PARIS – Traveling from all over the world to battlefields where their soldiers fell 100 years ago, victories and defeats, they marked these sacrifices prior to Sunday's Armistice Day and evaluated alliances that were drastically redrawn since those dark days.
A century ago, the arrival of American troops in the First World War gave an impulse to their allies, including France and Great Britain. On Saturday, when he began two days to recall the 1914-18 war, US President Donald Trump said that his country bears far too much of a burden to defend the West.
A jumble of armistice-related diplomacy again changed Paris, the jewel that Germany tried to conquer in 1914, but that the Allies tried to defend, at the center of global attention on Saturday, with dozens of world leaders arriving on Sunday solemn commemorations.
After an uneasy meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump canceled a visit to the defining battlefield of Belleau Wood due to bad weather. Macron went to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
No separate meeting between Trump and Merkel was planned. Instead, Merkel noted how the bloody history of her country with France has become a close alliance that is now the driving force behind the European Union. She and Macron would visit the place where the armistice was signed in a railway wagon in Compiegne, north of Paris.
In four years of fighting, remembered for brutal trench warfare and the first use of gas, France, the British Empire, Russia and the United States had the main armies against a German-led coalition that also included the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires.
Almost 10 million soldiers died. France lost 1.4 million and Germany 2 million.
But despite a war that would have to end all wars, the Second World War again turned both sides against each other.
On the other side of the line that once marked the western front, the leaders praised the bravery of the soldiers who were killed during the unprecedented slaughter before they met at Paris for a dinner.
The armistice took effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 and on Sunday 69 world leaders celebrate the centenary of the event in the tomb of the unknown soldier, under the Arc de Triomphe in the center of Paris.
On Saturday afternoon, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau went to Vimy Ridge, the battlefield in the north of France, where Canada found its sense of self when it defeated the German opposition against all odds.
Standing amidst the white tombstones against an asgere sky, Trudeau addressed the fallen and said what Canada has achieved over the past century is "a history built upon your sacrifice, you stand for the values upon which Canada is built."
In the south of Bergen in Bergen Canadians also laughed George Price, the last soldier from the Commonwealth who died in the war when he was shot by a German sniper, two minutes before the armistice came into effect.
Trump looked beyond the tragedy of death and destruction and asked in a tweet: "Is there anything better to celebrate than the end of a war, especially that war, which was one of the bloodiest and worst of all times?"
After his meeting with Macron, Trump was scheduled to go to the Belleau Wood battlefield, 90 kilometers northeast of the capital, where American troops made a break by stopping a German push to Paris shortly after they had entered the war in 1917.
The Battle of Belleau Wood proved the courage of America for allies and enemies, and by the time the war ended, the US forces were at least equal to the other large armies, exhausted and exhausted.
However, Trump canceled his visit due to bad weather.
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