Skip to main content

First World War commemorations

Published on January 9, 2014
Reply given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Prime Minister, to a question in the National Assembly (excerpts)

Paris, January 7, 2014

This history is firstly that of a whole country’s mobilization, of its unity, of its confidence too – in itself and its institutions. It’s this mobilization that enabled France, with its allies, to overcome a terrible ordeal that it had never wanted. (…) Eight million French fought, 1.4 million lost their lives, not forgetting the wounded or disabled. Many of you here, whatever your age, remember this history; what village doesn’t have a monument to the dead, with the helmet of a poilu [French First World War infantryman]?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen deputies, it’s the opportunity for a huge rallying of the French people around what we are, our values and what we also may think, not only about history – by saluting the memory of those who fought and gave their lives for our country – but also by looking to the future. This was the President’s message on 7 November.

The centenary mission, under the responsibility of the Minister Delegate for Veterans, Kader Arif, will support hundreds of projects: 300 already in 77 departments. Parliament will play its role in this. With France facing great challenges for its future, it must be able to rally around what’s essential: a tribute to our soldiers, a tribute to the people on the home front who enabled the country to hold out, as well as a tribute to those who then sought to build peace – at a time when we’re going to commemorate, in the same year, the 70th anniversary of France’s liberation after the Second World War.

Peace is a non-stop effort, a non-stop imperative. We must maintain this imperative, whether it be to defend Europe and all it’s brought, give concrete life to Franco-German friendship for future generations or enable peace, security, freedom and democracy everywhere through another organization, the United Nations. That’s the big lesson of this commemoration./.

      top of the page