Anniversary: Recall the Night of Broken Glass—Kristallnacht

Photo in public domain.WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9: It was 73 years ago today that Jews in Germany and Austria were awoken in the night to the sound of glass breaking everywhere. Today, the world marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, a tragic milestone in the unfolding of the Holocaust. In just one night in 1938, SA stormtroopers and civilians burned hundreds of Jewish synagogues—defaced thousands more—and broke the windows of Jewish businesses everywhere. Sledgehammers in hand, the attackers went into a frenzy of running Jews out of their homes, smashing the remains and arresting tens of thousands of men who would be sent to concentration camps. (Get details from the Jewish Virtual Library.)

U.S. publications reported on Kristallnacht: “No foreign propagandist … could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday.”

The isolation of Jews in Germany had already been in the works for several years prior to Kristallnacht: when Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, he immediately began to set in motion anti-Jewish policies. Hitler and his regime began publicly blaming Jews for Germany’s loss in WWI and for Germany’s economic hardships. (Wikipedia has details.) Slowly, Jews found their rights taken away, without the ability to earn a living, attain an education, work in civil service or even marry a non-Jewish German.


Many Jewish centers and museums honor Kristallnacht survivors today. Read about one of this year’s honorees in the Australian Jewish News.

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