JAKARTA - On November 9, 1938, Nazi Germany launched a terror attack against the Jews. They attacked the homes and businesses of Jews in Germany and Austria. This violence and attacks are believed to be the first sign of the beginning of the Holocaust.
The violence continued until November 10 and was later referred to as the 'Kristallnacht' or night of broken glass. It was given this nickname because the windows of many Jewish houses and businesses were shattered as a result of the vandalism.
The incident killed about 100 Jews, 7.500 Jewish-owned business properties were damaged and hundreds of synagogues, homes, schools, and cemeteries were damaged. An estimated 30.000 Jewish men were arrested, many of whom were then sent to concentration camps for several months and released when they promised to leave Germany.
Citing History, the Nazis used the assassination of a low-level German diplomat in Paris by a 17-year-old Polish Jew as an excuse to carry out the Kristallnacht attack. Retreating on November 7, 1938, German diplomat Ernst vom Rath was shot outside the German embassy by Herschel Grynszpan, who was a Jew. He wanted revenge for the sudden deportation of his parents from Germany to Poland.
Vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, and coincided with the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch, an important anniversary on the National Socialist calendar. The leadership of the Nazi Party, gathered in Munich for the anniversary, chose to use the occasion as a pretext to launch a night of anti-Semitic executions.
Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels then ordered the German storm troopers to stage riots disguised as "spontaneous demonstrations" against the Jews. The police and fire department were told not to interfere. In the face of all the devastation, some Jews died by suicide.
Three days later, on November 12, the military leader and the most powerful Nazi figure besides Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, held a meeting with the top Nazi leadership. They wanted to assess the damage and take responsibility for the damage caused by Kristallnacht.
Present at the meeting were Goering, Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Walter Funk, and other high-ranking Nazi officials. The purpose of this meeting was twofold: to hold the Jews accountable for the Kristallnacht incident. Second, it used Kristallnacht as an excuse to promulgate a series of antisemitic laws which, in effect, removed Jews from the German economy.
Kristallnacht represents a series of campaigns initiated by Adolf Hitler since 1933 when he became chancellor and sought to rid Germany of the Jewish population. In 1933, he proclaimed a one-day boycott of Jewish-owned shops. Laws prohibiting halal slaughter were enacted and Jewish children began to experience restrictions in public schools. In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws revoked German citizenship from Jews.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, in 1936, Jews were barred from participating in parliamentary elections and signs reading "Jews Are Not Accepted" appeared in many German cities. But the signs were lowered in late summer in preparation for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
The first half of 1938, many laws were passed restricting Jewish economic activity and employment opportunities. In July 1938, a law was passed requiring all Jews to carry an identity card.
On October 28, 17.000 Jews of Polish citizenship, many of whom had lived in Germany for decades, were moved across the Polish border. The Polish government refused to accept them so they were exiled in "relocation camps" on the Polish border.
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