Anti-Semitism and Kristallnacht

Peter Andreou

Why was Hitler anti-Semitic?

Anti- Semitism is hatred against Jews as a national, ethic, religious or racial group. Hitler was known for his strong level of Anti-Semitism. It all started when he was 16 when he left school, travelling to Vienna where he hoped to enter the Academy and become a painter. Things went wrong for him in Vienna at the age of 20 as he was rejected entry to the academy because he was unable to paint portraits. He began to hate Jews as they would commonly make it into the school. All of the Jews around him where succeeding and he was failing. An unusual hatred caused by Jealousy rushed through him, it was from this point where Hitler’s Anti-Semitism was created, and he would do anything in his power to watch them fail and suffer.

How was Hitler anti-Semitic towards Jews?

On the 1st of April 1933, a one – day boycott of all Jewish owned shops took place. This was the first step that Hitler took against the Jews that where living in Germany. After this day, the hostility towards the Jews increased in Germany with many shops and restaurants denying all Jews refusing to serve them. Placards displaying “Jews not admitted” and “Jews enter at your own risk” started appearing all over Germany with Jews also being banned from using public transport, public parks and also some public pools in some parts of Germany. Jews were also made to wear a yellow star on their clothing in order for them to stand out, also Jewish men where referred to as “Israel” while women were called “Sara”. The large hatred for Jews didn’t develop in one day, Hitler played a large part in the Anti-Semitic uprise of all Germans. Hitler’s main goal was to get all of the Jews to emigrate from Germany. First of all he introduced the Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship which stated that Jews could no longer be Citizens of Reich and it was illegal for a Jew to marry an Aryan. It was also illegal for an Aryan to have any interracial relationships as they would produce “suspect offsprings”. This caused the emigration of Jews to increase massively. Following the introduction of these new laws; Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler organised another programme to get Jews to emigrate. They organised Kristallnacht which was a one day event which saw the destruction of many Jewish properties and synagogues. After Kristallnacht the number of Jews wishing to emigrate increased dramatically, with half the Jewish population leaving Germany. Bernhard Rust, minister of education, also purged the universities with over 1000 Jews losing their Jobs. Furthermore, the national curriculum was changed, featuring extremely anti-Semitic content in all subjects and years. All Jews still living in Germany where forced to live in Ghettos. After all of these events occurred, the Wannsee Conference was held. During the conference the “Final Solution” was established by Heinrich Muller, Reinhardt Heinrich, Adolf Eichmann and Roland Frasier. The Final solution made the extermination of all Jews a systematically organised operation.

Source A

“A plane takes off carrying 12 bombs, each weighing 10 kilos. Its fuel tank contains 1500 kilos of fuel. Altogether the plane weighs eight tonnes. The aircraft makes for Warsaw, the centre of the international Jewry. It bombs the town. When it returns from its crusade, there were still 230 kilos of fuel left. What is the weight of the aircraft when empty?”

This is a maths question that was taken out of a German textbook that was used at the time. It is classified as a primary source, as it is it is a question taken directly out of one of a textbook that was used back in the 1940s. This type of propaganda was displayed in every subject in schools and was a major factor causing the large anti- sematic actions of Germans during the Holocaust.

What happened during Kristallnacht?

Kristallnacht was organised and took place on the 9th-10th of November. During Kristallnacht Nazi Storm Troopers destroyed 7000 Jewish businesses, set fire to more than 900 synagogues, killed 91 Jews and deported 30000 Jewish Men to concentration camps. There was no police interference during this event as they were told by the NAZIS that if they do interfere, they would be killed. There were minimal charges given out on this day. The only people to be charged, were certain SS troops that raped Jewish women as they broke the no “Aryan and Jew” law. An incident several days earlier had given the Nazi authorities an excuse to organise this event. On November 7th, a 17 year old Polish Jewish student named Hershel Grynzspan, shot and killed Ernst vom Rath, the Third Secretary of the German Embassy in Paris. News of the Third secretary’s death reached the leading figures of the Nazi party leader later that day whilst they were attending a dinner at Munich. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels delivered a speech saying that all the SS troops should take the streets destroying all Jewish owned properties. Many more SS troops joined the raid as German bystanders watched the whole night unfold in front of them with amusement.
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Source B

“Racial Hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of the otherwise decent people. I saw fashionable dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable mothers held their babies in the air to see the ‘fun’”

This is a segment taken out of a Daily telegraph interview with an eyewitness of Kristallnacht on the 12/11/1938. This is a primary source as it was written at the time of the event. It helps us see that Kristallnacht proved to be extremely entertaining for German bystanders. It also shows that the police didnt interfere with anything that was happening.

