|Part of First World War centenary|
|Date||11 November 2018|
|Also known as||Armistice Day centennial, 100th anniversary of the end of World War I|
|Participants||National leaders, army officers and soldiers, international organisation leaders, relatives of World War I veterans, etc.|
The Armistice Day centenary corresponds to the date of 11 November 2018, which marks one hundred years following the signing and coming into effect of the Armistice that ended World War I on the Western Front. The centenary was marked globally, and particularly across Europe and the Commonwealth, with specially-organised Armistice Day, Remembrance Day and Veterans Day commemorations and ceremonies.
The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was signed near the French town of Compiègne between the Allies (headed by Supreme Allied Commander Ferdinand Foch) and Germany (headed by representative Matthias Erzberger), after similar agreements had been made with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and Austria-Hungary. The agreements made by both sides included the cessation of all hostilities on the Western Front. It was officially signed at 5:45 a.m. on 11 November and came into effect at 11 a.m. Paris time later that morning. Following the end of the war, 11 November is commemorated as a day of remembrance in multiple countries under different names (Armistice Day, Remembrance Day in Commonwealth countries and Veterans Day in the United States).
Official French commemorations began the preceding Sunday, on 4 November. French President Emmanuel Macron and his spouse Brigitte Macron hosted German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Strasbourg Cathedral. A concert was held in the presence of the three guests, and French, German, and European Union flags were hoisted outside the cathedral.
During the afternoon of 10 November, President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the Glade of the Armistice at Compiègne, where they laid a wrath, unveiled a Franco-German reconciliatory plaque and signed a book of remembrance in a replica of the railway carriage where the Armistice was signed. The visit was symbolic as it marked the first time that French and German leaders had visited the site since 1945.
Prior to Armistice Day, President Macron had already invited 120 foreign dignitaries, including 72 heads of state and government as well as leaders from 15 international organisations, for an international commemoration ceremony. He hosted an official reception dinner for the dignitaries at the Musée d'Orsay on the evening of 10 November.
On the morning of 11 November, President Macron and most of the dignitaries arrived at the Champs-Élysées and walked to the Arc de Triomphe. Notable world leaders were present at the ceremony there including Angela Merkel, António Guterres, Mohammed VI of Morocco, Justin Trudeau, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mark Rutte, Benjamin Netanyahu and Jean-Claude Juncker, among others. Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin arrived later, in separate motorcades.
Chinese-American cellist Yo-Yo Ma played the sarabande from Bach's Suite No. 5 in C minor, followed by teenage students reading out 1918 testimonies from soldiers who had witnessed the immediate effects of the Armistice. Yo-Yo Ma and French violinist Renaud Capuçon then performed the second movement of Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Cello. Afterwards, Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo sang the Togolese song Blewu in homage to French colonial troops. President Macron then gave a speech in which he denounced nationalism as a "betrayal of patriotism", and warned of the resurgence of "old demons". The ceremony ended with a performance of Ravel's Bolero by the European Union Youth Orchestra.
Macron paid tribute at the Tomb to the Unknown Soldier. After the commemoration, he hosted a lunch for all the visiting leaders at the Élysée Palace, while their consorts lunched at the Palace of Versailles.
The first Paris Peace Forum was inaugurated in the afternoon, attended by most of the same delegates from the Arc de Triomphe event, with President Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel and UN Secretary-General António Guterres giving opening remarks. President Trump notably did not attend, instead choosing to visit the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial.
National & overseas
The centenary was commemorated nationally in France. In addition to the main international commemorations, Emmanuel Macron also carried out a "memorial tour", visiting some of the most marked and emblematic locations of the Western Front. The tour was met with backlash, particularly "drawing the scorn of ordinary French voters over his perceived metropolitan disregard for their pocketbook concerns." Macron also announced that writer Maurice Genevoix, author of numerous books on the First World War, would be listed on the Panthéon in 2019, alongside 14 other authors.
Overseas France contributed to the wider French war effort. Beginning in 2014, research was conducted by historians on the relationship of overseas territories using public and private archives. In addition to the involvement of Poilus from overseas, new questions were built from war correspondence between the soldiers and their relatives: the reality of the mobilisation, the daily life of the Poilu troops in metropolitan France, the experience of war among metropolitan soldiers, their feelings, and their return to their respective islands after the war, sometimes as late as 1921. The number of Réunionese troops dead in action was readjusted to 1,693, leading to the island issuing a renewal of the plaques on its war memorials on the eve of the commemoration of the centenary.
Bells were rang across the country at 11 a.m. on 11 November to mark exactly a century since the Armistice took effect. This included the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, as well as others in overseas territories including Wallis and Futuna.
A concert was held in La Force in the Dordogne department of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Violonist Pierre Hamel from the Orchestre Colonne performed at the concert alongside a pianist and a cellist, using a metal violin assembled by soldiers in the trenches.
