For a successful commemoration, it takes time, political will and a popular fad. These three elements seem met in Verdun in this weekend from the end of May where Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel, the scene of the terrible battle, surrounded by children carrying the future of Europe, will rekindle the flame of remembrance. The date of May 29 was not chosen by chance. It was fifty years ago, General de Gaulle had chosen the same to honor veterans of Verdun in a strictly French ceremony. The exercise was already difficult.
At the time, the shadow of the winner of the battle, Marshal Petain, hangs over the commemoration. His supporters claim the transfer of his ashes to Douaumont, what General deviates while paying tribute to his decisive role in the victory and hailing the glory gained that “can not be disputed or ignored by the country” despite “reprehensible failure” the evening of his life.
the year 1966 was also marked by an ugly controversy accusing captain de Gaulle, captured at Verdun in 1916 with his soldiers, having gone without a fight. With the cancellation of the concert of rapper Black M in Verdun this year, it is still a controversy that marks the commemorations, like Verdun was both the symbol of the heroism of the soldiers and the crucible of French fractures.
The “myth” Verdun
in a century, legends, truths and truths against-shaped, in France as in Germany, the historical narrative and literary battle. It went from a memory magnifying the courage and will to that of human folly immersed in unnecessary industrial war. The American historian who dedicated a book on the history of terrible clash of 1916, long returns to his seed
At Verdun, in the forest, wounds
One hundred years after the terrible battle that Angela Merkel and François Hollande commemorate this May 29 forest Verdun always spits body and shell of the Great War. Foresters, forensic experts and the deminers auscultent and watch over his memory. guided tour of the
Verdun, family memory
One hundred years later, the memory of the battle continues to haunt French and German families
memorial cycle of 14-18
another date marks the Verdun memory, that of 22 September 1984. in that year, at the Douaumont ossuary, the great battle finally leaves the military and french context and becomes a symbolic date of Franco-German alliance around European construction, with the spectacular handshake between François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl. The evocation of the Great War now goes through the exaltation of Europe, peace and sacrifice of the soldiers and the rear, the “never again” has replaced the “We’ll get them! . “
comes the centennial commemorations and preparation; difficulty will arise that the news will make it even more complicated. The year 1916 is marked, certainly by Verdun, but also by the battle of the Somme, which begins on 1 July and sounds the heyday of the British in the Great War. There will be a memorial to British early summer in the Somme. This competition dates takes therefore a very symbolic tower, while in June the British will choose to stay or leave the European Union.
The political will to include the five-year period in the history has been repeatedly reaffirmed by President François Hollande; 2014 was a first step, but the success of the commemoration of the June 6, 1944 has somewhat overshadowed the initiatives around the anniversary of the start of the first war; 2016 will be the second stage of the memorial cycle around 14-18
Rest of the popular enthusiasm that is there. The French love story, that of books and documentaries that endlessly revisiting the past to try to clarify this course, but especially that you approach on foot, guide and map in hand, from monuments to museums, trenches course in cemeteries. Marne to Meuse, Flanders to the Vosges, there is plenty of choice to explore the traces of the storm of steel who tilled the land and men from 1914 to 1918, leaving a ridged land indelible injuries.
and there, on the ground that French, British, Australians, Canadians or Germans endlessly roam bus, car or on foot, the commemoration is international. With the centennial, all these memory Tourists will find in Verdun a renovated Memorial, a center of peace and above all a battle-shroud field where nature has reclaimed its rights while preserving forever the memory of the dead.