Politics

Hollande and Merkel Remember Verdun with EU Unity Call

German and French Leaders Mark 100 Years Since the Battle of Verdun

June 07th, 2016
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French President Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel commemorating the fallen soldiers of the “Hell of Verdun”.

On Sunday 29th of May, Hollande and Merkel marked 100 years since the Battle of Verdun emphasising the special friendship between France and Germany and calling for greater unity within Europe. Merkel spoke about the capacity of the EU “to compromise and to unite” and condemned the nationalistic thinking that would throw Europe backwards, stating that “the common challenges of the 21st century can only be dealt with together”. Hollande cautioned against the “forces of division, of closure and withdrawal” that are at work again in the EU.

As there are no survivors left to remember, this year’s remembrance ceremony was about the future; what can be learnt from the past and teaching the youth of today about the horrors and consequences of war. Merkel said that we must remember “the lessons that Europe drew from the catastrophes of the 20th century – the ability and willingness to recognize how necessary it is not to seal ourselves off but to be open to each other”.

The ceremony at Verdun was accompanied by a choreography by German filmmaker Volker Schlöndorff, consisting of 4,000 French and German children bringing battlefield scenes to life between the white crosses of Verdun, which symbolised the peace between France and Germany. Schlöndorff said that with this performance he wanted to steal the show from the politicians and the military and give it to the Youth, making it as significant a performance as the lighting of the remembrance flame by Hollande and Merkel in showing the alliance of the two nations.

In addition, President Hollande has awarded the city of Verdun the “Adenauer-de Gaulle” award for the amazing contributions the city has made to French-German relations.

References

Cultural Diplomacy News
Dominique Schmutzer, CD News