Mitterrand und Kohl (1987)

On September 4th, 2013, French President François Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck visited Oradour-sur-Glane, a French martyr village of the Second World War whose population was massacred by an SS division during the Liberation. During the ceremony, the two heads of state stood together in silent commemoration, holding each other’s hand. By so doing, they reproduced a symbolic gesture which had resonated strongly in 1984, that of President François Mitterrand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl holding hands in front the memorial to the battle of Verdun. These elements illustrate a more general fact: since the 1960s, Franco-German relations have been maintained within an idealistic atmosphere which celebrates “reconciliation” and “friendship” between the two countries. Mathias Delori’s research analyzes the historical importance of this reconciliation symbolism and its associated public policies, notably that conducted by the Franco-German Youth Office (Office franco-allemand pour la jeunesse).

Some publications on this topic:

🇬🇧 “Amity Symbolism as a Resource for Conflict Resolution. The Case of Franco-German Relations“, in : Reconciling with the Past. Resources and Obstacles in a Global Perspective, sous la direction de Annika Frieberg et C. K. Martin Chung, Routledge, 2017, pp 29-53

🇫🇷 La réconciliation franco-allemande par la jeunesse (1871-2015). La généalogie, l’événement, l’histoire, Peter Lang, 2016, 291p

🇩🇪 “Aussöhnung”, In : Handwörterbuch der deutsch-französischen Beziehungen, sous la dir. d’Astrid Kufer, Isabelle Guinaudeau et Christophe Premat, Berlin : NOMOS, 2009, pp 30-32