Kristallnacht, Nov. 9-10, 1938
Crystal Night, Night of the Broken Glass, Kristellnacht, Kristalnacht
The construction of a series of buildings for this purpose has already begun on the outskirts of Berlin.
At least 35,000 men and women have been taken into custody, and many have been sent to concentration camps. In Munich mass demonstrations against Jews and Roman Catholics were held last night.
The British Charge d’ Affaires in Berlin, Sir George Ogilvie-Forbes, has been instructed to draw the German Government’s attention to the attempt in a newspaper closely associated with Dr Goebbels, Propaganda Minister, to implicate leading British politicians in the murder of Herr vom Rath.
While anti-Jewish action continues in Germany today, although on a smaller scale, Herr Hitler and his advisers considered the new “laws and decrees” by which is it proposed to “regulate” the future position of Jews.
I am reliably informed that two measures will certainly be included in them. These will be:
Wholesale confiscation of Jewish property and capital; and
Establishment of Ghettoes on the pattern of the 16th century.
German Jews were recently forced to make an exact return of all their possessions. It is now anticipated that all property will be confiscated which exceeds the amount required for the bare necessities of life.
As reported in The Daily Telegraph and Morning Post of November 3, the “Schwarze Korps,” organ of Herr Himmler’s Protective Guards, recently demanded the establishment of Ghettoes.
It is understood that a system of buildings for this purpose is already under construction on the outskirts of Weisensee, a suburb in the extreme north-east of Berlin. This district is chiefly remarkable for its exceptional number of sewage farms.
One decree was issued tonight by Dr Frick, Minister of the Interior. It stipulates that:
Jews are prohibited from acquiring, possessing or carrying firearms, ammunition, or “weapons for cutting or thrusting”.
Any such weapons or ammunition must be surrendered to the police at once and they will become Reich property without compensation.
Foreign Jews may perhaps obtain exemption.
Violation of this law will be punished with imprisonment or fine, or in serious cases with penal servitude up to five years.
This decree legalises that issued yesterday by Herr Himmler, the chief of police, forbidding Jews to possess weapons of any sort on pain of 20 years’ confinement in a concentration camp. Since Herr Himmler’s decree has not been withdrawn, it appears that Jews found in the possession of weapons are liable to be punished with the 20 years’ sentence as well as with the penalties provided for in the law.
20 YEARS SENTENCES
About 8,000 Jews are now believed to have been arrested in Berlin alone. The total in the whole Reich is put at about 35,000.
It is believed that many are being given the 20 years’ term on the pretext that some form of weapon was found in their possession.
Most of the prisoners are being drafted to the concentration camp at Buchenwald, near Weimar, and Sachsenhausen, near Oranienburg.
Today the main shopping streets of Berlin look as if they had been hit by a typhoon. Rough wooden boards have been placed over the broken windows, and the glass, which was still lying about last night, has been swept up.
It is almost certain that none of the shops will ever open again under Jewish ownership. Many have already been bought by Aryans at knockdown prices.
Inquiries which I have made here prove conclusively that outrages in yesterday’s pogrom were by no means contained to German Jewish citizens and their property. Apart from the incidents involving foreign diplomats and the revolting cruelty to a Rumanian citizen of Dortmund reported in The Daily Telegraph and Morning Post today, personal assaults and damage totalling many thousands of pounds have been suffered by nationals of al least half a dozen important countries.
The department store of Messrs Israel, which is owned by a British citizen, was sacked and gutted, the loss in this single case amounting to tens of thousands of pounds. It is understood that the store was insured with a London firm.
The United States consular authorities have been notified of at least three or four cases in which shops owned by Americans have been smashed to atoms and the stock ruined.
The Czech diplomatic authorities have also been informed of outrages to Czech-owned shops. I personally witnessed the sacking of a large and fashionable café owned by a Hungarian citizen.
