Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comEuropeKristallnacht: The Holocaust and the 9th of November

Kristallnacht: The Holocaust and the 9th of November

kristallnacht, jews, nazi, night of the crystals
Kristallnacht: The Holocaust and the 9th of November. Credit: Mike Licht/ Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Holocaust ended eighty-one years and two months ago. Yet, for some, that was still not long ago enough to have made the memories any less painful.

No one certainly wishes to celebrate the event—nor, however, do we wish to forget it. Certain events in particular stick to one’s minds of both holocaust survivors and non-victims.

One evening in particular stands out for many, and that is the night of November 9th to November 10th in 1938. It was a night during which many escaped—only to be tragically taken in another war in what was once a safe haven of home exactly eighty-one years later.

Kristallnacht: The Holocaust and the night of the broken glass

Interior view of the destroyed Fasanenstrasse Synagogue, Berlin, burned on Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht: Interior view of the destroyed Fasanenstrasse Synagogue, Berlin, burned in 1938 during the Holocaust. Credit: Center for Jewish History, NYC / Public Domain

November 9th and 10th are remembered by Holocaust survivors by many names. Those include ‘Kristallnacht,’ ‘Crystal Night,’ ‘Night of the Broken Glass,’ and ‘November Pogroms.’

Those names sound innocent enough on their own when taken out of their context. Yet, the truth behind them is, unfortunately, much more sinister.

The German expression ‘Kristallnacht’ is, therefore, perhaps the best way to recount the events—especially given the magnitude of that specific moment in history when they took place.

November Pogroms is another way to refer to Kristallnacht. Britannica defines a pogrom as “a mob attack…approved or condoned by authorities, against the persons and property of a religious, racial, or national minority.” The attacks on Jews are a key example of this.

The term pogrom, according to Britannica, was used as early as 1881 in Russia following the assassination of Tsar Alexander the II, who, ironically, was not even killed by someone Jewish. A false rumor was enough, however—strong enough, in fact, to incite Russian mobs in more than two hundred places to attack their communities and pillage their belongings.

It was after the events of November 9th and 10th that the term reemerged, as it encompassed the same type of sudden, unexpected violence.

History lesson 101

Almost everyone, at some point in the course of their education, has had a history lesson on the collective madness that we now call the Holocaust. We learned as well about the collective madness that seemed to drive WWI and WWII and the tragedies to which it led.

Kristallnacht is particular nonetheless as it ties together in one unbreakable bind the horrors of the violence inflicted by Nazism.

Still, depending on where and in which country that education took place, Kristallnacht may not have been a part of those lessons. The basic facts, however, will suffice to provide a haunting overview of the coordinated action that took place in less than twenty-four hours.

To begin at the beginning, on the night of November 9th  and through the afternoon and evening of the 10th, and in some areas longer, the German Nazis attacked people of Jewish origin, raided their homes, and damaged or stole their property.

The name Kristallnacht actually comes from this, as  there were shards of glass literally carpeting the city streets throughout Germany.

Like the events in Russia some fifty-seven years earlier, the reasoning behind the attacks (and the blind eye turned by German authorities) was the supposed assassination of a German diplomat. The Nazis believed it wasErnst vom Rath, a seventeen-year-old Polish Jewish boy of German descent named Herschel Grynszpan, who was also living in Paris at that time.

Wrongful, revengeful death

Was this an act of revenge? Perhaps it was, though, obviously, not in the eyes of those whom we know today to be the actual assassins. In total, over six million Jews, seven million Soviet civilians, three million prisoners of war, 1.8 million non-Jews, around 250,000 to 500,000 Roma gypsies, 250,000 disabled, 312,000 Serbian civilians, and 1,900 Jehovah Witnesses were killed.

This was enough, indeed, for righteous anger if Grynszpan was in fact the killer. If so, the consequences were sadly much harsher than he may have reckoned.

The brutal killings, beatings and physical attacks occurred not only in Germany, but also in Austria and the Sudetenland. Hitler’s Sturmabteilung SA paramilitary, along with the Schutzstaffel paramilitary or SS, the Hitler Youth, and German civilians were all participants.

Stores, synagogues, and buildings were destroyed. Homes, hospitals, and schools were decimated and thirty thousand Jewish men were imprisoned.

Kristallnacht, in the minds of historians, was to become the prelude to the Final Solution and the murder in concentration camps of so very many.

The Holocaust and the Gamaraal Foundation

The last Holocaust Survivor
The last survivor. Credit: Gamaraaal Foundation

Holocaust Remembrance Day is always on January 27th. Still, every day is a day on which one should remember what happened. Many survivors themselves have moved on to make great achievements. Others have achieved as much merely by living a good life.

Founded in 2014, the aim of the Gamaraal Foundation is to aid victims of the Holocaust suffering from financial difficulties or mental and emotional distress. To that end, each year, the foundation makes three contributions in three-digit amounts on Rosh Hashana, Hanukkah, and Passover.

Since its launch in 2015, they have made approximately twenty contributions. These include food and medical aid.

Education is also important to the organization in order to provide prevention. Gamaaral therefore also provides talks and special interviews with those who survived to share their past experience. Another focal point is the preservation of Holocaust victims’ testimonies and their oral history.

Last survivors

According to Shimon Redlich, the 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who authored the book Together and Apart in Brzezany, “As long as the survivors are alive and can remember, their testimonies must be recorded. Every story is unique.”

That number is rapidly decreasing, however. It has thus fallen on the shoulders of their children or the non-victims and their children to keep the flame of remembrance lit.

That is the purpose of recalling Kristallnacht and supporting foundations such as Gamaraal.

See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts