Good and bad, joy and suffering, happiness and ruin – 9 November embodies all of this for Germans. At the same time, the day clearly recedes behind October 3 in historical memory.
Berlin – November 9th is a historic day for Germany – in the good as well as in the bad sense: With an event at Bellevue Palace, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is commemorating the ambivalence of this day in German history this Tuesday.
The day stands for three decisive dates: On November 9, 1918, Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the republic from a window in the Reichstag building, the monarchy was a thing of the past. November 9, 1938 went down in history as the day of the National Socialist pogroms and stands for the persecution and extermination of the Jews. And on November 9, 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in German reunification.
For Steinmeier a “real affair of the heart”
According to the Office of the Federal President, Steinmeier wants to provide an impetus for regular institutionalized commemoration on November 9th that does justice to all three events. Because this is missing so far. Despite its great historical and emotional weight, despite its contradictions – or precisely because of it – November 9th plays only a subordinate role in public commemoration today. For Steinmeier, the day is “a real affair of the heart”, they say.
In a speech in the Bundestag, the Federal President described November 9th in 2018 as a “day of contradictions”. It is “a bright and a dark day, a day that demands from us what will forever belong to the view of the German past: the ambivalence of memory”.
Central Council for Remembrance Day for Victims of the Shoah
The Central Council of Jews again opposed commemorating several events in German history on November 9th. “November 9th should be a national day of remembrance for the victims of the Shoah,” declared Central Council President Josef Schuster in Berlin.
The day stands for three decisive dates: On November 9, 1918, Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the republic. On November 9, 1938, National Socialists launched pogroms in Germany in which synagogues and Jewish institutions were destroyed and Jews were murdered. On November 9, 1989, the fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in German unification.
The fall of the wall was also a happy event for the Jewish community in Germany, emphasized Schuster. Nevertheless, the focus is on the memory of the Reichspogromnacht of 1938. Younger people in particular know less and less about the pogroms, for example that around 30,000 people were deported to concentration camps and 1,300 people were killed.
The heads of the four other constitutional organs will also take part in the event on Tuesday, i.e. the Executive Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD), Federal Council President Bodo Ramelow (left) and the President of the Federal Constitutional Court, Stephan Harbarth.
The youngest MPs from each parliamentary group will be in Bellevue Palace, as well as the winners of the Federal President’s history competition and recipients of the Margot Friedländer Prize. The former civil rights activist Werner Schulz was invited as well as the former Thuringian Prime Minister Christine Lieberknecht (CDU).
During the memorial hour, the youngest member of the new Bundestag, Emilia Fester (Greens), wants to focus on the events of 1918. The Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer, who has just turned 100, will describe her experiences in Berlin in 1938. And the civil rights activist and former federal commissioner for the Stasi files, Roland Jahn, will devote himself to the year 1989.
Federal Council President Ramelow said in advance: “This fateful day in German history obliges us to take a responsible stand against historical oblivion. Our common commitment to democracy and human rights, to freedom and tolerance is essential. ”Dpa