The Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument to the Battle of the Nations) is a monument commemorating Napoleon's defeat to the allied armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden at the "Battle of Leipzig" in 1813. After the battle (which also happened to be the largest in Europe until World War I), Napoleon retreated to France and the momentum swung to the Allies, eventually culminating in his defeat at Waterloo the following year.
In 1814 proposals to build a monument to commemorate the battle were made. In 1863, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the battle,
a foundation stone was placed, but the memorial was not built. Clemens Thieme, a member of the "Verein für die Geschichte Leipzigs"
(Association for the History of Leipzig) learned during a meeting of the association about the past plans to build a monument.
Interested in resuming the project, Thieme, who was also a member of the Apollo masonic lodge, proposed the project during a meeting and gained the support of his fellow masons. In 1894, he founded the "Deutsche Patriotenbund" (Association of German Patriots) which raised, by means of donations and a lottery, the funds necessary to construct the monument for the 100th anniversary. The following year, the city of Leipzig donated a 40.000 square metre (about 10 acre) site for the construction. The project was commissioned to Bruno Schmitz, due to his previous works at the Kyffhäuser Monument (known as the Barbarossa Monument). The construction began in 1898. The chosen construction site was the spot where Napoleon ordered the retreat of his army. Thieme financed part of the construction as well, and for his complete dedication to the project, he was named an Honorary Citizen of Leipzig. 82.000 cubic metres of land was moved; 26.500 granite blocks were used and the project resulted in a total cost of 6.000.000 Goldmark (54.759.977 Euro in 2014), the monument was finished in 1913.