Les we forget
November 10, 2009 8:12 PM   Subscribe

How is Remembrance Day celebrated in Germany?

Does anyone here live in Germany or is German? What kinds of conversations are had on this day? Is there a moment of silence? Are there videos shown in school before this day? Is it an official holiday?

Thanks for any answers on this.
posted by fantasticninety to Education (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It seems not
posted by pompomtom at 8:43 PM on November 10, 2009

It would be a bit strange for Germany to commemorate its own defeat and surrender. Is there anyone in the world who does?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:14 PM on November 10, 2009

Chocolate Pickle: Is there anyone in the world who does?

ANZAC Day? More "defeat" than "surrender", but it commemorates the landing, stalemate, & eventual withdrawal from the Gallipoli peninsula in WWI.

Note that ANZAC Day is a public holiday in Aus & NZ, but not Remembrance Day…
posted by Pinback at 10:37 PM on November 10, 2009

It would be a bit strange for Germany to commemorate its own defeat and surrender. Is there anyone in the world who does?

Poland celebrates tons of their (numerous) military defeats.
posted by jedrek at 11:56 PM on November 10, 2009

How is Remembrance Day celebrated in Germany?

It isn't celebrated or noticed, and doesn't even make the papers. If I asked around about it, I doubt I would find anyone who even knows it is Remembrance Day in other countries (I certainly didn't). Volkstrauertag is on the 15th, but it's a Sunday so no one notices.
posted by cmonkey at 12:04 AM on November 11, 2009


Really? Elaborate, please. How are 11 November and 15 August commemorated as defeats?
posted by noztran at 1:28 AM on November 11, 2009

Chocolate Pickle: In the UK at least, Rememberance Day is not about remembering our victory in WW1 & WW2, it's about remembering everyone who has died in a war, regardless of their nationality.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:41 AM on November 11, 2009

I'm American and have lived here in Germany for seven years. This is the first time I've ever heard of Remembrance Day. I think it's safe to say that WWII pretty much overshadows WWI over here. Also Germany simply hasn't been a continuous state -- Germany went into WWI as the Empire, went out as the Weimar Republic, then became the Third Reich, then the occupied territories, then the two separate "Republics". So there's been a lot of water under the bridge since the German Empire lost a war in 1918 and there are enough other things to commemorate. I also don't get the impression that Germans have any particular feelings about WWI one way or another. It doesn't continue to have any moral significance the way WWII does.
posted by creasy boy at 1:52 AM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

I study Germany (and am living here at present), and this is also the first time I've heard of Remembrance Day. It seems like it's a day to celebrate all veterans? Germans don't do well with that kind of thing.

Two major veteran-remembrance controversies spring to mind:

Reagan visits a German military cemetery on the suggestion of Chancellor Kohl of West Germany, 49 members of the SS happen to be buried there, everyone in America gets really super angry.

The Neue Wache in Berlin used to be a memorial to the World War One dead back in 1931. It took a beating during World War Two. In East Germany it was updated as a memorial for "the Victims of Fascism and Militarism," and in unified Germany, in 1993, it was updated again as sort of a general victim memorial. Lots of grousing about the confusion of the symbolic values of different kinds of victims followed, although mostly in the German press.

Also, Germans have another fun national holiday around the same time as your remembrance day: Volkstrauertag! It is a national day of mourning for all victims of violent oppression. Having a veterans' remembrance day in the same week would be discordant.

(Don't get me started about how weird it was to live next to a synagogue on November 9th, 2009--I came back from the big "Festival of Freedom" to a Jewish community keeping vigil for the victims of Reichspogromnacht.)
posted by besonders at 3:10 AM on November 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Its easy to say that but there's not so much focus on those who died trying to keep the empire British is there?
posted by biffa at 3:10 AM on November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day and its German equivalent the Volkstrauertrag are not really celebtrated in Germany. There is an official observation in the German parliament but the day plays no role in general public life. Nothing on the media, no videos at school. Indeed I would estimate that about 90 per cent couldn't even say when the Volkstrauertrag is or what it is about.

You might also find this article helpful.
posted by jfricke at 3:26 AM on November 11, 2009

I am German and as far as I remember neither I, nor anybody I know, ever celebrated Remembrance Day or Volkstrauertag, for that matter. besonders is right, we Germans don't really celebrate or commemorate veterans, victories, or anything war-related.
posted by Bearded Dave at 4:15 AM on November 11, 2009

Unfortunately, Neo-Nazi groups will often use Volkstrauertag to stage elaborate marches glorifying the Wehrmacht. They also insist on calling it "Heldengedenktag" (Heroes' Memorial Day), after a similarly Wehrmacht-glorifying holiday from the Hitler years.

So I know some Germans who are going to anti-Nazi-demonstrations this Sunday! But that's the closest to commemoration you're going to get, outside of quiet ceremonies at cemeteries.
posted by besonders at 4:46 AM on November 11, 2009

It would be a bit strange for Germany to commemorate its own defeat and surrender. Is there anyone in the world who does?

Confederate Memorial Day is a sparsely-observed state holiday in seven former Confederate states. In four states the date is specifically tied to the surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston to Union General William Sherman on April 26, 1865. (It was the largest surrender of Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.)
posted by kirkaracha at 8:40 AM on November 11, 2009

Interesting second link there, kirkaracha; I wouldn't have guessed that the states can't even agree on the same date, nor that the original of the Confederate Constitution last sold for $20,000.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:01 AM on November 11, 2009

It would be a bit strange for Germany to commemorate its own defeat and surrender. Is there anyone in the world who does?

In the US, Veterans Day is for honoring veterans of the armed services, not for specifically commemorating the Armistice that ended World War I. I doubt that many people in the US know that the reason Veterans Day is held on November 11 is because of the Armistice.

A lot of energy here in the US on Veterans Day is around veterans of Vietnam, which we certainly did not "win", but whose service we honor.

That said, if I were Germany or Austria, I would not have my "day in honor of military veterans" on November 11, as apparently they don't.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:24 AM on November 11, 2009

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