Macron and Merkel – emotion and unity on Armistice Day centenary

Angela Merkel, the first German leader since World War 2 to visit the site where the World War 1 armistice site, has joined with French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron in an emotional show of unity in events marking the centenary of Armistice Day.

BBC: Macron and Merkel mark end of World War One

French President c and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have left their own mark of reconciliation at the start of events to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.

They signed a book of remembrance in a railway carriage identical to the one in which the 1918 Armistice was sealed.

Mrs Merkel became the first German leader since World War Two to visit the forest near the town of Compiègne in northern France where the Armistice was signed.

She and Mr Macron unveiled a plaque to Franco-German reconciliation, laid a wreath and signed a book of remembrance in a replica railway carriage.

The original wagon, on which it was modelled, was used by Adolf Hitler to accept France’s capitulation to Nazi Germany in June 1940.

Mr Macron will lead the main event of the centenary – a sombre commemoration on Sunday at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial to France’s fallen under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Sunday afternoon will see Mr Macron and Mrs Merkel attend a peace conference – the Paris Peace Forum – with leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Macron initiated the peace conference. As here in New Zealand commemorations of World War 1 have highlighted the horrors of war and as well as remembrance of the huge number who died in the conflict have had significant promotions of alternatives to war – that is, peace.

But where Donald Trump goes, controversy is certain to follow. He did not take part in the peace conference.

And Trump was widely criticised for not attending a remembrance event at an American cemetery.

After an hour of talks with Mr Macron and lunch with their wives Melania and Brigitte, Mr Trump had been due to visit one of two American cemeteries on his schedule.

But he cancelled his trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial due to “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather”.

White House officials later explained that low cloud would have prevented his helicopter from landing, and cited security concerns about arranging a motorcade to the site.

Gen. John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, attended on the president’s behalf.

Kelly managed to handle the “scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather”.

David Frum (President George W Bush’s speechwriter):

Nicholas Soames, UK Conservative MP and grandson of British wartime leader Winston Churchill:

Trump was grouchy before he got to France, taking a swipe at Macron via Twitter.

The row began when Mr Macron told French radio station Europe 1 radio on Tuesday “we must have a Europe that can defend itself on its own without relying only on the United States”.

Mr Macron went on to mention threats to Europe, including “re-emerging authoritarian powers” that were well-armed on Europe’s borders, and attempts to launch cyber-attacks, before concluding: “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the United States of America.”

Mr Trump responded angrily in a Friday night tweet, writing: “President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the US, China and Russia. Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the US subsidizes greatly!”

Mr Macron has already raised spending considerably to meet a Nato target of 2% of the GDP going to defence.

He is also overseeing the formation of a European Intervention Initiative, a 10-nation endeavour backed by Germany and the UK.

(me controversy also from German far right Alternative for Germany AfD party co-leader Alexander Gauland – Germany has no place in WW1 ceremony for ‘winners’- far-right leader

German Chancellor Angela Merkel should not have taken part in a ceremony in France on Sunday marking the centenary of the Armistice as it is an event for the “winners” of World War One, said the leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD).

Germany lost the war and Merkel’s participation in a ceremony for the former allies amounted to an attempt to rewrite history, AfD co-leader Alexander Gauland said.

“We can’t put ourselves in a historical situation that clearly favours the winner and walk alongside Mr. Macron through the Arc de Triomphe,” he said, referring to the famous Paris monument.

That totally misses the point of the Armistice Day commemoration. It isn’t about winners, it is about remembering the huge losses suffered by many countries, and trying to avoid any sort of repeat of the stupidity of the war.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has been representing New Zealand in France – Foreign Minister attends Armistice Day and Paris Peace Forum

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters will represent New Zealand at Armistice commemorations in France and attended the inaugural Paris Peace Forum later today.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern calls for ‘peace and inclusion’ on Remembrance Day

Ardern’s Speech to Armistice Day National Ceremony 2018

I don’t know why Ardern didn’t go to France, but that was signalled in July when New Zealand plans were announced – Government releases details of Armistice Day centenary plans

Armistice Day Centenary

Today is the centenary of celebrating Armistice Day, which marked the end of the unprecedented death and destruction of World War 1.

Like many, probably most New Zealanders, I have family connections. Both my grandfathers fought in the war, and were lucky to survive (one was badly injured), otherwise I would never have existed. There was a huge casualty rate, with 18,000 New Zealanders killed and tens of thousands more injured.

 


Armistice centenary – 11 November 2018

At 11am on 11 November this year, Aotearoa New Zealand will mark the centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918. On that day 100 years ago, after four years of brutal conflict, war finally gave way to peace.

The First World War had taken a huge toll on New Zealand. Around 100,000 New Zealanders – or ten percent of the population at the time – served overseas during the war, and over 18,000 lost their lives. Families and communities back home felt these losses acutely.

When news of the Armistice reached our shores it was met with thanksgiving, hopefulness and joyous noise.

The Armistice centenary gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the loss and trauma of the First World War, as well as reflect on peace and hope at the centenary of its closure. As well as joining together in remembrance, we can recapture the relief and jubilation of that important day a century ago.

ATTEND AN ARMISTICE EVENT

SEND YOUR MESSAGE TO THE ARMISTICE BEACON

HISTORY OF ARMISTICE DAY

JOIN THE ROARING CHORUS

At 11am on 11 November 1918, after four years of brutal conflict, the First World War finally came to an end. When news of the Armistice reached New Zealand it was met with widespread thanksgiving, celebration and a lot of noise.

“There were songs and cheers, miscellaneous pipings and blastings, and tootings and rattlings—a roaring chorus of gladsome sounds.” – Armistice celebrations in Wellington described in The Evening Post, 12 November 1918

100 years on, we want to recapture this energy and we invite you to join us.

How can you be involved?

On Sunday 11 November, a two minute silence will be observed at 11am to acknowledge the immense loss and hardship endured throughout the war. Following this, we encourage organisations and communities to gather whatever ‘instruments’ they have at hand, and help create a roaring chorus of jubilant sound that once again celebrates peace and hope for the future.

The brief is wide open, you could ring bells, sound sirens, or toot horns. You could sing a waiata, beat drums or play music. You could incorporate something upbeat into an event you already had planned or do something stand alone. Anything goes.

Download an information sheet about the Roaring Chorus (PDF, 421 KB)