Controversy & incidents
In October 2018, reports circulated in the French press that Philippe Pétain, who served in the Battle of Verdun and later led Nazi-aligned Vichy France, would be paid homage at the Hôtel des Invalides alongside other World War I marshals. The Élysée responded saying it didn't understand how such a tribute "ended up there", explaining that it was "not in the [official] program". Macron in particular described Pétain as a "great soldier", while remarking that he made "disastrous choices" during the Nazi occupation. The resulting public outcry led to the Pétain tribute being removed from the schedule.
U.S. President Donald Trump had originally planned to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial on 10 November and pay tribute to fallen American soldiers, but the visit was later cancelled, with the White House citing it was due to "bad weather". The cancellation was met with negative criticism, particularly from former Obama national security adviser Ben Rhodes and British Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill.
While on the way to the Arc de Triomphe, President Trump's motorcade passed by a topless woman who ran towards it and was quickly dragged out by French police. The radical feminist group Femen claimed responsibility for the incident. In addition, anti-Trump demonstrations were held at the Place de la République.
In the United Kingdom
On 4 November, 10,000 torches were lit in the moat of the Tower of London, in an artistic installation entitled Beyond the Deepening Shadow which repeated nightly ending on Remembrance Day (11 November). The Shrouds of the Somme, designed by artist Rob Heard and comprising 72,396 shrouded figures representing all servicemen from the British Commonwealth with no known grave, was laid out at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, being on display from 8 to 18 November 2018.
On 9 November, Prime Minister Theresa May visited the Thiepval Memorial in northern France and paid respects along with French President Emmanuel Macron. She also visited the St Symphorien Military Cemetery near Mons, Belgium, and laid wreaths at the graves of the first and last British soldiers killed in the Great War, respectively John Parr and George Edwin Ellison. Inscribed within the wreaths were handwritten messages in which she thanked those who died for being "staunch to the end", using lines from wartime poems.
The 2018 National Service of Remembrance was held on 11 November, during which two minutes of silence were observed at the Cenotaph war memorial in London, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, PM Theresa May and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. In a reconciliatory act, Steinmeier became the first German leader to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph. Thousands marched past the memorial and were able to lay their own wreaths, paying respect to relatives and soldiers who died in the war. Despite ongoing renovations, the Big Ben rang eleven times at 12:30 pm, joining bells across the UK and globally in marking the Armistice centenary.
Later that day, President Steinmeier attended a Westminster Abbey memorial service with the Queen, and read out a passage from 1 St John 4: 7-11 in German. The Queen and several senior royal family members also attended a remembrance concert.
In other countries
A minute of silence was observed nationally at 11 a.m. in remembrance of Australian soldiers who fought and died in overseas conflicts. Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed a crowd of more than 12,000 attending during a national Remembrance Day service in Canberra. A centenary extension of the Anzac Memorial in Sydney was also opened to the public.
National commemorations were held in the Belgian capital of Brussels, led by King Philippe. The King delivered a speech in which he pledged with people to keep alive the memory of the war, and to "engage together in building a world of peace." A dove and 11 pigeons (widely used during the war as a means of communication) were released during the memorial service.
In Mons, celebrations were held marking the anniversary of Canadian troops taking over the city from the Germans, in the final leg of Canada's Hundred Days. The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada led a recreated Armistice parade through the city.
A memorial service was held at the Delhi War Cemetery, where Indian and British delegates laid wreaths. Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat led the British delegation and was joined by Sir Dominic Asquith, British High Commissioner to India, and defence attaché Brigadier Mark Goldsack.
A ceremony was held at the Gëlle Fra monument in the capital during the late afternoon, in the presence of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg as well as Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. Bettel also paid tribute to war casualties.
The Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington hosted an Armistice commemoration service, which was organised as part of the wider New Zealand WW100 commemorations. A 100-gun salute was held at the Wellington waterfront, and two minutes of silence were observed at 11 a.m., followed by a cacophony of noise replicating how the public initially reacted to the news of the Armistice a century prior. Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave speeches at the event.
Although President Vladimir Putin attended commemorations in France, the centenary was still marked inside Russia. Russian military honoured fallen soldiers at a cemetery on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg.
The National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri hosted a ceremony in which participants and relatives of WWI veterans tolled a "bell of peace" and laid wreaths in memory of those killed in the war. The Washington National Cathedral organized a commemorative worship service.
President Donald Trump proposed that a military parade at the Capitol be held on 10 November to mark the centenary, in admiration of France's Bastille Day military parade (which Trump attended as a guest in 2017). However, Trump cancelled the proposed event in August 2018 over cost concerns, with estimates that the parade would have cost as much as US$92 million.
- First World War centenary
- Centenary of the outbreak of World War I
- Paris Peace Forum
- Armistice Day
- Remembrance Day
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to the Armistice Day ceremony in Paris.|
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Trump has been fixated since early in his term on putting on a military-heavy parade or other celebration modeled on France's Bastille Day celebration, which he attended in Paris in 2017.