Anniversary of the D-Day

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70 years after the Allies landed in World War II, the heads of state and government from around 20 countries come to the central celebration in Normandy. On Friday, special attention will be paid to Putin’s first appearance in the circle of western politicians since the escalation of the Ukraine crisis in mid-March.

According to Russian sources, at a meeting between Merkel and Putin in Deauville, France, a plan is on the table to defuse the worst security crisis in Europe after the end of the Cold War. Merkel had also not met with Putin since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which was sharply criticized around the world, three months ago.

Russia threatens tougher sanctions

Should the diplomatic initiative fail, the leading western industrial countries threaten Russia with tougher economic sanctions. This is what the G7 states announced at their summit meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

It was still unclear in advance whether there would be a meeting between the Kremlin chief and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the D-Day celebrations. Obama, who repeatedly and severely criticized Putin during his trip to Europe, did not rule out a direct conversation. "If we have the opportunity to speak, I will repeat the same message I gave him during the crisis. We’ll see what Putin does in the next two, three, four weeks"said Obama. If Putin stays on his course, he must expect further punitive measures.

Cameron had avoided handshakes with Putin

Putin met British Prime Minister David Cameron in Paris on Thursday evening. Cameron forwarded to the Kremlin chief, according to a spokeswoman "some very clear and very distinct messages". The two politicians met at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. The Russian agency Interfax reported that both politicians had avoided handshakes when they were greeted. Then Putin was received by French President François Hollande in the Élysée Palace.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will travel to Russia on Tuesday, according to Moscow. The SPD politician is discussing the situation in Ukraine with his Russian colleague Sergej Lavrov and the Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski in St. Petersburg.

According to a survey, 89 percent of Germans are of the opinion that the Western states should continue to talk to Russia. Only 9 percent have expressed the conviction that Russia should be isolated as much as possible. This was the result of a survey by the ARD Germany trend.

The USA sees Merkel as the most important ally

US Ambassador John B. Emerson praised Merkel’s Ukraine policy. "The Chancellor and President Obama are working very well and very closely together in the Ukraine crisis – right from the start"said Emerson the "Berliner Morgenpost" (Friday edition).community service college essays Merkel is the USA’s most important ally in Ukraine policy, Emerson said.

On the anniversary of the Allied landings in World War II, celebrations have started in several places in Normandy. About 1000 veterans have returned to Normandy on the occasion of the anniversary. The largest landing operation in history marked the beginning of the liberation of Europe from National Socialism on June 6, 1944.

Merkel wrote an article for the French newspaper "Ouest France" on the occasion of the celebrations: "Peace and freedom can be called into question quickly. The conflict in Ukraine shows us that. There is great concern to see that new rifts and dividing lines are emerging."

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The presence of a high-ranking German representative was taboo for a long time, and the then Chancellor Helmut Kohl (CDU) declined an invitation twice. His successor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) was the first head of government to represent post-war Germany in Normandy in 2004 on the 60th anniversary of the landing. Ten years later, Merkel is now taking part.

Portsmouth (AP) – bagpipes and thundering planes – but also thought-provoking reports from contemporary witnesses: The heads of state and government of the western allies and Germany commemorated the landing in Normandy in World War II with a solemn ceremony on Wednesday.

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The largest landing operation in military history was of decisive importance for the further course of the Second World War.

The British Queen Elizabeth II, Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump also took part in the event in the southern English port city of Portsmouth. French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and heir to the throne Prince Charles were also among the guests.

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When some of the approximately 300 veterans present took the stage, applause broke out. Even the 93-year-old Queen rose from her seat several times. With a pink coat and hat she stood out among the heads of state and government in the official gallery; the queen loves bright colors.

In a speech, the Queen praised the courage of the soldiers who took part in the landing 75 years ago. Her father, King George VI, then demanded a new spirit and an indomitable determination, said the Queen. "This is exactly what many brave men have brought into battle, as the fate of the world depended on their success"she stressed. Many young people have never returned from there.

Unlike most of the participants, she has her own memories of World War II. During this time Elizabeth trained as a truck driver and mechanic in the army. Even then, she was bursting with a sense of duty. She allowed herself a brief moment of exuberance when Germany surrendered: the people were dancing on the streets of London, Elizabeth mingling with the partying unrecognized. "We were carried on a wave of joy and relief"she once remembered.

Merkel described her own participation in the commemoration as "Gift of history". The landing of the Allies in Normandy ultimately brought Germany liberation from National Socialism and laid the foundation for the post-war order. "The fact that I can be there today as German Chancellor and that we stand together today for peace and freedom is a gift from history that needs to be protected and nurtured"said Merkel to journalists.

