Kristallnacht
Overview
 
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

 or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.

Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and villages, as SA stormtroopers
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 and civilians destroyed buildings with sledgehammers.
Encyclopedia
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

 or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.

Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and villages, as SA stormtroopers
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 and civilians destroyed buildings with sledgehammers. Around 1,668 synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s were ransacked, and 267 set on fire. In Vienna alone 95 synagogues or houses of prayer were destroyed.

Martin Gilbert
Martin Gilbert
Sir Martin John Gilbert, CBE, PC is a British historian and Fellow of Merton College, University of Oxford. He is the author of over eighty books, including works on the Holocaust and Jewish history...

 writes that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening, and the accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world. The Times wrote at the time: "No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenceless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday."

The trigger of the attacks was the assassination of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath
Ernst vom Rath
Ernst Eduard vom Rath was a German diplomat, remembered for his assassination in Paris in 1938 by a Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan. The assassination triggered Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass"....

 by Herschel Grynszpan
Herschel Grynszpan
Herschel Feibel Grynszpan was a Polish Jew and political assassin. Grynszpan's assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath on November 7, 1938, after the deportation of his family, provided the excuse for the Nazi Kristallnacht, the antisemitic pogrom of November 9–10, 1938...

, a German-born Polish Jew in Paris, France. Kristallnacht was followed by further economic and political persecution of Jews, and is viewed by historians as part of Nazi Germany's broader racial policy
Racial policy of Nazi Germany
The racial policy of Nazi Germany was a set of policies and laws implemented by Nazi Germany, asserting the superiority of the "Aryan race", and based on a specific racist doctrine which claimed scientific legitimacy...

, and the beginning of the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

 and the Holocaust.

Etymology

The incident was originally referred to as die Kristallnacht (literally "crystal night"), alluding to the enormous number of shop windows broken that night. The prefix Reichs- (imperial) was later added (Reichskristallnacht) as a sardonic comment on the Nazis' propensity to add this prefix to various terms and titles like Reichsführer-SS or Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall
Reichsmarschall literally in ; was the highest rank in the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II after the position of Supreme Commander held by Adolf Hitler....

.

Early Nazi persecutions

In the 1920s
1920s
File:1920s decade montage.png|From left, clockwise: Third Tipperary Brigade Flying Column No. 2 under Sean Hogan during the Irish Civil War; Prohibition agents destroying barrels of alcohol in accordance to the 18th amendment, which made alcoholic beverages illegal throughout the entire decade; In...

, most German Jews were fully integrated into German society as German citizens. They served in the German army and navy and contributed to every field of German science, business and culture. Conditions for the Jews began to change after the appointment of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 as Chancellor of Germany
Chancellor of Germany
The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

, who was the leader of the Nazi group, on 30 January 1933, and the assumption of power by Hitler after the Reichstag fire
Reichstag fire
The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The event is seen as pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany....

. From its inception, Hitler's regime moved quickly to introduce anti-Jewish policies
Racial policy of Nazi Germany
The racial policy of Nazi Germany was a set of policies and laws implemented by Nazi Germany, asserting the superiority of the "Aryan race", and based on a specific racist doctrine which claimed scientific legitimacy...

. The 500,000 Jews in Germany, who accounted for only 0.76% of the overall population, were singled out by the Nazi propaganda
Nazi propaganda
Propaganda, the coordinated attempt to influence public opinion through the use of media, was skillfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler's leadership of Germany...

 machine as an enemy within who were responsible for Germany's defeat in the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 and for her subsequent economic difficulties, such as the 1920s hyperinflation
Inflation in the Weimar Republic
The hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic was a three year period of hyperinflation in Germany between June 1921 and July 1924.- Analysis :...

 and Great Depression
Great Depression in Central Europe
The Great Depression severely affected central Europe. The unemployment rate in Germany, Austria and Poland rose to 20% while output fell by 40%. By November 1932 every European country had increased tariffs or introduced import quotas....

