1. World war: memory policy is


One hundred years ago the First world war ended. The reason for France, a great commemoration. The British do their own thing. And the Germans celebrate with others. What does that say about you all?

The American soldier Henry Nicholas Gunther ran on the morning of the 11. November, 1918, in Lorraine, on a German machine gun position and was killed at exactly 10:59 – one Minute before the armistice came into force. Gunther is considered to be the last of the Fallen of the First world war, one of approximately ten million soldiers. But even among civilians, there were millions of victims.

War of position demanded incredible sacrifices to bring without one side or the other military benefits

A hundred years later, the former warring States of the dead of the “Great war remembrance”, as he is known in France and the United Kingdom. Who remembers how that tells a lot about the assessment of the war. For France and great Britain, the First world war has always been of greater importance than for Germany, where clearly the moral catastrophe of the Second world war and the Holocaust are in the foreground. To 100. The anniversary has taken French President Macron the Initiative of his country to the center of international celebrations.

Again and again Compiègne

A day before, on 10. In November, he wants to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Compiegne, North of Paris, a short ceremony. It is a double-memorable place. In a railway car was here on the 11th. November 1918, the armistice between the Western powers and the German Reich closed. 22 years later, after the invasion of France, forced Adolf Hitler, the French military leaders to surrender – they had to be in the same wagon sign.

Armistice negotiations in November 1918 in a railroad car of Compiègne

The current French government wants but to remember something else: “We will follow in the footsteps of Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand in 1984 in Verdun,” from the Elysée Palace. As the then Chancellor and the President of the cemetery on a soldiers Hand filed, was the gesture at the time, watched around the world, Reconciliation.

The highlight of this year a large memorial ceremony in Paris. Macron has about 80 heads of state and government invited the heads of, directly or indirectly, of the participating countries of the war to a ceremony at the arc de Triomphe. One of the party of all will be to the American and the Russian President. Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin had a falling out over the INF disarmament Treaty. Trump has threatened, from the contract to get out. Both heads of state, Macron, hopes could take advantage of the memorial ceremony for a two-conversation, in order to save this contract on the prohibition of medium-range missiles with atomic weapons, perhaps, but still.

The memorial is a disarmament pulse celebrations for the First world war end? Trump and Putin

Macron can use gloss

The French historian Etienne François believes that the elaborate Ceremony was for Macron is a question of prestige. Macrons popularity has fallen sharply, his European reform plans meet resistance. He could “appear for a few hours as the center of the world,” says François. However, the President will try with the celebration to make a contribution, “so that we come out of the impasse in which we find ourselves, in Europe and worldwide”.

The three-day “Forum for peace” in the context of the great memorial in Paris, Angela Merkel, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres will deliver the opening speeches. The Forum, in addition to politicians, international organizations and intellectuals together and according to their own claim of multilateralism to promote the opposite of what operate Trump and Putin.

The Germans are in the commemorations particularly present. Federal President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier had already at the 4. November at a “concert of the German-French friendship” in Strasbourg, in the Alsace region participated, it was from 1871 to 1918 German and then French again.

The German commemoration, especially in the case of other

The British can not in the French-dominated commemorations to join, but insist on a private ceremony. The Frenchman, Etienne François finds the “normal”, can’t resist the jab, the British had always been, and regardless of the forthcoming Brexit “Conviction that you are unique”.

Poppies are in the British memory of the “Great war”: king Elizabeth and Prince Philip 2014

Also in London, one stretches out his Hand to the Germans. Steinmeier is the first German head of state who is in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in London. It will be a “historic act of reconciliation,” it said in a communication to Prime Minister Theresa May, “where we are all Fallen remembrance and our gratitude for the peace they will Express”. Not everyone on the island agrees. So, the tabloid newspaper “The Sun was afraid” in advance, Steinmeier’s presence will lead to an “Outcry among veterans”. So far, nothing is known.

Steinmeier in London and Strasbourg, and Merkel in Paris and Compiègne – the Germans want to show, above all, believes the German historian Jörn Leonhard, “that you want to have a European”. Every impression that there was a specifically German memory, should be avoided, “because you are afraid, it is the Pandora’s box could be opened”, including the question of whether the peace Treaty of Versailles charged after the First world war, the young Weimar Republic, and therefore to their Failure have contributed to this. So politically understandable, says Leonhard, to go to Germany, but “extremely defensive” with the German experience of the war.

Polish Celebration draws extreme-Right

At the former theatre of war Ypres in Belgium, the European bishops of the victims of the war have thought. The Essen Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck – he is at the same time, the Catholic military Bishop – warned to downplay military conflicts and to have been lulled into a “false security”. “Nationalism and populism on flames new, the enthusiasm for the European project is fading,” said Overbeck, the peace was threatened by “new”.

What to watch the bishops with concern, a memorial could provide an example. For Poland, the end of the First world war was the rebirth of the Polish state. However, the Celebration of the 100. Anniversary of the independence also attracts the extreme Right. The authorities expect that supporters of the international neo-Nazi organization “Blood and Honour” will take part in the “March for independence” in Warsaw. In the past year, about 60,000 people from the right of the spectrum in the traditional March had been.

In the past year, numerous Right-wing took part in the March for Polish independence

World war II commemoration in France and elsewhere differ according to the opinion of Etienne François, especially with reference to the German: “most of The commemorative events in France under the Motto of the German-French reconciliation.” In Poland and other countries will celebrate “alone”.

The Parallels between then and now?

Some politicians, in view of today’s right-wing populism and nationalism Parallels to the beginning of the 20th century. Century. Francois compares the Situation with the Europe of the 20s, “there were efforts to create a peaceful Europe, but also strong counter-currents”.

These counter-currents were, however, came since the beginning of the world economic crisis of 1929. He fears crisis “in the next ten years” a new world economy, and asks the question: “How European countries will react then? You will then have sufficient cohesion in order to overcome this crisis?”

Reconciliation: in 1984, President Mitterrand (l.) and Helmut Kohl rich on the war graves of Verdun in the Hand

Etienne François is hoped, therefore, the celebrations at 11. November, above all, a strengthening “of consciousness that we have Europeans, for all their Differences, similarities, and that it is worth it to build a future”.