Britain and France remember end of World War I during Armistice Day ceremonies | News | DW | 11.11.2017
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Britain and France remember end of World War I during Armistice Day ceremonies

The bell of Parliament's Big Ben clock tower in London chimed at 11 a.m. to mark the time World War I ended in 1918. In Paris, wreaths were laid at the Arc de Triomphe, where an eternal flame burns for unknown soldiers.

Millions of people on both sides of the English Channel paused Saturday to mark the 99th anniversary of Armistice Day, when the guns of World War I permanently fell silent at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month.

At 11 a.m. local time (1100 UTC) people across Britain stopped where they were to observe two minutes of silence to remember the victims, which included the confirmed deaths of more than 5.5 million allied soldiers.

In London, Parliament's Big Ben chimed for the first time since it was silenced for renovation work in August.

In Britain, many people wore red paper poppies to symbolize the flowers that bloomed amid the blood-soaked fields along the Western Front of World War I.

Soldiers stand at attention when French President Macron arrives for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

President Macron arrives for a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc De Triomphe

Originally Armistice Day paid homage to those who died during WW I — the war to end all wars —  but now remembers those who died in World War II as well as subsequent wars.

National commemoration in France

Across the Channel, French President Emmanuel Macron led a national commemoration along Paris's Champs-Elysees. He laid a wreath at the statue of France's wartime Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, who was integral in orchestrating a peace agreement between the warring powers.

Macron then laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe and inspected French troops.

Remembrance Sunday in Britain

A sizable crowd, which included former French Presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, also attended the ceremony, which took place amid a persistent drizzle.

Queen Elizabeth II and British political leaders will attend a Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph war memorial in London.

The Royal Australian Navy Band performs during Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in Sydney

The Royal Australian Navy Band during Sydney's Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph

The 91-year-old queen will watch the Remembrance Day ceremony from a balcony for the first time, allowing her son, Prince Charles, to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph on her behalf.

The Cenotaph, which means "empty tomb," commemorates the more than 1 million British military members who died in modern wars, including nearly 900,000 who died in World War I.

On Friday, Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier reaffirmed the bilateral friendship between the former European enemies when they jointly opened a war museum at the site of one of World War I's bloodiest battles. More than 30,000 soldiers from both countries died fighting over the Hartmannswillerkopf mountain in Alsace, France.

Also Friday, representatives of Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Australia and New Zealand marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele in northern France. It left some 500,000 Allied and German soldiers dead or injured.

Next year France will host a grand Armistice centenary, marking 100 years since the war's end in 1918, with envoys from 80 nations.

bik/jlw (AP, dpa)

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