Do Other Countries Have War Reenactments? Main battles and groups worldwide.


When most people think about historical battle reenactments, they automatically think about the United States. The Civil War certainly did play a big part in the history of that country, but what about other countries?

You might be surprised to learn just how many more reenactments take place worldwide. The United States has the biggest Civil War reenactment community, but many events showing other periods take place in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Poland, Finland, and Russia for example.

recreating the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War
Members of the “La Columna” reenactment group, recreating the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. Source: www.lacolumna.org.uk

In this article, you will find some examples of reenactment groups and events which take place worldwide.

Reenactment in the The United States as a baseline

Although we are talking about war reenactments that take place outside of the United States, you really need to use the US as a baseline. Generally speaking, the United States has the largest war reenactments, especially when we are talking about the Civil War.

civil war battles map
Location of major battles of the Civil War – many of them host reenactment events. Source: www.blendspace.com

Battles such as the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Antietam, and even some smaller skirmishes can attract crowds of thousands of people. There are other wars that took place in the United States, and even some that are reenacted in areas where they did not occur in history.

Reenactment groups and events in Germany

The country of Germany played a large part in both of the World Wars. It is therefore not surprising that they also have many more reenactments that take place.

One of the reenactments that take place regularly, in which German reenactors are active is the Battle of Stalingrad – the defeat that occurred in the winter of 1942 and 1943. The German Sixth Army lost that battle and it is considered a turning point of the Nazi regime. It is often commemorated with a military parade and reenactment in full costume.

Reenactment of Battle of Stalingrad with German reenactors
Reenactment of Battle of Stalingrad with German reenactors in Kronstadt. Source: www.ecns.cn

One thing that is interesting about war reenactments in Germany is the lack of SS reenactment groups. They do exist in Germany but they are banned in both that country and Austria. You can find them throughout Europe and in North America, and they hold their own historical reenactments in some cases.

German reenactors are active also in portraying other periods in history – for example, the American Civil War as shown during a reenactment in Walldürn when the local group was showing the battles of the 4th Tennessee Infantry, a southern army regiment.

American Civil War Reenactment in Walldürn
American Civil War Reenactment in Walldürn, Germany. Source: www.uni-bamberg.de

Reenactment groups and events in Canada

There are a number of war reenactments that occur in Canada, with some of them being held on an annual basis. They include some that use World War II reenactment groups and groups that reenact the war of 1812.

Canada war of 1812 Military Reenactment
War of 1812 Military Reenactment Weekend in Canada – St. Lawrence Parks, Ontario. Source: www.uppercanadavillage.com

Some of the historical sites that are in Canada are home to these annual reenactment events. One of those reenactments is from 1813 when the incorporated militia of upper Canada was thrown into the war of 1812. Many people come to participate in this and dress in historically accurate clothing, along with carrying firearms from that time period as well.

One of the largest reenactment groups in Ontario for World War II is the Ontario WWII reenactors Association. They also use accurate uniforms and firearms for the reenactments, although, of course, they do not use live ammunition.

LHA reenactors depicting WWII Canadian soldiers
FSSF LHA reenactors depicting Canadian soldiers for a film shoot at
The Military Museums in Calgary. Source: www.canadiansoldiers.com

Reenactment groups and events in Great Britain

When it comes to history, Britain certainly has centuries of it so it is no surprise that there are also many historical battle reenactments taking place. Some of these include reenactments from World War II, the Napoleonic wars and even going back hundreds of years into medieval times.

Napoleonic Reenactment at Whittington Castle
Napoleonic Reenactment during Living History Weekend at Whittington Castle, United Kingdom. Source: www.livinghistoryarchive.com

One of the interesting reenactments is the Dig for Victory Show. This festival allows you to see how people lived in Britain during the 1940s. You can wander around through accurate stands from that time to watch how people live, worked, and raised a family.

The battle of Hastings reenactment is also a large event that is well worth considering. That annual reenactment takes place in East Sussex, UK, but people come from around the world to participate and to watch the action. For example, some 1000 reenactors on foot, along with archers, Calvary, and many others were on hand for the event in 2000.

Reenactment groups and events in Finland

Several major conflicts took place in Finland during World War II, and they have reenactments of some of those events on an annual basis. One of the largest WWII reenactment groups in Finland is JR50. They take part in a number of historical reenactments that celebrate the Finnish combat soldier of the continuation war from 1941 until 1944.

Reenactment group from Finland - JR50
Reenactment group from Finland – JR50. Source: Facebook profile www.facebook.com/JR50FIN

At times, they may also hold other events that don’t necessarily depict the battles that occurred in Finland. For example, they may raise a flag in honor of War Veterans Day while wearing historical clothing.

Reenactment groups and events in Poland

A battle that is well-known from World War II is the battle of Warsaw. The Warsaw uprising took place when the Nazi occupation was fought against by the partisan Polish Home Army. It began in 1944 in August and continued until 2 October of the same year.

