published : 2023-11-09

Remembering the Tragic Events of Kristallnacht: The Night of Broken Glass

Reflecting on the 85th anniversary of the Nazi-provoked attacks on the Jewish community

An image of a memorial plaque commemorating Kristallnacht, showcasing the date and significance of the tragic events. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

Nov. 9-10, 1938, stands as a somber date in history, marking one of the most heinous episodes of violence and persecution against the Jewish community during the Nazi era.

These two fateful nights, known as Kristallnacht or the 'Night of Broken Glass,' unfolded across Nazi Germany and have left an indelible mark on the collective memory of humanity.

On this solemn anniversary, we delve into the details of Kristallnacht, examining its origins, the harrowing experiences of the Jewish community, the international reactions, and the enduring legacy of this dark chapter.

For years, the anniversary was an opportunity for the world to reaffirm its commitment to ensuring that such atrocities were never repeated.

In light of the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, the Kristallnacht anniversary is a vivid reminder that hatred, prejudice and intolerance still exist in today's world.

Kristallnacht, also known as the 'Night of Broken Glass,' was a violent pogrom that took place in Nazi Germany from the evening of Nov. 9 to the early hours of Nov. 10, 1938.

The story of Kristallnacht begins with the assassination of Ernst vom Rath, Nazi diplomat and the third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris.

Rath's death on Nov. 9 served as the pretext for the ensuing violence, as the Nazi regime, led by Adolf Hitler, seized it as an excuse to unleash a wave of brutality against the Jewish community.

The Nazi-provoked attack resulted in at least 91 Jews being killed, 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps and 267 synagogues burned, broken into and destroyed, according to the National WWII Museum.

Kristallnacht had a devastating and far-reaching impact on the Jewish community. It is often termed as 'the start of the Holocaust' as tens of thousands of Jews were sent to Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and other concentration camps.

A solemn image of a synagogue standing in ruins after the violence of Kristallnacht, representing the physical destruction inflicted upon the Jewish community. (Taken with a Canon EOS R5)

Beyond the immediate physical destruction of Kristallnacht, it instilled fear and trauma among Jews, many of whom realized that their lives were in grave danger.

The pogrom was a grim foreshadowing of the horrors of the Holocaust, which would see the systematic genocide of six million Jews and millions of others.

Kristallnacht provoked strong international reactions, as the world became aware of the brutal realities of Nazi Germany.

News reports and photographs of the destruction and violence were widely disseminated, leading to strong disapproval from many.

Governments and individuals across the globe began to call for action to aid Jewish refugees and pressure Nazi Germany to cease its persecution.

While the international response was a crucial turning point in acknowledging the severity of the situation, it was regrettably insufficient in preventing further horrors.

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 and the reluctance of many nations to accept Jewish refugees hindered efforts to provide sanctuary for those in need.

Kristallnacht highlights the importance of collective responsibility and international action in the face of atrocities.

It underscores the significance of standing up against bigotry and discrimination, as well as the duty to protect the rights and dignity of all individuals.

As we commemorate the anniversary of Kristallnacht, it is imperative to reflect on the lessons this dark chapter of history imparts.

A powerful photograph capturing survivors of Kristallnacht sharing their stories and reflecting on the enduring legacy of the Holocaust. (Taken with a Sony Alpha A7 III)

The horrors of that night illustrate the dangers of unchecked hatred, discrimination and intolerance.

They serve as a stark reminder that such acts of violence can escalate if not confronted early and decisively.

Kristallnacht is considered a turning point in the history of the Holocaust and stands as a somber reminder of the consequences of hatred and prejudice.

It played a pivotal role in raising global awareness about the plight of Jewish refugees and the need to provide them with sanctuary.

The anniversary of Kristallnacht is an occasion to remember the victims of that night and to honor the resilience of the Jewish community.

It is a time to rededicate ourselves to the principles of compassion and human rights, and to ensure that the lessons of history are never forgotten.

Antisemitism across the globe has skyrocketed since the terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas.

It is crucial to avoid remaking history that individuals stand up to antisemitism across the globe and remember the freedoms of Jewish people and the acts of violence, like Kristallnacht, that ensued as a result of one teenage boy rising up against hateful and violent acts toward Jewish people.