ZEALAND, Denmark: A Danish historian who has been fascinated by Napoleon since he was a young boy is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz by recreating the scene with 6,100 tin soldiers, 1,000 horses and 34 cannons.
In his small 19th-century farmhouse on the island of Zealand, 63-year-old J. Hansen has devoted the past 30 years to his "insatiable passion" of recreating the emperor's wars.
Hansen refuses to let his full name or address be published, fearful that robbers will steal his precious collection his home is nestled away at the end of a long country road, far from the curious eyes of strangers.
A heavyset man with glasses that keep slipping to the tip of his nose, Hansen's face lights up as talks about his hero, "a great strategist and in particular a modern man and visionary."
He proudly shows off the glass cabinets decorating his living room which display 9,500 tin soldiers, 1,750 horses, and artillery pieces from Napoleon's army as well as those of Russia, Austria, Britain, Prussia, the Netherlands, Denmark and Spain.
A retired history professor, Hansen spent two years preparing the Battle of Austerlitz scene "because I had to buy and hand paint more than 1,000 extra Russian soldiers since I didn't have enough."
On December 2, 1805, Napoleon's 75,000-strong army defeated the larger Austro-Russian forces opposing him.
In six hours of battle, Napoleon crushed his opponents and redrew the map of Europe in the punitive peace that followed.
After "20 hours of painstaking place-setting," Hansen's display, long kept hush-hush, was shown exclusively to members of the Danish Society of Military Historians.
"A friend who also collects tin soldiers put on a display in his own name three years ago at a Copenhagen museum and a few days later his entire collection was stolen from his home by robbers," Hansen recalls with horror.
Hansen estimates that his collection is worth 1.5 million kroner (US$239,000), and says that to his knowledge, only the National Army Museum in London has more tin soldiers than he does.
Source: China Daily