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Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper

A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939

[Holocaust preparations in Europe and resistance without solution of the situation]

The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1974

Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007)



Chapter 6. The Beginning of the End
[F.] The "crystal night" [on 9/10 November 1938]

[6.15. Night of fire, glass pieces and robbery]

[7 Nov 1938: The official culprit Herszel Grynszpan]

On November 7, 1938, Herszel Grynszpan, a young Polish Jew whose parents had been deported from Germany to Zbaszyn, fatally wounded Ernst vom Rath, third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris. The occasion provided the Nazis - actually Goebbels - with an excuse to do what had been planned for a long time: organize a large-scale pogrom.

[9/10 Nov 1938: Almost all Synagogues burning - Jewish sops robbed - 91 persons killed - 35,000 in cc]

On November 9 and 10 almost all synagogues in Germany and Austria were destroyed, windows of (p.252)

Jewish shops were smashed, goods stolen, large numbers of Jewish homes demolished, men and women beaten, and about 91 persons killed. A wave of arrests swept through Germany; 35,000 Jews were estimated to have been shipped to the concentration camps of Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen.

(End note 76: Broszat et alia, op. cit. [Broszat, Martin et alia: Die Anatomie des SS-Staates [Anatomy of the SS state]; Olten und Freiburg 1965], 2:94-95. According to Broszat, there were about 10,000 Jewish internees in each of the main camps at Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen. In his report (see note 78 below) Troper mentions an identical number of internees. Estimates by other sources are much higher, and are most probably incorrect).

The course of this pogrom, cynically known as the "Night of Crystal" (Reichskristallnacht), is too well-known to be dwelt upon here.

(End note 77: E.g.,
-- Broszat et al., op. cit. [Broszat, Martin et alia: Die Anatomie des SS-Staates [Anatomy of the SS state]; Olten und Freiburg 1965], 2:333 ff.;
-- Gerald Reitlinger: The Final Solution; London 1968
-- Morse, op. cit. [Morse, Arthur D.: While Six Million Died; New York 1968];
-- and other sources.
Morse, by the way, is quite mistaken regarding the origins of the pogroms; he seems to think that they were organized by the SS, whereas in fact the SS "only" supervised security and arrested the victims; as a matter of fact, the whole affair was organized by Goebbels and the Nazi party. Cf. also Hilberg, op. cit. [Hilberg, Raul: The Destruction of European Jews; Chicago 1961], pp. 23 ff.; he puts the figure of the arrested at 20,000; but his sources are very doubtful (affidavit of an SS officer in 1946 and a statement by Heydrich in a discussion with Göring). The figure quoted in the text is based on a report by Dr. Best in December 1938).

[2 Nov 1938: SS appeals to exclude German Jewry from official life]

It so happened, however, that Troper, on his way through Europe with some of the JDC staff, was in Berlin at the time. His report emphasized those aspects that had a specific importance from JDC's point of view, but it also dealt with some of the larger aspects. Some of the facts brought out later by historical research were already contained in it.

Troper mentioned the fact that the SS paper, Das Schwarze Korps [The Black Corps], had demanded on November 2 that Jews be excluded completely from German life. Ghettoization and confiscation of property were also hinted at, as was forced labor for unemployed Jews.

[Since mid Sep 1938: Anti-Jewish disorders]

Anti-Jewish disorders had been taking place since mid-September.

[Beginning Oct 1938: Special barracks prepared in the cc for coming "crystal night"]

Troper also knew that special barracks had been prepared in several concentration camps to house those who would ultimately be arrested.

As a result of the pogrom in November, the "basis of existence of German Jewry has been wiped out."

(End note 78: CON-2, Troper report, 11/30/38 [30 November 1938])

[Arrests and Jewish JDC institutions closed down - arbitrary murder]

RV and all the central Jewish institutions, except for the Hilfsverein and the Jewish Cultural League, were closed. Most of the central personalities of German Jewry except for Leo Baeck were among those arrested.

In the provinces, many of the public institutions in which JDC had a special interest were destroyed: at Königsberg it was the orphanage, at Karlsruhe the children's home, at Mannheim the old age home, and so on.

At Bornsdorf training center the Nazis shot and killed a boy who could not explain why there were 38 persons present instead of the 40 who were registered there.

[Arrests of Jews who had prepared emigration]
Often, Troper reported, the pogrom turned against those who were about to emigrate, as in Stuttgart, where all those who had invitations to see the U.S. consul for their visas were arrested.

[Goebbels is said to be the instigator of the pogrom - the SS does not want the pogrom]

The reasons for the pogrom seem to have been the desire to (p.253)

radicalize the treatment of Jews and force their emigration while robbing them of their property; at the same time, Goebbels, the main instigator of the event, wanted to involve the masses of the German people in the Nazi party's anti-Semitic policy. His success is in doubt: not only was there little enthusiasm outside party and SA circles, but there was an active rivalry with the SS; in the end Goebbels lost out. The SS was opposed to the wild  "popular" character of the pogrom. It preferred a more orderly, quiet reign of terror, such as became evident after the pogrom.

[The indemnity of 1 billion marks and more]

One of the results of the pogrom was Göring's decision, at a famous meeting on November 12 with representatives of different groups in the Nazi party and the government, that the Jews should pay an "indemnity" of 1 billion marks to the government. On top of that, they would have to pay the government any sums that were paid to them by insurance companies. In the end, the payment by the Jews came close to 1.25 billion marks.

[Since 1 Jan 1939: Aryanizations and new prohibitions of profession for Jews in the Third Reich]

A series of measures designed to eliminate the Jews from German economic life followed. By January 1, 1939, the only gainful occupation a Jew could follow in the Reich was as employee of a Jewish institution. Jewish businesses and industrial enterprises were forcibly transferred into German hands ("aryanized"). Doctors, lawyers, businessmen, workers, employees - they were all forbidden to practice their occupations; doctors and dentists were even denied their professional titles and were allowed to treat only Jewish patients.

(End note 79:
-- Broszat et alia, op. cit. [Broszat, Martin et alia: Die Anatomie des SS-Staates [Anatomy of the SS state]; Olten und Freiburg 1965], p. 335; Also:
-- RGB (Reichsgesetzblatt), Verordnung zur Ausschaltung der Juden aus dem deutschen Wirtschaftsleben, 11/12/38 [12 November 1938])

[Supplement: Bribes by aryanizations
The Aryanizations are a special chapter: The NS regime could not only give big Jewish possessions to their captains of industry, but also foreign industrialists of the neighbor countries were given ex-Jewish possessions for ridiculous prices, e.g. for Swiss bosses. This "collaboration" was a big part of the base for the anti-Jewish policy in whole Europe].