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Stay clean (and most of all: healthy)!

25. May 2020, Silke Deeb - Anniversary, General, Germany, Hamburg, Historical Events, Knowledge, Personalities

A 500 ml bottle of the hand disinfectant Sterillium® Viruguard by the BODE Chemie company from Hamburg.

A birthday is usually a great opportunity to invite many guests, especially, if the inviting party has reached an admirable age. These days, due to the Corona crisis, these kinds of events are cancelled in large numbers. If people nevertheless get together, many are relieved if some disinfectant is available. It therefore makes for a nice change, if we talk about the birthday of something that would never invite anyone, but that is still worth celebrating - and especially in times of Corona.

Now, who or what is turning 55 years this June? Everyone here at our office is younger. We owe our age not least to the jubilee: the Sterillium disinfectant! It was the first marketable hand disinfectant worldwide and its name has become a generic term in Germany for any disinfectant just like the brand name Band-Aid is used generically for adhesive bandages or medical plasters.

Stay clean (and most of all: healthy)!

International Workers’ Day and the role of a German immigrant

01. May 2020, Heike Leiacker - Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, Knowledge, Personalities

Photograph of August Spies from 1886. He is called a murderer on it.Source: unknown photographer, Public domain [PD-US-expired] via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:August-Spies-1886.jpg).

Every year on 01, May International Workers’ Day (or Labor Day) is celebrated in many countries in different ways. However, where does this tradition come from, why was a German-American in Chicago, Illinois (by the way a sister city of Hamburg) at least partly responsible for the introduction of this day and if this is so: Why does the US of all countries celebrate Labor Day on another day?

International Workers’ Day and the role of a German immigrant

Emigration from Germany: Ranging the fields – reasons for emigration and formal requirements to meet before leaving the country

11. April 2020, Andrea Bentschneider - Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge

Mount Tambora’s eruption in 1815 resulted in massive famines in the subsequent years forcing large numbers of the suffering German population to emigrate. Source: Jialiang Gao (peace-on-earth.org) / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caldera_Mt_Tambora_Sumbawa_Indonesia.jpg).

Globalization is one of these words that have been on everyone’s lips for the past years. Currently the worldwide spread of the Corona virus illuminates once again the global interlacing between countries due to trade and tourism, or any other kind of traffic and its consequences. 

That the whole world is linked and that events on the other side of the globe can have effects on other parts of the world is, however, nothing new.

Emigration from Germany: Ranging the fields – reasons for emigration and formal requirements to meet before leaving the country

Emigration from Germany

04. April 2020, Silke Deeb - Emigration, Family, Genealogy, Germany, General, Historical Documents, Historical Events, Knowledge

Advertisement for the emigration to America, source: United States Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in Washington, D.C., LC-DIG-pga-13282, Auswanderung nach Amerika. Amerika und seine Freuden. Public domain, via Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2003691148/).

Those who engage in genealogical research will probably sooner or later discover that family members packed up and emigrated. Emigrants left Germany for overseas mostly from the cities Hamburg or Bremen. North and South America and Australia were common destinations. However, it was not unusual either to travel eastwards, all across the continent to reach Bessarabia (Southern Russia) for example.

Emigration from Germany

30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - Sources on the East German past

09. November 2019, Heike Leiacker - Anniversary, Archives, Societies, Museums, Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Historical Events, History, Knowledge

After the new travel regulations have been announced, thousands of GDR citizens cross the border at Invalidenstrasse in Berlin on 10 November 1989, Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-1110-041 / Hirschberger, Ralph / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-1989-1110-041,_Berlin,_Grenz%C3%BCbergang_Invalidenstra%C3%9Fe.jpg).

09 November is a special day in German history. In the year 1989 this finally meant something positive. On this day, the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) announced a new and long-desired travel regulation. People now could directly leave the GDR in the direction of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). This caused the fall of the Berlin Wall and finally led to the German reunification.

