Memorabilia Memorabilia: the 11th of November

From 11 November 1918, when this armistice ended in the small iceberg of the Rethondes clearing machine, we will define all the contours of the coming century, a hundred years will have passed. One hundred commemorations of November 11, many ceremonies whose meaning is defined, as will be Sunday, by the political context. Some examples are not exhaustive but symbolic.


For the first time, a minute of silence is organized to honor the dead. The tribute is discreet, organized in the chapel of Invalides with Marshal Foch. That year, on July 14, we also celebrated victory and peace in jubilation, a tribute wanted by Clemenceau. A thousand mutilated jaws, broken, wheelchairs … preceded the parade, in front of an innumerable crowd.


The Third Republic celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. The Republic paid homage to an unknown soldier who died during the Great War for the first time, an anonymous symbol of the heroic crowd of hairy people. The day before, soldier Auguste Thin had designated Verdun as the unknown soldier, whose coffin had arrived in Paris in the sanctuary containing the heart of Gambetta destined to be transferred to the Pantheon. A huge crowd first accompanied Gambetta to the Pantheon, then the unknown soldier of the Arc de Triomphe.


Throughout the year, veterans insisted that Parliament declare November 11 national holiday: it is done by the law of October 24, 1922.


André Maginot, minister of war and pensions, lights up for the first time the flame of memory under the Arc de Triomphe.

Read alsoNovember 11, 1918: the first day of the interwar period


The German authorities and the police prefecture take the decision to ban all the commemorative events of November 11th. The Rector of the Paris Academy asks principals to prevent high school students from demonstrating. The student community has suffered since the beginning of the school year, anti-German leaflets are multiplying as slogans on the walls. Paul Langevin, professor at the Collège de France and internationally renowned physicist (who was supposed to have a relationship with Marie Curie, for the record), was arrested on October 30th, leading to a demonstration on November 8th. Slogans of various origins require a large party at the Arc de Triomphe. The repression is brutal. This 11 November 1940 became a symbol for all the French, in the area occupied as in the free zone, an act of resistance quoted on the London radio.


Hitler, who likes the symbols (see the signature of the 1940 armistice in the carriage of the one in 1918), chooses this date to occupy the so-called free zone in France.


On November 11, in Oyonnax, Captain Romani-Petit, leader of the Ain and Haut-Jura spot, organized a military parade to honor the 14-18 dead, but also to show the Germans that armed resistance are soldiers in uniform , militarily organized and controlled. In addition, the parade takes place in the most perfect military tradition up to the war memorial, where a crown of flowers in the shape of a cross of Lorraine is deposited with the mention "The winners of tomorrow to those of 14-18". After a minute of silence and the ringing of the dead, he breaks out the Marseilles. The maquis is sold: the mayor of the city and one of his deputies are shot. The event is soon publicized, and it is precisely this parade that would have led to convincing British Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the need to arm the Resistance.


On 11 November it was celebrated in Paris in the presence of a British delegation led by Churchill and General de Gaulle, head of the French provisional government.


General de Gaulle wants to make Mount Valeriano, the main place of execution of resistance fighters and hostages in France, a high place of memory for the fighters and victims of Nazism. Approximately 1,008 shots, captured or deported, are symbolized by 15 coffins arranged under the Arc de Triomphe. Then deposited on the Valerian mountain.


For the fiftieth anniversary, a huge crowd takes place along the Champs-Elysees: at 11 am, all the bells of the French cities ring during the ceasefire in 1918. The head of state participates in the mass of victory in the Notre Dame Cathedral. Shoot 40 soldiers in crazy pants and 80 hairy blue horizons.


President Chirac celebrates the ceremony with Queen Elizabeth … but the refusal of the new Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to participate in a Franco-German memory ceremony ruins a little the party, as the fact that the head of state does not is in agreement with its Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, as for the rehabilitation of the mutineers of the Chemin des Dames in 1917.

Emmanuèle Peyret

Leave a comment

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.