German Parliament marks First World War Centenary

Posted on on 10 July 2014
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Germany's Parliament, the Bundestag, has held a special session to mark the Centenary of the First World War.

The President of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert, said the July crisis of 1914, triggered by Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination, remained a lesson in "politically irresponsible action."

The war which followed was the Pandora's Box for the violent 20th century, Dr Lammert told MPs and guests in Berlin's historic Reichstag building, restored as the seat of the German Parliament after reunification.

An audience including two former French and German Presidents, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and Richard von Weizsäcker, listened as tributes were paid to the strength of today's Franco-German friendship.

Norbert Lammert declared: "Together we are are guarantors of peace in the centre of a united Europe."

Dr Alfred Grosser at the Bundestag © Deutscher Bundestag/Achim Melde

The guest speaker, French political scientist Alfred Grosser, was welcomed as one of the outstanding pioneers for the mutual understanding between France and Germany.

Dr Grosser, the son of German-Jewish parents, was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1925. The family moved to France after the Nazis came to power in 1933.

He told German MPs they could be proud of a nation which, unlike that of 1914, relied on the values of unity, justice and freedom.

Guests at the Bundestag's special meeting on 3rd July 2014 also heard a performance of the First World War poem 'In Flanders Fields' by the Austrian soprano, Anna Prohaska.

The Canadian doctor and soldier, John McCrae, wrote the poem after conducting the burial service of a friend killed at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. Two years later, as the United States entered the war, it was set to music by the American composer, Charles Ives, 

Dr Alfred Grosser's full speech can be read (in German) here

Dr Norbert Lammert's speech can be found (in German) here

Source: Deutscher Bundestag

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News