Bastogne
Mardasson Memorial

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The Mardasson Memorial is a war monument built in honour of the Ardennes Counteroffensive, one of the last major battles during World War II. It is situated near the Bastogne War Museum. The Belgian State owns the site on which the monument and the museum are located. 

History 

The Mardasson Memorial, founded on the initiative of the Belgo-American Association, was inaugurated on the 16th of July 1950 in presence of General Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division defending Bastogne.  
The monument was designed by the Liège architect Georges Dedoyard.

The Mardasson Memorial commemorates the Ardennes Counteroffensive that took place from 16 December 1944 to 16 January 1945. During this Battle, the Allies fought against the surprise offensive of the German army. Many people lost their lives, including numerous American soldiers. The monument keeps the memory alive of the 76.890 American soldiers who gave their life during this Battle for the liberation of Belgium or the seriously injured. It also symbolises the enduring friendship between the Belgian and American people, who fought side by side against the German occupier. 

The Ardennes Counteroffensive is also known as ‘The Battle of the Bulge’.

Bastogne was chosen as location for the monument because this city formed the centre of the battle during the Ardennes Counteroffensive.  

The Mardasson Memorial is situated near the Bastogne War Museum. The museum opened its doors in March of 2014 and is dedicated to the history of World War II and the Ardennes Counteroffensive. Formerly, the building housed the Bastogne Historical Center, but it closed in 2011 for a thorough renovation and extension. 
The Mardasson Memorial and the museum have an international standing and attract annually on average 150.000 visitors. 

A star-shaped monument with a crypt

The impressive monument on the Mardasson hill has the shape of a five-pointed star, representing the American army. 
The frieze of the monument contains the names of the then 48 American states in bronze letters. The history of the Ardennes Counteroffensive and the names of the most important American units that took part in the Battle are engraved in the pillars.
There is a memorial stone in the middle of the monument.
 
A spiral staircase leads to the top of the monument, overlooking an impressive panoramic view of the battlefields from then.  
At the foot of the Mardasson Memorial is a crypt with 3 altars, each representing a certain religion: Judaism, Protestantism and Catholicism. French artist Fernand Léger decorated the altars with mosaics. 

Embellishment of the landscape architecture

The Belgian state partly owns the domain on which both the Mardasson Memorial and the Bastogne War Museum are located. 

In 2013, the Belgian State leased out a zone via the Belgian Buildings Agency near the museum to the city of Bastogne for public utility, so that the city could build a parking lot. 

In 2019, the leasehold zone was extended with the green zones around the Mardasson Memorial, which allows the city to embellish the landscape architecture around the monument and make it more accessible for the public. 

Accessibility for people with reduced mobility

The Belgian Buildings Agency performed works in 2019 to make the Mardasson Memorial more accessible to people with reduced mobility by placing an integrated inclined plane.   

Restauration and renovation in stages

The Mardasson Memorial was specially renovated in the autumn of 2019 for the ceremonies of the 75th birthday of the Ardennes Counteroffensive. The monument and the crypt were thoroughly cleaned and the pavement was restored. 

This restauration was possible thanks to the collaboration between the American Embassy in Belgium, the Belgian Buildings Agency and the city of Bastogne. 

The American Overseas Memorial Day Association (AOMDA) financed the works. The AOMDA is a public-private partnership consisting of representatives of the American Embassy in Belgium, the American Battle Monuments Commission and the AOMDA Foundation. This Association created the Bastogne Memorial Fund to raise funds in the United Stated for the restauration of the monument. 

The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) managed the works. The ABMC is an independent agency of the federal government of the United States that manages military cemeteries and memorials in the U.S. and abroad.

A further, structural restauration of the Monument is foreseen during the second stage and will also be financed by the same fundraising.  

Technical sheet    

Owner and lessor: Belgian State
Leaseholder: the city of Bastogne
Duration of the leasehold: 50 years (until 2063)
Surface leasehold site: 15 460 m² + 31 694 m²
Investment of the Belgian Buildings Agency in the inclined plane for people with reduced mobility: 125.841 euro (VAT included)
Contractor for the inclined plane for people with reduced mobility: the firm Piccard (Tenneville)

 

Last modified on 6 December 2019.

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