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French President Hollande Leads WWII Commemorations in Paris

  • Associated Press

French President Francois Hollande, center, lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during commemorations at the Arc de Triomphe marking the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II, in Paris, May 8, 2016.

French President Francois Hollande, center, lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during commemorations at the Arc de Triomphe marking the 71st anniversary of the end of World War II, in Paris, May 8, 2016.

French President Francois Hollande on Sunday led low-key commemorations in Paris marking the end of World War II in Europe.

Under a basking sun, Hollande began the proceedings by laying a wreath at the statue of Charles de Gaulle, the former president and leader of the French WWII government-in-exile.

In his last Victory in Europe Day ceremony before next year's presidential election, Hollande observed a minute of silence before a rendition of the French national anthem.

He then shook hands and chatted with General De Gaulle's grandson, Yves.

A cortege followed Hollande up to the Arc de Triomphe war memorial at the Place de l'Etoile. The French president laid another wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where another moment of silence was held.

The Arc de Triomphe has a special significance for WWII since Adolf Hitler marched his Nazi troops through the iconic monument when Germany took over France in 1940. It was also the site where Allied troops celebrated victory over Germany 71 years ago.

Victory in Europe Day is celebrated on May 8 to mark the date in 1945 that WWII ended in Europe following Nazi Germany's surrender of its armed forces.

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