Schicksalstag – the annual post

Schicksalstag is a German word meaning, “Day of Fate.” It is used by Germans to describe November 9. Apparently it was first used by some German historians after WWII, but it picked up in popularity after 1989. There are several major events in German history that occurred on this date, with conflicting emotional baggage. However, when you look at list of events for November 9, you realize this Day of Fate doesn’t stop at Germany’s borders.

Here’s a partial list:
1494 – Medicis assume rule of Florence, Italy
1799 – Napoleon overthrew the French government in the coup d’etat of 18 Brumaire
1918 – Kaiser Wilhelm steps down, and Germany’s Republic begins
1923 – Hitler’s failed Beer Hall Putsch
1938 – Kristallnacht/Pogromnacht – German pogrom viewed as the start of the Holocaust
1953 – Cambodia declares its independence
1989 – Berlin wall comes down

For the past four years I have been quantitatively seeing how the news media have been covering some of these events by searching Google News.

2007 (# of articles that mention each word, or words)

“Berlin Wall” – 848
Kristallnacht – 220
Holocaust 1938 – 99
“Night of Broken Glass” – 51
“Kaiser Wilhelm” – 42
“Beer Hall Putsch” – 40
“World Freedom Day” – 1
“International Day Against Fascism” – 1

Kristallnacht – 474
Berlin Wall – 2130
Holocaust 1938 – 90
Brumaire – 1
Kaiser Wilhelm – 82
Beer Hall Putsch – 80
Pogromnacht – 1
Novemberpogrome – 1
“Night of the Broken Glass” – 2


Kristallnacht: 100
Berlin Wall: 900
Holocaust: 3000
Kaiser Wilhelm: 60
Beer Hall Putsch: 10
18 Brumaire: 1

2004 (15th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall)
1280 – Berlin Wall
56 – Kristallnacht.

As you can probably guess, I’ve been pretty upset that the Berlin Wall has been getting a lot more coverage than Kristallnacht. Though the 4-1 ratio of the last two years was certainly better than the 9-1 ratio of 2005 or the 24-1 ratio of 2004.

So…this year is the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht…any changes?

Limiting results to just entries “in the past week”

Berlin Wall: 1563
Kristallnacht: 1831
Pogromnacht – 1413 (Any duplicates, I wondered…)
Kristallnacth AND Pogromnacht in same article – 52 (so 3210 non-duplicates using both names)
Beer Hall Putsch: 42
Schicksalstag – 35
18 Brumaire – 16
Kaiser Wilhelm – 516
World Freedom Day – 2
International Day Against Fascism – 3

So it appeared…
Every five years, the world will remember Kristallnacht. The other four years, the Berlin Wall will get all the press.

Then something occurred to me. It is possible that in the earlier years of this annual comparison there were a lot more American than European news sources at Google News. And its possible that the balancing out of news coverage is at least partially due to a more diverse news database. I checked the Advanced Search capabilities, and I was allowed to limit my search by country.


Kristallnacht 742
Berlin Wall: 1419
pogromnacht: 0
beer hall putsch: 19
brumaire: 3
World Freedom Day – 1 (
International Day Against Fascism – 0


Nov 10 – Update

This morning I repeated the search to get any day after reportage, and realized I had conducted the Berlin Wall search in the USA without quotation marks which is unfair, as it would get any article about Berlin that mentioned any wall.

Kristallnacht – 804
Berlin Wall – 833

I’m satisfied with the results this year, let’s see what happens next year when it’s the 20th anniversary for the Berlin Wall.

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