BERLIN — About 6,000 history buffs have reenacted the Battle of Nations in Leipzig to mark the 200th anniversary of the largest battle in Europe before World War I.
The German news agency Dpa reported that about 30,000 onlookers watched participants from 24 countries dressed up in early 19th century military costumes as they reenacted combat situations between infantrymen, cavalrymen, and artillery units.
The original battle involved about 500,000 soldiers and pitted the coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, and England against the French army outside of Leipzig in 1813.
It ended in a defeat of the French army, which sealed the end of Napoleon’s hegemony over Europe. About 90,000 people died on the battlefields outside of Leipzig.
An ecumenical service was held in the town of Roetha on Saturday to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle. Some religious leaders oppose the reenactment because they believe it turns the event into a game and glorifies war.
Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, gave a speech last week at a memorial service commemorating the battle. He warned against a resurgence of nationalism on the continent.