6 March – Today in German History

1930

  • Death of Alfred von Tirpitz in Ebenhausen, Germany. Von Tirpitz became an admiral and worked with Kaiser Wilhelm II in attempting to build Germany’s navy to a level competitive with that of Britain. The first German Fleet Act was introduced in 1898 and set the goal of building a defensive navy. A second Fleet Act designed to allow the German navy to rival Britain was passed in 1900. Britain did not react until about 1905 when it began to develop its own fleet. Ironically it was an Austrian, Louis Alexander Battenberg who took on the task of building the British navy with Churchill. Battenberg changed his name to Mountbatten in 1917.

1944

  • During World War II, U.S. heavy bombers began the first American raid on Berlin.

1945

  • Members of the Dutch Resistance who were attempting to hijack a truck in Apeldoorn, Holland, ambush Lt. Gen. Hanns Rauter, an SS officer. During the following week, the German SS executed 263 Dutch in retaliation.

1983

  • Helmut Kohl, the interim chancellor of West Germany since the fall of Helmut Schmidt’s Social Democrat government in 1982, is elected German chancellor as his Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party is voted back into power.

    In the fall of 1989, the communist government of East Germany collapsed, and Kohl led the efforts to reunify the two Germanys. In March 1990, in the first all-German elections in six decades, Kohl was elected the first chancellor of a reunified Germany. During his third term as chancellor, Kohl oversaw the formidable task of absorbing East Germany’s crippled economy into the West and was an advocate of the movement for a united Europe. In 1994, Kohl was elected to a fourth term, but increasing unemployment in Germany and his cuts to the country’s welfare system led to his defeat by Gerhard Schroder and the Social Democrats in 1998. Kohl died in 2017, at the age of 87.

1984

  • Death of Martin Niemöller in Wiesbaden, Germany. Niemöller served as a commander of a submarine in World War I. He undertook studies in theology after the war and became a pastor in Berlin. He was a leader in the resistance against Hitler. He was arrested in 1937 and sent to the camp in Dachau. After the war, he returned to his work in the church. His experiences in the war and his conscience led him to very active pacifism during the Cold War. He was given the Lenin Peace Prize in 1967 and the German Grand Cross of Merit in 1971.
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