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November 9th, A Date Synonymous With German History

Lest We Forget

November 9th is a date forever synonymous with German history; same never to be forgotten.

Today and in recent years the fall of the Berlin Wall, which occurred, this day, (on Thursday November 9th 1989), has somewhat overshadowed the events of Wednesday November 9th, 1938, latter which should have been a warning and a strong indication of the future Jewish Holocaust; latter also known as the Shoah, or the World War II extermination and genocide of 6 million European Jews and others, carried out between 1941 and 1945, in extermination camps and gas chambers.

Companies such as BMW, Deutsche Bank, Ford, Opel, Siemens and Volkswagen would later face lawsuits for their use of forced labor during World War II.

The French State owned National Railway Company (SNCF), agreed, as late as 2014, to pay $60 million to Jewish-American survivors, (around $100,000 each), for their role in the transporting of some 76,000 Jews from France to extermination camps, between the years 1942 and 1944.

Emaciated dead Jewish bodies in a concentration camp, piled up awaiting disposal, which had then just been relieved by Allied troops.

On November 9th, 1938, German Nazis launched a campaign of terror against Jewish people and their homes and businesses throughout Germany and Austria. The violence, which continued through until Thursday November 10th was later labelled “Kristallnacht,” or “Night of Broken Glass,” following the countless smashed windows and other vandalism systematically carried out on some 7,500 Jewish businesses. Same deliberate, orchestrated and senseless activity would leave that night approximately 100 Jewish people dead and hundreds of synagogues, private homes, educational centres and graveyards, vandalized and pillaged.

Today is the anniversary of a peaceful revolution

However, for today at least, let us commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall [German: Mauerfall – English: Fall of the Wall), which happened this day, 30 years ago, November 9th 1989. Same event was widely regarded as a pivotal event in the history of our world, soon to mark the fall of the “Iron Curtain”, latter a political, military, and ideological barrier, erected by the Soviet Union, following World War II; thus sealing off other non-communist countries.

Two pieces, each from both sides of the Berlin Wall, on display previously here in Thurles. Note: The graffiti paint on the top piece, is from the western side.

Following the earlier dismantling of an electric fence (April 1989), latter which had stretched along the border between Hungary and Austria; refugees were finding their way into Hungary via Czechoslovakia.

This emigration was initially tolerated because of long-standing agreements with the communist Czechoslovak government, which had allowed for free travel across their common boundary.

This permitted movement of people now grew so large that it caused great difficulties for both countries. To further add to this, East Germany was struggling to meet loan payments on foreign borrowings.

Former East German politician, who was the last communist leader of East Germany, Egon Krenz had sent Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski to unsuccessfully negotiate a short-term loan from West Germany, to enable East Germany to make their interest payments.

It was at a Politburo meeting on November 7th of that year, that it was decided to enact a portion of the draft travel regulations addressing permanent emigration immediately. At the start, the Politburo planned simply to create a special border crossing near Schirnding, Bavaria, specifically for this current emigration. Personnel at the Ministry for State Security (Staatssicherheitsdienst, SSD or Stasi) had been charged with fashioning new document text for these intended changes. The latter had concluded same changes were not feasible and had produced instead new text relating to emigration and temporary travel details.

This new text now stipulated that East German citizens could apply for permission to travel abroad without having to meet the previous requirements then in vogue for similar journeys.

To ease the obvious difficulties, the Politburo, led by Egon Krenz, decided on November 9th to allow refugees to exit directly through crossing points between East Germany and West Germany, including between East and West Berlin. Later that same day, the ministerial administration modified this proposal to include private and round-trip travel. The new regulations were to take effect the next day.

An end to the Cold War was declared at the Malta Summit, on December 2nd–3rd, 1989, some three weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall; latter which comprised a meeting between US President George H. W. Bush and the Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. The reunification of Germany would take place during the following year.

The actual announcement of these new regulations, which saw the wall taken down, took place during an hour-long press conference. Same led by Günter Schabowski, (latter an official of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany; the party boss in East Berlin; and the spokesman for the Socialist Unity Party (SED) Politburo). The press conference began at 18:00hrs Central European Time on November 9th and was broadcast live on East German television and radio, both then the state television and broadcaster in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

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