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31 in German History
December 31, 1105
Heinrich V arrests his father Heinrich IV, forces him to abdicate and
himself becomes the Holy Roman Emperor (crowned in Rome in 1111).
December 31, 1747
Birth of Gottfried August Bürger in Molmerswende bei Halberstadt,
Germany. The poet, Bürger was one of the leaders toward the Romantic
movement in German literature. In 1787 he was appointed Außerordentlicher
Professor at the University of Göttingen, a position which allowed
him to teach but unfortunately did not involve a salary. Thus, as a professor,
he continued to live in the same poverty in which he had spent his earlier
December 31, 1851
The chancellor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Felix Fürst zu Schwarzenberg
induces the Emperor, Franz Joseph I, to abolish the constitution of 1851
and replace it with one of his own design, strengthening the absolutist
authority of the emperor.
December 31, 1881
Birth of Max Pechstein in Zwickau, Germany. Pechstein was a painter who
was a member of the Expressionist group, Die Brücke. After 1910 he
was a member of the Berlin group, Neue Sezession. The Nazis denounced
his work as "decadent".
December 31, 1908
Birth of Simon Wiesenthal (1908-2005) in Buczacz, Austria-Hungary (now in Ukraine).
During WWII Wiesenthal suffered forced labor and was in a series of concentration
camps. After the war he assisted the U. S. army in gathering evidence
to try war criminals. In 1947 he opened the Documentation Center on the
Fate of Jews and Their Persecutors in Linz, Austria. That center was moved
to Israel in 1954. In 1960 he opened the Jewish Documentation Center in
Vienna. He has been involved in the location and prosecution of nearly
1,000 war criminals.
December 31, 1918
Founding of the German Communist Party (KPD).
December 31, 1935
Death of Bernhard Voldemar Schmidt (1879-1935) in Hamburg, Germany. Schmidt was an
optical instrument maker who invented the Naissar telescope, a telescope
used for photographing large sections of the sky. He was educated
at the engineering school at Mittweida, Germany, and worked in the Hamburg
Observatory. It was in Hamburg that he developed a refined mirror system
for telescopes which led to his Naissar telescope.
December 31, 1950
Death of Karl Renner in Doebling, Austria. Renner was the first chancellor
of the Austrian Republic after WWI. On September 10, 1919 he signed the
Treaty of Saint Germain which specifically prohibited a union with Germany.
In 1938 he was a leading supporter of Germany's annexation of Austria.
In 1945 he worked closely with Soviet officials to reestablish an Austrian
government and became the first post war chancellor in April, 1945. On
December 20, 1945 he was elected president by the Austrian Reichsrat.
December 31, 1961
During 1961 about 200,000 people had fled from East to West Germany.
December 31, 1985
Death of Sam Spiegel in Saint-Martin, Lesser Antilles (born in Austria).
Spiegel, after his studies at the University of Vienna, immigrated to
the U.S.A. where he became a movie producer. Films by Spiegel include,
On the Waterfront, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Suddenly Last Summer,
Lawrence of Arabia, and the African Queen. Spiegel had been
sent to Universal Pictures to head their studio in Berlin in 1930, but
left in 1933 when the Nazis came to power.
December 31, 1994
The work of the Treuhand Organization is finished and the organization
is terminated. (The Treuhand oversaw the privatization of property in
East Germany.) The organization had privatized 14,500 businesses.
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