Imagine one morning you and your family are awakened by shouts and screams. Then suddenly, the police break into your house. They start breaking the china, destroying the furniture, and shattering windows while showing great satisfaction in their destruction. Then you and your family are told to get dressed and are taken to the police station for no apparent reason. On the way, you see your synagogue in flames, and your neighbors throwing rocks at it.
On November 9th 1938, mobs burned synagogues, destroyed Jewish homes and businesses, vandalized Jewish hospitals, orphanages and cemeteries, and dragged thousands of Jewish men, women and children into the streets, where they were beaten and humiliated. The Germans later called this night “Kristallnacht” – The Night of Broken Glass – because of the tons of shattered glass that scattered throughout German cities, after it had taken place.
The German government attempted to disguise the violence of those two days as a spontaneous protest on the part of the “Aryan” population. But, in reality, Kristallnacht was organized by the Nazi chiefs and their thugs with technical skill and precision. The Nazi chiefs commanded the Gestapo and the storm troopers to incite mob riots throughout Germany and Austria.
Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the plan, to rob the Jews of their possessions for the benefit of the Reich and then to sweep them forever from the German scene. Furthermore, thereafter, Jews had no place in the German economy, and no independent Jewish life was possible, with the dismissal of cultural and communal bodes and the banning of the Jewish press.
During the week after Kristallnacht, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Berlin reporter called that night “The worst outbreak of anti-Jewish violence in modern German History.”
During Kristallnacht, over 1,100 synagogues were destroyed, as well as 7,500 Jewish businesses and countless Jewish homes. Several hundred Jews were killed and 30,000 wee arrested and sent to the concentration camps at Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald and Dachau, where thousands more died.
One may ask, how could the entire world stand by and allow such a disaster to occur? The fascist or authoritative regimes in Italy, Rumania, Hungary and Poland were governments who approved of this pogrom and wanted to use the pogrom as a case to make their own anti-Semitic policies stronger in their individual countries. The three Great Western powers – Great Britain, France and the United States – said the appropriate things but did nothing to save the Jews. Hitler, in the late 1930’s told the world to take the Jews but there was just no one willing to take them in. Even in our own country, President Roosevelt and his administration kept on expressing their shock over the terrible events which were occurring in Germany and Austria, but when it came time to act and help save the refugees by bringing them to the United States, the United States government refused and replied by saying that they have no intention to allow more immigrants to enter the United States.
Excerpts from Arutz Sheva, article by Rabbi Dr. Bernard H. Rosenberg