Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Pratzen Heights

The Peace Memorial dominates the Pratzen Heights. It was built in 1912, and contains a crypt at the base containing the scattered human remains which are still found in the area. There is a plain chapel which contains a body in a glass topped coffin. There is also a small museum. The main interest is the views of the battlefield. Having viewed the Russian positions from Napoleon’s command post on Zuran Hill we could now study the French positions as seen by the attacking allied army. It was easy to follow the route taken by the allied columns towards Telnitz and Sokolnitz, and indeed we would walk that route shortly.

The Pratzen Heights are not as dominating as they appear in this map. Indeed from a distance, such as Zuran Hill, it would be impossible to identify them were it not for the monument. However they appear much higher when you stand by the monument and view Telnitz and Sokolnitz. And the walk along the ridge towards Stare Vinohrady covers the area of the main French attack and the desperate Russian counter attack.

The right hand column of the French attack on the Pratzen Heights was commanded by general St Hilaire. He led his column over these muddy fields towards the heights which can be seen behind the tree line. In December the ground would have been much firmer than it was during our visit in September 1999.

As the leading French regiment approached the village of Pratze they were ambushed by a Russian battalion hidden in these woods (the village is behind the woods. The French quickly recovered and drove the Russians back and took the village and heights behind.

This is the view of Pratze village from the Pratzen Heights. The day of our visit was grey and overcast and my cheap camera was not up to the task.

This map shows the attack on the Pratzen Heights and the Russian counter attack on Sare Vinohrady. You can see that the village of Pratze holds the centre ground between these two points.

This farm track leads from Pratze (behind the camera) to Blasowitz in the distance. It covers the area of the bitter fighting for the heights. It takes about half an hour to walk from the monument to Sare Vinohrady. However the latter could easily be missed if you do not have either a good map or a guide.

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