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The Battle of the Nations near Leipzig

Seepark Auenhain stands on historic ground.

Situated in the middle of the southern battlefield, the terrible battles of the Battle of Leipzig took place here and in the wider area from 16 - 19 October 1813.

In particular, the Battle of Wachau on 16 October 1813 gained sad notoriety as the largest battle in human history up to that time, due to the deployment of almost 250,000 soldiers on both sides. The soldiers fought doggedly for every metre of the battlefield. At the end of the day, 20,000 soldiers were dead on the Allied side alone, but the front line had not moved an inch.

The former Rittergut zu Wachau, on whose grounds the Pension Völkerschlacht 1813 now stands, was the headquarters of Joachim Murat, King of Naples, Marshal of France and Napoleon's brother-in-law, from 11 - 15 October 1813.

From here, or more precisely from the gallery in the Napoleon Linden, he commanded the cavalry of the Grande Armee in the cavalry skirmish at Liebertwolkwitz on 14 October 1813. Later, he himself led a cavalry charge with 5,000 horsemen, during which he narrowly escaped capture. In the late afternoon, both sides retreated to their initial positions. The attack gave Napoleon time to move his troops to the south of Leipzig. However, this further weakened his cavalry, which would later prove to be a disadvantage.

After Wachau had been captured by Prussians and Russians under Schwarzenberg on the morning of 16 October, but had to be abandoned again after heavy artillery fire, Murat, as commander of the cavalry of the Grande Armee, led an 8,000-man mounted attack against the centre of the allies at Güldengossa, which was, however, repulsed.

In the following days, Napoleon's troops had to retreat further and further towards Leipzig and finally, on the morning of 19 October, they had to flee west towards Weißenfels. The battle was decided, Napoleon's Grande Armee had been defeated but not destroyed. Numerous more battles were to follow until Napoleon's final defeat was sealed at Waterloo in 1815.

The victorious monarchs marched triumphantly into Leipzig, but the jubilation of the Leipzigers during the victory parade on the market square was only brief.

For now they stood alone with the terrible consequences of the battle, unimaginable suffering and misery reigned in the city. Of the approximately 600,000 soldiers involved in the battle, 92,000 were killed or wounded. In addition, there were 30,000 French soldiers who were unable to flee the city after a bridge was blown up prematurely.

The streets and squares of Leipzig, the suburbs, villages and battlefields were littered with dead, wounded, prisoners and animal carcasses. It was to take months to bury the dead, and every day there were more. There were neither enough military hospitals nor doctors, and the supply of water and food was not even close to being guaranteed. The hygienic conditions were catastrophic, and as a result a typhus epidemic broke out in the city. It killed thousands and made no distinction between Russians, Prussians, French or Saxons, civilians or soldiers.

Leipzig was spared the destruction that had been feared in the battle, but it had to bear the immediate effects for a long time to come.

Worth reading - Sabine Ebert - 1813 / 1815

For those who would like to learn more about this period of German and European history or prepare themselves historically for a visit here, Sabine Ebert's novels "1813 Kriegsfeuer" and "1815 Blutfrieden" are highly recommended.

In these two novels, Sabine Ebert describes the period from the beginning of 1813, through the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig, to Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo.

Meticulously researched historically, she links real places, people and events of the time with the fictional story of her character Henriette, who is driven by the war through half of Germany. It is about kings and diplomats, spies and intrigues and the lives of ordinary people on whose shoulders the burden of the war ultimately lay. After just a few pages, you feel transported back in time and experience history at first hand.

You learn about the living conditions at that time and about the political background, which was ultimately miles away from what the people of the time hoped to believe. Their wish that the war would lead to peace, freedom and a united fatherland was a delusion; this war only brought them endless suffering and devastated landscapes. The emperors and kings had other goals, they were only concerned with securing their power and expanding their dominions.

The novels shed light on a little-known chapter of German history, a cynical, dramatic and bloody chapter in which there were few victors but hundreds of thousands of victims and losers.

In over 2000 pages, Sabine Ebert has not written a book about war but a moving epic against war.

For those who do not know history are forced to repeat it!

Meanwhile, there is a sequel, "The Broken Feather".

200 Years of the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig

On 18 October 2013, on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig, a commemorative plaque in honour of Joachim Murat was unveiled on one of the buildings of our guesthouse during a solemn ceremony. In the presence of an official representative of the French Society of Napoleonic History, the IV Battle of the Nations at Leipzig 1813 and numerous cavalry riders, the victims of the Battle of the Nations were commemorated together.

