient edifice completed in 1924, formerly exemplified the city’s multiculturalism. Then began the civil war. The building became the epicenter of some of the greatest fighting since it was located on the Green Line that separated the warring Christian and Muslim armies. It was bombed, shot, and used as a snipers’ nest before being practically obliterated by a torrent of incessant gunfire.

It was left to deteriorate after the war ended. A shattered, burned-out ruin from a more violent era.

10. Berlin Anhalter Bahnhof (Germany)

Berlin Anhalter Bahnhof (Germany). source

The Anhalter Bahnhof is a historic railway terminal in Berlin, Germany, located about 600 meters (0.5 miles) southeast of Potsdamer Platz. Once one of Berlin’s most significant train stations, it was severely damaged during WWII and eventually closed for traffic in 1952, when the GDR-owned Deutsche Reichsbahn diverted all railway traffic between Berlin and sites in the GDR, bypassing West Berlin. The name of the station lives on in the same-named Berlin S-Bahn station, which opened in October 1939 as part of the North-South S-Bahn route.

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