World Leaders Gather in Paris a Century After WWI Armistice

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
November 11, 2018Worldshare

PARIS—Commemorations are underway around the world to mark the moment 100 years ago when the slaughter of World War I finally stopped.

France, the epicenter of the first global conflict, is hosting the main international commemoration on Nov. 11, pressing home the point that the world mustn’t stumble into war again, as it did so quickly and catastrophically with World War II.

World leaders walked side by side to commemorate the end of World War I in a somber, rain-soaked line as bells finished tolling.

politicians and spouses in Paris WW1 commemoration
World leaders arrive at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to attend a ceremony as part of commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the 11 November 1918 armistice, ending World War I, Paris, France, Nov. 11, 2018. (Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images)

Arriving a few minutes late, they missed the exact moment to commemorate the armistice that ended World War I, signed in northeastern France at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.

Fighter jets passed overhead as the leaders walked to the Arc de Triomphe.

leaders arrive at arc de triomphe in Paris
Leaders arrive at the Arc de Triomphe as jets pass overhead, Paris, France, Nov. 11, 2018. (Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump headed separately to the memorial for security reasons, as did Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin, and dozens of monarchs, presidents and prime ministers from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and beyond joined French President Emmanuel Macron to mark the moment guns fell silent across Europe a century ago.

(From L) U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President's wife Brigitte Macron, and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a World War I armistice commemoration ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, Nov. 11, 2018. (Benoit Tessier/AFP/Getty Images)
(From L) U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President’s wife Brigitte Macron, and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a World War I armistice commemoration ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, Nov. 11, 2018. (Benoit Tessier/AFP/Getty Images)

The commemoration is the centerpiece of global tributes to honor the 10 million soldiers who were killed during the 1914-18 war and the moment the armistice was signed into effect.

Servicemen walk during WW1 commemorations
Servicemen arrive to take part in a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, France, Nov. 11, 2018. (Ludovic Marin/Pool via Reuters)

In a rare public display of emotion by the leaders of two world powers, Macron and Merkel held hands on Saturday during a poignant ceremony in the Compiegne Forest, north of Paris, where French and German delegations signed the Armistice that ended the war.

Macron and Merkel hug after unveiling a plaque
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hug after unveiling a plaque in the Clairiere of Rethondes during a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Compiegne, France, Nov. 10, 2018. (Reuters/Philippe Wojazer/Pool)

The conflict was one of the bloodiest in history, reshaping Europe’s politics and demographics. Peace, however, was short-lived and two decades later Nazi Germany invaded its neighbors, sparking World War II.

Macron and Merkel attend a ceremony
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel lay a wreath in the Clairiere of Rethondes during a commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of the First World War, in Compiegne, France, Nov. 10, 2018. (Reuters/Philippe Wojazer/Pool)

On the other side of the globe, the first countries and territories to see the dawn kicked off the commemorations, pushing for peace with the simple act of recalling how the 1914-1918 war killed and wounded soldiers and civilians in unprecedented numbers and in gruesome new, mechanized ways.

Australia and New Zealand lost tens of thousands of people on foreign fields far away in Europe and, most memorably in the brutal 1915 battle of Gallipoli in Turkey. Both commemorated their dead Sunday.

Sunday’s ceremonies were intended to drive home the disaster that would befall the world should it stumble into another global war.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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