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9 November: The Day of Fate

Fall of Berlin Wall
Justin Leighton / Alamy Stock Photo

If I were to ask you what’s significant about the date 9 November 1989, you’d probably correctly retort that it’s the day the Berlin Wall came down. But 9 November is an important date in Germany for historic events other than that symbolic day of reunification. Commonly known as ‘The Day of Fate’ (or in German, “Schicksalstag”) it’s a day that marks several defining events in Germany that has undoubtedly influenced its trajectory. We wanted to highlight these events with curated Lightboxes so that you can tell the story too.

 

The execution of Robert Blum
Kohl-Illustration / Alamy Stock Photo

1848: The execution of Robert Blum (and the failure of the March Revolution)

Robert Blum was a German democratic politician who fought for a unified Germany that would be liberal and a republic. A true egalitarian who was well ahead of his time, Blum was a critic of anti-Semitism and called for gender equality. After joining revolutionary fighters in Vienna, Blum was arrested on 4 November where he was subsequently condemned to death by a military tribunal. Allegedly, his last words were “Ich sterbe für die Freiheit” (“I die for freedom”) and his death was significant as it subdued democratic risings in Germany in the 1840s and therefore led to the failure of the March Revolution.

Explore the execution of Robert Blum lightbox here.

 

German revolution and declaration of the German Republic
Imago Europe Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

1918: November Revolution

As we know, 9 November wasn’t the exact date that the First World War ended but 9 November was a strong signifier that its end was imminent. The day marks the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German monarch, and therefore the end of World War I. What followed is known as the November Revolution as a push for a new republic was effected which became to be known as the Weimar Republic and the Weimar Constitution came into effect in 1919. Hitler and his allies would later use this revolution to curry support for the Nazi party.

Explore the November Revolution lightbox here.

 

Defendants of the Beer Hall Putsch
Classic Image / Alamy Stock Photo

1923: Beer Hall Putsch (Hitler-Ludendorff Coup)

In response to the Weimar Republic and the November Revolution of 1918, Adolf Hitler and Erich Ludendorff, along with their supporters, marched to Munich in a bid to take control of the city. The attempt was quelled as Hitler was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. Subsequently, the Nazi Party was banned. But what’s all of this got to do with a beer hall? Firstly, Hitler and his allies often used beer halls to garner political support and rally his people. Secondly, the march culminated in taking over the Bürgerbräukeller (a large beer hall where the Bavarian Prime Minister Gustav von Kahr was holding a meeting) to depose the government. Gunfire started going off but it wasn’t long before the authorities arrested Hitler and his men.

Explore the Beer Hall Putsch ligthbox here.

 

Day after Night of Broken Glass (November Pogroms)
Historic Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

1938: Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht)

The 9th of November 1938 is considered the beginning of state persecution of the Jewish race. That night, SA troops as well as German citizens swept across the nation to carry out violent attacks on synagogues, Jewish homes and Jewish-owned businesses. Over 250 synagogues were destroyed and nearly 100 Jews killed according to official state statistics (i.e. the real numbers are probably much more horrifying). The name Kristallnacht (literally meaning Crystal Night) was given due to the abundance of broken glass that lined German streets up and down the country. News of the event shook the world and sparked international outrage. Depressingly, it took an event such as this before the rest of the world decided to take action.

Explore the Night of Broken Glass lightbox here.

 

Lead up to Fall of Berlin Wall
BRIAN HARRIS / Alamy Stock Photo

1989: The fall of Berlin Wall

And finally, we have the momentous day that the Berlin Wall came down – although demolition officially started in 1990 and it took two years to complete. What initiated it was caused by bit of a faux pas when East German government spokesman Günter Schabowski announced that there would be more relaxed border regulations that would come into effect “ab sofort” (immediately). Subsequently, thousands of East Berliners dashed to the wall before forcing their way through checkpoints. Since the wall was erected in 1961, more than 100 people had died trying to escape East Germany. On 9 November 1989, escape was no longer necessary as Germans from both sides of the wall rejoiced in their newfound unity.

Explore the fall of Berlin Wall lightbox.

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