. Beginning in 1933, the German government enacted a series of anti-Jewish laws
Anti-Jewish legislation in prewar Nazi Germany
Antisemitism and the persecution of Jews represented a central tenet of Nazi ideology. In their 25-point Party Program, published in 1920, Nazi party members publicly declared their intention to segregate Jews from "Aryan" society and to abrogate Jews' political, legal, and civil rights. Nazi...

 restricting the rights of German Jews to earn a living, to enjoy full citizenship and to educate themselves, including the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service , also known as Civil Service Law, Civil Service Restoration Act, and Law to Re-establish the Civil Service, was a law passed by the National Socialist regime on April 7, 1933, two months after Adolf...

, which forbade Jews to work in the civil service. The subsequent 1935 Nuremberg Laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

 stripped German Jews of their citizenship and forbade Jews to marry non-Jewish Germans.

The result of these laws was the exclusion of Jews from German social and political life. Many sought asylum abroad; thousands did manage to leave, but as Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

 wrote in 1936, "The world seemed to be divided into two parts — those places where the Jews could not live and those where they could not enter." To provide help an international conference
Evian Conference
The Évian Conference was convened at the initiative of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in July 1938 to discuss the issue of increasing numbers of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. For eight days, from July 6 to July 13, representatives from 31 countries met at Évian-les-Bains, France...

 was held on 6 July 1938 to address the issue of Jewish and Gypsy immigration to other countries. By the time the conference was held, more than 250,000 Jews had fled Germany and Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

, which had been annexed by Germany
Anschluss
The Anschluss , also known as the ', was the occupation and annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in 1938....

 in March 1938. However, more than 300,000 German and Austrian Jews were still seeking shelter from oppression. As the number of Jews and Gypsies wanting to leave grew, the restrictions against them also grew, with many countries tightening their rules for admission.

By 1938, Germany "had entered a new radical phase in anti-Semitic activity." Some historians believe that the Nazi government had been contemplating a planned outbreak of violence against the Jews and were waiting for an appropriate provocation; there is evidence of this planning dating to 1937. The German historian Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen is a left-wing German historian. He is the twin brother of the late Wolfgang Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen and great-grandson of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen. He studied German, history and philosophy at the University of...

 in a 1997 interview claimed that a major motive for the pogrom was the desire of the Gauleiters of the NSDAP to seize Jewish property and businesses. Mommsen was quoted as saying:
"The need for money by the party organization stemmed from the fact that Franz Xaver Schwarz
Franz Xaver Schwarz
Franz Xaver Schwarz was a German politician who served as Reichsschatzmeister of the Nazi Party during most of the Party's existence.-Early life:...

, the party treasurer, kept the local and regional organizations of the party short of money. In the fall of 1938, the increased pressure on Jewish property nourished the party's ambition, especially since Hjalmar Schacht had been ousted as Reich minister for economics.

This, however, was only one aspect of the origin of the November 1938 pogrom. The Polish government threatened to extradite all Jews who were Polish citizens, but would stay in Germany, thus creating a burden of responsibility on the German side. The immediate reaction by the Gestapo as to push the Polish Jews — 16,000 persons — over the borderline, but this measure failed due to the stubbornness of the Polish customs officers. The loss of prestige as a result of this abortive operation called for some sort of compensation. Thus, the overreaction to Hershel Grynszpan's attempt against the diplomat Ernst vom Rath came into being and led to the November pogrom.

The background of the pogrom was signified by a sharp cleavage of interests between the different agencies of party and state. While the Nazi party was interested in improving its financial strength on the regional and local level by taking over Jewish property, Hermann Goering, in charge of the Four-Year Plan, hoped to acquire access to foreign currency in order to pay for the import of urgently-needed raw material. Heydrich and Himmler were interested in fostering Jewish emigration".
The Zionist leadership in the British Mandate of Palestine
Mandate Palestine
Mandate Palestine existed while the British Mandate for Palestine, which formally began in September 1923 and terminated in May 1948, was in effect...

 wrote in February 1938 that according to "a very reliable private source – one which can be traced back to the highest echelons of the SS leadership" there was "an intention to carry out a genuine and dramatic pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

 in Germany on a large scale in the near future." In fact the report of the Woodhead Commission on the partition of the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab State was presented to the British parliament and published on November 9th, the very day of the Kristallnacht.

