Station:  Christian Wilhelm Faber du Faur
M: First, it was the summer. The heat. The dust. Then the hunger, the thirst.
F: Even in the early weeks, tens of thousands died of typhus, dysentery or exhaustion.
M: Then it was the winter. The cold. The snow. And still this damn hunger.
F: The retreat had long since turned into a panicked stampede.
M: On the 24th of June 1812, Napoleon's Grande Armée had crossed the borders into Tsarist Russia. The French emperor was expecting a brief campaign, a quick, decisive battle. In Napoleon’s view, that was the way to break the Tsar's will and force him to the negotiating table.
F: In the end, it all turned out quite differently.
M: Napoleon had some 300,000 men when he set out on his march to the east. Only a few thousand would survive the Russian campaign.
F: One of them was First Lieutenant Christian Wilhelm Faber du Faur. He was in the Württemberg artillery – and also an extremely talented artist.
M: During the campaign, he tirelessly recorded his impressions and produced new sketches almost every day. In 1831, he published them as coloured drawings under the title “Mit Napoleon in Russland” – "With Napoleon in Russia".
F: Christian Wilhelm Faber du Faur was born in Stuttgart in 1780. He studied law and joined the Württemberg army as a volunteer in 1809. At first, he served in the infantry, but was quickly transferred to the artillery – probably mainly because of his level of education and his talent for drawing.
M: Even after the Russian campaign, Faber du Faur remained loyal to the military. He was promoted to major, then colonel and finally became a general in 1841. For a while, he was Württemberg's military representative on the German Confederation’s military commission in Frankfurt. Faber du Faur died in Stuttgart in 1857. His pictures are very detailed and poignant. With his work, he created a unique resource relating to that disastrous campaign.
Foto: © Garnisonsmuseum Ludwigsburg