Poles also hard hit
Dutch subjects appear to have been among the severest sufferers. The assistance of the Netherlands Legation in Berlin has been invoked by Dutch subjects all over Germany, whose premises have been plundered and ruined or who have been physically assaulted.
It is believed that Polish citizens were also badly hit, but in this case as in the case of a number of other Powers, exact details are not yet available, as Armistice Day is being kept as a holiday by diplomatic and consular staffs of ex-allied countries.
Dr Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, today summoned a meeting of Berlin’s foreign correspondents to give them a final version of yesterday’s outbreaks. Although, he said, he did not doubt the good faith of the correspondents present, he declared that the reports in the foreign Press this morning had been full of “misunderstandings”.
The demonstrations had not been organised but were “typically spontaneous and popular”. He protested strongly against reports that Jewish shops had been plundered.
Dr Goebbels’s Claim
He also objected to statements that the police had failed to interfere; 200,000 police in Berlin alone, he said, would have been required to protect the Jewish shops from the rage of the population. It was impossible to order them to fire on the crowds.
This apparent admission that the authorities are unable to maintain law and order in a country such as Germany, which prides itself on its “discipline”, seemed to conflict with Dr Goebbels’s subsequent statement that the demonstrations stopped immediately he gave the word.
He also declared earlier in his address that he had prevented “spontaneous demonstration” after the murder of Gustloff, the Nazi leader in Switzerland in 1936.
Elderly Jew’s fate
Dr Goebbels, who was in Munich yesterday and only in telephonic communication with Berlin, said that no physical attacks had been made on Jews. Apart from the cases that were reported yesterday I can now state that an elderly Jew was trampled to death last night on the Lehnienerplatz, off the Kuerfuerstendamm, in the West End of Berlin.
In an article which will appear in the Press tomorrow, Dr Goebbels ascribes yesterday’s outrages to the “healthy instinct” of the German people. He accuses the foreign Press of telling lies about the demonstrations and of twisting the facts.
“The anti-German Jewish foreign Press must know,” he writes, “that by exaggerating the events and by lies and misrepresentations it will benefit neither itself nor the Jews living in Germany. The opposite is more likely to be the case.
“The German people is anti-Semitic. It has no desire to have its right restricted or to be provoked in future by parasites of Jewish race.
“Anti-German foreign countries would do well to leave the solution of this problem to the Germans. If they feel the necessity to stand up for the case of the German Jews, they can have as many of our Jews as they like.”
Dr Goebbels asserts that Grynszpan, the murderer of Herr vom Rath, was sheltered and systematically trained for his crime by a Jewish organisation.
“There is no need to emphasise,” he concludes, “that the public reaction is now finally concluded throughout Germany. No one has the right to take any further action on his own responsibility Laws and decrees which will settle this question are to be expected.”
A violently worded statement was issued here tonight in reply to suggestions in the French Press that the anti-Jewish outbreak may be made the subject of a debate in the British House of Commons.
“Berlin,” it is declared, “would be equally justified in staging a debate in the German Reichstag about British actions in Palestine. The only difference would be that the British work of destruction and atrocities would provide the Reichstag with matter for several weeks’ discussion, while the House of Commons would only have some broken window panes and burnt synagogues to debate.”
I now learn that the pogrom extended during the course of yesterday to the Sudeten areas, recently added to Germany.
Copy of Most Urgent telegram from Munich on November 8, 1938, 1:20 a.m.
Headquarters and Stations of the State (Political) Police
Local and Regional Offices of the Security Service (SD)
Urgent! For immediate attention of Chief and his deputy!
Re: Measures Against the Jews Tonight.
Because of the assassination of Legation Secretary vom Rath in Paris, demonstrations throughout the Reich are to be expected tonight -- November 9 to 10, 1938. The following orders are issued for dealing with these occurrences.
1) Upon receipt of this telegram, the chiefs of the political police [Gestapo] stations or their deputies must immediately contact the appropriate political authorities for their district [the local Nazi Party leaders]... by telephone to arrange a discussion about the conduct of the demonstrations. This discussion should include the competent Inspector or Commander of the Order Police....