Expulsion of Polish Jews in Germany

In August 1938 the German authorities announced that residence permits for foreigners were being cancelled and would have to be renewed. This included German-born Jews of foreign origin. Poland
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

 stated that it would not accept Jews of Polish origin
History of the Jews in Poland
The history of the Jews in Poland dates back over a millennium. For centuries, Poland was home to the largest and most significant Jewish community in the world. Poland was the centre of Jewish culture thanks to a long period of statutory religious tolerance and social autonomy. This ended with the...

 after the end of October. In the so-called “Polenaktion”, more than 12,000 Polish-born Jews, among them philosopher and theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century.-Biography:...

 and future literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki
Marcel Reich-Ranicki
Marcel Reich-Ranicki is a Polish-born German literary critic and member of the literary group Gruppe 47. He is regarded as one of the most influential contemporary literary critics in the field of German literature and therefore was in Germany often called the 'Pope of literature' .-Life:Marcel...

, were expelled from Germany on 28 October 1938, on Hitler's orders. They were ordered to leave their homes in a single night, and were only allowed one suitcase per person to store their belongings. As the Jews were taken away, their remaining possessions were seized as booty by both the Nazi authorities
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 and by their neighbors.

The deportees were taken from their homes to railway stations and were put on trains to the Polish border. The Polish border guards sent them back over the river into Germany. This stalemate continued for days in the pouring rain, with the Jews marching without food or shelter between the borders. Four thousand were granted entry into Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 but the remaining 8,000 were forced to stay at the border. They waited there in harsh conditions to be allowed to enter Poland. A British newspaper told its readers that hundreds "are reported to be lying about, penniless and deserted, in little villages along the frontier near where they had been driven out by the Gestapo and left." Conditions in the refugee camps "were so bad that some actually tried to escape back into Germany and were shot," recalled a British woman who was sent to help those who had been expelled.

Vom Rath shooting

Among those expelled was the family of Zindel and Rivka Grynszpan, Polish Jews who had emigrated to Germany in 1911 and settled in Hanover. At the trial of Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Eichmann
Adolf Otto Eichmann was a German Nazi and SS-Obersturmbannführer and one of the major organizers of the Holocaust...

 in 1961, Zindel Grynszpan recounted the events of their deportation from Hanover on the night of 27 October 1938: “Then they took us in police trucks, in prisoners’ lorries, about 20 men in each truck, and they took us to the railway station. The streets were full of people shouting: ’Juden raus! Auf nach Palästina!’ ” ("Jews out, out to Palestine!").

Their seventeen-year-old son Herschel
Herschel Grynszpan
Herschel Feibel Grynszpan was a Polish Jew and political assassin. Grynszpan's assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath on November 7, 1938, after the deportation of his family, provided the excuse for the Nazi Kristallnacht, the antisemitic pogrom of November 9–10, 1938...

 was living in Paris with an uncle. His sister, Berta, sent him a postcard from the Polish border describing the family's expulsion: "No one told us what was up, but we realised this was going to be the end… We haven't a penny. Could you send us something?" He received the postcard on November 3. On the morning of Monday, November 7, he purchased a revolver and a box of bullets, then went to the German embassy and asked to see an embassy official. After he was taken to the office of Ernst vom Rath
Ernst vom Rath
Ernst Eduard vom Rath was a German diplomat, remembered for his assassination in Paris in 1938 by a Jewish youth, Herschel Grynszpan. The assassination triggered Kristallnacht, the "Night of Broken Glass"....

, Herschel shot him three times in the abdomen. Ironically, Vom Rath himself was a professional diplomat with the Foreign Office who expressed known anti-Nazi sympathies, largely based on the Nazi's treatment of the Jews, and was himself under Gestapo investigation for being politically unreliable. Grynszpan made no attempt to escape the French police and freely confessed to the shooting. In his pocket, he carried a postcard to his parents with the message "May God forgive me… I must protest so that the whole world hears my protest, and that I will do."

On 8 November Germany announced the first punitive measures in response to the shooting. Jewish newspapers and magazines were to cease publication immediately. This cut off Jews from their leadership, whose task was to advise and guide them, particularly about emigration. It was a measure, one British newspaper explained, "intended to disrupt the Jewish community and rob it of the last frail ties which hold it together." At the time three German Jewish newspapers had a national circulation, and there were four cultural papers, several sports papers, and several dozen community bulletins, of which the one in Berlin had a circulation of 40,000. The government announced that Jewish children could no longer attend German state elementary schools. All Jewish cultural activities were also suspended indefinitely. Their rights as citizens had been stripped.

