The riots, violence, profanation, destruction and death that marked Kristallnacht throughout Nazi Germany in 1938 were no accidental act of violation, but a deliberately incited and massive, attack on the Jews of Germany, their synagogues and properties, orchestrated by Reinhard Heydrich, through the arms of the Gestapo, the Police and the SD.
From Berlin across all of Germany, it marked the beginning of the end for the Jews of Germany and those countries it subsequently invaded:
- the deportation of Jews to concentration and death camps;
- the dearth of any significant protest and support for the Jews by Europe or America;
- the absence of alternative refuge for the terrified Jews locked in Germany - and later, in the other countries of Europe, N. Africa and the Axis pact.
- Nazi Germany tested its power to act with impunity and implement its policy of genocide, targeted against the Jewish people, and to start a war to conquer the world.
Long before the Final Solution was engaged, Kristallnacht as a national pogrom should have put Europe and America on alert to the dangers it portended for the Jews and for democracy - but if the alarm was heard in high places, it was ignored. In an era admittedly different from today (but not too different), parliaments, public opinion, the press, radio, and the Church remained largely silent.
The commemoration of Kristallnacht aims to:
- Convey the message about the very real menace that was essentially ignored then, that should not be ignored again;
- Acknowledge the Shoah (Holocaust) in our lives;
- Educate communities to recognise the signs and significance of antisemitism, xenophobia and hate.
B. Online Commemoration Resources
Brief summary; focus on events ideas for commemoration of Kristallnacht. http://www.wzo.org.il/en/resources/view.asp?id=1063
See below for commemoration teaching units and other lesson activities.
C. Online Reference Resources
I. International Dedicated Websites
Detailed account of Kristallnacht and its administration. Part of the Cybrary - major Shoah website, offering media resources, detailed documentation.
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Kristallnacht: Introduction, Documents, Eye-Witness Testimony, Significance; part of the vast, dedicated website. Concise, but comprehensive overviews, album, texts. No links.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Kristallnacht in visual exhibition with short features: History, Synagogues, businesses, emigration, personal commemoration, bibliography, supporting files; part of the vast, dedicated website.
Kristallnacht details, testimony, photos, account, downloadable teaching unit with background, readings, lesson ideas, 18 posters
http://www1.yadvashem.org/exhibitions/from_our_photo_archive/data/kristallnacht/lex_kristallnach.html Holocaust chronology, documents for November - see Timeline 1938
Appropriate lesson plan on discrimination of Jewish teenagers and contemporary context
II. Shoah & Antisemitism Resource Websites
The Role of the Churches:Compliance and Confrontation; also reference to governments of democracies
Campus guide – slow download
Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Summary, context, sequel - overview; interesting emphasis on the popularity of Kristallnacht among Germans, and the impact on anyone opposing anti-Jewish violence.
The events, precedents and sequels, including quotation by Goering and the Orders from Heydrich. Possibly overstates importance of "international outrage". No links.
Four personal stories relating to Kristallnacht, part of the Rescuers' focus on the "To Save a Life" Shoah (Holocaust) Education website.
Middle Tenessee State University/Ben Austin
Kristallnacht in the political context, plus Shoah resources, links.
University of Minnesota, Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
Kristallnacht in Austria – Rescue story, with visuals (Virtual Museum). Part of website with documents, histories, narratives Shoah curricula, references.
III Additional Websites
Holocaust Studies resources
Historical account, referenced bibliography & online resources - English, German.
Gila Ansell Brauner 2004, 2008
© The Jewish Agency for Israel