Friday, 9 November 2018


Acting on the pretext of the assassination of a Nazi Germany diplomat in Paris by a teenaged refugee of Polish-Jewish descent, and with mobs already worked into a furore over the commemoration of the failed putsch of 1923, on this night in 1938—five years after the Nazis overthrew the Weimar Republic (founded on the same date in 1918)—riots broke out across Germany and Austria with stormtroopers as well as German civilians engaged in plunder and violence against Jewish owned businesses, places of worship and homes.
Laws were already in place that excluded the Jewish population from engaging in social and political life, but Kristallnacht (so called after the shards of broken glass) became a turning point with the neighbours and the global community attending more closely to the horrors that people were capable of and how we can stand by and allow such things to happen. At least ninety-one people were killed overnight and over thirty-thousand individuals arrested and sent to concentration camps the next day in what Reichsminster of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels characterised to the world press as “spontaneous manifestations of indignation over the murder of Herr vom Rath”—the Paris-based diplomat by Herschel Grynszpan, whom were rumoured to have been lovers. The power of shame and insecurity are not to be underestimated either and usually result in foisting otherness on others.  This dread incitement precipitated in something far worse but also showed the world that stances of containment and appeasement were no longer tenable.