The assassination of Franz Ferdinand
On 28 June 1914 the Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand in his car. This act triggered World War I. World War I ended with the Armistice of 11 November 1918. 11 November is a peculiar date because it can be written as 11-11. And indeed, the assassination was beset by some strange coincidences. Franz Ferdinand had premonitions of an early death and the assassination succeeded after a series of mishaps.1 But the most peculiar coincidence proved to be the licence plate number of the car in which Franz Ferdinand was killed, which was A III 118. It can be seen as a reference to the Armistice of 11 November 1918 (11-11-18) that ended World War I. So is history a script? Is everything planned?
The date of D-Day 6 June 1944 (6-6-44) is peculiar like 11 November because of the double digits. The Allies had chosen 5 June 1944 for their invasion because there was a full moon. They postponed it one day because of an expected improvement in the weather. There is no agreement on the commencing date of World War II while the Battle of Stalingrad took more than two months, so D-Day probably was the most important single date of World War II. D-Day means Decision Day. D is the fourth letter of the alphabet so Decision Day (DD) can signify 44, a number that refers to the year D-Day happened.
It just happens to be that Normandy invaded England in the year 1066 as D-Day was on the 6th of June, hence 6/6. In the ensuing Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, King Harold II of England was killed while trying to repel the invasion. This happened a few days after he had killed King Harold III of Norway, who also had invaded England. On 14 October 1944 the German General Rommel committed suicide after having overseen the construction of the German defences intended to repel the allied invasion.
According to Roman de Rou, which is a verse chronicle made around 1170 by Wace covering the history of the Dukes of Normandy, Roger the Great de Montgomery commanded parts of the invading forces in 1066. Other sources do not confirm this account.2 During the 1944 invasion Bernard Montgomery commanded portions of the invading forces. Now follows a very peculiar twist.
On 11 March 2010, the principal founder Hans van Mierlo of the Dutch political party D66 died. The name stands for Democrats 66 as it was founded on 14 October 1966 by 44 people. The name of the party can be seen as a reference to D-Day. D-Day was on 6-6-44 so D66 may refer to D-Day 6-6. Hans van Mierlo died 44 years after founding D66, which was 66 years after D-Day. Hans van Mierlo had just married a few months earlier on 11 November 2009 (11-11).
You may have noticed the recurring numbers 66 and 44 as well as the date of 14 October turning up three times. And 11-11 was there too. It was the day Hans van Mierlo married. 11 November is the date of the Armistice ending World War I. To add insult to injury, 911 was the year Normandy was founded. This number is closely related to another major historic event. On 9 November 1989 (9/11 in European notation), the Berlin Wall fell. Perhaps, you were thinking of another event related to 9/11. That makes it even more remarkable.
The fall of the Berlin Wall
The fall of the Berlin Wall was the hallmark event of the collapse of the Soviet Empire. The wall fell on 9 November 1989. This is remarkable because the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 (9/11 American notation) were the hallmark event of the war on terror that ended the period of relative peace after the fall of the Soviet Empire. On 11 September 1989, thousands of East Germans started to cross the Austrian-Hungarian border to emigrate to West Germany. This was the direct cause of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This date also being 11 September is quite remarkable.
The historian James P. O’Donnell unwittingly predicted the year the Berlin Wall would fall. In the German edition of Reader’s Digest he wrote ten years before it happened: “Not long ago I dreamed of Berlin. The year was 1989. The Wall was coming down. All along its hideous 165 kilometres East West Berliners were pouring out to dismantle it. … Canny merchants were weaving through the happy crowd selling souvenir bricks.”4
Perhaps this is not as curious as it may seem at first glance. He made his prediction in 1979. If you were thinking in 1979 about the Berlin Wall falling, and making a guess when that might happen, 1989 is a year you might have picked. It is not unusual to think of the end of the next decade at the end of a decade. There is an ABBA song from 1979 named Happy New Year that does the same. But then again, O’Donnell was thinking about it in 1979 so that he was likely to pick 1989, and that is a bit odd.
It’s the end of a decade
In another ten years time
Who can say what we’ll find
What lies waiting down the line
In the end of eighty-nine
– ABBA, Happy New Year
There is another peculiar twist to his prediction. O’Donnell became Newsweek Magazine’s German bureau chief in 1945. He came to Berlin on 4 July 1945 to investigate Hitler’s death and gather information about his wife Eva Braun.5 Braun died at the age of 33 and Hitler died at the age of 56, while 33 +56 = 89. Hitler was born in 1889. And the erection of the Berlin Wall was a consequence of Hitler’s defeat. And it fell in 1989. And what about the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001? The peculiar coincidences surrounding this event are so numerous that they justify a separate story.
Featured image: Cover of the BBC book “D-Day: The Dramatic Story of the World’s Greatest Invasion” written by Dan Parry in 2004 [copyright info]
1. Curses! Archduke Franz Ferdinand and His Astounding Death Car. Mike Dash (2013). Smithsonian. [link]
2. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury. Wikipedia. [link]
3. Hans van Mierlo. Wikipedia. [link]
4. Reader’s Digest, Geman Edition, January 1979
5. James P. O’Donnell. Wikipedia. [link]