President Hollande announces French Government's plans for the Centenary

Posted on on 08 November 2013
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The French President, Francois Hollande, has announced that Germany's head of state will take part in commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of France entering the First World War.

Giving details of French plans for the Centenary in an announcement made on the 7th November 2013, Mr Hollande said President Joachim Gauck had accepted an invitation to visit France on 3rd August 2014 - one hundred years to the day after Berlin's declaration of war.

Mr Hollande said the two leaders would join in remembering an act that had been tragic for both countries. France lost 1.4 million soldiers in the four years of fighting and hundreds of thousands of others were wounded.

International brotherhood

The French leader declared that the Centenary would be a time for "international brotherhood," with the Bastille Day Parade on July 14th 2014 launching the programme of commemorations.

In a break with tradition, more than 70 countries which were involved in the First World War are being invited to participate. Mr Hollande said: "They will be gathered on the occasion of an unprecedented national holiday, because it will be international.

"There will be soldiers with their uniforms and flags, but young people  will also be taking part in a mass demonstration for peace."

Mr Hollande also announced that tribute would be paid to all veterans of the war on Armistice Day 2014, with the opening of an international memorial at Notre Dame de Lorette, the French military cemetery near Arras.

It will honour 600,000 soldiers who fell on the Western Front in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Regardless of nationality, their names will be listed in alphabetical order.

Mr Hollande said: "It is true these young men died for their country, fighting one another. In the name of common humanity they will now be together, side by side."

Painful question

Mr Hollande also insisted that none of the French people who'd been victims of the conflict should be forgotten, including those shot by their own side. Some, he said, had been arbitrarily condemned to death.

Speaking of "this painful question", the French President said he wanted their story to be told at the national Army Museum at Les Invalides in Paris.

One hundred years on, Mr Hollande said the Great War still had much to teach France, including the imperative for a "united Europe that could guarantee solidarity and peace."

French Commemoration Dates in 2014

July 14th 2014:  International Bastille Day Parade on the Champs Elysées in Paris, involving more than 70 countries.

August 3rd 2014: Commemorations marking 100th anniversary of France's entry into the First World War.

September 2014:  Events marking the centenary of the Battle of the Marne, which halted the German advance on Paris in 1914.

November 11th 2014: Inauguration of international memorial to the fallen at Notre Dame de Lorette, near Arras.

Source: The Élysée Palace

Images courtesy of the German Government, © Deutscher Bundestag/Lichtblich/Achim Melde

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

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