Friday, January 17, 2014

Der Spiegel: Lazare Ponticelli, the last poilu

Romain Leick on the differing retrospections between France and Germany on WW1: The Symbolic Power of French Victory
Lazare Ponticelli was France's last surviving WW1 Veteran.  He passed in 2008.

Whenever the topic came up over the course of his biblically long life, Lazare Ponticelli always doggedly rejected the idea of being buried in a state funeral. But shortly before his death, under pressure from both the media and political leaders, he gave his consent for a solemn ceremony, "without much fuss and without a big parade, in the name of all those who died, men and women."
Ponticelli was the last recognized veteran of in France, the last living survivor of the more than 8 million people who were called to arms by the French Republic. Of that number, some 1.4 million did not survive the massive slaughter. When Ponticelli passed away on March 12, 2008, in Le Kremlin-Bicêtre near Paris, at the age of 110, his death moved the entire nation.

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