[The local] political authorities are to be informed that the German police have received from the Reichsfuehrer SS and the Chief of the German police the following orders to which the actions of the political authorities should be correspondingly adjusted:
a) Only such actions may be carried out which do not threaten German lives or property (e.g., burning of synagogues only when there is no threat of fire to the surroundings).
b) Stores and residences of Jews may only be destroyed but not looted. The police are instructed to supervise compliance with this order and to arrest looters.
c) Special care is to be taken on commercial streets that non-Jewish businesses are completely secured against damage.
d) Foreign citizens, even if they are Jewish, may not be molested.
2) ... demonstrations in progress should not be prevented by the police but only supervised for compliance with the guidelines.
3) ... existing archival material is to be impounded by the police in all synagogues and offices of the Jewish community centers to prevent its destruction in the course of the demonstrations.... [This material] is to be turned over to the... offices of the SD.
4) The direction of Security Police [both political and criminal divisions] operations relating to the anti-Jewish demonstrations resides with Political Police authorities except when orders are issued by Security Police inspectors. Officials from the Criminal Police as well as members of the Security Service (SD), of the SS para-military units, and of the general SS may be called upon to carry out Security Police operations.
5) As soon as the course of events during this night allows the assigned police officers to be used for this purpose, as many Jews -- particularly affluent Jews -- are to be arrested in all districts as can be accommodated in existing detention facilities. For the time being, only healthy male Jews, whose age is not too advanced, are to be arrested. Immediately after the arrests have been carried out, the appropriate concentration camps should be contacted to place the Jews into camps as quickly as possible. Special care should be taken that Jews arrested on the basis of this instruction are not mistreated.
6) The contents of this order are to be passed on to the competent Inspectors and Commanders of the Order Police and to regional and local sectors of the SD....
The chief of the Order Police has issued the corresponding instructions to the Order Police including the fire brigades. Close coordination is to be maintained between the Security Police and the Order Police during the implementation of the ordered actions…
[SS-Major General, Nazi Chief of Security Police]
Eventually we were allowed to take the fire engines out, but only very slowly. We were ordered not to use any water till the whole synagogue was burned down. Many of us did not like to do that, but we had to be careful not to voice our opinions, because "the enemy is listening."
Only after one of the party members was worried that his house was going to catch fire, were we allowed to use water. But, even then, we just had to stand and watch until the House of Prayers was reduced to rubble and ashes.
In the meantime, the marshalls rounded up the Jews and dragged them in front of the Synagogue, where they had to kneel down and put their hands above their heads. I saw with my own eyes how one old Jew was dragged down and pushed to his knees. Then the arsonists came in their brown uniforms to admire the results of their destruction.
....Everyone seemed rather quiet and subdued... We had to stand watch at the Synagogue to make sure there were no more smoldering sparks. My turn was from 10-11 and 2-3 P.M. The brown uniforms paraded around to admire their work.
As I was watching the destroyed Synagogue and the frail old Jews, I wondered whose turn would be next!... When would it be our turn? Will the same thing happen to our Protestant and Catholic Churches!
Nearly 200 synagogues were burned in Germany during Kristallnacht.
As the problem is in the main a large-scale economic matter, it is from this angle that it will have to be tackled. This will, of course, produce a number of legal measures, in the jurisdiction of the Justice Minister as well as the Minister of Interior; and then the resultant propaganda measures which fall into the area of the Propaganda Minister; and of course also measures by the Finance Minister and Economics Minister.
At the meeting at which this question was discussed for the first time and it was decided to Aryanize the German economy, to get the Jew out of the economy, to make them debtors on a pension, we unfortunately only made very fine plans, but then dragged our feet in following them up....
