On June 28, 1914, the heir to the Austrian throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, Serbia, a murder that eventually led to the outbreak of the Great War. On the occasion of the centenary Germany's president Joachim Gauck had invited historians from the countries involved to his residence Bellevue in Berlin to discuss and implement a common European Erinnerungskultur (commemorative culture).
|Joachim Gauck lecturing at Bellevue (©dpa)|
In his inaugural speech of 1961 Kennedy had continued: My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. Indeed, following the Second World War it was always up to the Americans to defend the ideals of the Western World successfully in the Korean War but less efficient in Vietnam where they took over from the French when the latter had already suffered their Dien Bien Phu.
|U.S. Marines provide security for Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers|
as they investigate a mass grave in July 1999 (©Wikipedia/U.S. Marine Corps)
Gauck quite natural took up Kennedy's invitation to share the burden and said you cannot have freedom without taking responsibility. Amazingly his cautious words were broadly accepted in hesitant Germany except for some Left Party members who called Gauck a war hawk.
|President Joachim Gauck inspecting his Marines (©dpa)|
In fact, the Polish historian stressed that the Great War had been the Big Bang of Poland's nationality and in view of their losses of 1.5 million people his country is not interested in the suffering of others. In the UK people now regard 1914/1918 as a futile and superfluous war. The Turks consider that the war was fought against them as a crusade with Germany playing the role of the forgotten (useless?) ally. For France the Great War against the one and only aggressor was justified and one French historian added: Sorry, we must deal with a fragmented memory.
Gauck was not amused.