PRESIDENT Sarkozy’s Rembrance Day speech has made a gesture towards pardonning soliders executed for desertion during World War I.
Speaking at the Ossuary at Douaumont, the president said he was there to honour “all the dead without exception” at a service of European leaders marking the 90th anniversary of the end of the war.
“I am thinking of these men of whom we asked too much. They were too exposed, sometimes the faults of commanders sent them off to massacres, these men who no longer had the strength to fight,” he said.
“This war totally ruled out all lenience, all weakness,” he added.
President Sarkozy said: “90 years after the end of this war I want to say to our nation that a lot of those who were executed were not dishonorable, were not cowards but were simply pushed to the extreme limit of their strength.”
During WWI 675 French soldiers were shot for desertion, refusal to fight and mutiny.