Lest We Forget – Commemorating the Battle of the Somme

On 1st July 2016 we commemorated the centenary anniversary of the Battle of the Somme together with our French and German partner cities Lille and Siegen. A hundred years ago, the Leeds Pals were one of many battalions to storm out of its trenches at 7.30am and when it advanced, it was met by heavy machine gun fire incurring hundreds and thousands of lives lost.

A century later we received our European partners in Leeds, not only to commemorate the atrocities of the First World War, but to celebrate the invaluable contribution of city twinnings to the peaceful development of Europe since the 1950s.

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Together with our partner cities, we paid tribute to the fallen British, French and German soldiers to the sound of bugles played all across Leeds on 1st July at 7.30am and during a service at the Leeds Pals memorial near Colsterdale, in the heart of Nidderdale.

During the visit of Lille and Siegen delegates, we also opened the new exhibition “In Their Footsteps” together with the Leeds Preservative Party. It can now be seen at Leeds City Museum until January 2017. Both partner cities contributed an object of their own to the exhibition. A pocket watch with marks of the impact that had killed soldier Wilhelm Klein from Siegen and the diary of Louis Bureau who noted and analysed the events that unfolded in Lille in 1916 are now presented in Leeds City Museum to illustrate how the First World War impacted on our partner cities.

 

DortBUNT! – Celebrating diversity

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With the city-wide festival “DortBUNT!” celebrating tolerance and diversity, our partner city Dortmund in Germany has marked the 71th anniversary of the end of World War II and its achievements in intercultural dialogue since. For two days the city centre of Dortmund has hosted seven stages with live music and over 100 stalls presenting the work of volunteers, cultural organisations and faith groups who are all contributing to tolerance and openness in the city.

To highlight the importance of peace between nations and the significance of city partnerships to achieve exchanges and friendship on the local level, Dortmund has invited all its partner cities to join the festival. Delegations from as far as China, Russia and the USA have attended along with delegations from France, former East Germany – and Leeds!

Having the partner cities there to attend “DortBUNT!” and to celebrate decades of an international dialogue and exchange on the local level was very important to the City of Dortmund. To capture this historic moment, the delegations have all signed the Golden Book of the city, a guest book for the most honoured guests of Dortmund.