The 9th of November in German History

November 9 is a significant date in German history for several reasons. This Schicksalstag (fateful day) could have become Germany's 4th of July were it not for one horrible event that happened on this date almost 70 years ago. But historians point to a total of six historic events in German history that all happened on November 9 -- some good, some not so good.

The first was in 1848, the year of the "March Revolution" in the German Federation (Deutscher Bund).

On November 9, 1848 the German politician Robert Blum was executed in Vienna because of his efforts to establish a democratic government. His death marked the end of efforts to make the German-speaking countries more democratic through the 1848 Revolution. (Many of the "Forty-Eighters" fled to America. The most famous was Carl Schurz, who became an American politician and Secretary of the Interior in the Hayes administration.)

Among the more happy November 9th events was the establishment of Germany's first democratic government in 1918, following four years of war. But the Weimarer Republik soon fell victim to hyperinflation, an economic depression, and a certain Adolf Hitler. November 9, 1923 marks the date of Hitler's attempted Bierkellerputsch (beer hall putsch) in Munich, his failed attempt to overthrow the Weimar Republic (in which four Bavarian policemen and a bystander were killed, in addition to 16 "Putschisten").

But his NSDAP party continued to grow, and on November 9, 1925 the infamous SS was founded. The Schutzstaffel (abbreviated "SS") was a special unit originally assigned to protect Hitler. In 1934 the SS became a paramilitary police unit in the Nazi government and later played a major role in carrying out the Holocaust.

In 1932 the Nazis did finally come to power, and it was the Hitler regime that made possible the anti-Jewish pogrom now known as "Kristallnacht" or the "night of broken glass." On November 9, 1938 the Nazis carried out violent attacks on Jewish-owned businesses and synagogues all across Germany. That stain on German history left its mark on a much more positive event on another November 9: the opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989. That night became the key date of German reunification. By all rights, November 9, 1989 should have become an official German holiday, but the shadow cast by November 9, 1938 prevented that from happening.

Today, while Germans and the world celebrate the collapse of the Wall, Jews and others will commemorate the darker November 9 in 1938. And that's why the German national day is now October 3, the date when the reunification treaty took effect in 1990.

Although it may not be as well remembered as other November 9th events in Germany, November 9, 2007 also happens to be the day when Apple's iPhone goes on sale for the first time in Germany.

German History 1: The Last Days of the Berlin Wall
German History 2: Ronald Reagan and Germany
German History 3: Tag der Deutschen Einheit - October 3

Web: 9. November - Deutschland (Wikipedia, auf Deutsch)
Web: Der Hitler-Putsch (DHM, auf Deutsch)
Web: Hitler-Ludendorff-Putsch (Wikipedia, auf Deutsch)