Heydrich: After all the elimination of the Jew from economic life, in the end there is still always the basic problem of getting the Jew out of Germany. May I make a few suggestions in this connection? Following a suggestion made by the Reichskommissar we have set up a Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna* with the aid of which we have taken at least 50,000 Jews away from Austria, while only 19,000 Jews were taken out of the Reich during the same period. It was made possible by coordination between the Ministry of Economics, which was responsible, and the foreign aid organizations.
Goering: First of all you cooperated with the local leader of the "green border" [clandestine border crossing]. That is the main thing.
Heydrich: That involved only very small numbers, Mr. Field Marshal. The illegal—
Goering: The story has gone through the entire world press. In the first night the Jews were expelled to Czechoslovakia. Next morning the Czechs caught them and pushed them across into Hungary. From Hungary they were returned to Germany and then to Czechoslovakia. That way they traveled around and around. In the end they finished up on an old barge on the Danube. They stayed there and wherever they tried to land they were turned away again.
Heydrich: That’s what was reported. There were not even as many as 100 Jews.
Goering: For two weeks, in effect, a number of Jews emigrated every midnight. That was in Burgenland.
Heydrich: At least 45,000 Jews got away by legal means.
Goering: How was that possible?
Heydrich: Through the Jewish Community Council we took a certain sum off the rich Jews who wanted to emigrate. That was how it was done. With this money and some additional foreign currency it was then possible to get out a number of poor Jews. After all, the problem is not to get the rich Jews out, but the Jewish mob.
Goering: But, fellows, have you ever thought about this properly? It doesn’t really help us even if we get a few hundred thousand of the Jewish mob away from Germany. Have you ever considered whether this procedure may not, in the long run, cost so much foreign currency that we cannot continue with it permanently?
Heydrich: Only the foreign currency that every Jew received.
This way, may I suggest that we set up a similar bureau in the Reich, with the cooperation of the government agencies concerned, and that we make use of this experience [Austria] in order to find a solution for the Reich, at the same time avoiding the mistakes which the Field Marshal has so rightly pointed out to us?
A second way of getting the Jews out would be an emigration operation for the Jews in the rest of the Reich, spread over at least 8 to 10 years. We cannot get out more than the maximum of 8,000 to 10,000 Jews a year. That would leave a great many Jews here. Because of Aryanization and other restrictions Jewry will be unemployed. We will see the remaining Jews becoming proletarians. I would have to take measures in Germany to isolate the Jews, on the one hand, so that they will not enter into the normal life of the Germans. On the other hand, I must create possibilities of permitting the Jews certain activities, in the matter of lawyers, doctors, barbers, etc., while yet limiting them to the smallest possible circle of customers. This question will have to be studied. As far as isolation is concerned, I should like to put forward a few suggestions, purely police matters, which are important in part for their psychological effect on public opinion. For instance, the identification of the Jews, saying: Every person who is a Jew in accordance with the Nuremberg Laws must wear a certain distinguishing mark. This is a possibility which would simplify many other matters – I don’t see any danger of excesses against the Jews – and it would make our relationship with foreign Jews easier.
Goering: A uniform!
Heydrich: Badge. This would also prevent the foreign Jews whose external appearance is no different from that of the local Jews, from suffering the same disadvantages.
Goering: But my dear Heydrich, you will not be able to avoid having ghettos in the cities on a really big scale. They will have to be established.
Heydrich: As for the matter of ghettos, I would like to make my position clear right away. From a police point of view I think that a ghetto, in the form of a completely segregated district with only Jews, is not possible. We would have no control over a ghetto where the Jew gets together with the whole of his Jewish tribe. It would be a permanent hideout for criminals and first of all [a source] of epidemics and the like. The situation today is that the German population...[which lives together with the Jews] forces the Jews to behave more carefully in the streets and the houses. The control of the Jews by the watchful eyes of the whole population is better than putting thousands upon thousands of Jews together in a single district of a city where uniformed officials will be unable to check on their daily activities.
Goering: We only have to cut off the telephone link with the outside.
