COMPIEGNE, FRANCE (NOVEMBER 10, 2018) (REUTERS)- For the first time since World War 2, a French and a German leader returned to the forest clearing in northern France where the Armistice that ended World War One was signed.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday (November 10) jointly commemorated the Armistice, unveiling a plaque and signing a book inside a replica of the wagon used by Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the supreme allied commander who drew up the terms of the armistice after German capitulation.
The armistice was signed on November 18, 1918 in the forest outside Compiegne in the Oise department, which was under German occupation for 30 months, from 1914 to 1917. The area was invaded twice, in 1914 and 1918.
The general headquarters of the French army was located in Oise, not far from the main battlefields of the war, which left the northeast region in ruins.
Foch chose the forest clearing outside Compiegne for its isolation and hence to avoid humiliation for the Germans. Britain was represented by Sir Rosslyn Wemyss and Admiral George Hope
The Armistice clearing and the wagon were long a symbol of peace and victory for the French, until 1940 when Adolf Hitler chose the same location to declare France’s capitulation and destroyed it in the process.
The site was rebuilt in the 1950, and the granite used to mark the clearing is the same as the one used for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris’ Arc de Triomphe.