by jonnywhitlam

9th November

This photo was taken at Karl-Marx-Allee which I’ve written about before. So rather than talk about that, I’d rather talk about the 9th of November. This is the date that I took this photo last year, 2010. It was on this day that I moved to Germany. I knew at the time that it was this date in 1989 that the Berlin Wall fell, leading to the reunification of Germany.

However this has long been a tragic and important date in German history. An amazing amount of things have happened on this same date:

  • The end of the 1848 Revolution in favour of democracy.
  • In 1918 it was on this date that the ill-fated Weimar republic was created, an idealistic democracy with a great deal of instability. It was this instability that allowed Adolf Hitler to become ‘The Führer’, dictator of Nazi Germany.
  • In fact it was on this date in 1923 that the failed Beer Hall Putsch took place in Munich. This is where the Nazi party really became noticed as a major political party.
  • In 1938 November 9 was the ‘Kristall Nacht’. The real beginning of the pogrom against the Jewish people, this is when the writing was really on the wall for Jewish people not only in Germany, but all over Europe.
  • Finally, and with far more joy, November the 9th can be seen as the end of the cold war, when the ‘Ossis’ (easterners) finally breached the Berlin wall, leading to a 4 day long party and of course the politics and policies that would within 11 months time lead to the reunification of Germany on October 3 1990.

So I hope that you can see why November 9 is such an important date not just for Berlin and Germany,, but the whole world. This also makes it a very special date for myself as someone with a great interest in German history. I also think it makes this photo more poignant. In this picture we see the crumbling facade of Karl-Marx-Allee – the famous ‘show street’ of East Berlin, the East German capital. We can see that over 20 years after reunification these buildings stand almost as a ruin, perhaps showing that the terrible past that this day of tragedy, or  ‘Schicksalstag’ is behind the Germany we know today, where instead of always being associated with these horrifying moments in world history Germany now shows us one of the most progressive countries in the world.

If you would like to visit the exhibition it will be on at Speakeasy Sprachzeug language school, 116 Boxhagener Str. Berlin (Nearest U-Bahn is Frankfurter Tor.) from June 24 until August 24. If you would like to buy a print of this or any other photo please feel free to send me an email (see contact).