Reenactment of  The Warsaw uprising
Reenactment of The Warsaw uprising, Source: www.gp24.pl

This battle was a real turning point and it is one that is still celebrated in history in numerous ways. One of the ways that it is celebrated is through a historical reenactment of many of the skirmishes. For example, at the State Securities Printing House, a reenactment sometimes takes place. These reenactments include period clothing as well as accurate firearms.

One of the biggest reenactments in Poland is the Battle of Grunwald (July 15, 1410). Battle was fought in northeastern Poland. It was a major Polish-Lithuanian victory over the Knights of the Teutonic Order. The battle marked the end of the order’s expansion along the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea and the beginning of the decline of its power.

Battle of Grunwald reenactment knights
Battle of Grunwald reenactment. Source: www.dziennikbaltycki.pl

Reenactment groups and events in France

One of the biggest turning points in World War II was D-Day. On June 6, 1944, troops arrived on Utah Beach and that area in France is sometimes the location of a historical war reenactment.

reenacting capture the Crisbecq Battery during the Normandy Invasion
Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop Living History Group from England reenacting attempts to capture the Crisbecq Battery during the Normandy Invasion. Source: www.jcnewsandneighbor.com

The reenactment of the invasion of Utah Beach is one that is often accomplished in conjunction with many other war reenactments that took place in and around the same time. It may include everything from various fairs and festivals to war reenactments or perhaps even parades and light shows.

reenactors recreate the battle at Waterloo
Around 3000 French and British reenactors recreate the battle at Waterloo. Source: www.dailymail.co.uk

One of the biggest directories of reenactors groups in France can be found at www.lapetitemusette.com.

Reenactment groups and events in the Czech Republic

There were many interesting battles that took place during the Napoleonic Wars, but the battle of Austerlitz, which is also known as the battle of the Three Emperors was one of the more important engagements that took place.

military reenactment in Prague
Another example of military reenactment, this time in Prague, Czech Republic. Source: www.news.expats.cz

Every year, either in late November or early December, the Battle of Osher which is reenacted in the Czech Republic, at the château in Slavkov near Brno. It is a historically accurate depiction of what took place during a very important time in their history.

Reenactment groups and events in Belgium

On June 18, 1815, a very important battle happened in Waterloo, Belgium. Many aspects of the battlefield were kept intact from the battle that occurred well over 100 years ago.

reenactment of The French Attack, Battle of Waterloo
French troops in the reenactment of “The French Attack”, Battle of Waterloo on June 19, 2015. Source: www.theatlantic.com; Charles Platiau / Reuters

Every June, there is a reenactment of that historical event that takes place on the grounds of the battlefield in Waterloo, Belgium. It is not out of the question for up to 800 reenactors to be on hand to take part in that battle, all of which are wearing historical clothing and carrying firearms that make the experience very authentic. They try to keep the dates of those events as accurate as possible to history.

Reenactment groups and events in Indonesia

In 1945, Indonesia declared its independence from the Netherlands but it wasn’t with a conflict that took place. The Indonesian National Revolution, which is also known as the Indonesian War of Independence occurred only two days after the surrender of the Japanese in the Pacific, on August 17.

It was a conflict that shaped that part of the world in many ways and it is also part of a regular reenactment. In fact, enthusiasts in Indonesia will re-create battles from World War II but also in the fight for the independence of that part of the world. They are very passionate about these reenactments, and it shows in the way they depict those events.

Indonesian reenactors in the Battle of Surabaya
Indonesian reenactors portraying British troops in the Battle of Surabaya in 1945. Photo: Hosea Aryo Bimo W.N. Source: www.southeastasiaglobe.com

The heaviest single battle of the Indonesian National Revolution was the Battle of Surabaya (the second-largest city in Indonesia). It became a national symbol of resistance. Intense fighting erupted when 6,000 British Indian troops landed in the city. Although the European forces largely captured the city in three days, the Republicans fought on until 29 November.

One of the most active reenactment groups in Indonesia is Nieuw Indonesian Reenactors (N-IDR), covering various conflicts, not only Indonesian National Revolution, but also World War II fights in Europe and even discussing in the community about the occupation of Poland by the Nazis.

Reenactment groups and events in the Dutch war of Independence

The Dutch war of independence, which is also known as the 80 Years War took place from 1568 until 1648. It was a revolt that shaped that area and still continues to have an impact on it down to this day. It is little wonder, therefore, that numerous historical reenactments take place depicting that time in history.

One of the main reenactment events portraying this period is The Battle of Grolle. The event lasts for three days and features a historic battle reenactment and a historic fair, with reenactors from many European countries.

Reenactment of the Battle of Grolle
Dutch troops fire a volley on the battlefield. Reenactment of the Battle of Grolle in 1627. Source: www.wikiwand.com

The event was held for the first time in 2005, with around 350 reenactors, among which were pikemen, swordsmen, around 100 musketeers, and working cannons.

Conclusion

There are hundreds of reenactment groups and events worldwide, in this article we only started to explore them. Many countries will have reenactment groups portraying not only battles of World War II or Civil War, but as well periods and warriors such as Roman, Ancient Greek, Celtic but also from more recent history – the reality of the Korean War or Vietnam War.

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