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Commemorating the start of the World War I

In August, remembrance ceremonies throughout Europe will be marking the start of World War I one hundred years ago.

J.Schayan/Private - Military Cemetery St. Symphorien
J.Schayan/Private - Military Cemetery St. Symphorien © J.Schayan/Private - Military Cemetery St. Symphorien

When the bells ring out at the French Church of Friedrichstadt on the evening of 1 August, the community in the heart of Berlin will be joining in a Europe-wide chime of peace which will start at Coventry Cathedral in England. It heralds a month in which the ‘world inferno’ was unleashed on the European continent one hundred years ago and signals the revitalisation of the idea of Europe as a peaceful power. On 3 August 2014 there will be an especially fitting Franco-German encounter in this year of remembrance: Federal President Joachim Gauck and the French President François Hollande will be meeting at Hartmannsweilerkopf/Vieil-Armand, a peak in the southern Vosges Mountains on the edge of the Rhine Valley, to mark the anniversary of Germany’s declaration of war on France. On 4 August the King of Belgium has invited some 20 heads of state and government as well as representatives from 83 countries to an international remembrance ceremony in the city of Liège. In the afternoon Federal President Gauck will be in Leuven, where he will be visiting the Old Library and commemorating the victims amongst the civilian population. In the late afternoon of 4 August, Joachim Gauck will be continuing his journey to Mons where the German-British remembrance ceremony marking the outbreak of World War I will take place at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery. The British conductor Sir Simon Rattle initiated an unprecedented joint performance with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra to mark the occasion.

Learning from 1914-1918

In addition to the events with government representatives, there will be hundreds of readings, theatre performances, concerts, exhibitions and school projects throughout Germany. The events, some of which are trans-national, are in memory of the ‘primal catastrophe’ of the 20th century, its historical consequences and human tragedies.