History Really Does Repeat Itself

The German navy does this regularly, I guess. Commit suicide, I mean.

Suicide

So I suppose you could call the one going on presently a ritual suicide, albeit slower than those of the past (look what’s been going on with the Bundeswehr for the past thirty or forty years or so and you’ll get my drift).

One hundred years ago, the German High Seas Fleet committed suicide. On June 21, 1919, the crews of seventy-four German warships attempted to scuttle their vessels in order to prevent the Allies from taking them. Over the course of a few hours, fifty-two modern warships sank. In the modern history of naval combat, there has never been an event as devastating as the self-destruction of the German fleet at Scapa Flow. The scuttling immediately became legendary, closing one chapter of German naval history and opening another…

Indeed, the Germans had prepped the ships for scuttling over the previous several months, removing doors and taking other steps to reduce watertight integrity. They waited for motive and opportunity. As the Paris Peace Conference dragged on, both the French and the Italians had made claims upon the fleet. As the deadline for signing the treaty approached, both the Germans and the British made their preparations, the latter to seize the ships and the former to scuttle them.

On June 21, a comedy of errors ensued. The signing of the treaty was postponed two days, although it is unclear how aware the German sailors were made of this fact. The British commander decided that the fabulous early summer weather offered a great opportunity for practice, and the bulk of the Grand Fleet left Scapa Flow for maneuvers on the morning of June 21. Only a few patrol and utility ships remained.

Admiral Ludwig von Reuter gave the order for scuttling, and every German ship obeyed. The British didn’t notice until around noon, when the battleship Friederich der Grosse began to list noticeably. At this point, the rest of the fleet raised the Imperial German Naval ensign, which the British had officially forbidden. At that point, the scuttling became a race between the water and the Royal Navy. The Grand Fleet, notified by radio of the sinking, began to return immediately. The few Royal Navy ships in attendance picked up survivors, but were unable to save very many of the sinking ships.

Advertisements

Let’s Celebrate

Having democracy shoved down our throats!

Constitution

You’ve come a long way, Germany. In those few short years (70) you have now become the Lehrmeister (schoolmaster) in all things democratic. Or at least you sure do come over that way. We couldn’t have done it without you. Or vice versa. Or whatever.

This month, a united democratic Germany marks the 70th anniversary of its constitution: the Grundgesetz, or Basic Law. The lengthy document—one version of the English text runs 135 printed pages—was composed under Allied supervision in 1948 and 1949. The final text was completed May 8, 1949; approved by the British, French, and U.S. occupying authorities on May 12, 1949; and entered into effect May 23, 1949. Its first article begins, “Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.”

“Why don’t you sing Deutschland uber alles?”

German Of The Day: Rosinenbomber

That means raisin bomber. Or candy bomber, if you prefer.

Raisin Bomber

Dignitaries from around the world have gathered in Berlin to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Berlin airlift.

The Soviet Union entirely blockaded the western parts of the German capital in June 1948, when the country and the city were divided into US, UK, French and Soviet occupation sectors after World War Two.

“I did not ask permission.” – Gen. Lucius D. Clay, the U.S. commander in Berlin who started the airlift without clearance from Washington.

German Oddity #15

Germany is a place where huge underground (or in this case, underwater) bombs are routinely discovered all around the country and this barely even makes second page news.

Bomb

A World War II bomb found in a river in Frankfurt, Germany, was safely detonated, police said, yawning uncontrollably.

Weltkriegsbombe in Frankfurt – 30-Meter-Fontäne bei Sprengung

PS: More oddities here.

German Of The Day: Verharmlosung

That means to play something down, to make it harmless.

Verharmlosung

You know, like the ideology pursued by the murdered “revolutionary socialists” (communists) Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht that gets played down, made harmless? They are worshiped as cult figures by the German left. They might even beat Che Guevara in the pantheon of mythical, romantic demigods of the revolutionary left. They may not have been the monster that guy was but that’s only because they didn’t have the time to get there.

On Sunday morning, some 10,000 people braved the rain and cold to march through eastern Berlin and place red carnations at the graves of Rosa Luxemburg and her comrade, Karl Liebknecht.

The march was commemorating 100 years since the brutal execution of the two revolutionary socialists on January 15, 1919…

In November 1918, a revolt by sailors and soldiers led to the overthrow of the Hohenzollern monarchy and the end of the war. In December, the Spartacist League renamed itself the German Communist Party (KPD) and Luxemburg asserted that they would not try to seize power without the support of the majority of Germans. Yet when a second revolt broke out on January 5, 1919, she and Liebknecht gave the movement their full support. The uprising quickly faltered and the SPD leadership ordered the army and right-wing paramilitaries, the Freikorps, to crush it.

On the night of January 15, Luxemburg and Liebknecht were abducted, tortured in the luxury Hotel Eden, and then driven separately to the nearby Tiergarten Park and murdered. Liebknecht was delivered to the city morgue while Luxemburg was dumped into a canal.

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.”

Eco-Death Zone Idylle

Put back up the Berlin Wall again already. For nature’s sake.

Wall

Bombweed. Yum! Wild Thyme, Burdock and Evening Primrose shimmy through concrete and broken stone…

As part of our new series The Illustrated City, Ali Fitzgerald reveals Berlin’s hidden spaces, where the flora and fauna are wild – if you know where to look.

Germany Can’t Abolish The Death Penalty

It never had one to begin with (not since the war).

Death penalty

Germany abolishes death penalty in public vote. But please read a little further: The ballot was purely symbolic, because Germany’s federal constitution and European treaties mean the death penalty is already banned in the country as these override state law.

Germany is a country where lebenslänglich (a life sentence) is fifteen years and somebody wants to suggest that they have a death penalty here? It’s interesting fake news, I guess, but it’s fake news all the same.

“There was a fear if a terrible crime was committed… then the vote could do the wrong way.”

PS: And yes, despite that morbid theme, Happy Thanksgiving!

When’s The Next Whammy?

November 9 in Germany is kind of, I dunno, creepy or something. Is there a pattern developing here?

November 9

1918: On November 9, 1918 the Social Democrats’ deputy chairman Philipp Scheidemann rushed to the balcony of Berlin’s Reichstag parliament to announce the birth of what would become the Weimar Republic.

1923: Adolf Hitler, the then relatively unknown Nazi Party leader, and his cronies tried to seize power with a coup that started in a crowded Munich beer hall on November 9, 1923.

1938: Nazi thugs torched synagogues, smashed Jewish-owned shops and rounded up Jewish men across Germany on November 9, 1938, in what became known as “Kristallnacht” or the “Night of Broken Glass.”

1989: The fall of the Berlin Wall in a bloodless revolution on November 9, 1989 is a joyous milestone in German history, ending 28 years of Cold War separation.

2016: Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America. OK, the election was on November 8 but the Germans didn’t get the results until November 9.

So are we overdue here again, Germany? Maybe the Merkel regime will be ousted later tonight in a bloodless coup. Maybe not. Maybe there might be a little blood, too. Hard to say for sure. Stay home, stay tuned and keep your doors bolted shut.

German Of The Day: Vorsitz

That means chair (of a company). Or chairman. Or chairwoman in this case.

Vorsitz

And chairwoman of the CDU is what Angela Merkel now no longer wants to be.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Monday took her first concrete steps to move away from political life, saying she would give up leadership of her conservative party while vowing to finish out her term as chancellor until 2021.

Ms. Merkel made her announcement, in a meeting of conservative leaders, after two disastrous results in regional elections that saw her party and its allies slump to near-record lows.

“Zeit, ein neues Kapitel aufzuschlagen.”