Death of Vom Rath

Vom Rath died of his wounds on 9 November. Word of his death reached Hitler that evening while he was at a dinner commemorating the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

 with several key members of the Nazi party. After intense discussions, Hitler left the assembly abruptly without giving his usual address. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 delivered the speech instead, in which he commented that "the Führer has decided that… demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered." Chief party judge Walter Buch
Walter Buch
Walter Buch was a German jurist and SS-Obergruppenführer war criminal, as well as being Martin Bormann's father in law.-Life:...

 later stated that the message was clear; with these words Goebbels had commanded the party leaders to organize a pogrom.

Some leading party officials disagreed with Goebbels’s actions, fearing the diplomatic crisis it would provoke. Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

 wrote "I suppose that it is Goebbels’s megalomania…and stupidity which are responsible for starting this operation now, in a particularly difficult diplomatic situation." The Israeli historian Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer is an award-winning Israeli historian and currently a professor of history at UCLA.-Biography:...

 believes that Goebbels had personal reasons for wanting to bring about Kristallnacht. Goebbels had recently suffered humiliation for the ineffectiveness of his propaganda campaign during the Sudeten crisis, and was in some disgrace over an affair with the Czech actress Lída Baarová
Lída Baarová
Lída Baarová was a Czech actress and mistress of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister.-Biography:...

. Goebbels thus needed a chance to prove himself in the eyes of Hitler.

At 1:20am on 10 November 1938, Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich
Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich , also known as The Hangman, was a high-ranking German Nazi official.He was SS-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei, chief of the Reich Main Security Office and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia...

 sent an urgent secret telegram to the state police
Sicherheitspolizei
The Sicherheitspolizei , often abbreviated as SiPo, was a term used in Nazi Germany to describe the state political and criminal investigation security agencies. It was made up by the combined forces of the Gestapo and the Kripo between 1936 and 1939...

 and the Sturmabteilung
Sturmabteilung
The Sturmabteilung functioned as a paramilitary organization of the National Socialist German Workers' Party . It played a key role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s...

 (SA) containing instructions regarding the riots. This included guidelines for the protection of foreigners and non-Jewish businesses and property. Police were instructed not to interfere with the riots unless the guidelines were violated. Police were also instructed to seize Jewish archives from synagogues and community offices, and to arrest and detain "healthy male Jews, who are not too old," for eventual transfer to concentration camps.

Riots

The timing of the riots varied from unit to unit. The Gauleiter
Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

s started at about 10:30pm, only two hours after news of Vom Rath’s death reached Germany. They were followed by the SA at 11pm, and the SS at around 1:20am. Most were wearing civilian clothes and were armed with sledgehammers and axes, and soon went to work on the destruction of Jewish property. The orders given to these men were very specific, however: no measures endangering non-Jewish German life or property were to be taken (synagogues too close to non-Jewish property were smashed rather than burned); Jewish businesses or dwellings could be destroyed but not looted; foreigners (even Jewish foreigners) were not to be the subjects of violence; and synagogue archives were to be transferred to the Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst , full title Sicherheitsdienst des Reichsführers-SS, or SD, was the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party in Nazi Germany. The organization was the first Nazi Party intelligence organization to be established and was often considered a "sister organization" with the...

 (SD). The men were also ordered to arrest as many Jews as the local jails would hold, the preferred targets being healthy young men.

The SA shattered the storefronts of about 7500 Jewish stores and businesses, hence the appellation Kristallnacht (Crystal Night). Jewish homes were ransacked all throughout Germany. Although violence against Jews had not been explicitly condoned by the authorities, there were cases of Jews being beaten or assaulted.

This pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

 damaged, and in many cases destroyed, about 200 synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

s (constituting nearly all Germany had), many Jewish cemeteries, more than 7,000 Jewish shops, and 29 department stores. Some Jews were beaten to death while others were forced to watch. More than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and taken to concentration camps; primarily Dachau, Buchenwald
Buchenwald concentration camp
Buchenwald concentration camp was a German Nazi concentration camp established on the Ettersberg near Weimar, Germany, in July 1937, one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps on German soil.Camp prisoners from all over Europe and Russia—Jews, non-Jewish Poles and Slovenes,...

