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Remembering together on the National Day of Mourning

We are responsible for what we have learned from the war

Chancellor Angela Merkel has remembered the war dead and the victims of violence of all nations, together with French President Emmanuel Macron. The National Day of Mourning is also a day that reminds us how precious peace is.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier lay wreaths at the Neue Wache memorial in Berlin. Wreath-laying ceremony at the Neue Wache memorial in Berlin Photo: Bundesregierung / Bergmann

With Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and representatives of the two chambers of the German parliament (Bundesrat und Bundestag) and the Federal Constitutional Court, Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have laid wreaths at the Neue Wache memorial in Berlin.

Since 1993 the Neue Wache has been the Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship.

"Europe must be stronger," declares Macron

After the wreath-laying, the central remembrance ceremony was held in the plenary chamber of the German Bundestag. The ceremony to mark the National Day of Mourning is traditionally hosted by the Bundestag President.

French President Emmanuel Macron was invited by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, a humanitarian organisation charged by the government of the Federal Republic of Germany with recording, maintaining and caring for the graves of German war casualties abroad, to speak at the ceremony in the German Bundestag. "Europe, and inside Europe the Franco-German couple, has the duty not to allow the world to descend into chaos," he warned in his speech. "That is why Europe must be stronger, that is why Europe must become more independent," he stressed.

The ceremony in the German Bundestag honoured the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War and the close friendship and special relationship with France.

We have a responsibility for Europe, says Chancellor

After the ceremony the Chancellor met with President Macron at the Federal Chancellery. At a joint press conference, Angela Merkel praised the speech given by her visitor at the German Bundestag. "You said, we are at a crossroads. What role will we play?" And that, she said, is exactly what she feels. Soon we will no longer have anybody who experienced the Second World War first-hand. That is why all of us, born after the Second World War, are responsible for learning from the war.

Angela Merkel reaffirmed France and Germany’s shared responsibility for Europe.  "As you said, we are feeling our way forward and coming to terms with many new responsibilities, and this is something we want to do together," she responded to her French visitor.

Earlier, in the German Bundestag, Emmanuel Macron had pointed to the "indefatigable" Franco-German friendship and called for greater European sovereignty.

A day of quiet mourning to honour the victims of war

The National Day of Mourning is a state day of remembrance. It is one of the "days of quiet remembrance" and has been celebrated since 1952 two Sundays before the first Sunday in Advent. Every November it is organised nationwide by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge. Celebrations have the wide support of the people and of the country’s major political and social institutions.

The National Day of Mourning is a day to remember and a day to realise how precious peace is. Across the country, flags fly at half-mast on federal agencies and their downstream authorities.

Nov 18, 2018