‘Napoleonic earthquake’ in Belarus: Re-enactment for epic battle of Berezina


Napoleon’s army and forces of the Russian Empire have squared off once again: a large-scale re-enactment for the sharp battle of Berezina took place on the occasion of its 205th anniversary.

The number of Belarusian, Russian and Polish history lovers taking part in the event has been growing year on year. In 2017, French participants have been spotted.

French Ambassador to Belarus Didier Canesse was present at the commemoration of the victims; famous baritone Olivier Heyte performed songs of the Napoleonic era.

Usually, many re-enactors represent Belarusians who once supported Napoleon. There are also Belarusian participants who ‘fight’ on the side of the Russian army. In 1812, the Belarusians were divided in a similar way: some of them believed that Napoleon would help them to restore the Great Principality of Lithuania in alliance with Poland. However, many Belarusians were called up to the Russian army and fought against their fellow countrymen on the battlefield.

Every year, the re-enaction of the events on the Berezina River is held as a bit pretentious battle – at the start of it, ‘unbeatable’ horsemen in speckless uniforms prance under artillery fire; then identically unbeatable infantrymen, who are laughing and taking pictures, slowly shoot, and stage a close-in; finallly, one army defeats the other.

Still, one should be remember that the reality was more tragic. Having fooled Russian admiral Chichagov, Napoleon and some combat effective units managed to ford the river. Then he ordered to burn a temporary bridge. Thousands of disabled soldiers and civilians, including women and children, were left to their fate.

Vyachaslau Radzimich, belsat.eu

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