‘Great soldier’ Pétain overshadowing the celebration

Sunday expected the French president Emmanuel Macron 120 heads of state and government in Paris for the commemoration of the end of the First world War. But will this event his ‘gaffe’ about marshal Pétain to be forgotten?

‘Marshal Pétain was a great soldier in the First world War, ” said president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday. To remember to add: ‘But man is a complex being. During the Second world War …

‘Marshal Pétain was a great soldier in the First world War, ” said president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday. To remember to add: ‘But man is a complex being. During the Second world War he made disastrous choices.” Marshal Philippe Pétain led during the First world War, and several successful battles. During the Second world War, Pétain the one that the regime in Vichy led, that collaboreerde with the nazis and the jews deported.

Macrons qualification of Pétain as the ‘great soldier’ has garnered wide criticism. The jewish umbrella organisation Crif is ‘shocked’. Politicians of left and right called Macrons decision, an insult to deported jews and the French resistance during the Second world War.

Macron made the statement when he questions was about the tribute that is now Saturday, in the Invalides in Paris, scheduled for the marshals of the Great War. That there are eight, one of them is Pétain.

After the fuss hurried the French government has the fire to extinguish. “There comes a tribute to the marshals. Some thought that Pétain would be. That is not so. If there is confusion about existed, we are not well explained, ” said spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, as a diplomatic acrobat. ‘The tribute is only for the marshals without stain.’

Fundraiser for renovation of war memorials

The awkward pronunciation of Macron threatens the whole commemoration of the november 11, to eclipse. However, the French have all throughout the year everything from the shelves to commemorate listen.

In Compiègne, north of Paris, for months, built and rebuilt. The war memorials are renovated and quite polished. That is desperately needed. A century ago, was the armistice signed that ended the First world War. But the location, a sober, plain, with stone monuments, became the last seventy years hardly opgekalefaterd. And Saturday here president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidewalk, to solemn peace to celebrate.

The mayor of Compiègne, held at the beginning of this year a collection will be among the inhabitants: or they wanted money for the restoration. Every donation of 10 euros was welcome. In the beginning it was a shock: the first day was only 165 euros to charity. But recently, the mayor made proudly announced that for 840.000 euro at the historic place is verspijkerd.

Unrest over rising petrol price

In 2018, there are more than 2,000 official activities and events planned, from north to south. In the Basque country there is an exhibition from the private archives of a surgeon who war victims helped. In Thonon-Les-Bains, near Geneva, is a play staged: a love affair in tumultuous times between a German boy and a French girl.

President Macron travel this week by eleven departments in the North of France, the French battlefield of the First world War. Of Verdun, where hundreds of thousands of French and German dead and wounded fell, to Compiègne, the town of the armistice, for the ceremony with Angela Merkel.

Macron ‘used’ that solemn meetings also for domestic purposes. He stands at a record low in the polls and looking in the North of France consciously ‘ordinary’ French people and factories. Oorlogsceremonies or not, the president responded during his visits, even on the current unrest over the rising gasoline prices. “Some people have been duped, there we go, a solution for search,” he said, in Verdun.

International peace conference

Sunday 11 of november represents the culmination of the commemorations. Macron has, to the armistice and to commemorate, more than 120 heads of state, heads of government and international delegations will be invited to Paris to have a ceremony to attend around the Arc de Triomphe at the tomb of the unknown soldier’.

It is a meeting full of ceremonies, but also here the political news on the agenda. Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin are expected and have already hinted bilateral to want to discuss.

The memorial service culminates in an international peace conference, at the Parc de la Villette in Paris, where in the past the stadsabattoirs and meat market were located. That top takes three days and goes on all sorts of themes, from women’s rights to cyberspace, from terrorism to biodiversity.

“We commemorate the First world War, but also think about the governance of the world now,” said president Macron on top. “We should always remain alert. We may not slaapwandelaars.”

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