Remembering Kristallnacht: Words from Germany

Kristallnacht JVL

“My thoughts are with the People of Israel.” ~ Letter from Germany

Kristallnacht: the Night of the Broken Glass– a brutal pogrom ravaging Germany’s Jews from November 9- 11, 1938.

How This Post is Organized

This entry features two parts:

  1. Kristallnacht: damage and implications
  2. Letter from Germany commemorating Kristallnacht

I received this letter from a German man who contacted me after learning that I was Jewish and in Israel. I was moved by his efforts to connect and wanted to share his words with you. Please take a moment to read them.

Kristallnacht’s Implications

Because the Nazis never faced serious repercussions from Kristallnacht, they came to understand that their actions against the Jews would be tolerated (yes, tolerated) by the rest of the world.

Kristallnacht was the turning point toward the Nazi’s “final solution to the Jewish problem.”

Damage- Germany

Kristallnacht NYT

  • An estimated 2,000- 2,500 Jews died as a result of Kristallnacht (murdered during the pogroms or death in transit to concentration camps); some were beaten to death
  • 30,000 Jews were abducted to concentration camps
  • 8,000 Jewish shops, windows smashed with sledgehammers leaving the streets covered with glass
  • 1,668 synagogues were ransacked; 267 were destroyed by fire

The Jews were fined 1 billion reichsmarks to repair the property damage and restore cleanliness to the German streets.

In the following 10 months, 115,000 Jews emigrated from the Reich.

Kristallnacht“The Times of London wrote of the violence: ‘no foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday.'” (Source)

Damage- Austria

  • 100,00 Jews arrested
  • 815 Jewish businesses destroyed
  • 191 synagogues attacked; 76 completely demolished

A Letter from Germany

I received this letter on Friday, November 9th, 2007.

“Shalom mi Germania,

I know November 9th to 11th are really sad moments for the Jews, as we are just having the anniversaries of the terrible anti-semitic pogroms of 1938 in Germany and Austria now.

My thoughts are with the People of Israel, dedicating this evening in synagogues all over the world to the 6 million Shoa [Holocaust] survivors and remembering the destruction of many synagogues, Torahs, Jewish shops and Jewish cemeteries, as well as the horrible scenes of Jews hunted by mobs through the streets of German and Austrian towns between November 11th and November 13th, 1938.

I know that there are no words to bring your murdered ancestors and all other Holocaust victims back, just as there are no words to ease your pain of all this horror.

I am ashamed about the Germans, having brought so much suffering over the People of Israel. And I am also deeply touched that even more than 60 years after the end of the Shoa, Jews are killed with the only reason being that they are Jews. I am ashamed that there still are stubborn persons anywhere, shamelessly denying the Shoa, this most horrible crime against humanity that the world has every known.

Warm greetings from Germany.”

Learn More

I speak only very briefly about the physical impact of Kristallnacht in quantitative terms. Follow these links to better understand Kristallnacht’s long-term implications. Kristallnacht


  • Pogrom: a riot against a target group, usually accompanied by physical violence, murder, or even massacre (source)
  • Shoa: Hebrew for Holocaust. Shoa is used as an alternate term because the word “holocaust” is Greek (holo = complete, kaustos = burning), indicating a complete burning and used in the case of a sacrifice. For obvious reasons, it does not make sense to think or speak of the Shoa as a sacrifice by the Jewish people. In Hebrew, the world “shoa” means genocide, indicating something truly horrible.


Information in this article credited to Wikipedia’s entry on Kristallnacht.

Photos: All photos accredited to multiple sources, including: synagogue destroyed (title photo), New York Times front page, Jewish men being marched through streets, windows destroyed.


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4 Responses to Remembering Kristallnacht: Words from Germany

  1. […] Thousands of non-Jews wearing Star of David arm bans emblazoned with the word “Jude” rallied in the streets of Prague on Saturday to protest neo-Nazis commemoration of Kristallnacht: the Night of Broken Glass. […]

  2. raj says:

    hello that happened many years ago

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