Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Germans and the Battle of Waterloo

The Forgotten Victory: Germans and the Battle of Waterloo, 1815-2015
By Jasper Heinzen
RUSI Journal, Jun 2015, Vol. 160, No. 3

Waterloo has always been overshadowed by the 1813 Battle of Leipzig in German national memory. Given the salient contribution of Prussian, Hanoverian, Brunswick and Nassau troops to the final victory over Napoleon, this reticence may at first glance seem surprising. Jasper Heinzen contends that Waterloo failed to become a symbol of national achievement in the nineteenth century because of the regional and political fissures it laid bare. If the First World War produced a consensus at last, the price was a subversion of the Anglo-German comradeship so integral to the original event. The resulting mnemonic distortions and, since the Second World War, Franco-German partnership have served to keep Waterloo on the sidelines, yet the battle still holds important lessons for policy-makers today.