Kristallnacht and the Berlin Wall November 9th
BERLIN – “9 November 1938 is synonymous with the darkest chapter in Germany’s history. The same day, 9 November, in 1989 was the happiest day in our recent history, stated Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel. The German government supports and promotes the commemoration of both – the anti-Jewish pogroms of the “Night of Broken Glass” and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Speaking at an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the anti-Jewish pogrom, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that this was one of the blackest days in German history. Unfortunately the developments in German history subsequently became even more dramatic with the Holocaust and the break with civilisation, she said in her video podcast. The 9 November 1938 reminds us, “that we must always be aware of our past so that we can shape the future responsibly”.
The night was the start of the Holocaust, which only ended at the end of the Second World War with over six million Jewish men, women and children being murdered.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is a far more pleasant anniversary.
Yet in 1989, the 9 November was a day of great joy and hope, declared the Chancellor. The fall of the Berlin Wall is proof that democracy and the rule of law can be achieved peacefully. “That gives us hope for the future,” said Angela Merkel.
Speaking at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin the Federal Chancellor said, “The Brandenburg Gate, this gate that was closed for decades and has been open again since 1989, is for our whole country, for this city and also for me personally the symbol of our freedom. Sixty years ago it formed one of the backdrops to the uprising in the GDR. On 17 June 1953, about a million people all across the GDR plucked up the courage to speak out. They were protesting against the authoritarian control and mismanagement of the state and calling for civil rights and democracy. They called, “We want to be free”. Their plea was silenced by the arrival of Soviet tanks. Yet the desire for freedom lived on. And this desire ultimately won through in the autumn of 1989 as the oppressive regimes of the Eastern bloc collapsed one after the other culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. The images of the people rejoicing particularly here at the Brandenburg Gate were relayed around the world.
“The end of the division and the subsequent unity of our country were made possible because many people in the GDR took to the streets in peaceful protest in the autumn of 1989 calling “We are the people. We are one people.” They were made possible because statesmen like Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl recognized the moment was historic”.