Select Page

Federal Holiday coming up May First

Apr 29, 20192 comments

Karin Stumph

On May 1st  Germany celebrates the Labor Day so stores and government closes for the day, plan accordingly.

In April 1933, the recently installed Nazi government declared May 1 the “Day of National Work,” an official state holiday, and announced that all celebrations were to be organized by the government. Any separate celebrations by communists, social democrats or labour unions were banned. After the World War II, May 1 remained a state holiday in both East and West Germany. In communist East Germany, workers were de facto required to participate in large state-organized parades on Mayday. Today in Germany it is simply called the “Day of Labour” (“Tag der Arbeit”), and there are numerous demonstrations and celebrations by independent workers’ organizations. Today, Berlin witnesses yearly demonstrations on May Day, the largest organized by labour unions, political parties and others by the far left and Autonomen.

Since 1987, May Day has also become known for riots in some districts of Berlin. After police actions against radical leftists in that year’s annual demonstrations, the Autonome scattered and sought cover at the ongoing annual street fair in Kreuzberg. Three years prior to the reunification of Germany, violent protests would only take place in the former West Berlin. The protesters began tipping over police cars, violently resisting arrest, and began building barricades after the police withdrew due to the unforeseen resistance. Cars were set on fire, shops plundered and burned to the ground. The police eventually ended the riots the following night. These violent forms of protests by the radical left, later increasingly involved participants without political motivation. (Read more: May Day in Kreuzberg)

Annual street fairs have proven an effective way to prevent riots, and May Day in 2005 and 2006 have been among the most peaceful known to Berlin in nearly 25 years. In recent years, neo-Nazis and other groups on the far right, such as the National Democratic Party of Germany, have used the day to schedule public demonstrations, often leading to clashes with left-wing protesters, which turned especially violent in Leipzig in 1998 and 2005.

May Day violence flared again in 2010. After an approved far right demonstration was blocked by leftists, a parade by an estimated 10,000 leftists and anarchists turned violent and resulted in an active response by Berlin police.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bild von L. Pham auf Pixabay