On the following days, numerous events took place at historical sites in and around Leipzig, where people from different countries met. 200 years ago, their ancestors might have been fighting each other, now they were talking and celebrating with each other, making new friends, living international understanding.

A highlight of the anniversary events for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations was a historical battle display with over 6000 participants and 35,000 visitors.


Today, no original buildings remain from the former manor, only the park of our guesthouse was part of the manor park.

The Napoleon lime tree, a large lime tree with a gallery, which was used by Murat, Napoleon and later by the allies as an observation point for the battles, also no longer stands. After it fell victim to a lightning strike in 1876, a new lime tree was planted on almost the same spot, under which there are several monuments today.

You will find other monuments in the immediate vicinity of our guesthouse.

The Wachtberg Monument is right on our doorstep at the Wachau church ruins.

It originally stood on the Wachtberg near Göhren/Magdeborn and marked the position of the three monarchs on 16 October 1813 at the start of the Battle of the Nations.
In 1982 it was moved because the site had to make way for open-cast lignite mining.

On the southern battlefield, in Liebertwolkwitzer Strasse, is the Russian-Prussian Monument.

It marks the spot where the Prince Eugene of Württemberg Corps (Russian troops) and the Klüx Brigade (Prussian troops) opened the battle of Wachau at 8 a.m. on 16 October 1813.

Apelstein No.2 stands directly next to it, the southern battlefield itself is an area monument.

On the road from Wachau to Liebertwolkwitz, just before the bridge, is the Galgenberg monument.

Napoleon's command post was located here on 16 October 1813.

Interesting in this context is a small plaque on the back of the monument with a Bible reference (Job 38/11): "Up to here you shall come, and no further...".

In fact, Napoleon never got further south in the Battle of the Nations.

On 18 October, he retreated north to the Quandt tobacco mill and set up his command post there. The Napoleon Stone stands on this spot today; you will find it in the park next to the Monument to the Battle of the Nations.

The Quandt tobacco mill belonged to the Quandt family, at that time tobacco traders and owners of the Wachau manor. Incidentally, the gate in the park is the so-called Windmill Gate, the last surviving city gate in Leipzig. After the city gates were dismantled, the Quandt family brought it into their park.

The Apel Stones

The Leipzig citizen and writer Dr. Theodor Apel (1811 - 1867) had a total of 44 markers made of granite and sandstone erected between 1861 and 1864 to commemorate the battles of the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig using his own funds.

They provide information about the strength, direction of battle and commanders of the respective troops. For example, the stones with the letter N (Napoleon) and the domed top indicate the position of the French troops. Stones with the letter V (Allies) and a pointed top indicate the location of the Allies.

Between 1901 and 1994, Leipzig associations took up this tradition again and set stones number 45 to 48. Stone number 47 was set up in 1938 at the sheepfold (Vorwerk Auenhain) in Auenhain. However, it had to make way for open-cast lignite mining and was parked, so to speak, on the grounds of the Wachau Estate (formerly VEG Wachau, today Pension Völkerschlacht 1813).
In 2004 it was restored and put up again. You can find it at the northern corner of the holiday village "Seepark Auenhain". The original location is now in the middle of Markkleeberg Lake.

Here you will find a list of all Apel stones.

The Monument to the Battle of the Nations

The Monument to the Battle of the Nations in the south-east of Leipzig was erected in memory of the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig according to designs by the Berlin architect Bruno Schmitz and was inaugurated on 18 October 1913. The sculptural works were designed by the sculptors Christian Behrens and Franz Metzner. At 91 metres high, it is one of the largest monuments in Europe and one of Leipzig's best-known landmarks. It forms a landmark visible from afar with a striking silhouette. Today it belongs to a foundation under public law of the city of Leipzig.

The foundation stone for the monument was laid on 18 October 1898 in the south-east of the city. The builder was Clemens Thieme, to whom the installation of the crypt can be attributed. It was financed by a specially established lottery and by donations. On 18 October 1913, the Monument to the Battle of the Nations was inaugurated. The main guest at the inauguration ceremony was Kaiser Wilhelm II, all the federal princes of the German Empire as well as numerous other dignitaries also came. They drove in a motorcade from the main railway station to the monument on the outskirts of the city, with thousands of people lining the route.

Reconstruction and renovation work began in 2003. Originally, these were to be completed by the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations in 2013. This goal was achieved for the actual monument, and the renovations of the outdoor facilities have also been completed in the meantime. The costs amounted to about 30 million euros. They were raised by the "Stiftung Völkerschlachtdenkmal", the Free State of Saxony, the City of Leipzig and donors.

Source: Wikipedia