On 3 October 1906, at the Berlin Radiotelegraphic Conference, it was decided that SOS would be the international distress signal. Many people thought it stood for ‘save our ship’ or ‘save our soul’ but the letters were actually chosen as they could easily be transmitted by Morse code. SOS replaced CQD, which was a general call to all stations (CQ) followed by D for distress – again, misunderstood by many who believed it stood for ‘Come quick(ly), danger!’.
This day was perhaps even more important in Germany in 1990 when East and West Germany reunified. On 3 October 1990, the German Democratic Republic was dissolved, five states were recreated (Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia) and the new states became part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Eleven days later, elections for new state parliaments were held in the five states and, except in Brandenburg, the Christian Democratic Union of Germany became the largest party in all states. The reunified Berlin became the capital of Germany on 3 October, although the government continued to have its seat in Bonn until 1999.
Today, Germany is celebrating its national holiday with events around the country to recall reunification 24 years ago. This year, the main festivities are being held in the northern city of Hanover.