The Battle of Leipzig / Battle of the Nations

The Battle of Leipzig / Battle of the Nations

The battle was fought from October 16th – 19th 1813 in Leipzig between a coalition of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden against France on the other side. The coalition was led by the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the battle ended in a decisive loss for Napoleon and his army. It was the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I and involved a total of 600.000 soldiers. The battle of Leipzig represents the bloodiest in the history of the Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleon had planned to invade Russia by the end of the year 1812 but was forced back and reorganised his troops near Leipzig between Pleisse and Parthe. The position offered several advantages – by holding the city and its bridges he was able to move his troops quickly and easily.

Reenactment of the Battle of Leipzig in front of the monument.

The two sides met for the first time on October the 16th 1813, but the day saw no results and ended in a stalemate. By the 18th of October, Napoleon´s army was surrounded by the Allied Forces. They launched an attack and during the battle, which lasted nine hours, the French troops were slowly forced back. During the night from October 18th to the 19th the French troops began to retreat westwards from Connewitz, Stötteritz and Reudnitz. They destroyed the bridge over the Elster to cut off their pursuers.

The battles ended after 4 days with a decisive victory for the Coalition. The casualties on both sides were astoundingly high, the official number varies between 80.000 and 110.000 people. The coalition army seized the chance and invaded France in 1814. Napoleon was forced to abdicate and was exiled to the island of Elba.

The Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmahl) in Leipzig was completed in 1913, 100 years after the concluding battle. There are also 50 Apel Stones (named after Theodor Apel who commissioned them) around the site that mark important lines of the French and Allied troops.

The Monument to the Battle of Nations, completed 100 years later

decisive (dɪˈsaɪsɪv) – entscheidend, maßgebend
large (lɑ:ʤ) – groß, beträchtlich
prior (ˈpraɪəʳ) – vor etw, davor
to involve (ɪnˈvɒlv) – etw umfassen, beinhalten
bloody (ˈblʌdi) – blutig, gewalttätig
several (ˈsevərəl) – einige, verschiedene
advantage (ədˈvɑ:ntɪʤ) – der Vorteil
stalemate (ˈsteɪlmeɪt) – der Stillstand,
to surround (səˈraʊnd) – jdn/etw umgeben, einkreisen
to retreat (rɪˈtri:t) – sich zurückziehen, den Rückzug antreten

to cut off (kʌt ɒf) – jdn abschneiden, unterbrechen
victory (ˈvɪktəri) – der Sieg
casualty (ˈkæʒjuəlti) – der Todesfall, das Opfer, Verletzte/r
astounding (əˈstaʊndɪŋ) – erstaunlich, außerordentlich
to vary (ˈveəri) – variieren, schwanken
to seize (si:z) – etw ergreifen, packen
to abdicate (ˈæbdɪkeɪt) – abdanken
concluding (kənˈklu:dɪŋ) – abschließend
to commission (kəˈmɪʃən) – etw in Auftrag geben