Anna Hedges - 5th Period

Kristallnacht Intro

Kristallnacht, Night of Crystal, Crystal Night, and the Night of Broken Glass, are the main nicknames for the November Pogrom that happened on the night of November 9 and early November 10, 1938. The people who participated in the destruction of Kristallnacht were citizens of Germany and Austria, and storm troopers (SA). Firefighters were there on the scene but they were only there to make sure the fires didn't spread to non-Jewish property. Jewish families were woken up by people breaking their windows and destructing their homes. The storm troopers tried to arrest every Jewish man possible to send to concentration camps. Also many synagogues were burned in the process. Kristallnacht was only part of the beginning of the violence that was yet to come by Nazi's.

November Pogroms

A few days before Kristallnacht, specifically November 7, 1938, Ernst vom Rath was assassinated by a teenage Jewish boy. His name was Herschel Grynzpan, he was 17 years old, and he had been very frustrated for how bad German officials treated his parents and family. Ernst vom Rath was a German embassy official and was supposed to meet with Grynzpan to help him but instead he was shot, he died 2 days later. Orders to begin the pogrom came from Heinrich Müller, he told the Gestapo (secret state police) to start the destruction of all Jewish owned homes, buildings, businesses, cemeteries, and mainly synagogues immediately, and the Nazi leaders spreaded the word. Joseph Goebbels was a propaganda minister who supported the idea of doing something against the Jews for the assassination of Ernst vom Rath. Citizens of Germany and Austria and storm troopers began attacking all Jewish owned property, burning synagogues, shattering their businesses and breaking into their houses. Firefighters watched the burning of the properties but were only there to make sure the fires did not spread to non-Jewish property. State police officials tried to arrest as many Jews as possible to send to concentration camps. The police also arrested some Jewish women that night. The next morning Jews saw their homes destroyed, their synagogues burned, and windows completely shattered. Kristallnacht mainly got its name from the pieces of glass that covered the ground by the Jewish businesses. After the night of Kristallnacht, they found about 297 synagogues burned, 75,000 Jewish businesses destroyed, and no more than 91 Jews dead.

Interesting Facts!

  • 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps, first time there was a large amount of Jews arrested.
  • Jews were fined 400 million dollars (1938) for all the broken windows and shattered glass.
  • Non-Jew neighbors were involved in the destruction of Kristallnacht.
  • After Kristallnacht, Jews were given a curfew, they could not leave their house between the hours of 9:00pm and 5:00am.
  • The assassination of Ernst vom Rath gave the Nazi's an opportunity to begin the pogrom.
  • After about having 91 Jewish men killed, more Jews that were sent to concentration camps died from violence or suicide.
  • Jewish women were also arrested during the night of Kristallnacht.
  • Nazi leaders tried to make it seem like the citizens of Germany and Austria came up with and began Kristallnacht.


Most people memorize Kristallnacht as horrific, and the terrifying acts that happened that night. Kristallnacht was only the beginning of the violence and anti-semitism acts that the Nazi's created. Kristallnacht was the only way to try to get rid of Jews all throughout Germany and Austria. Kristallnacht was considered non-violent and legal to Nazis, so they began to place laws that restricted them from being at certain places and doing certain things after Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the Holocaust and all the events that came after it.

More Information

  • This source is reliable because it is an actual Museum about the Holocaust. It explains more about the assassination of Ernst vom Rath and the aftermath of Kristallnacht.

  • This source can be very useful when you want more information about the orders given to begin the November pogrom, where it got its nicknames from, and why it was significant.

Works Cited