Merkel and Macron expected in Rethondes for a very symbolic ceremony

The French head of state and the German chancellor must go together on Saturday at Compiegne, on the site of the armistice that sealed the end of the First World War.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on the occasion of the Charlemagne Prize in Aachen, Germany on May 10, 2018.

One hundred years after the end of the First World War, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel must meet on Saturday, November 10 at the clearing of the armistice in Compiegne, in the Oise, north of the capital. The President and German Chancellor are expected around 3:30 pm at the Rethondes Glade for a very symbolic ceremony, penultimate stage of the"Memorial roaming" of the head of state before the ceremony of 11-November in Paris.

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It is here that the 11th of November 1918 was signed in a diner armistice sealing the end of the First World War, which caused 18 million deaths. Hidden in the forest of Compiegne, the clearing of Rethondes was chosen by the Generalissimo of Allied Armies Ferdinand Foch to host the negotiations because of its calm and isolation. It is located at the end of a "Triumphal Alley" inaugurated in 1922, that the French presidents go back to the commemorative ceremonies.

The "Wagon of the armistice", where Adolf Hitler had also signed the armistice of June 22, 1940, was taken by the Germans and used for propaganda purposes, before being destroyed in April 1945. A replica of the wagon was restored and installed since 1962 in a museum building that attracts 70,000 visitors a year.

"A highly symbolic shift"

The Elysée Palace notes that "This is the first time since 1945" that the French president and the head of the German government meet in the clearing of the Armistice. "It's a highly symbolic trip, it's the first Franco-German trip" on the site since the Second World War, we insist on the Elysee.

Compiegne, "It is the place of revenge, it will be the place of the ultimate reconciliation if needed", adds the same source. "We are in the footsteps of Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President François Mitterrand", do we want to believe in the Palace, which appeared hand in hand in 1984 in Verdun.

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After a review of the troops of the Franco-German brigade, the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and the laying of a common wreath, the two leaders will then sign the Golden Book in the wagon where the armistice was signed. November 11, 1918 and then June 22, 1940. The ceremony should be "Sober and without speech", according to a source close to the organization of the ceremony.

The two leaders will meet again Sunday for the traditional ceremony of 11-November under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in the presence of sixty heads of state and government, including Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. The German Chancellor will open in the afternoon the first edition of the "Forum for Peace", "A symbolic gesture that testifies to reconciliation and Franco-German friendship" according to the Elysée.

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In the evening, the Macron, Trump, Merkel, and several other dignitaries will gather at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, for a visit to the exhibition dedicated to Picasso and a formal dinner on site, before the grand ceremony on Sunday morning under the Arc de Triomphe in the presence of several dozen heads of state and government, culmination of the commemorations.

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