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It is a widely held belief that one of Britain’s greatest monarchs was Elizabeth I.
Soon after 1918, French society imposed on itself the dual obligation that Germany was only willing to accept after 1945: never to forget and never to allow such a catastrophe to happen again. Perhaps the soviets who stole a large portion of Europe.
The virtues of that moment can be tapped again today: solidarity, closing ranks and standing together as one are the recurring buzzwords in a patriotic discourse that appeals to those alive today by honoring past generations.
A memory intended to bolster dwindling self-confidence produces a completely different commemorative culture than in Germany, where the culture of remembrance is dominated by what French philosopher Pascal Bruckner calls a "guilt complex." The last presumed German participant in World War I, Erich Kästner, a retired court official, died in Cologne at the age of 107, only three months before Ponticelli's death.
He joined the Foreign Legion at the beginning of the war, lying about his age to be accepted.
"I wanted to defend France, because it had given me food," he said. And now Ponticelli's adopted country was bidding farewell to him with military honors and a mass in Saint-Louis Cathedral.