Heydrich: I could not stop the movements of Jewry out from this district completely.
Goering: And in cities really all their own?
Heydrich: Yes, if I put them into cities entirely their own. But then this city would become such a center for criminal elements that it would be very dangerous. I would try a different way.... Goering: I shall choose the definition that the German Jews as a whole, as a punishment for their abominable crimes, etc., etc., will have to pay a Kontribution (fine) of one billion. That will do it. The swine won’t hurry to commit another murder. In general I must say once again: I should not like to be a Jew in Germany.
v. Krosigk: That is why I would like to emphasize what Mr. Heydrich said at the beginning: we must try everything in the way of more export, of getting the Jews out abroad. It will always be the decisive point that we do not have to keep this whole proletarian company here. It will always be a terrible burden to deal with them.
(Frick: and a danger.)
I also do not imagine that if we are forced to have ghettos it would be very pleasant. The likelihood of having to have ghettos is not pleasant. Therefore the aim must be what Heydrich said: out with whoever can be got out!
Goering: The second point is the following. If the German Reich should in the near future become involved in conflict abroad then it is obvious that we in Germany will first of all make sure of settling accounts with the Jews. Apart from that the Fuehrer is now at last to make a major move abroad, starting with the Powers which have brought up the Jewish question, in order really to get around to the Madagascar solution. He explained this to me in detail on November9. There is no longer any other way. He is also going to say to the other nations: "Why do you keep talking about the Jews? – Take them!..."
Funk: The decisive question is whether the Jewish stores will have to be reopened or not? Goering: That depends on the extent to which these Jewish stores have a relatively large turnover. If that is the case it is a sign that the German people are simply forced to buy there although it is a Jewish store, because there is a need. If all the Jewish stores that are shut now were to be shut before Christmas many would go empty-handed.
Fischboeck: We already have a precise plan for this in Austria, Mr. Field Marshal General. In Vienna there are 12,000 Jewish artisans’ businesses and 5,000 Jewish retail stores. Even before the Umbruch** there was a plan for all the tradesmen involved in these 17,000 open businesses; of the 12,000 artisans’ shops almost 10,000 were to be closed for good, and 2,000 kept going. Of the 5,000 retail stores, 1,000 were to be kept going, that is they were to be Aryanized, and 4,000 were to be shut. According to this plan, then, 3,000 to 3,500 of the total of 17,000 businesses would remain open, and all the others would be closed. This is calculated on the basis of investigation for each separate branch and in accordance with local requirements. It has been settled with all the competent authorities and could start tomorrow, as soon as we get the Law which we requested in September, which would authorize us to withdraw trade licenses generally, without any connection with the Jewish Question. It would be quite a short Law.
Goering: I will issue the regulation today.
Fischboeck: We have been promised this for Austria within the framework of our general economic plan. I think that it was not settled only because of ongoing negotiations between the Reich Ministry of Economics and [the Ministry of] Nutrition. There was agreement on principle. As soon as we have it we can close these 10,000 businesses officially. That’s just paperwork. In order to carry it out it will be then still be necessary for somebody to see what is to be done with the goods in these businesses. Up to last week we had had the intention of leaving the liquidation of stores more or less to the Jews themselves. That will now no longer be possible. We plan to create an economic agency for all these businesses together, which will see to it that use is made of these goods. In general this will be done best by handing them over to the branch concerned, which can then divide them up among the Aryan businesses, who can either take them on commission or pay for them.
If this is carried out along the proposed lines we will be left with only about another 3,000 businesses slated for Aryanization in accordance with the plans for the various branches. There are already firm buyers for about half these stores, and their purchase contracts have been checked sufficiently for immediate authorization. In many cases the authorization has not been finalized only because we were waiting for the definitive decision on the planning issue. Negotiations have also proceeded quite far for the other 15,000 businesses. We are of the opinion that we should set ourselves a deadline, which might be the end of this year. If no definite buyer has been found by the end of the year for the retail stores that are to be Aryanized we will check again whether they should not be liquidated after all. That should usually be possible: artisans’ shops are very individual businesses. As far as retail stores are concerned the matter would never be so urgent that it could be said that the economic damage was too great. That would leave us with just a very few stores that have been judged necessary but for which there are no buyers: They would have to be taken on by the Public Trustee’s Office. I don’t think that it would come to as many as 100 businesses, probably fewer. In this way we could have eliminated all publicly visible Jewish businesses by the end of the year.
