Today we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but November 9, known by Germans as Schicksalstag, is much more than that happy event. For the history of Germany in the 20th century and for the rest of Europe maybe … It is a key day and a turning point in history.
• 9. November • 1918
Saturday, was the birthday of democracy in Berlin. A new revolution led by workers which think in a new world after the disaster of the Great War (1914-18) and the Soviet Revolution (1917), made Kaiser Wilhelm II to abdicate and that would become the end of the Hohenzollern’s time. The new Republic of Weimar was about to start.
• 9. November • 1923
Ironically, that newly born democracy and the new Republic would give way in a short time to discomfort of some sectors that would quickly radicalize and led to the uprising of the NSDAP party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) - the Nazi movement, led by Adolf Hitler. Hitler, convinced to be the leader of the change that Germany needed, organized a coup in a brewery in Munich on 9 November 1923, known as “the Munich Putsch”. The rapid reaction of the government forces and the last-minute abstention of several key-members for the assault, would make the coup fail. Hitler would be imprisoned in Landsberg prison, but would return with greater power and with clearer and even more radical ideas for Germany, shown in his book ‘Mein Kampf’.
• 9. November • 1938 “Night of Broken Glass”
During the night from the 9th to the 10th of November, 1938, known as the Kristallnacht progrom, Nazi-party SA and SS members led by anti-semite doctrines, wielding axes and torches, rampage synagogues, shops and houses of German Jews. This was the worst attack on the Jewry community since the Nazis seized power in 1933. During the 1938 pogroms, Nazi troops tore down nearly 1,400 synagogues. Thousands of Jewish businesses were destroyed. Over 30,000 Jews were arrested and taken to concentration camps and around 140 died. Testimonies from those dark days say that the local fire departments did not stop the synagogues and Jewish shops from burning; they merely prevented the flames from spreading to neighboring buildings.
[Flames engulfed the Berlin synagogue located at Fasanenstraße in the Charlottenburg district after been raided by paramilitary Nazi-SA troopers during the Kristallnacht. This big synagogue, at the time the largest one in Berlin, was opened in August 1912 and closed by Goebbles’ orders in 1936. Destroyed in 1938, the remains of the building were again devastated during a British air-raid in 1943.]
[In this image we see the burned interior of the Fasanenstraße synagogue in Berlin after the Kristallnacht pogrom.]
[Berlin: destroyed Jewish shops by Nazis at the Kurfürstendamm the day after the Nazi attack.]
• 9. November • 1961 - 1989
On the night of November 9, the Wall built by the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) to protect the border that divided the East from the West fell after 28 years, not only in Berlin but throughout Germany, which has been divided into two blocks after the end of the Second World War.
[The actual postwar border line which divided Berlin in four sectors is painted across the Potsdamerstraße by order of the British occupation authorities in August 1948 before the infamous Mauer was built in 1961 by East Germany authorities. This action follows incidents in which the Soviet-controlled German police made illegal entries into the Western Zone, in their raids against Black Market activities.]
[Berliners cheering and climbing during the Fall of the Berliner Mauer on November 1989 at the Brandenburger Tor.]