This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, which was often described as the “war to end all wars.”
Remembering the Great War is of utmost importance to the Federal Foreign Office. This week, a series of events kicked off in Berlin to look back on the events before and after 1918.
“The future needs remembrance,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on October 11. “The European Union is a unique example in world history for successful conflict resolution. We should be proud of the lessons we have learnt from our shared history, of what we have achieved. And – in awareness of the past – to protect and promote this.”
Together with French politician Jean Yves Le Drian, Minister Maas opened the two-day conference “Winning Peace – the end of the First World War with its history, remembrance and current challenges”. Several other events will take place in October and November to reflect on the war, including an international Youth for Peace meeting in Berlin with more than 500 young people from 52 countries.
“The story of the First World War is told differently in France and in Germany. That’s why it is important for young people to bring the diverse memories closer together and to start a dialogue,” Isabel Schäfer, a representative of the youth project, told Deutschland.de. The project is “about developing a common European culture of remembrance of the First World War. The exchange between the participants should lead to illuminating the different perspectives on the war (…) The young people will develop 100 ideas for peace, which will be passed on as suggestions on the last day of the workshop to the presidents of Germany and France, Frank Walter-Steinmeier and Emmanuel Macron.”
Many events are taking place both in Europe and the United States to remember World War I. The US World War One Centennial Commission, for example, has provided funding to restore 100 memorials in 100 cities across the US. As we mark 100 years since the end of the war, we should take some time for reflection on how we can work together for a peaceful future.