Press Release: Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Beginning of World War I


(Embargoed until 8 July 2014 at 6:30 pm EDT)

To mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War (WW1) as the seminal catastrophe of the 20th century, France and Germany will organize a commemorative event on 8 July at the Headquarters of the United Nations. The event will be the only commemoration of WW1 that will bring all the Member States of the United Nations together. The goal is to send out a joint message of peace and reconciliation through a speech by Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon as well as musical performances and readings from letter and diaries of participants of WW1.

Secretary-General General Ban Ki-moon notes that, “The First World War was supposed to have been the war to end all wars. The battlefields of the Somme, Gallipoli, Passchendaele, Ypres and Verdun form just part of the human roll-call of carnage and unconscionable casualties etched into our collective memory. The past we inherit; a better and more peaceful future we seek to build.” (Check against delivery)

Germany’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Harald Braun, characterizes the outbreak of the First World War as “the woeful tale of the failure of diplomacy.” Ambassador Braun points out that “for me, the key lesson of 1914 is that cooperation and dialogue must prevail over confrontation and isolationism.  This is even more valid today, in our globalized, inter-connected world.”

For Gérard Araud, Ambassador of France to the United Nations, “the First World War tragically revealed the need for an international organization gathering all countries to ensure world peace. It first led to the creation of the League of Nations and, eventually, learning from its flaws, to the United Nations”.

The event will feature a performance by musicians from the Grammy-award winning ORPHEUS Chamber Orchestra of pieces by Samuel Barber, Ludwig van Beethoven and Maurice Ravel. The lives of these three composers were all marked by the wars of their times. The selected pieces reflect humanity’s continued quest for peace and the otherworldly nature of human bonds.

© GermanyUN