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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Germany, Lesson 18 - German Memorial Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Germany Series at GermanPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind German holidays and observances. I’m Matt, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 18 - German Memorial Day.
In this lesson, we will discuss how people celebrate Memorial Day, called “Gedenktag” in German. The National Memorial Day has been held every year across Germany since 1952, two Sundays before the first Advent Sunday.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you-
The European continent in the past century has been dominated by war, terror and violence. When was the first Memorial Day observed in Germany?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
The month of November is the so-called mourning or dead month. The President, the Chancellor, the Cabinet, and the diplomatic representatives of Germany take part in the central memorial ceremony on Memorial Day, which takes place in the plenary hall, called “Kuppel”. The topics of the speeches are a mix of memories, grief, and reminders. The German national anthem, called “Nationalhymne” in German, is also played.
In all federal provinces, official commemorative hours are observed along with a wreath-laying ceremony. In cities and towns, people gather at war memorials to commemorate the past and present victims of war and tyranny. The focus of worship is the commemoration of those who died in war and contemplation of peace.
The lyrics of the German national anthem are actually the third verse of the German national song from August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben, which was written on August 26, 1841. The music was taken from the Kaiserlied, which was composed by Joseph Haydn in 1796 and 1797. Following a resolution by the Federal President Theodor Heuss, it became the national anthem of the Federal Republic of Germany on May 2, 1952. The words "unity and justice and freedom" or “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit” in German, are embossed onto the edge of German two-euro coins.
There’s a quote saying "The secret of reconciliation is remembrance" and it’s from Richard von Weizsäcker. The politician, born in 1920, was the sixth German President, serving from 1984 to 1994. Remembrance is of central importance to Memorial Day, so that everyone continues to be aware of the consequences of war and terror.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
When was the first Memorial Day observed in Germany?
On the initiative of the German War Graves Commission to designate a Memorial Day for the German soldiers who fell in the First World War, the first Commemoration Day was observed on February 28, 1926.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting? Do you also have a Memorial Day in your country? Leave a comment telling us at GermanPod101.com. Until next time!