Wreath laid by President Steinmeier's predecessor, Joachim Gauck, for the Battle of Jutland Centenary - Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Orkney (Photo: Centenary News)

Armistice Centenary - German President invited to UK Cenotaph Service

Posted on centenarynews.com on 29 October 2018
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President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will become the first German leader to lay a wreath at Britain’s annual Remembrance Sunday service in Whitehall. 

The UK Government says his presence at the Cenotaph on November 11 - the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War in 1918 - marks an 'historic act of reconciliation' and a 'fitting finale' to the WW1 Centenary programme.

Germany’s head-of-state will join members of the Royal Family, British political leaders and Commonwealth representatives for the traditional ceremony.

The Cenotaph, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, architect of many of the Commonwealth cemeteries, was unveiled by King George V on Armistice Day 1920 in tribute to the dead of the First World War.

Thanksgiving

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Remembrance Sunday gives all of us the chance to come together and remember the immense sacrifices made in war.

"I look forward to welcoming President Steinmeier to this year’s ceremony where we will remember all the fallen and give thanks for peace. His attendance to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph shows the significance of this event, 100 years after the end of the First World War."

President Steinmeier will also attend a service of remembrance at Westminster Abbey on the Sunday evening.

This year's traditional Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, commemorating the dead of both world wars and later conflicts, is being extended for the Armistice Centenary to include a 'People’s Procession' by members of the public. Tickets have been allocated by ballot (applications are now closed).

As part of the day’s commemorations, Britain and Germany have made a joint call for bells of all kinds to be rung globally (at 12.30hrs GMT/13.30hrs CET/12.30 local time) to replicate the outpouring of relief when the guns fell silent on 11 November 1918.

UK Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: "I am pleased that on this most important of days, we can come together with our German friends to mark reconciliation and the peace that exists between our two nations today. It is part of a fitting finale of our four year commemoration of the First World War Centenary."

Wreaths at the Cenotaph in November 2017 (Photo: Centenary News)

UK/German remembrance in 2014-18

Although this is the first invitation to a German leader for the Cenotaph ceremony, Germany has  taken part in Britain’s national remembrance events throughout the Centenary.

President Steinmeier’s predecessor, Joachim Gauck, represented Germany at commemorations held in St Symphorien Cemetery, Mons, on 4 August 2014, marking the centenary of Britain's entry into the First World War. 

Mr Gauck also participated in the centenary commemorations in Orkney for the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 2016.

And since leaving office, he has been a guest at this year's Battle of Amiens Centenary service, hosted by the British Government at Amiens Cathedral, and also attended by Prince William and Prime Minister Theresa May.

As part of the ceremony on August 8, the former President read the poem After a Bad Dream 1918 by Gerrit Engelke, a German soldier and writer often compared to Wilfred Owen.

Under the German constitution of 1949, or Basic Law, the Federal President is the head-of-state whose traditional functions include representing Germany abroad. The Federal Chancellor leads the government.

See also in Centenary News:

Irish Government lays wreath for the first time at Cenotaph service, 2014.

Source: UK Government (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport)

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: CN Editorial Team