, and Sachsenhausen
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

. The treatment of prisoners in the camps was brutal, but most were released during the following three months on condition that they leave Germany.

The number of German Jews killed is uncertain. The number killed in the two-day riot is most often cited as 91. In addition, it is thought that there were hundreds of suicides. Counting deaths in the concentration camps, around 2,000-2,500 deaths were directly or indirectly attributable to the Kristallnacht pogrom. A few non-Jewish Germans, mistaken for Jews, were also killed .

The synagogues, some centuries old, were also victims of considerable violence and vandalism, with the tactics the Stormtroops practiced on these and other sacred sites described as “approaching the ghoulish” by the United States Consul in Leipzig. Tombstones were uprooted and graves violated. Fires were lit, and prayer books, scrolls, artwork and philosophy texts were thrown upon them, and precious buildings were either burned or smashed until unrecognisable. Eric Lucas recalls the destruction of the synagogue that a tiny Jewish community had constructed in a small village only twelve years earlier:
After this, the Jewish community was fined 1 billion reichsmarks. In addition, it cost 4 million marks to repair the windows.
Events in only recently annexed Austria were no less horrendous. Of the entire Kristallnacht only the pogrom in Vienna was completed. Most of Vienna's 94 synagogues and prayer-houses were partially or totally destroyed. People were subjected to all manner of humiliations, including being forced to scrub the pavements whilst being tormented by their fellow Austrians, some of whom had been their friends and neighbours.

Official figures released after the event by Reinhard Heydrich stated that 191 Synagogues were destroyed, with 76 completely demolished; 100,000 Jews were arrested; three foreigners were arrested; 174 people were arrested for looting Jewish shops; and 815 Jewish businesses were destroyed.

The Daily Telegraph correspondent, Hugh Carleton Greene
Hugh Greene
Sir Hugh Carleton Greene KCMG, OBE was a British journalist and television executive. He was the Director-General of the BBC from 1960―1969, and is generally credited with modernising an organisation that had fallen behind in the wake of the launch of ITV in 1955.-Early life and work:Hugh was born...

, wrote of events in Berlin:

Concentration camps

The violence was officially called to a stop by Goebbels on 11 November, but violence continued against the Jews in the concentration camps despite orders requesting “special treatment” to ensure that this did not happen. On 23 November the News Chronicle of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 published an article on an incident which took place at the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen
Sachsenhausen concentration camp
Sachsenhausen or Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg was a Nazi concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May, 1945. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the structure was used as an NKVD...

. Sixty-two Jews suffered punishment so severe that the police, “unable to bear their cries, turned their backs”. They were beaten until they fell and, when they fell, they were further beaten. At the end of it, “twelve of the sixty-two were dead, their skulls smashed. The others were all unconscious. The eyes of some had been knocked out, their faces flattened and shapeless”. The 30,000 Jewish men who had been imprisoned during Kristallnacht were released over the next three months but, by then, over 2,000 had died.

Aftermath

Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 met with other members of the Nazi leadership on 12 November to plan the next steps after the riot, setting the stage for formal government action. In the transcript of the meeting, Göring said,
'I have received a letter written on the Führer
Führer
Führer , alternatively spelled Fuehrer in both English and German when the umlaut is not available, is a German title meaning leader or guide now most associated with Adolf Hitler, who modelled it on Benito Mussolini's title il Duce, as well as with Georg von Schönerer, whose followers also...

's orders requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another… I should not want to leave any doubt, gentlemen, as to the aim of today's meeting. We have not come together merely to talk again, but to make decisions, and I implore competent agencies to take all measures for the elimination of the Jew from the German economy, and to submit them to me.'


The persecution and economic damage done to German Jews continued after the pogrom, even as their places of business were ransacked. They were forced to pay "Judenvermögensabgabe", a collective fine of one billion marks for the murder of vom Rath (equal to roughly $US 5.5 billion in today’s currency), which was levied by the compulsory acquisition of 20% of all Jewish property by the state. Six million Reichsmarks of insurance payments for property damage due to the Jewish community were to be paid to the government instead as "damages to the German Nation".

