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Germans gathered at Berlin's cathedral to pray for those killed in last year's terrorist attacks.Image: AP

Europe Gathers to Remember 9/11

September 12, 2002

In Berlin and across the continent, Europeans came together on Wednesday to recall last year's terrorist attacks and how they changed lives everywhere.


Signs of mourning could be seen everywhere in Germany's capital on Wednesday. In addition to the thousands attending a noontime ecumenical service at Berlin's cathedral, hundreds laid flowers at the barricades blocking Unter den Linden boulevard from the U.S. Embassy, just as they did during the days following Sept. 11.

German President Johannes Rau, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, his entire cabinet and representatives of the opposition joined U.S. Ambassador Daniel Coats at Berlin's cathedral in a memorial service held jointly by Protestant and Catholic clergy.

The event was the first of many memorial events planned across the country on Wednesday, including a major concert of the Berlin-based German Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kurt Nagano and a concert featuring American Jazz music that Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer is expected to attend at the House of World Cultures in Berlin.

During the service, Catholic Cardinal Georg Sterzinsky recalled the events of Sept. 11, saying hearts and minds should be with the victims now. A total of 16 German citizens died in the World Trade Center towers.

"One year after the attacks and the counter attacks in the Middle East and elsewhere," he said, "we remember those killed, those maimed and those who mourn. We also remember the innocents who died in Afghanistan and in other countries. We are so far away from peace."

He compared the attacks to the first atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

Protestant Bishop Wolfgang Huber, meanwhile, warned that war isn't the answer to the terrorist attacks. "Those who seek to retaliate against evil only with evil only serve to prolong the reign of evil," he cautioned. Huber also called on the countries of the world to build a "axis of peace."

Schröder renews pledge of support

After a meeting with his cabinet on Wednesday, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder recalled how Sept. 11 had affected the lives of people around the world and how more than 200,000 Germans came together before the Brandenburg Gate to show their solidarity and support with America in the wake of the worst terrorist attacks ever perpetrated.

"Hundreds of thousands of Germans came together one year ago in a spontaneous shows of support and numerous other actions to show how their solidarity and how it affected them," Schröder said.

He also pledged that Germany would continue to participate in the international war against terror. He said the coalition needed to continue despite "the current differences of opinion" over political aims. Schröder has said repeatedly during recent weeks that, under his leadership, Germany would not participate in any invasion of Iraq, which the U.S. has been calling for, even under a United Nations mandate.

On Wednesday, however, he assured the Americans of Germany's unflinching support, adding that the memories of the more than 3,000 victims of the attacks would be kept alive.

"It was right to establish a broad international coalition against terrorism," he said. "We did quite a bit to bring this about and we've achieved a great deal in Afghanistan. This must continue. The coalition cannot break down because we're still a long way away from the ultimate success in the fight against international terrorism."

"We must not be dragged into a war of cultures"

In an interview with the national public radio station Deutschlandfunk on Wednesday morning, President Rau called for determination and common sense in the fight against terror. Rau said terrorism must not be allowed to destroy our societies. At the same time, he warned against being dragged into a "war of cultures," saying the fight against terror and a possible intervention against Iraq "must not be intermingled."

The religious ceremony at the cathedral, along with candle light vigils and concerts being held across Germany are taking place against the backdrop of stepped up security to protect American and Jewish installations.

Tony Blair, Princes Charles and Harry mourn

The British, the U.S.'s closest ally in the international war against terrorism, also held major commemorative events on Wednesday.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair joined Prince Charles and Prince Harry along with 2,000 others gathered at St. Paul's Cathedral to remember the victims, who included 67 British citizens.

Earlier in the day, U.S. Ambassador to Britain William Farish led a memorial service in front of the embassy in which Lt. Frank Dwyer of the New York Police Department presented British Home Secretary Jack Straw with a Union Jack flag found in the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Chirac: "France knows what it owes America"

In a memorial ceremony at the tightly guarded U.S. Embassy in Paris, French President Jacqués Chirac joined American Ambassador Howard Leach to remember the victims. On Tuesday and Wednesday night, two columns of light in the shape of the World Trade Center towers were beamed into the sky above Paris City Hall.

"The French people stand with all their hearts at the side of the American people," Chirac said, adding that "liberty and fraternity were wounded" by the attacks on Washington and New York. "France knows what it owes America," he said.

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