Peace for all time
With its depiction of the Rhine and the inscription “PEACE FOR ALL TIME ON BOTH BANKS OF THE RHINE”, the medal underscores the most important goal of German-French understanding: the final reconciliation of both states after many centuries overshadowed by war.
However, Adenauer and de Gaulle also saw a German-French axis as being in their short-term and medium-term interests. Both wanted to build a European stronghold against the east.
On returning from his first state visit to France in 1962, Adenauer stated “without the firm coalition of Germany and France, it is impossible to keep Europe strong and to maintain peace. And without this firm coalition it is also impossible to resist pressure from the east”.
The first handshake
The bronze sculpture commemorates the first handshake between Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle. On 14th September 1958, de Gaulle invited Federal Chancellor Adenauer into his country home in Colombey-les-deux-Èglises.
Their first meeting took place two weeks before a referendum on the new constitution of the 5th Republic. In this moment of crisis, shortly before de Gaulle was elected as the new state president, he gave a strong indication of his willingness to cooperate with the German Federal Chancellor, and invited him into his private residence – a privilege that only Adenauer, as head of government, was granted. Both statesmen agreed to meet regularly.
Between 1958 and 1963, they met on fifteen occasions.