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Why do Germans celebrate National Day of Mourning?

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National Day of Mourning: It has been celebrated in Germany since 1919. But why?

The day of national mourning was introduced shortly after the end of the First World War and is always two weeks before the first Advent. But what exactly is the day of remembrance supposed to be a reminder?

National Day of Mourning

The day of national mourning always takes place one week before the Sunday of the Dead and two weeks before the first Advent – this year on November 14th.

When if the National Day of Mourning in Germany?

The day of national mourning always takes place one week before the Sunday of the Dead and two weeks before the first Advent – this year on November 14th.

The data for the next few years can be found in the table.

YearDate
2022November 23
2023November 19th
2024November 17th
2025November 16
National Day of Mourning

Why is there the National Day of Mourning?

The day of national mourning was introduced in 1919 at the suggestion of the German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge) and was first celebrated in 1922 as a day of remembrance in honor of the victims of the First World War. That year, at the first prayer in the German Reichstag, the President of the Reichstag, Paul Löbe, gave a landmark speech with a view to understanding, reconciliation and remembrance. At that time, the day of national mourning took place on the fifth Sunday before Easter.

National Day of Mourning: Originally it was celebrated to show solidarity with the relatives of the victims of the First World War. In the meantime, the Federal Republic of Germany is commemorating all victims of war and tyranny.

The National Socialists abolished the day of national mourning after 1933 and replaced it in 1934 with “Heroes’ Remembrance Day”. So it was robbed of its original meaning and abused for the purposes of the Nazis. After the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, the day of national mourning was celebrated again for the first time in 1950 and declared a national day of remembrance in 1952.

The then government and the states agreed to set the day of mourning on the penultimate Sunday of the Protestant church year or on the 33rd Sunday in the annual cycle of Catholics. One of the motives was to clearly differentiate oneself from the National Socialist “Heroes’ Remembrance Day”.

National Day of Mourning

Is the National Day of Mourning a public holiday?

The National Day of Mourning is not a public holiday. However, most of them are off work because it is always a Sunday. The day of national mourning is a state day of remembrance and is one of the “silent holidays”.

On this day, all federal states prohibit – at least for a certain period of time – public entertainment events, such as music, sports, but also commercial events, provided they do not correspond to the “serious nature” of the day.


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How is the National Day of Mourning celebrated?

On the day of national mourning, the flags in Germany are raised to half-mast. There are also nationwide wreaths and church services.

In addition, there is a central memorial hour in the plenary hall of the German Bundestag, at which high-ranking representatives such as the Federal President give a speech.

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