Wednesday, November 08, 2006

European Civilization's Heart Attack Of November 9 and 10, 1938: Kristallnacht, Nights When 1,668 European Synagogues Were Ransacked Or Set On Fire

"Kristallnacht--literally, "Night of Crystal"--is usually referred to as the "Night of Broken Glass." It is the name given to the violent anti-Jewish pogrom of November 9 and 10, 1938. Instigated primarily by Nazi party officials and the SA (Nazi Storm Troopers), the pogrom occurred throughout Germany (including annexed Austria and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia). The name Kristallnacht has its origin in the untold numbers of broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, and homes plundered and destroyed during the pogrom. The term became a euphemism for this brutal pogrom and does not adequately convey the suffering it caused.

The Germans officially explained Kristallnacht as a spontaneous outburst of public rage in response to the assassination of Ernst vom Rath, a low-ranking official at the German embassy in Paris. Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, had shot vom Rath on November 7, 1938. A few days earlier, Grynszpan had received a postcard from his sister; she wrote that she and his parents, together with tens of thousands of Jews of Polish citizenship living in Germany (Grynszpan's parents had lived in Germany since 1911), had been expelled from Germany without notice. Initially denied entry into their native Poland but then physically driven across the border, Grynszpan's parents and the other expelled Polish Jews were stranded in a refugee camp near the town of Zbaszyn in the border region between Poland and Germany.

Vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after the shooting. The Nazis blamed "World Jewry" for the assassination and, ostensibly as reprisal, unleashed a massive pogrom against Jews within the Third Reich." ...

Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Kristallnacht: The November 1938 Pogroms

[Click on maps for enlargements.]

Image credits: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


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