PARIS (AP) — France’s president on Sunday led low-key commemorations in Paris marking the end of World War II in Europe.
Under a baking sun, Francois Hollande began the proceedings by laying a wreath at the statue of Charles de Gaulle, the former president and leader of the French World War II government-in-exile.
In his last Victory in Europe Day ceremony before next year’s presidential election, Hollande observed a minute of silence before a rendition of the French national anthem.
He then shook hands and chatted with De Gaulle’s grandson, Yves.
A cortege followed Hollande up to the Arc de Triomphe war memorial. The French president laid another wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where another moment of silence was held.
Adolf Hitler marched his Nazi troops through the Arc de Triomphe when Germany took over France in 1940. It was also the site where Allied troops celebrated victory over Germany 71 years ago.
Victory in Europe Day is celebrated on May 8 to mark the date in 1945 that World War II ended in Europe following Nazi Germany’s surrender of its armed forces.
Hollande urged young generations to remember “what happened in history and that it can happen again in the future.”
“Unfortunately, war is also on our doorstep,” Hollande said, referring to bloodshed in Syria and Iraq. “We know war can resurface.”