9th November: Today marks the so-called Schicksalstag, also known as the Day of Fate for German history.
Most famously associated with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, this date was to some a popular choice for the annual Unity Day celebrations. However, November 9th has a chequered history in Germany and the date marks many events unworthy of celebration.
On this day in 1918, at the end of WWI, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the throne, ending the Hohenzollern rule of Germany and ushering in the chaotic and doomed Weimar Republic.
Before the Kaiser had even left Berlin, SPD member Philipp Scheidemann declared the Republic of Germany from the Reichstag.
Two hours later, the Spartacist leader Karl Liebknecht announced the formation of a Free Socialist Republic from the Berliner Stadtschloss.
In 1923, November 8th-9th marked Hitler’s failed attempt to seize power in Munich during the Beer Hall Putsch. 16 years later, the Party’s own commemoration of this event served as the stage for Georg Elser’s famous assassination attempt on Hitler.
In 1938, the night of November 9th-10th marked the Reichspogromnacht (Kristallnacht), in which synagogues and Jewish property were destroyed, hundreds murdered, and over 30,000 Jews arrested.
Due to this controversial history, instead of celebrating Unity Day on the Day of Fate, it was decided rather to celebrate on October 3rd – the official date of German Reunification.
This slice of On This Day in Berlin History was written by Berlin Guides Association member, Susan Grouchy. It’s one of four noteworthy events she’s chosen to remember this November. Keep an eye on our blog to see what else made the cut.