The number of emigrating Jews surged as those who were able, left the country. In the ten months following Kristallnacht, more than 115,000 Jews emigrated from the Reich. The majority went to other European countries, the US and Palestine, and at least 14,000 made it to Shanghai
Shanghai ghetto
The Shanghai ghetto, formally known as the , was an area of approximately one square mile in the Hongkou District of Japanese-occupied Shanghai, to which about 20,000 Jewish refugees were relocated by the Japanese-issued Proclamation Concerning Restriction of Residence and Business of Stateless...

, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. As part of government policy, the Nazis seized houses, shops, and other property the émigrés left behind.

Many of the destroyed remains of Jewish property plundered during Kristallnacht were dumped at a site near Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

, north of Berlin. In October 2008, this dumpsite was discovered by Yaron Svoray, an investigative journalist. The site, the size of four American football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 fields, contains an extensive array of personal and ceremonial items looted during the riots against Jewish property and places of worship on the night of 9 November 1938. It is believed the goods were brought by rail to the outskirts of the village and dumped on designated land. Among the items found were glass bottles engraved with the Star of David, mezuzot, painted window sills, and the armrests of chairs found in synagogues, in addition to an ornamental swastika.

Responses to Kristallnacht

From the Germans

The reaction of non-Jewish Germans to Kristallnacht was varied. The British historian Martin Gilbert
Martin Gilbert
Sir Martin John Gilbert, CBE, PC is a British historian and Fellow of Merton College, University of Oxford. He is the author of over eighty books, including works on the Holocaust and Jewish history...

 believes that “many non-Jews resented the round up”, his opinion being supported by German witness Dr. Arthur Flehinger who recalls seeing “people crying while watching from behind their curtains”.

Bishop Martin Sasse, a leading Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 churchman, published a compendium of Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

's writings shortly after the Kristallnacht; Sasse "applauded the burning of the synagogues" and the coincidence of the day, writing in the introduction, "On 10 November 1938, on Luther's birthday, the synagogues are burning in Germany." The German people, he urged, ought to heed these words "of the greatest anti-Semite of his time, the warner of his people against the Jews." Diarmaid MacCulloch
Diarmaid MacCulloch
Diarmaid Ninian John MacCulloch FBA, FSA, FR Hist S is Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford...

 argued that Luther's 1543 pamphlet On the Jews and Their Lies was a "blueprint" for the Kristallnacht.

In an article released for publication on the evening of 11 November, Goebbels ascribed the events of Kristallnacht to the "healthy instincts" of the German people. He went on to explain: "The German people are anti-Semitic. It has no desire to have its rights restricted or to be provoked in the future by parasites of the Jewish race."

Eyewitness accounts show the general response. Reports of the destruction are the main focus of the article.
They ripped up the belongings, the books, knocked over furniture, shouted obscenities,

The scholarly response in that article is very much the same:
Houses of worship burned down, vandalized, in every community in the country where people either participate or watch,

There are reports of "destroying...family heirlooms" and many other acts of vandalism.

From the global community

The Kristallnacht pogrom sparked international outrage. It discredited pro-Nazi movements in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, leading to eventual decline of their support. Many newspapers condemned Kristallnacht, with some comparing it to the murderous pogroms incited by Imperial Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 in the 1880s. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 recalled its ambassador (but did not break off diplomatic relations) while other governments severed diplomatic relations with Germany in protest. The British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 government approved the Kindertransport
Kindertransport
Kindertransport is the name given to the rescue mission that took place nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Free City of Danzig...

 program for refugee children.

As such, Kristallnacht also marked a turning point in relations between Nazi Germany and the rest of the world. The brutality of the pogrom, and the Nazi government's deliberate policy of encouraging the violence once it had begun, laid bare the repressive nature and widespread anti-Semitism entrenched in Germany, and turned world opinion sharply against the Nazi regime, with some politicians even calling for war. The only private protest against the Germans following Kristallnacht was held on December 6, 1938. William Cooper
William Cooper (Aboriginal Australian)
William Cooper was an Australian Aboriginal leader.-Early life:Born in Yorta Yorta territory around the intersection of the Murray and Goulburn Rivers in Victoria, Australia, he was forced to work for a variety of pastoral employers...

, an Aboriginal Australian, led a delegation of the Australian Aboriginal League on a march through Melbourne to the German Consulate to deliver a petition which condemned the “cruel persecution of the Jewish people by the Nazi government of Germany.” German officials refused to take the document.

