France and Germany accused of hijacking Passchendaele commemoration to promote EU

The country’s embassy in the UK sent out a message last night saying the commemorations of the bloody battle, in which around 325,000 allied troops died, was a reason to be thankful for the European project. 
Officials wrote that the EU had brought peace to the continent and linked to a video, filmed by the US embassy in London, of current soldiers and veterans reading out a rendition of John McCrea’s famous poem In Flanders Fields. 
On its official Twitter account, the embassy posted to its 13,000 followers: “Today we commemorate #Passchendaele100. An opportunity to cherish peace, unity and solidarity brought by the EU.” 
Britain's Prince Charles (L) and Deputy Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence lay a wreath during a ceremony at the Artillery Wood Cemetery in YpresGETTY•TWITTER
The 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Passchendaele was yesterday
But the message immediately sparked fury amongst social media users, who accused French diplomats of politicising a 100-year-old tragedy and of wilfully trying to rewrite history in favour of the EU project. 
Many contributors said they were appalled by the timing of the tweet, sent out as the descendants of those who died at Passchendaele gathered at the Tyne Cot cemetery alongside Prince Charles to remember their sacrifice. 
French officials defended the message citing cultural and political differences, saying that the EU was a “synonym of peace” in France and that it had not been intended to cause offence. 
The French embassy tweetTwitter
The French embassy was widely criticised for this tweet
But the timing of the missive nonetheless appears to have been badly judged, with Britain having a long history of keeping politics firmly out of national commemorations of this kind. 
Summing up the feeling amongst the many dozens of respondents to the message, user Bob Hayton wrote: “I find the timing of such a politicising statement an offence to the memory of those allied soldiers who gave their lives.” 
Tim Almond‏ wrote that it was “offensive to use this occasion to make political capital out of this” whilst Charles Cross, a former army reservist, added: “I deeply regret your political message on this of all occasions.” 
Another, called Joshua, was a little more forthright saying: “That is a disgusting attempt at rewriting history and politicising the sacrifice millions made. You should be ashamed.” 
Others questioned whether it was appropriate to give the EU all the credit for keeping peace on the continent given the huge contributions made by other organisations, and in particular NATO. 
Dan Trevains‏ wrote in reply: “Shameless propaganda, absolutely nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with the sacrifice of the allied forces who gave their lives.” 
Irish user Oliver Shanks said: “Disgraceful. My Grandfather Jack Shanks an Irish man from Dublin fought in WWI at the Somme and survived. He would be disgusted with the EU!” 
And one person calling themselves Ay-lin added: “Not the EU. Please don't make a mockery of the boys and men who gave their lives. Absolutely NOT for any EU.” 
Replying to one of the comments Aurélie Bonal‏, who works in the press department at the embassy, said the tweet had not been intended to offend people on such a sensitive date. 
She wrote: “No offence meant. In France, EU project is synonym of peace after two World Wars devastated the continent.” 
The question of whether or not the EU is responsible for Western Europe’s longest ever period of unbroken peace, stretching all the way back to 1945, is a cause of debate amongst commentators.
On the continent the bloc is much more emotionally charged, certainly within the political elite, as a peace project that has saved several generations of young people from the horrors of war. 
When the EU’s popularity levels sunk to dangerously low levels last year, with populists on the rise, eurocrats suddenly and repeatedly returned to that historic safety blanket to shore it up. 
But in the Anglosphere many commentators, whilst giving the bloc credit for helping foster better relations in Europe, feel that the United Nations and in particular NATO are the real reason the continent has been at peace for so long. 
The UN was created from the ashes of the Second World War in 1945, whilst NATO followed not long after in 1949. The EU existed in various economic forms from the late 1950s but did not become a political union until 1992. 
France and Germany accused of hijacking Passchendaele commemoration to promote EU France and Germany accused of hijacking Passchendaele commemoration to promote EU Reviewed by Alexander Von Stern on 04:53:00 Rating: 5