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Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) was a government-sponsored outbreak of violence against the Jews in Germany - a pogrom. It began in the night of 9-10 November 1938 and lasted for some days.

During this night in November 1938 all German and Austrian synagogues were ordered burned by Goebbels in retaliation for the murder of a German by an angry Polish Jew.

Windows of Jewish owned businesses were smashed, homes were wrecked, 400 Jews were killled and about 30,000 Jews were sent to concentration camps. By Christmas 1938 two thousand of these Jews were dead.

Immediate backgroundOn 28 October 1938, about 17,000 Polish Jews, many of whom had been living in Germany for 15-20 years or longer, were arrested and sent to the Polish border. The Polish government (which was very anti-Jewish) only admitted about about 25% of them and refused to admit the others, claiming they were stateless. These Jews were interned in camps on the German-Polish frontier in a kind of no-man's-land.

The son of one of these unfortunate people assassinated a minor official at the German embassy in Paris.

"Kristallnacht"On the night of 9-10 November 1938 Stormstroopers, acting on orders, smashed up Jewish shops, homes and every synagogue the length and breadth of Germany and Austria. In some places the Stormtroopers wore civilian clothes in order to make it look as it enraged members of the public were spontaneously committing the violence. About 30,000 Jews were seized and sent to concentration camps and were only released if they obtained visas to enter foreign countries. (Of these, about 2,000 were dead by Christmas 1938).

The Nazi regime ordered the Jewish community to pay for the damage done to its own property and also imposed a collective fine on it!

The event is significant as it marked a major intensification of the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany. It was the first time that the Nazis used organized, widespread violence against Jews simply because they were Jews. It became clear that they were no longer safe in Germany. Those who were able to do so, left Germany after this.

Why was it called 'Kristallnacht'?It is called that because of the broken glass. In English 'Kristallnacht' is often referred to as the 'Night of the Broken Glass'. (The German 'Kristall' refers to the high grade 'crystal' glass often used at the time for shop windows). Further comments and answersKristallnacht (the 'Night of the Broken Glass) was a planned attack by Goebbels who thought an attack against the Jews would please Hitler and other Nazis. However, the Nazis claimed that Kristallnacht was a spontaneous attack by the German public as a retaliation of the murder of a Nazi official in Paris by a Jew. This was a lie. This murder was not the cause of Kristallnacht. The attacks were carried out by the SS and SA, many dressed in plain clothes, and services such as the firemen were to be seen to putting out fires either side of Jewish houses but not the Jewish houses themselves. The damage caused was devasting. Jewish houses, shops, businesses, synagogues were ruined, 91 (?) Jews were killed and 30,000 were deported to concentration camps. To add insult to injury the Nazis then demanded from the Jews millions of Reichsmarks to compensate for the damage done to their own property!

Note. More recent research (in the 1980s) indicates a figure of 400 Jews killed during Kristallnacht and the next two days or so. The often quoted figure of 91 was that issued by the Nazis themselves and is completely unreliable.

AnswerJewish busineses, shops and synagogues were pillaged and burned. Jews were beaten up and killed and some Jewish women were raped by Stormtroopers.

The night of broken glass, a.k.a. Kristallnacht was a massive beating up of Jewish people throughout Germany on November 9th to 10th, 1938. Many Jewish homes were broken into and destroyed, leaving the streets lined with broken glass (hence its name). Jews were beaten to death; 30,000 Jewish men were taken to concentration camps. Throughout Germany, Austria, and part of Czechloslovakia, Jews were beaten, raped and murdered. Afterwards, protests began againast Kristallnacht in foreign countries, including in America. In New York, German goods were boycotted and swastika flags were burned in Chicago ...

Why the Nazis organized KristallnachtSome Jews had left Germany from 1933 onwards, but many were still in the country in 1938. The annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland had significantly increased the number of Jews in Germany. The main purpose of the pogrom was to bully the German and Austrian Jews into getting out of the country. There was a sudden stampede to get out of Germany.
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Q: What is Kristallnacht and why is it a significant event?
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