An old picture postcard of the ‘Heldendenkmal’ war memorial and mound in Labes / Lobez, c.1937.
Information and archive images of the ‘Roland’ war memorial and mound in what was when it was construcyed Labes, Pommern, Germany; but since 1945, Lobez / Łobez, Zachodniopomorskie, (western Pomerania), Poland.
The ‘Kriegerdenkmal’ and statue of Roland in Labes / Lobez / Łobez, Pommern, c.1937.
An artificial mound (or hill) of greater than 100 metres height was built in Labes / Lobez in 1922. It consisted of four artificial terraces. The top of the mound could be reached by way of a pair of stone stairs flanked by megaliths inscribed with runes and other Germanic symbols. A statue of the Germanic Knight Roland holding a sword was erected on top of the mound and stood more than ten metres high. In addition to the central statue, inscribed stones and mound itself, benches were put in place and trees were planted. The trees were chosen to symbolise different things. Pine trees symbolised sadness and loneliness, while spruces were connected to life and rebirth, and ash and hornbeam to longevity and pride. The purpose of this mound and its monuments was to commemorate and remember those who died in the 1914 – 1918 war.
The mound and monuments were built by the local community with the recorded help of more than 1,000 people. The whole project was financed by voluntary donations and required a total of 4,850 hours to complete.
The official unveiling of the statue of Roland, along with seven quadrangular columns, and boards inscribed with the names of the 200 or so men killed in the First World war from the immediate Labes / Lobez area was done by the President of Germany, Paul von Hindenburg. This took place on 1 August 1926.
In 1931, Erich Puchstein filmed a silent 12-minute film ‘Die Stadt im Osten’ about the war memorial.
A front view of the Roland statue, ivy-covered columns, and war memorial in Labes / Lobez, c.1937.
Following the transfer of this part of what was Germany, to Poland, in 1945, the huge statue of Roland the Knight was blown up, and the war memorial as a whole has suffered greatly as a result of theft, vandalism and neglect. This process of decay, unfortunately, continues to the present-day.
The War Memorial and Mound in Labes / Lobez photographed just after completion of the main structure in 1926.
Historical note: Roland was a Knight and nephew of Charlemagne. He was part of Charlemagne’s army fighting the Muslims in Spain and was killed at the Battle of Roncevaux. As a result of which Roland was immortalised in the medieval French epic poem ‘Song of Roland’ (La Chanson de Roland). Statues of Roland (Rolande) still exist throughout present-day Germany. Many dating back several hundred years. The most famous surviving monument to Roland is probably the 15th century five metre high limestone statue in Bremen.