Kristallnacht as a turning point

Kristallnacht changed the nature of persecution from economic, political, and social to the physical with beatings, incarceration, and murder; the event is often referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

. In the words of historian Max Rein in 1988, "Kristallnacht came…and everything was changed."
While November 1938 predated overt articulation of "the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

," it nonetheless foreshadowed the genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 to come. Around the time of Kristallnacht, the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 newspaper "Das Schwarze Korps
Das Schwarze Korps
Das Schwarze Korps was the official newspaper of the Schutzstaffel . This newspaper was published on Wednesdays and distributed free of charge. Each SS member was supposed to read the publication and urge others to do so as well...

" called for a "destruction by swords and flames." At a conference on the day after the pogrom, Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

 said: "The Jewish problem will reach its solution if, in any time soon, we will be drawn into war beyond our border—then it is obvious that we will have to manage a final account with the Jews."

Specifically, the Nazis managed to achieve in Kristallnacht all the theoretical targets they set for themselves: confiscation of Jewish belongings to provide finances for the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 buildup to war, separation and isolation
Solitude
Solitude is a state of seclusion or isolation, i.e., lack of contact with people. It may stem from bad relationships, deliberate choice, infectious disease, mental disorders, neurological disorders or circumstances of employment or situation .Short-term solitude is often valued as a time when one...

 of the Jews, and most importantly, the move from the antisemitic policy of discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 to one of physical damage, which began that night and continued until the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

The event nonetheless showed the public attitude was not solidly behind the perpetrators. Many Germans at the time found the pogrom
Pogrom
A pogrom is a form of violent riot, a mob attack directed against a minority group, and characterized by killings and destruction of their homes and properties, businesses, and religious centres...

s troubling, as they equated them with the days of the SA street rule and lawlessness. The British Embassy at Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and British Consular offices throughout Germany received many protests and expressions of disquiet from members of the German public about the anti-Jewish actions of the time.

Modern response

Many decades later, association with the Kristallnacht anniversary was cited as the main reason against choosing 9 November ("Schicksalstag"), the day the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 came down in 1989, as the new German national holiday
Public holiday
A public holiday, national holiday or legal holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year....

; a different day was chosen (3 October 1990, German reunification
German reunification
German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic joined the Federal Republic of Germany , and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz constitution Article 23. The start of this process is commonly referred by Germans as die...

).

Avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 guitarist Gary Lucas
Gary Lucas
Gary Lucas is an American guitarist, a Grammy-nominated songwriter, a soundtrack composer for film and television, and an international recording artist with over a dozen solo albums to date. He has been described as "one of the best and most original guitarists in America" ; a "legendary leftfield...

's 1988 composition "Verklärte Kristallnacht", which juxtaposes the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i national anthem, "Hatikvah
Hatikvah
"Hatikvah" is the national anthem of Israel. The anthem was written by Naphtali Herz Imber, a secular Galician Jew from Zolochiv , who moved to the Land of Israel in the early 1880s....

", with phrases from "Deutschland Über Alles" amid wild electronic shrieks and noise, is intended to be a sonic representation of the horrors of Kristallnacht. It was premiered at the 1988 Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 Jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 Festival and received rave reviews. (The title is a reference to Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

's 1899 work "Verklärte Nacht
Verklärte Nacht
Verklärte Nacht , Op. 4, is a string sextet in one movement composed by Arnold Schoenberg in 1899 and his earliest important work...

" that presaged his pioneering work on atonal music
Atonality
Atonality in its broadest sense describes music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality in this sense usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale...

; Schoenberg was an Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

n Jew exiled by the Nazis).

The German power metal
Power metal
Power metal is a style of heavy metal combining characteristics of traditional metal with speed metal, often within symphonic context. The term refers to two different but related styles: the first pioneered and largely practiced in North America with a harder sound similar to speed metal, and a...

 band Masterplan's debut album, Masterplan (2003), features an anti-Nazism song entitled "Crystal Night" as the fourth track. The German band BAP
BAP (German band)
Bap is a German rock group. With ten albums reaching the number one in the German record charts, Bap is one of the most successful rock acts in their home country....

 published a song titled Kristallnaach in their Cologne
Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

dialect, dealing with the emotions of the Kristallnacht.

External links

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