The Chancellor also met briefly with US President Donald Trump. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Trump and Merkel had discussed the current situation in Libya and the worsening situation in West Africa. They agreed to continue their talks at the G20 summit later this month in Osaka, Japan. Until recently it had been publicly unclear whether the meeting in Portsmouth would actually take place.

At the end of the memorial event, several historic and modern military aircraft thundered over the event site at Portsmouth Harbor. A warship fired a gun salute. Around 300 veterans were to be brought to Normandy by sea after the celebrations – in memory of the dangerous journey the many soldiers made across the English Channel in June 1944.

The event also included music and dance performances on a covered stage near the water. Several journal entries by contemporary witnesses were read, including May, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Macron. Trump read out a prayer.

For Trump it was the third and last day of his state visit to the UK. He and First Lady Melania were ceremonially received on Monday at Buckingham Palace. On Tuesday, Trump met with the outgoing Prime Minister May.

The public part of the site had a folk festival character with carousels, fish-and-chip stands and small souvenir shops. Hundreds of people had made themselves comfortable there on a meadow.

Eighty-three-year-old Joyce Stevenson from Portsmouth was delighted that so many young people had come. "We old people remember it, but it’s nice that so many people are there." She was hardly interested in the politicians in the official gallery. "It’s good to know that the Queen is here today", she said. She also has respect for Merkel, who is brave that she came.

On June 6, 1944, Allied troops landed in France during World War II, which was occupied by the German Wehrmacht. From Portsmouth, a large part of the armed forces had made their way across the English Channel towards Normandy.

The so-called D-Day marks the beginning of the liberation of Europe from National Socialist Germany from the west and the beginning of the triumphal march of a democratic movement around the world. But it also stands for inhuman bloodshed, tens of thousands dead and wounded.

Trump traveled on to Ireland in the late afternoon, where he also wanted to meet briefly with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. One of the topics of their conversation should be Brexit. Protesters set up a peace camp near Shannon Airport in western Ireland; Among other things, they criticize the US President’s climate policy. On Thursday, the actual D-Day anniversary, Trump will then take part in the great memorial event on the French coast.

Representatives of Germany gathered at a memorial service at the German military cemetery in La Cambe in Normandy. "Over the past few decades, Europe has become a continent of peace and freedom"said the German ambassador to France, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut. There is a duty to see that this is preserved. More than 21,000 German soldiers are buried in La Cambe. Among them are war criminals like Adolf Diekmann, who ordered the murder of the inhabitants of the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in western France.

A British World War II veteran has secretly traveled to Normandy to attend the D-Day 70th anniversary celebrations. According to the police, the old people’s home in which he lives had not allowed him to commemorate the Allied landing on June 6, 1944.

According to the police in Sussex, a friend of the 89-year-old missing person reported to the officers and said the two were in a hotel in the coastal town of Ouistreham. The central memorial ceremony took place there on Friday.

By bus to France

A police officer could also phone the missing person himself and make sure that he was safe. According to the information, the man had left his retirement home in the southern English town of Hove with medals on Thursday morning and drove to France with other veterans on the bus.

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The "Daily Telegraph" reported that the man had hidden his war decorations under his raincoat. In the evening, the home called the police, who scanned the entire area as well as hospitals, bus and taxi companies – in vain.

Bernard Jordan, who turns 90 next week, is Britain’s newest hero. The sprightly veteran made it possible for his compatriots – or at least the media – to indulge in the patriotic D-Day fever a little longer.

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Because the World War II veteran did not want to miss the ceremonies on the beaches of Normandy, he piled out of his retirement home like a schoolboy. The police even looked for him for a short time. But on his return on Saturday, Jordan was in the midst of a sea of ​​flags as "Jolly Good Fellow" celebrated.

90-year-old did not expect this vortex

"I had a great time and I’m really happy that I made the trip"said the former naval officer on his return to the nursing home "The Pines" (The Pines) in Hove near Brighton.

However, he would never have dreamed that his secret expedition would have one "such a big vortex" would trigger. His wife Irene, also a home resident, showed up "concerned but by no means surprised" about his endeavor.

According to its own information, the home had tried in vain to book a place for Jordan on one of the official veteran buses on time. At no time was the senior prohibited from traveling to the celebrations. "We respect the individuality of our residents and admire Jordan for the role he played in the D-Day invasion 70 years ago", it said in a statement.

Hitchhiking to Normandy

Having been unable to get a seat on one of the veteran buses, Jordan secretly set off after breakfast Thursday morning – supposedly on his daily walk to the small coastal town of Hove, of which he was once mayor. He hid his chest, hung with war medals, under his raincoat.

He hitchhiked to nearby Brighton, from there he took the train to Portsmouth. The ferry to Caen leaves there.