Goering: That would be excellent!
Fischboeck: Then 12,000 or 14,000 of 17,000 businesses would be closed and the rest Aryanized or transferred to the State Trustee.
Goering: I must say that this proposal is marvelous. Then the whole business would really be cleared out by Christmas or the end of the year in Vienna, one of the chief Jewish cities, so to say. Funk: We can do it here [in Germany] too. I have prepared a Regulation for this matter which states that from January 1, 1939, Jews are forbidden to operate retail stores and commission agencies, or to operate independent artisans’ businesses. They are also forbidden to hire employees for this purpose, to offer such services, to advertise them or to accept orders. Where any Jewish trade is carried out it will be closed by the Police. From January 1, 1939, a Jew can no longer be the manager of a business, in accordance with the Law for the Organization of National Labor, of January 20, 1934. Where a Jew is in a leading position in an economic enterprise without being the official manager his employment can be terminated by the manager with six weeks’ notice. At the end of the period of notice all claims of the employee deriving from the terminated contract will be void, including pension rights where these existed. That is always very unpleasant and a great danger. A Jew cannot be a member of a cooperative. Jewish membership in cooperatives is terminated on December 31, 1938. No special authorization is required. The Reich Ministers concerned are being authorized to issue the Regulations necessary for the implementation of the Law....
* See Establishment of the Central Office For Jewish Emigration in Vienna
** Austrian expression for Anschluss.
Late last night an American woman of over sixty years of age begged for assistance in ascertaining the whereabouts of her aged and sick husband who has been rounded up with the German Jews. I have strong hopes that he will be at her side again within a few hours. Many other Americans are appealing on behalf of their Jewish relatives.
The Consulate received almost one hundred telegrams yesterday and almost as many today. Many of these have been from the United States and have expressed the utmost interest in their relatives in Germany. In the majority of cases the male members of the families concerned were ascertained to be in concentration camps. Even up to this minute arrests have been made in Stuttgart and telegrams are constantly being received, although it is late at night.
For more than five days the office has been inundated with people. Each day a larger and larger crowd has besieged the Consulate, filling all the rooms and overflowing into the corridor of a building six stories high. Today there were several thousand. Each person has been handled with the greatest possible consideration and each person must have felt that he or she had been as courteously and sympathetically handled as the enormous crowd would permit…
Suedring st. 10
To the Secret State Police
I hope that my request will be granted, as my husband died as a result of his injuries during the war – he fought and died for his fatherland with extreme courage -- and I am left without any income.
Until recent years you could have found a photo of my husband on the wall next to the picture of Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg in the canteen of the 23 infantry regiment in Landau. This was done to honor his high military performance.
His medals and decorations prove that he fought with great courage and honor. He received:
The Iron Cross first class
The Iron Cross second class
The Military Order of Merit fourth class with swords.
The Military Order of Sanitation 2 class with a blue-white ribbon. This ribbon is usually bestowed only upon recipients of the Max Joseph Order which accepts only members of the nobility.
I can only hope that as a widow of such a man, so honored by his country, my request for the return of my property will not be in vain.
(signed) Frau Mrgarete Drexler
Widow of reserve staff surgeon
Dr. Hermann Drexler
Presently in Mannheim, 11 Kant st.
Enclosed: 6 photos of medals and decorations.
Issued in Germany, Nov 9, 1963
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Kristallnacht. Lincroft, NJ: Brokkdale Community College, n.d. Videocassette, 60 min.
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