The kristallnacht, night of the shattered glass, is the turning point in the treatment of the Jews in Germany. Before this night the anti-Semitism was mostly non-violent and the pressure on Jews was mainly increased by enacting laws and decrees limiting their rights, space and interaction within Germany. The violence against the Jews became more open after the Kristallnacht.

The Kristallnacht was an organized pogrom by the nazis in the night of 9-10 November 1938. In whole Germany synagogues were burned or destroyed, Jewish shops were looted and many Jewish beaten up. In the days following the Kristallnacht many wealthy Jews were arrested. These Jew could buy their freedom again. Also many anti-Jewish laws were enacted. At last, The Jews were held responsible for the violence and damage during the kristallnacht. This meant that the Nazi regime made them pay a fine of 1 billion Reichsmark.

kristallnacht marked jewish store
marked jewish stores

Ernst vom Rath

The initiator of the Kristallnacht was the murder of a german diplomat in Paris, named Ernst von Rath, by a jewish refugee, named Herschel grynspan. He shot von rath at the 7th of November and he passed away 2 days later. The reason why he shot him was a letter from his sister. This letter told him about the bad circumstances in the emigration camp and that there weren’t able to leave the country.

The first reaction by Joseph Goebbels was to ban all Jewish newspapers and magazines at the 8th of November. At this point von Rath was fatally wounded in the hospital but not yet dead. This meant that the Jewish population lost all sources of information about Jewish topics, such as the possibilities for emigration.

The death of von Rath fell at the same date of the remembrance of the bierkellerputsch, the attempt of the nazies in 1923 to start a revolt. At the meeting in the beercellar Goebbels asked Hitler for permission for demonstrations by germans against the Jews, Hitler agreed. During his speech Goebbels mentioned the death of von Rath. He stated that the filthy Jews were responsible for his death and that revenge should be there.

ernst vom rath
ernst vom rath

The pogroms

Many spontanic demonstrations across all Germany against the Jews were starting in the meanwhile. Goebbels gave orders to not to intervene with the demonstration as long as only Jewish property and persons were harmed. Later on he passed on orders to the SS and SA to save the documents from the synagogues before they were set to fire. The members of the SA also got orders to join the demonstration and exert violence against the Jews. The SS and gestapo got orders to stand back and not intervene. The aim was to make people believe it was a spontanic outburst of violence, not controlled by the regime. During the night the gestapo got orders to arrest 30-40.000 rich Jews of a middle age.

The Kristallnacht was the first open act of violence against the Jews. It was the results of the increased anti-Semitism within Germany and all the anti-Jewish acts and decrees. The Jewish people were held responsible for all the damage. The Nazis told the people that the Jews provoked the violence by the anti-social and anti-german behavior. The Jews were fined and had to hand in 25% of the wealth. This resulted in a total of 1.1 billion reachsmark taken away from the Jews.

kristallnacht burning synagogue
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