The Berlin Wall fell 33 years ago today on Nov. 9, a strangely important date in German history, reports Joe Lauria.
By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News
November 9 is an eerily significant day in German history, in which five major events occurred.
- 1848: During the Vienna revolts, left-liberal leader Robert Blum was executed, which led to the crushing of the German March Revolution in April and May 1849.
- 1918: Emperor Wilhelm II was forced to abdicate in the November Revolution by Chancellor Max von Baden, ending the German monarchy and ushering in the ultimately short-lived Weimar Republic. Philipp Scheidemann declared the German republic from a Reichstag window, while just two hours later Karl Liebknecht proclaimed a “Free Socialist Republic” from a Berliner Stadtschloss balcony.
- 1923: The Munich Beer Hall Putsch ended on Nov. 9, a failed coup attempt led by Adolf Hitler, landing him in Landsberg prison, where he wrote Mein Kampf. Under the Nazis, Nov. 9 was a national holiday to commemorate the Nazis killed in the aborted putsch.
- 1938: From Nov. 9 to 10 synagogues and Jewish shops were destroyed and 400 Jews killed in the event known as Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass.
- 1989: The Berlin Wall fell leading to German reunification.
Reunification was not universally cheered in Western Europe. Italian premiere Giulio Andreotti said, “I love Germany so much that I preferred when there were two.”
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to reunification in exchange for an unwritten promise that NATO would not expand to the East, a broken U.S. promise that scuttled the hope of post-Cold War peace and laid the groundwork for this year’s Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
I lived in Germany from 1984 to 1988, the last year in West Berlin. I returned to Berlin on Nov. 11, 1989, two days after the wall opened, and recorded these images at the breached barrier.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe