Been a while - apologies.
I spent this last week on two trips to Central Europe - on Friday flying to Wroclaw in Poland (the former German 'Breslau') for a conference, and then to Leipzig to do some filming for a documentary.
In the short time that I had for sightseeing in both places, the symmetry between the two hit me - Napoleon.
Firstly, in Wroclaw, I returned to the city's stunning Hala Stulecia (or 'Centennial Hall'), which has just been completely renovated.
The Hala - which was an impressive early example of the use of stressed concrete - survived the war, was renamed as the "Hala Ludowa" ('People's Hall') by the incoming
Unlike the Hala Stulecia in Wroclaw - the Leipzig Monument is intended exclusively as a memorial, and so contains some quite remarkable statuary, including a crypt
In my mind, I had never linked the two buildings. But, for all their differences in style and concept - the utilitarian Centennial Hall and the maudlin Volkerschlacht Memorial, they are nonetheless inextricably linked. Both were pioneers in the use of concrete, of course, and both were imbued with the nationalist, jingoistic spirit of the age in which they were built. But - though they are now in different countries - they both stand as memorials to the moment when Napoleon faltered, when his reign as overlord of Europe crumbled - a moment whose 200th anniversary is looming.