November 9- the 80th Anniversary of Kristallnacht

By Faye Higbee

The point of no return: Kristallnacht – ‘night of the broken glass,’ November 9, 1938. It was the night that Nazis terrorized Jews throughout Germany and Austria.

They burned 1,400 synagogues. They vandalized 7,500 Jewish businesses. They killed at least 91 people. They arrested 30,000 Jewish men, before the mass transportation to the concentration camps began.

In an article for FOX, one survivor of that horror said that he had climbed up to the roof of the orphanage where he had been living and saw the fires burning.

“Then we knew: the synagogues were burning. The next morning, when I had to go to school, there was sparkling, broken glass everywhere on the streets.” Walter Frankenstein, who was 14 years old at the time

Kristallnacht. Night of the broken glass. It was just the beginning. But anti-Semitism had been rearing its ugly head for a long time.

Even renowned scientist Albert Einstein was concerned enough to flee to northern Germany even before the Nazis rose to power. In a letter to his sister that was recently found, he spoke of his fears for his native country as hate for Jews began to grow, according to Breitbart.

Eventually, when Hitler became chancellor in 1933, Einstein renounced his German citizenship and moved to the United States.

Kristallnacht was the harbinger to Jews that their life in Germany was over. What had been isolated Jew-hate was now headed swiftly toward full-fledged eradication.

Soon all Jews were forced to wear the yellow star between September 1939 and 1945.

“Until then, the Jews could still try to convince themselves that the wheel could be turned back. After it, the rupture was complete. They realized it was over. Before Kristallnacht people emigrated. After it, they fled.” Guy Miron, Yad Vashem’s Center for Research on the Holocaust

Kristallnacht is often referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust. But the signs had been there for some time as hate grew in realms of social, political, and economic. On that night, persecution became physical.

Kristallnacht – the night they set fire to houses of worship across Germany and Austria. YouTube screenshot