Not long after the first concentration camp was established in Dachau Germany a wave of anti-jewish attacks began to take place.
Prior to Kristallnacht the European Jews had suffered greatly from their businesses being boycotted, rights stripped as German citizens, exclusion from education and persecution was permissable without suffering penalties.
Hitler was able to brand all German minds that Germany’s problem was a Jewish problem and the Jews were the blame for the loss of World War I and the major depression.
Nuremberg, Germany 1935 the introduction of the Nuremberg Laws would begin the end of any Jew in Germany having social or political life.
These laws totally stripped Jews of German citizenship, Jews and non-Jews were forbidden to marry or have any sexual relations. Anti-Semitic activity was sweeping through Europe.
As a result many Jews fled Germany successfully others were expelled and some were not permitted to leave because of new regulations. If you were Jewish you had to have a big red letter “J” stamped on your passport.
Of all the expelled Jews there is one family that will always be associated with the start of Kristallnacht.
Zindel and Rivka Grynszpan were Polish Jews and had suffered greatly from the persecution and new laws of the Nazis. They had been forced out of their home, store and all their possessions taken.
The Grynszpan’s 17 year old son Herschel was living in Paris. Hershel was sent there to live with an uncle to survive the turmoil in Germany.
Upon receiving news of the unjust treatment and expulsion of his parents in a post card from his sister Berta Hershel felt he was to be the avenger for the German Jews.
Young Grynszpan was able to purchase a revolver and gained entrance to the Germany embassy in France seeking to assassinate the ambassador.
Herschel would end up shooting Third Secretary Ernst vom Rath in the abdomen 5 times and did not try to flee or resist arrest. Rath died 2 days later from the gunshot wounds.
After Grynszpan’s arrest there was a postcard found in his poccket to his mother and father that read:
“With God’s help.My dear parents, I could not do otherwise, may God forgive me, the heart bleeds when I hear of your tragedy and that of the 12,000 Jews. I must protest so that the whole world hears my protest, and that I will do. Forgive me.
Grynszpan would later regret the spontaneous reaction this caused in Germany and the increased persecution of the Jewish people.
The murder of vom Rath gave Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels the open door to wreak havoc on Jewish owned businesses and property.
On November 9th, 1938 began “Night of Broken Glass” or Kristallnacht.
Young and old went through the German streets seeking Jewish owned homes and businesses to utterly destroy.
Windows were broken out of storefronts, synagougues and homes. The riot was great and intense.
Approximately 200 synagogues were burned, 7,000 Jewish shops and 29 department stores destroyed (How blessed the Jews were and unrecognizable by the Germans).
If non-Jew property was too close to Jewish property the building and glass was smashed but not burned to salvage German owned property.
Germany looked like a war zone.
Kristallnacht was a turning point as far as how the Jews were treated in Europe. Prior to the state wide riot the persecution was not as physical. The new standard in Europe was outright violent and deadly without any vindication.
There were 100,000 jews arrested of which over 30,000 were thrown into concentration camps where roughly 2,000 would become fatalities. There were 91 Jewish deaths and countless injuries.
The damages were immense and the cost of repairs would be extreme. Who would be responsible for this destruction and desolation?
What an abomination! How unjust and unfair. At the end of the insanity of “Night of Broken Glass” the Jew would be responsible for all damages.
Approximately 5.5 billion for the murder of vom Rath and outrageous insurance payments for property damage would be demanded of the German Jews.
Many Jews saw this event as a good opportunity to leave Germany as they felt life was going to only get worse.
Jewish life in Europe would never be the same after Kristallnacht.