For genealogy, the division of Germany plays quite some role, too. The foundation of two separate states and especially the construction of the Berlin Wall and the closing of the inner-German border tore families apart and led to very different living environments in East and West Germany. Until today this affects the German society. On the occasion of the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall we are having a look at the historic events and also discuss sources that can be useful for researching ancestors and relatives in the former GDR.

30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - Sources on the East German past

The beginning of the Second World War

01. September 2019, Ann-Christin Dimon - General, Germany, Historical Events, Knowledge, WWII

Soldiers of the Wehrmacht simulate the demolition of a Polish tollgate close to Sopot on 01 September 1939. Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-51909-0003 / Hans Sönnke / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons(https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-51909-0003,_Polen,_Schlagbaum,_deutsche_Soldaten.jpg).

With the invasion of Poland on 01 September 1939 the Second World War broke out. 80 years later, we remember its up to 80 million victims. Many of our clients‘ family histories are directly linked to WW II, the German National Socialism and their aftermath.

The beginning of the Second World War

Election of the first German Bundestag

14. August 2019, Ann-Christin Dimon - General, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge

Election poster of the CDU with a portrait of Konrad Adenauer, artist/graphic designer: SI Klischees Entwürfe, source: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Archiv für Christlich-Demokratische Politik (ACDP), License: KAS/ACDP 10-001: 104 [CC-BY-SA 3.0 DE (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CDU_Wahlkampfplakat_-_kaspl001.JPG).

Free elections are considered something normal in Germany. Every four years the public votes for our parliament – the Bundestag. Today, 70 years ago the first federal elections were held.

On 14 August 1949, the first free federal elections were held after the last ones happened on 06 November 1932. Before that, the public could only elect the regional and local parliaments where elections were already held in 1946. The first federal elections were only conducted on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), not on the territory of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), which was founded on 07 October 1949.

Election of the first German Bundestag

The myth of German Autobahn

06. August 2019, Ann-Christin Dimon - General, Germany, Historical Events, Knowledge

German Autobahn 1964, Photograph by Harry Pot/Anefo, source: Nationaal Archief Nederland, Fotocollectie Anefo [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:De_autobaan_(Autobahn)_in_Duitsland,_Bestanddeelnr_916-9687.jpg)

Germany and its famous Autobahn (highway) - for almost 100 years it has been part of German infrastructure and is known all around the globe for its lack of speed limits. There are even tourists who visit Germany just for the sake of experiencing this "joy". But when exactly was the first Autobahn opened in Germany?

The myth of German Autobahn

The End of World War I – Sources regarding German soldiers

11. November 2018, Heike Leiacker - Anniversary, Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Documents, Historical Events, Internet, Knowledge, WW I

Soldier in World War I on the western front, Source: Bundesarchiv (Federal Archive), picture 183-R05148, unknown photographer, CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-R05148,_Westfront,_deutscher_Soldat.jpg)

Today 100 years ago, World War I ended. The armistice of 11 November 1918 ended the fighting. However, formally World War I ended with the Treaty of Versailles. Signed on 28 June 1919, it became effective on 10 January 1920. On this occasion, we compiled some sources for researching German soldiers of World War I.

The End of World War I – Sources regarding German soldiers

Remembering the victims of National Socialism

09. November 2018, Heike Leiacker - Genealogy, General, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge, Judaism

Erinnerungszeichen plaque for Tilly and Franz Landauer in Munich, Königinstraße 85

09 November is a special day in German history. An especially sad chapter was written on 09 and 10 November 1938. Not only were synagogues and Jewish shops all over the then German Reich set on fire and destroyed, also thousands of Jews were abused, arrested or killed. The discrimination of German Jews since the seizure of control of the National Socialists became now a systematic persecution. Until today, the so-called “(Reichs-)Kristallnacht” (often used in international context, but a rather controversial term) or “Reichspogromnacht” is a symbol for the endless number of crimes against humanity that were committed by Hitler’s government and his followers.

