Europe

Thousands re-enact Napoleonic Battle of the Nations

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Media captionThe re-enactment marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations

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.

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.

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

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