In 1962 the late French President Charles De Gaulle spoke in fluent German which, he learned while a prisoner during the first world war to an audience of young Germans. It was a ground breaking gesture at reconciliation.
Fifty-years later the leaders of Germany and France met at the same castle in Ludwigsburg in southwestern Germany. Ceremony along with European unity was at the top of the agenda to mark the anniversary of De Gaulle’s speech in which he told his young audience at the time, “you are the children of a great nation which had made great errors”.
“We should never forget this sentence: however great the economic challenges we will face: one thing will always remain valid: We Europeans are united for our benefit,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said and in a reference to De Gaulle’s speech the chancellor broke into French to say, “Long live French-German youth, long live European youth”.
France President, Francois Hollande told the audience: “What’s urgent is to create growth conditions, to better control financial markets, to reinforce the eurozone, to install a new European control system and that’s what we, France and Germany are working on”.
It’s understood the two allies would be discussing the proposed merger between EADS and BAE Systems which would create the world’s largest aerospace and defence firm but no decisions are expected from the meeting.