How the world commemorated the 100 year anniversary of Armistice Day
A century after the First World War was finally brought to an end, the world paused to remember the conflict. The armistice signed by the Allied powers and Germany came into effect at 11am a century ago.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel unveiled a plaque in symbolism of their countries’ reconciliation on Armistice Day 2018. In Eastern France near Compiegne, Macron and Merkel met at the spot where Germany officially surrendered on November 11 in 1918. Since World War Two, no German official except Chancellor Merkel has stood at the site of the armistice in France. Today the two countries are both powerful nations in promoting peace within the European Union and globally. Europe’s two centrist leaders stood solemnly to represent the France-German alliance, and also the bastion they both have aimed to be against populist threats in the European Union.
Global representatives including President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin joined the German and French leaders in Paris for a commemoration at the Arc de Triomphe.
Divided one century ago, United today. Thank you to every leader and guest who came to Paris from all over the world this weekend to build peace. We will not be able to say to future generations that we didn’t know. Peace is our treasure and our responsability.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) November 11, 2018
Germany does not commemorate the signing of the armistice in a formalised and annual way. Instead, the secular public holiday of ‘Volkstrauertag’ is honoured as a day of mourning two weeks before the beginning of Advent.
Upon Britain’s declaration of war against Germany, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) started the war effort in Egypt against the Ottoman Empire before moving to the fateful Gallipoli Peninsula. Nearly 30,000 ANZAC lives were lost at Gallipoli, and yet the event is said to have had no influence on the course of the war. Australia and New Zealand have long recognised the fruitless deaths at Gallipoli each year on ANZAC Day and on the anniversary of the armistice, Remembrance Day. The poppy is a symbol of life and hope as the flower was fragile yet robust enough to grow even amidst the war torn landscapes. This year, 270,000 homemade poppies were installed outside of Australia’s Parliament house, another 62,000 hand-crafted poppies are on display on the grounds of the Australian War Memorial, and thousands more feature in local installations of remembrance.
Other artists are commemorating the diverse ancestries and complicated acts of remembrance for migrants. Liverpool, in Sydney’s West, was a major site for the training of WW1 soldiers. Today, it is home to one of the most diverse populations in Australia. Modern liverpool, like Australia more broadly, is home to refugees and migrants who have varied and intersectional experiences of conflict. Commissioned by local council, artist Anna Fraser produced this digital representation of “the Language of Peace.”
India remembers the armistice annually despite the country not being directly involved in the war. Being a British colony, India contributed a significant number of soldiers to the conflicts occurring in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East during World War One. Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to thousands of soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the “cause of peace” on the centenary of the armistice. The Prime Minister attended the Neuve-Chapelle Memorial in France.
Today, as we mark one hundred years since the end of the horrific First World War, we reiterate our commitment towards world peace and pledge to work to further an atmosphere of harmony and brotherhood so that the trail of death and destruction caused by wars does not occur.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 11, 2018
Across the United Kingdom, civilians and both former and current service persons stood in silence for two minutes of remembrance. In Wales, hundreds of beacons were lit in the darkness after sunset including in the Belfast City Town Hall, and also in London at Westminster Abbey. For the first time, a procession by 10,000 members of the public who were chosen by ballot laid wreaths at the Cenotaph. Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn both laid wreaths.
Welsh artist Din Evans commemorated fallen Captain William George Williams, 17th Btn, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
With a mixture of silence and noise, New Zealanders commemorated the 100th anniversary of World War One’s ending. The Prime Minister Jacinda Arden joined thousands of New Zealanders in two minutes of commemorative silence before a cacophony broke out. In the nation’s capital of Wellington, cheers, horns, emergency vehicle sirens, instruments and bells sounded in a great noise to mirror the cheer and joyful chaos of the capital in 1918 when news reached the shores that the war had ended. The bells rang across New Zealand and joined the sound of clinking brass across the world, as bell ringers in Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe joined in the celebratory noise.