We are helping many clients with their Jewish research in Germany. No matter how much you know about the Holocaust, it is always especially horrible and emotional to follow single family histories during this time - All the more important to maintain a social awareness and to commemorate especially individual fates. Since the year 2000, the project “Stolpersteine” (stumbling stones) of the artist Gunter Demnig helps to remember. In Munich there are no Stolpersteine on public grounds. However, since July 2018 there is an alternative, the so-called “Erinnerungszeichen” (reminder signs).

Remembering the victims of National Socialism

Friedrich Hecker, „Forty-Eighter“

02. September 2018, Heike Leiacker - Emigration, General, German-American, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge, Personalities

Colonel Friedrich Hecker, unknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colonel_Friedrich_Hecker.png).

Friedrich Hecker was one of the faces of the German revolutions of 1848-1849. Like many of his companions he emigrated after the failing of the revolution or single uprisings. On 20 September 1848, he boarded a ship to New York in Le Havre and became a farmer in Illinois. Later, He fought in the American Civil War.

Friedrich Hecker, „Forty-Eighter“

Thirty years of war and their impact on genealogy

23. May 2018, Heike Leiacker - Anniversary, General, Genealogy, Germany, Hamburg, Historical Events, History, Knowledge

The Thirty Years‘ War was one of the most destructive confrontations on German territory. Prior to the two world wars in the 20th century it was considered to be probably the most incisive event in German history. It also had an impact on today’s genealogy. The Thirty Years’ War was precipitated by the Second Defenestration of Prague on 23 May 1618.

Thirty years of war and their impact on genealogy

Anzac Day

24. April 2018, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Historical Events, History, Knowledge, WW I

On 25 April, people in Australia, New Zealand and Tonga commemorate the fallen soldiers of the battle of Gallipoli in the year 1915 (and by now all Australians and New Zealanders who served an died in wars etc.). On the first joint military campaign in WW I, forces landed on the Ottoman peninsula Gallipoli to prepare a way for the Allied fleets. They were hindered by the unexpectedly strong Ottoman troops though and both sides experienced an immense number of casualties.

Anzac Day

Attempt on Rudi Dutschke’s life, symbolic figure of the German 1968 movement

11. April 2018, Andrea Bentschneider - General, Germany, Historical Events, History, Knowledge, Personalities

Bike and briefcase of Rudi Dutschke after the attempt on his life on 11 April 1968. Picture by the police in Berlin [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:C_Polizei_Berlin_11.04.1968_Fahrrad_mit_Aktentasche_von_Rudi_Dutschke_am_Ort_des_Attentats.jpg)

Rudi Dutschke was probably the most known face and voice of the German student protests in 1967 and 1968. On 11 April 1968, he was shot three times in Berlin by the 23 year old laborer Josef Bachmann. Dutschke suffered severe brain damage and survived only just. Eleven years later, on 24 December 1979, he died of the long-term effects.

Attempt on Rudi Dutschke’s life, symbolic figure of the German 1968 movement

Stolpersteine to remember the victims of National Socialism

16. December 2017, Andrea Bentschneider - Anniversary, General, Germany, Hamburg, Historical Documents, Historical Events, History, Knowledge, WWII

The predecessor of today’s “Stolpersteine” was installed in front of the historic town hall in Cologne on 16 December 1992. It displays the beginning of the implementation rules for the order to deport Sinti and Roma by Heinrich Himmler. Picture by Horsch, Willy (own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:K%C3%B6ln-Stolpersteiin-Rathaus-024.jpg).

It is probably one of the best known commemorative projects. By now more than 60,000 “Stolpersteine” of the artist Gunter Demnig can be found in more than 1,000 places and cities – not only in Germany but in more than 20 countries throughout Europe. The victims are commemorated in front of their last address of choice. Individual fates become visible within the cityscape. It becomes clear that deportations happened right there in the neighborhood. They are a reminder on the persecution and annihilation not only of Jews but of all victim groups of National Socialism. “Stolpersteine” are for example installed for Sinti and Roma, homosexuals, people who were persecuted on political and religious grounds as well as victims of euthanasia.

Stolpersteine to remember the victims of National Socialism

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