Kristallnacht means the “Night of Crystal” or “Night of Broken Glass” 1). It refers to the anti-Jewish attack instigated by the Nazis that took place throughout Germany and Austria from November 9th-10th, 1938. The name comes from the broken glass that resulted from smashed-in windows in Jewish-owned shops, buildings, homes, and synagogues 2.
Nazis claimed this series of events was due to national outrage at the assassination of a German embassy official named Ernst vom Rath by a young Jewish man named Herschel Grynszpan, but in fact, they had coordinated everything 1.
In addition to the attacks, which killed at least 91 Jews, 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps such as Dachau and Buchenwald; while most were released, many died in the camps. In all, hundreds of synagogues were burned and thousands of homes and shops were looted and destroyed 2. After the pogrom, Jews were fined one billion reichsmarks and emigration offices were opened in an attempt to make Jews leave Germany 1.
Kristallnacht was a turning point for anti-Jewish policies put in place by the Nazis. In the next few years, increasing numbers of these policies were implemented, stripping Jews of more and more rights and eventually leading to the Holocaust 2.
For a more detailed overview, including photos, video and other resources, please see the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s pages on Kristallnacht, or Yad Vashem’s online exhibition, “It Came From Within…”.
The Touro College Libraries also have many books on Kristallnacht, including:
- Steinweis, A. E. (2009). Kristallnacht 1938. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.
- Gilbert, M. (2006). Kristallnacht: Prelude to destruction. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
- Meyer, B., Simon, H., & Schutz, C. (2009). Jews in Nazi Berlin: From Kristallnacht to liberation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.
- Gerhardt, U., & Karlauf, T. (Eds.). (2012). The night of broken glass: Eyewitness accounts of Kristallnacht. Malden, MA: Polity.
Touro College is holding an event on Monday, November 10th, 2014 to commemorate the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht.
- Yad Vashem. (n. d.). Kristallnacht. Retrieved from http://www.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%206461.pdf
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (2014). Kristallnacht: A nationwide pogrom, November 9–10, 1938. Retrieved from http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005201
Contributed by: Carrie Levinson, Project Manager Librarian, Midtown.