Kristallnacht (Night of the Broken Glass) took place between 9 and 10 November on 1939 when non-Jewish Germans and SA paramilitary killed and arrested thousands of Jews all across Austria and Nazi Germany. It was the first time that Nazi policies against Jews became violent on such a large scale. The name is derived from all of the broken glass in the streets after smashing the windows of synagogues and Jewish-owned stores and buildings.

The Devastation

About 30,000 Jewish people were arrested and taken to concentration camps, while Jewish schools, homes and hospitals were damaged and ransacked. Over 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed and over 1,000 Jewish synagogues burned. Foreign journalists reported on it as it happened and their stories shocked the whole world.

Pretext

After receiving the news that his family was expelled from Germany and stuck without any money or food in a refugee camp close to the border Poland where they were refused entry, Herschel Grynszpan assassinated German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris. When Hitler heard news that Vom Rath had died from his wounds on November 9, he left a Nazi dinner party abrubtly. Joseph Goebbels said that the Fuhrer has decided that the party would not organize demonstrations, but should they happen spontaneously, they should not be stopped. His message was clear to the party leaders: they were expected to organize a pogrom.