Germany's ultimate Remembrance Day
Thursday 9 November regularly sees Germany geared up for a marathon performance in a historical retrospective. Throughout the 20th century, this date has again and again—largely accidentally—become the pivotal moment for historical events.
Starting with the German Revolution of 1918, after defeat in the First World War, followed by Adolf
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In 1989, again unexpectedly, 9 November turned into a positive symbol when the East German leadership, rather accidentally, opened the Berlin Wall, ushering in their own political end.
9 November—in the tenth year of New Germany
All these events are remembered when the political leadership and the citizens assemble in parliament, at the sites of former concentration camps and elsewhere to commemorate the dead as well as renewed hope for freedom and justice.
This year 9 November, ten years after re-unification, will see the largest ever demonstration march against right-wing extremism, led by many of the country's political leaders and other celebrities in Berlin. It will start at the New Synagogue, lead through the Brandenburg Gate—Germany's foremost national symbol—and end at the building of the Staatskapelle orchestra, where Beethoven's Fifth Symphony will be interpreted by Daniel Barenboim, the famous Jewish Argentinian-German conductor.
EP President in Berlin
This year, European Parliament President Nicole Fontaine, visited Germany between 7 and 9 November. She met all the political top level, starting with Federal President Johannes Rua, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Bundestag President Wolfgang Thierse, and Saxon Minister President and acting Bundesrat President Kurt Biedenkopf.
She held talks on the Intergovernmental Conference and the adoption of the EU's new Charter of Fundamental Rights. On 9 November, she attended a memorial ceremony for the victims of the Reichskristallnacht at the New Synagogue in Berlin.
On good terms with Russia
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the basic German-Russian Co-operation Treaty, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Russian President Vladimir Putin drew an optimistic picture of the development of their countries' relations.
The Chancellor also announced that he would travel to Moscow on 6 January with his wife to spend the Russian Orthodox Christmas with President Putin and his family. During Putin's visit to Germany earlier this year, the two leaders had taken up warm personal relations.
One step further towards party ban
The Red-Green Federal cabinet has on Wednesday formally stated its decision to request the Federal Constitutional Court to ban the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). The stance was taken on the basis of a file on the party's apparent anti-constitutional activities, gathered by the federal and regional internal intelligence services.
The government is now going to seek the support of the Länder in the Bundesrat (the representation of the regional governments). At least, some regions led by the Christian Democrats are likely to abstain from the vote, doubting both the chances and the effect of the government's move.
In any case, the Court is expected by observers to take considerable time before deciding on the politically volatile issue.
Historical judgement on former GDR regime pending in Strasbourg
The Strasbourg-based European Court for Human Rights is apparently short of deciding on a possible annulment of the penalty issued in Germany against the last East German (GDR) head of government and party chairman of the Communist SED, Egon Krenz, as well as against former Defence Minister Heinz Kessler and several other former GDR functionaries.
Krenz and his colleagues have taken the Federal Republic to court over the verdicts they received for being responsible for the so-called "Mauertoten" ("dead of the Wall"), who were shot or otherwise killed during the 28-year existence (1961 to 1989) of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain.
The ex-rulers claim that not only had there not been, as state the German courts, a general order to shoot at "Republikflüchtige" ("refugees from the Republic"), but that whatever happened was legal under the then GDR constitution. Applying "West German" law they regard as arbitrary "Siegerjustiz" ("victors' justice"), a term already used to denounce the Allied Nuremberg judgements against leading figures of the Third Reich after the Second World War.
Jens Boysen, 10 November
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