The National Day of Mourning is annually observed on the second Sunday in November in Germany. This year, it takes place on November 13. It is known as ‘Volkstrauertag,’ meaning “people’s day of mourning,” and honors all victims of war and tyranny.
History of Day of Mourning
Volkstrauertag, or the National Day of Mourning, was originally created in 1919 by the German War Graves Commission to commemorate soldiers who died during World War I. However, the first National Day of Mourning was officially held in 1922. It wasn’t an official legal holiday in the Weimar Republic — the government established after the Kaiser abdicated and Germany surrendered to the Allies.
After taking the reins of power in 1933, the Nazi Party legalized the holiday and redefined it as an occasion to celebrate Nazi heroes and glorify war (against the German oppressors — mainly Britain and France). The party wanted to create a feeling of nationalism among the German people and ensure support for later war initiatives. However, after Germany lost World War II and the Nazi Party was disbanded, the newly divided zones, in an effort to symbolize a break with the Nazis’ fascist ideology, moved the holiday to the second Sunday of November. Three years after WWII, the holiday was observed in its original form in West Germany, then governed by Britain and France.
In 1950, the first German War Graves Commission central meeting took place in Bonn. The meeting broadened the scope of the holiday to include members of the armed forces of all nations, civilians who died in armed conflicts, and victims of violent oppression.
Day of Mourning timeline
The German War Graves Commission establishes the National Day of Mourning.
The celebration becomes a feature of the second Sunday of Lent.
West Germans observe the National Day of Mourning in its original form.
The War Graves Commission takes part in a central meeting held in Bonn.
Day of Mourning FAQs
How many German veterans are still alive?
Out of 6,000, only 35 are still alive.
When does Germany remember the Holocaust?
The Germans annually remember the Holocaust on January 27.
What is the meaning of ‘reich’?
In German, the word ‘reich’ means ‘realm.’
How to Observe Day of Mourning
The National Day of Mourning is a silent holiday with no songs or dances. You can observe it by practicing silence to honor those victimized by war and tyranny.
Show your gratitude
You can show gratitude by visiting the grave of a soldier or person who died during a conflict. You could also pay your respects by donating to a nonprofit organization.
Share a post
Share a post on social media about the importance of commemorating everyone who died due to war or government oppression. It will help you encourage other people to pay respect as well.
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Why Day of Mourning is Important
It allows us to show gratitude
The holiday helps us show gratitude towards the men and women who gave their lives to ensure our freedom. This includes the people who died in the world wars and victims of oppression.
It’s a day of remembrance
The National Day of Mourning commemorates everyone who died due to government oppression and war. It remembers these conflicts to ensure they don’t happen again.
It helps us pay our respects
Keeping silent is a way of showing respect to those who have gone. It’s something simple but worth trying.
Day of Mourning dates