Thousands re-enact Napoleonic Battle of the Nations

The re-enactment marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations

Related Stories

Some 6,000 history buffs in period military costume are re-enacting one of Germany's bloodiest battles, the Battle of the Nations.

French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated near Leipzig in October 1813 by forces from Russia, Austria, Prussia and Sweden.

Tens of thousands of spectators are attending the reconstruction, described as a "reconciliation".

However, Church leaders object to the battle being turned into a game.

They see Sunday's event as tantamount to glorifying the carnage of war, the BBC's Damien McGuinness reports.

Battle of the Nations

  • Took place 16-19 October 1813; also called the Battle of Leipzig
  • 185,000 mainly French troops under Napoleon
  • 320,000 Austrian, Prussian, Russian and Swedish forces
  • The French lost 38,000 men killed and wounded; allied losses totaled 55,000 men
  • Marked the end of the French Empire east of the Rhine

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica

An ecumenical service was held in the town of Roetha on Saturday to mark the 200th anniversary of the event - also known as the Battle of Leipzig.

The night before, European Parliament President Martin Schulz gave a speech at a memorial to the battle warning of a resurgence of nationalism.

An estimated 600,000 soldiers took part in the series of battles from 16-19 October 1813 and almost 100,000 of them lost their lives.

The victory of the allies - including a small British contingent - over Napoleon marked the end of his control of German territory.

Organisers say their controversial re-enactment is intended to be peaceful and to bring history alive. Many of the thousands taking part have grown period-style moustaches to match their 19th Century replica uniforms.

The role of Napoleon is being played by a 46-year-old Parisian lawyer, Frank Samson, who taught himself the Corsican language in an attempt to give a more authentic performance as the French emperor.

Local TV is reporting live from the scene as if the battle is actually being fought today.

Parisian lawyer Frank Samson is taking on the role of Napoleon Parisian lawyer Frank Samson is taking on the role of Napoleon
The Battle of the Nations monument was illuminated on the eve of the anniversary The Battle of the Nations monument was illuminated on the eve of the anniversary
Ahead of the re-enactment performers camped in the village of Markkleeberg Ahead of the re-enactment performers camped in the village of Markkleeberg
Performers in 19th Century Saxon military uniforms practised marching Performers in 19th Century Saxon military uniforms practised marching

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Europe stories

RSS

Features

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.