19 March – Today in German History

1945

  • The Nero Decree was issued by Adolf Hitler on March 19, 1945, ordering the destruction of German infrastructure to prevent their use by Allied forces as they penetrated deep within Germany. It was officially titled Demolitions on Reich Territory Decree (Befehl betreffend Zerstörungsmaßnahmen im Reichsgebiet) and has subsequently become known as the Nero Decree, after the Roman Emperor Nero, who supposedly engineered the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD. The decree was deliberately disobeyed by Albert Speer.

1949

  • East Germany approves a new constitution. In a precursor to the establishment of a separate, Soviet-dominated East Germany, the People’s Council of the Soviet Zone of Occupation approves a new constitution. This action, together with the U.S. policy of pursuing an independent pathway in regards to West Germany, contributed to the permanent division of Germany.
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