The Twentieth Century Society

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War memorials

France: Cerny-en-Laonnois Nécropole Nationale

Location: Chemin des Dames, Cerny-en-Laonnois

In Cerny-en-Laonnois, opposite an ecumenical chapel erected by private initiative in 1949-51 with the tall Lanterne des Morts in front of it, is the Nécropole Nationale. This was created in 1919-25 and contains 5,150 French and 54 Russian burials. Beyond this is the Deutcher Soldaten Friedhof, first created by the French in 1919 and laid out by the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge in 1928. The wooden crosses were replaced with stone in 1972. This German cemetery contains 7,526 burials, half of which are unidentified.

It was here, at Cerny-en-Laonnois, in front of these graves, that Charles de Gaulle and Conrad Adenauer met in 1962 to encourage the process of reconciliation, hoping “que leur mort contribue au rapprochement des deux nations, la France et l’Allemagne, et rende impossible toute autre guerre entre elles pour tous les temps”.

Gavin Stamp

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