- KRISTALLNACHT (Ger. "Night of the Broken Glass"), known in Germany and elsewhere as the November pogroms. Nazi anti-Jewish pogroms throughout the country committed on November 9–10, 1938. The events of the November pogroms were ostensibly provoked by the assassination of Ernst vom Rath, third secretary of the German embassy in Paris, by herschel grynszpan , the son of Polish-Jewish parents living in Germany until their deportation to the Polish-German frontier in Zbaszyn in October 1938. Grynszpan received a postcard from his distraught sister and wanted revenge. On November 7 he went to German embassy in Paris, where he shot vom Rath, who died in the afternoon of November 9. In the meantime, attempts were made to persuade the British government to use its influence with the German government to suspend apparently imminent measures of retaliation against German Jewry. Thus, amid the Germans' deliberately engineered atmosphere of tension, widespread attacks on Jews, Jewish-owned property, and synagogues were made throughout Germany and Austria, which had been part of the Reich since March 1938, on the night of November 9–10. Just before midnight on November 9, Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller sent a telegram to all police units telling them that "in shortest order, actions against Jews and especially their synagogues will take place in all Germany. These are not to be interfered with." Rather, the police were to arrest the victims. Fire companies stood by synagogues in flames with explicit instructions to let the buildings burn. They were to intervene only if a fire threatened adjacent Aryan properties. Thus, synagogues that were part of larger structures were spared in order not to damage those structures. Within 48 hours, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned, along with their Torah scrolls, Bibles, and prayer books. Around 7,500 Jewish business establishments were trashed and looted, 91 Jews were killed, and Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes were destroyed. Often, the attackers were not strangers but neighbors. Around 30,000 Jewish men age 16–60 were arrested. To accommodate so many new prisoners, the concentration camps of dachau , buchenwald , and sachsenhausen were expanded and now contained a majority of Jews, often for the first time. When the fury subsided, the pogrom was given a fancy name: Kristallnacht – crystal night, or night of broken glass. It came to stand for the final shattering of Jewish existence in Germany. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the regime made sure that Jews could no longer survive in the country. The cost of the broken glass alone came to 5 million marks, the equivalent of well over $2 million. Any compensation claims paid to Jews by insurance companies were confiscated by the Reich. The rubble of ruined synagogues had to be cleared by the Jewish community. Jews of German nationality, unlike Jewish-owned corporations from abroad, could not file for damages. A fine of one billion Reichmarks ($400 million) was imposed collectively on the Jewish community. After assessing the fine, Goering, who had assumed control in the aftermath from Goebbels, said: "I would not like to be a Jew in Germany." Harsher decrees followed immediately thereafter. On November 15, Jews were barred from schools. Two weeks later, local authorities were given the right to impose a curfew, and by December Jews were denied access to most public places. All remaining Jewish businesses were "Aryanized." The November pogrom shattered all Jewish illusions. Life in the Reich was no longer possible. There was another wave of suicides. Most tried desperately to leave. It shattered some German illusions as well. Violence thereafter in Germany would be planned and executed with precision and aforethought. The events had occurred in public and thus the world could see what had happened. The U.S. recalled its ambassador in protest, but diplomatic ties were not broken. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: L. Kochan, Pogrom, November 10, 1938 (1957); Tenenbaum, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 2 (1958) 49–78; K.Y. Ball-Kaduri, ibid., 3 (1959), 261–82; H. Graml, Der 9 November 1938 "Reichskristallnacht" (19586); Rosenkranz, in: Yad Vashem Bulletin, no. 14 (March, 1964); F.K. Kaul, Der Fall des Herschel Grynszpan (1965). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Read and D. Fisher, Kristallnacht: The Unleashing of the Holocaust (1990). (Lionel Kochan / Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.