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Thousands expected to see Napoleon defeat

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Thousands expected to see Napoleon defeat
Last year's re-enactment. Photo:DPA
10:47 CEST+02:00
Thousands of spectators are expected at the battlefields south of Leipzig over the weekend to watch around 800 history buffs re-enact the Battle of the Nations, which proved decisive in Napoleon's eventual defeat.

Preparations have been underway since Friday, with enthusiasts getting their uniforms and historic weapons ready for action.

The battle involved more than 500,000 soldiers – then the biggest ever number involved in one fight – over three days in 1813. Around 115,000 soldiers were killed or wounded.

Napoleon had just suffered defeat the year before in his Russia campaign, where he lost allies and many soldiers. By 1813 he had also rid himself of many of his most able commanders who he supposedly felt might challenge him.

In October that year, Napoleon's troops pushed through the region, burning and plundering the villages and towns on their way to Leipzig.

But their advance was turned into a crucial defeat after they met the soldiers from the alliance of Prussia, Austria, Russia and Sweden outside of the Saxon city.

A famous war memorial on the site dominates the skyline to mark the change in European history and the people who died on the battlefield.

Napoleon marched his surviving soldiers back to France and remained in charge for another year, but the battle signalled the beginning of his end.

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