What was the final solution?

The Holocaust was underway by mid-1941, when the SS troops started to systematically kill Jews by conducting mass shootings in the Soviet Union. By late 1941 Hitler decided that the mass extermination of the Jewish population would be the ‘final Solution’ to the Jewish problem. On January 20th 1942, the Wannsee Conference was held. Here, SS General Reinhardt Heydrich outlined his plan for implementing the final solution. All Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe and North Africa, would be sent to concentration camps, where the unfit Jews would be killed in mass gassing and the fit Jews would provide hard labour until they got too weak and were then executed.

What where the conditions of the Ghettos like?

When WWII began in 1939, within weeks, the Nazis had taken over Austria and Czechoslovakia within Germany’s borders. By mid-1941 Germany had taken over Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and parts of France and Poland. This created a problem as more and more Jewish “subjects” where introduced. The only way to get rid of the Jews was to force them into Ghettos. So, SA and SS troops rounded up Jews, forcibly evicted them from their homes and transported them to the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of the ghettos. In the Soviet Union and Poland there were as many as 1000 ghettos. Some ghettos had walls, to prevent the Jews from leaving and to prevent the spread of epidemics, such as typhus, which could develop within the area, and some had no walls; Jews were able to move in and out of them during the day but had to be back by the time of the evening curfew. The Ghettos stank of cabbages and beetroot, as all the Jews were fed was beetroot soup, containing water and beetroot. Or cabbage soup made of rotten cabbage. They would also get a loaf of bread a week. When people would die, the SS troops would come and collect all the dead bodies and put them into carts where they would be taken to be cremated. After the introduction of the Final Solution, all the Jews living in the Ghettos where transported to Concentration Camps.

What happened to the Jews at the Concentration/ Death camps?

SS death squads rounded up Jews from ghettos and sent them to Concentration/ Death Camps. All the Jews that were rounded up where stuffed into overcrowded unsanitary freight trains where they were transported to the camps. Once on sight all Jews would be stripped of their valuables and clothing, and given a plain uniform. Women were separated from men, had their hair cut off, so that it could be sold, and where taken away to other camps. After that a selection process would begin where all Men that where fit, would be forced to work in the camps working on railroads, roads and even agriculture. For those deemed not fit, they were told that they would go for a “shower” when in reality, they were taken to be killed in mass Gassings. After the Jews were killed, their bodies where searched for valuables again such as gold teeth or any artificial limbs, then either thrown in mass graves or cremated. Sonderkommandos were individuals who were Jewish inmates that were given temporary reprieve for about 4 months. Their job was to calm and deceive other Jews as they led them into the gas chambers, then they disposed of their bodies by dumping them in mass burial pits or by cremating them in ovens. They also collected money, jewellery or any other valuables that the Jewish bought into the camps with them. Storm Troopers would kill anyone who refused to carry out these tasks. Kapos where Jewish volunteers who were sadistic and cruel, they treated the other prisoners horrifically even though they were inmates themselves. You could recognise them because they were not starved as their faces and bodies looked normal as they were constantly fed lots of food and had reasonable clothes on.


Kristallnacht: A Nationwide Pogrom, November 9–10, 1938. 2015.Kristallnacht: A Nationwide Pogrom, November 9–10, 1938. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 March 2015].

Hitler:. 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 March 2015

Concentration Camps, 1933–1939. 2015. Concentration Camps, 1933–1939. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 March 2015].

Life in the Ghettos. 2015. Life in the Ghettos. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 March 2015].

Source A: Antisemitism in Nazi Germany Worksheet completed in class. Last Accessed 21 March 2015

Source B: Source Work Mistreatment Of Jew In Germany worksheet completed in class, last Accessed 21 March 2015

Source C, D and E: Google images. Last Accessed 21 March 2015