What happened before the story

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1918, 1938, 1989: November 9th is considered the "fateful day" in German history. It marks the beginning of the first German republic, the pogrom against the Jewish population and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Every year on this day, the ceremony and the commemoration coincide.

The Quadriga on the Brandenburger in front of the dome of the Reichstag building in Berlin (& copy picture alliance / 360-Berlin)

November 9th often marked an epochal turning point in German history. The most recent historic event on that day was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which divided the two German states for 28 years. On the same date, 51 years earlier, the violent persecution of Jews in Germany reached its first climax. On the night of November 9, 1938, at the behest of the National Socialist leadership, shops and apartments belonging to Jewish citizens were looted and destroyed, synagogues were set on fire and Jews were murdered. The day went down in history as the Reichspogromnacht. But the events around the historical date go back even further - an overview:

1848: Failure of the March Revolution

"I am dying for freedom," were the last words of MP Robert Blums. On November 9, 1848, the democrat was shot by the counter-revolutionary troops in Vienna. The event marked the beginning of the end of the so-called March Revolution in the states of the German Confederation. The revolutionary age began in France, it spread across almost all of Europe and finally reached Germany. The intellectual foundation of the revolutionary movement was the demand for a constitution that would bring about a balance between monarchical authority and popular sovereignty. In addition, the focus was on the national question - the demand for national unity and independence - and the social question, in particular the demand for complete peasant liberation and social security for free wage workers. But the first attempt to align Germany as part of a European modernization according to liberal and national guiding principles failed because of the resistance of the reactionary forces.

More on the March Revolution: Information on Political Education: Revolution of 1848

1918: November Revolution

In the fall of 1918, events in the German Reich rolled over. In view of the already established defeat of the Germans in World War I, the call for peace and the emperor's abdication grew louder. There was a revolutionary movement. Workers 'and soldiers' councils were formed in many cities. On November 9, the revolution also struck Berlin, where Chancellor Prince Maximilian von Baden announced the emperor's abdication out of fear of a radical political overthrow. The deputy SPD chairman Philipp Scheidemann then proclaimed the first German republic from a balcony of the Berlin Reichstag and thus sealed the end of the Hohenzollern rule. But the young republic had a difficult time from the beginning: it lacked support from the population, unity and support from the executive power. Mass unemployment, war damage and claims for reparations from the First World War put the Weimar democracy to the test. Anti-democratic currents gained momentum across Europe and provided the breeding ground for the emergence of National Socialism.

More on the November Revolution: Dossier First World War: The End of the German Empire

1923: Hitler-Ludendorff Putsch

Inflation, communist unrest and the French occupation of the Ruhr area favored the emergence of reactionary and nationalist currents in the early 1920s. In this unstable political situation, Adolf Hitler, as party leader of the NSDAP, planned a violent coup in Munich. His goal was to overthrow the government in Berlin and gain power himself in a national dictatorship. On Sunday morning of November 9, 1923, Hitler marched with General Erich Ludendorff and other supporters to the Feldherrnhalle in Munich. But the Bavarian police stopped the march and with it Hitler's attempt to come to power by force. The NSDAP was then banned, and Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison. Ten years later he managed to come to power legally.

More on the Hitler-Ludendorff Putsch: Information on political education: National Socialism - Rise and Rule

1938: November pogrom

On the night of November 9-10, 1938, SA troops and members of the SS organized violent attacks on the Jewish population. Several hundred synagogues were set on fire, at least 8,000 Jewish shops were destroyed and countless apartments were devastated. Between 90 and 100 Jews were slain, stabbed or beaten to death. In the following days, around 30,000 Jewish men were arrested throughout the German Empire and deported to the Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. The anti-Semitic riots were organized by the National Socialist leadership, which systematically promoted the discrimination and persecution of Jewish citizens since Hitler's "seizure of power" in 1933. The night of November 9, 1938, went down in history as the Reichspogromnacht.

More about the "Reichspogromnacht": Current background: November 9, 1938

1989: Fall of the Berlin Wall

"From now on." That was the brief answer given by GDR Politburo member G√ľnter Schabowski to a reporter's question as to when the agreed travel regulations will come into force. With this new freedom he sealed the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 after 28 years. Under the pressure of thousands of GDR citizens leaving via Hungary and the Monday demonstrations in Leipzig and other East German cities, the SED regime in the GDR collapsed. On November 4, 1989, more than 500,000 demonstrators gathered for a rally on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, only four days later the SED Politburo resigned. On the evening of November 9th, SED press spokesman and politburo member G√ľnter Schabowski surprisingly announced the immediate opening of the wall at a press conference. As a result, thousands of East Berliners flocked to the border crossings of their city. At around 11.30 p.m., the inspectors at the Bornholmer Strasse border crossing could no longer withstand the rush of people. The transition is opened. All Berlin border crossings are open until midnight. The way to German reunification was clear.

More about the fall of the Berlin Wall: Current background: When the Wall fell - November 9, 1989 and chronology at www.chronik-der-mauer.de

* In an earlier version of the text an incorrect year was given. We have corrected these following a note from the reader. (Editor, November 7, 2014)


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