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Sarkozy Was There (French: Sarkozy y était) is a photoshop meme based on a snapshot of the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy supposedly taken at the Berlin Wall on November 9th 1989, the night it was taken down. After it was uploaded to his official Facebook page on the 20th anniversary of the historical event in November 2009, French bloggers and journalists launched an inquiry about the authenticity of the photograph while anti-Sarkozy Facebook users ridiculed his desperate attempt at social media outreach by photoshopping his likeness into other notable events throughout history.
On November 8th, 2009, a photograph of Nicolas Sarkozy apparently chipping away at the Berlin Wall was uploaded to the Wall Photos album on his official Facebook page. The caption noted that he and several members of the now defunct political party Rassemblement pour la République (Rally for the Republic) went to visit the site when they heard it was most likely going to come down. Given pickaxes, they were able to tear down a section of the wall.
“We were fascinated with all the news coming in from Berlin, something major was about to happen. We went to the Brandenburger Tor, saw that there were many people already there, so we went through Checkpoint Charlie to the East Side of the wall, where we demolished a part with a pickaxe”.
But on the same day, Alain Auffray, a journalist for the French newspaper Libération, pointed out that Sarkozy’s attendance on that evening would have been unlikely, since there had been no advance warning of the East German announcement before the 6 o’clock news and no reports of West Berliners tearing down the wall until the following day on November 10th.
Le Post also posted about the controversy the same day the photo was uploaded, taking a similarly skeptical approach towards its authenticity. In one of the earliest comments, an anonymous reader sarcastically noted that Sarkozy should start going back in time and change the course of history, such as coaching the now-retired French soccer player Zinedine Zidane how to defeat Brazil in the final game of 1998 World Cup or warning Eve not to eat the apple from the tree. Later that day, Le Post held a photoshop contest asking users to submit their favorite photos of Sarkozy in history. Over the next several days, photoshop threads began on the Cassiopaea Forum, Liberation and Lucid State. The photo series was also discussed on the New York Times.
On November 11th, Le Post posted a video of archival footage from November 16th, 1989 where Sarkozy is shown at the Berlin Wall, a week later than he suggested. Le Figaro, a daily newspaper often thought to be pro-Sarkozy, also reported that the former prime minister Alain Juppe, whom Mr Sarkozy accompanied to Berlin, did not go to Germany until November 16th.
Despite the historical evidence and records suggesting forgery and revisionism, an Elysee Palace spokesman denied such accusations and stated that “what [the President] said was strictly the truth. Nicolas Sarkozy doesn’t say the Wall was going to fall, he only says there was information about a change in Berlin.”
Lucid State – Discussion: Mur de Berlin: Sarko refait l’histoire
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