The Carnival Riots of 1956 (German: Karnevalsaufstände von 1956) are a series of events which eventually led to the independence of the Rhinish Republic.
Historic Background Edit
As a result of the German Ardennes offensive in 1944, the advancement of the troops of the Western Allies were halted roughly around the boarder to Belgium and Luxembourg. Together with a good advance of the Red Army, his led to the Soviet occupation of largest part of Germany. Only parts of the Rhineland around Trier and the Saar river came under American occupation.
The American forces retreated in 1951 and the people of this zone voted about their future in a referendum. With a large majority a unification with the Communist rest of Germany was turned down.
This resulted in a number of, supposedly government orchestrated, attacks against the Catholic Church in Germany.
Traditional Anti-Prussian Sentiments Edit
Due to a series of mistakes in the wake of the Prussian annexation of the Rhineland in 1815, a traditional dislike of the government in Berlin already existed in the Rhineland before.
This even led to the creation of the first, ill-fated Rhinish Republic in 1923.
The Rhinish Carnival Tradition Edit
The Carnival tradition is much stronger in the Rhineland than anywhere else in Germany. This has been used in the past to express subversive anti-Prussian and anti-French thoughts in times of occupation, through parody and mockery.
Despite of this suberversity and governmental attempts to regulate the Carnival, no government before that of the GDR has ever tried to forbid it altogether.
Proceeding of Events Edit
28th of February, 1949 Edit
The first post-WWII Rosenmontags-Parade in Cologne is held under the motto: „Mer sin widder do un dunn wat mer künne! (We are back again and do what we can do (well))".
The parade receives no criticism from the sie of the GDR's officials.
Those years Carnivals run similiar harmless under the mottos: „Kölle, wie et es un wor, zick 1900 Johr (Cologne like it is and has been since 1900 years)“, „Kölle en Dur un Moll (Cologne in dur and moll)“ and „Kölsche Krätzger (Roughly: Satiric/mocking songs from Cologne)“.
1st of March, 1954: Edit
Obviously encouraged by the Carnivals of the last years and the last motto, the initiators of the Rosenmontag-Parade of Düsseldorf, the "Festkomitee Düsseldorfer Karneval", traditionally more satiric than its counterparts in other cities, decided to give its 1954 parade the motto "Genosse Karneval (Comrade Carnival)".
The leadership of the GDR strongly warned the Düsseldorf Festkomitee against this. Yet this only encouraged the "Jecken" (Carnival celebrants) to heavily mock the GDR's leadership in the carnival.
The GDR's leadership issued a stern, last warning.
21st of February, 1955: Edit
Ignoring this warning, the Rhinish Jecken decided to escalate and spread the conflict. The Rosenmontags-Parades of all major and most minor Rhinish cities and towns now openly confronted the GDR's leadership.
The mottos included: „Nix bliev wie et es (Nothing stays like it is)" (Cologne), "Gulag Rhinland" (Düsseldorf) and "Engels würde im Grabe rotieren (Engels would rotate in his grave)" (Wuppertal, hometown of Friedrich Engels and traditionally a left-wing enclave).
As a result the Carnival festival became banned on the area of the Rhineland.
11th of November, 1955 to 9th of February, 1956 Edit
Ignoring this ban, the carnival was traditionally started on the 11th of November, 1955. Due to a lack of security forces and sympathy to the Jecken from the side of the local police, the opening festivities proceeded largely like usual.
As a result many police officials were ordered to Berlin and military forces in the Rhineland were strengthened.
After this, many Karnevalssitzungen, traditional indoor events, were raided and dissolved by the police, their organisators arrested.
10th of Februrary, 1956, "Altweiber": Edit
The Thursday before Rosenmontag, called "Altweiberkarneval (old-women's carnival, traditionally opens the street-carnival, with many hundred-thousand people partying on the streets.
However, Altweiber 1956 should take a dramatic turn of events as as a protest to the carnival ban and because of the largely well-went 11th of November, the Rhinish people continued their centuries-old tradition and opened the street-carnival at 11:11 am with the traditional overtake of the towns halls by the cities women.
Yet, this time the GDR's leadership was prepared and used riot forces and tear-gas against the celebrants, who answered with thrown rocks and bottles.
Around 8 pm the government forces managed to disperse the crowds. For the first time in peace times, the Rhineland now lied dead still on a Altweiber evening.