Wreaths at the Cenotaph, November 2017 (Photo: Centenary News)

Reports: German President for UK Cenotaph ceremony?

Posted on centenarynews.com on 25 September 2018
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Centenary News update: the British Government announced on October 27 that President Frank-Walter Steinmeier would become the first German leader to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph ceremony.

Newspapers in Britain are reporting plans to invite Germany’s head-of-state to the Remembrance Sunday service in Whitehall, which this year falls on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice ending the First World War.

At the same time, there are said to be concerns about potential controversy if President Frank-Walter Steinmeier attends the ceremony at the Cenotaph on November 11.

But writing in The Daily Mail, author Robert Hardman says Britain should be proud to invite Mr Steinmeier: 'Nothing, surely, would make it clearer…that this is not a small-minded nation fixated on the past.'

Read the full article in The Mail.

Centenary News context: This year's traditional Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph is being extended for the Armistice Centenary, to include a People’s Procession by members of the public. Tickets have been allocated in a ballot (applications are now closed).

As part of the day’s commemorations, Britain and Germany have made a joint call for bells of all kinds to be rung globally (at 12.30hrs GMT/13.30hrs CET/12.30 local time) to replicate the outpouring of relief when the guns fell silent. The US Centennial Commission has made a similar appeal to Americans - see Bells of Peace.

In France, President Macron has invited representatives of more than 100 countries to take part in the Armistice Day commemorations at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on November 11.

On the eve of the Centenary, the French leader and Chancellor Merkel of Germany will take part in a ceremony of reflection at the memorial site in Compiègne, where the Armistice was signed.

UK/German remembrance in 2014-18

Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Orkney: Wreaths laid by the German President and British Prime Minister in 2016 on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland (Photo: Centenary News)

President Steinmeier’s predecessor, Joachim Gauck, represented Germany at commemorations held in St Symphorien Cemetery, Mons, on 4 August 2014, marking the centenary of Britain's entry into the First World War. 

Mr Gauck also took part in the centenary commemorations in Orkney for the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 2016.

And since leaving office, he has been a guest at this year's Battle of Amiens Centenary service, hosted by the British Government at Amiens Cathedral, and also attended by Prince William and Prime Minister Theresa May.

As part of the ceremony on August 8, the former President read the poem After a Bad Dream 1918 by Gerrit Engelke, a German soldier and writer often compared to Wilfred Owen.

Under the German constitution of 1949, or Basic Law, the Federal President is the head-of-state whose traditional functions include representing Germany abroad. The Federal Chancellor leads the government.

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: CN Editorial Team