Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass, Part 2

After Hitler took over Austria, via the Anschluss ("annexation") - which he announced, in Vienna, on the 15th of March, 1938 - life became very difficult for Austrian Jews. Random acts of violence, against Jews, intensified throughout the entire Reich.

As pressure increased on German and Austrian Jews, throughout 1938, Jewish parents were desparate to send their children away from Nazi rule. But where would they go?

American government policy, at the time, limited annual Jewish immigration to 15,000 people. With Americans demonstrating in favor of helping Jews, President Franklin Roosevelt called for an international conference on refugees. 

The meeting - referred to as the Evian Conference - was held in France at the Royal Hotel (in Evian-les-Bains), during July of 1938.  None of the thirty-two attending countries, however, agreed to expand their quotas of Jewish immigration. 

Years later, Walter Mondale wrote an article in the New York Times - entitled “Evian and Geneva” - in which he commented about the failure of the Evian Conference:

At stake at Evian were both human lives - and the decency and self-respect of the civilized world.  If each nation at Evian had agreed on that day to take in 17,000 Jews at once, every Jew in the Reich could have been saved.  As one American observer wrote, "It is heartbreaking to think of the ...desperate human beings ... waiting in suspense for what happens at Evian. But the question they underline is not simply humanitarian ... it is a test of civilization."  (New York Times, 28 July 1979.)

Meanwhile, Nazi Germany tightened its control over Jewish people and began deporting Polish-heritage Jews back to Poland.  Impoverished, without work or food, the deportees found few to help them.

One deported family had a seventeen-year-old son - Herschel Grynszpan (anglicized as "Greenspan") - who was living in Paris with this aunt and uncle (Abraham and Chawa Grynszpan).  Receiving a postcard, from a family member, Herschel learned his family had been deported.

Extremely upset, the teenager bought a gun and went to the German embassy in Paris on the 7th of November, 1938.  Planning to kill the ambassador (Count von Welczek), he shot a lower-level dignitary (Ernst vom Rath) instead.  Two days later, vom Rath died.

When Josef Goebbels - the Reich's minister of propaganda - heard about the diplomat's death, he talked with Hitler.  At 10 p.m., on the 9th of November, 1938, Goebbels told a gathering of Nazi-party officials that vom Rath was dead. 

As part of his tirade, Goebbels gave instructions to begin a retaliatory response. Payment would be extracted for Herschel's actions. 

Jewish businesses and synagogues were attacked - during the night of November 9-10 - but Goebbels also ordered that no looting would be permitted and no Jews would be harmed. 

The rampage against the Jews is known as Kristallnacht (or, "The Night of Broken Glass"). Scholars often refer to the event as the beginning of the end of German Jewry.

Herschel was arrested, and held in French custody, until France surrendered to Hitler (in June of 1940).  Thereafter, during Germany's occupation of France, Herschel was sent to the Nazi concentration camp at Sachsenhausen

No one knows for sure what happened to him, although in 1959, Egon Larsen - a German journalist writing in World Jewry (a London-based magazine) - claimed that Herschel had survived the war and was living in Paris with his wife and two children. (He had changed his name, the article claimed, to protect his identity.)

Herschel's parents survived the war and emigrated to Israel. His father always claimed the family did not know what had happened to their son.

Move the video forward, to 4:44, to begin the story of Kristallnacht.

See, also:

Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass, Part 1

Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass, Part 3

Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass, Part 4

Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass, Part 5

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: May 08, 2016

Updated Last Revision: Jun 06, 2020

Media Credits

From a documentary on Kristallnacht, David Clarke, Producer; Laszlo Barna, Executive Producer.  

Clip online, courtesy History Television and Canadian Television Fund (now known as Canada Media Fund). 


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass, Part 2" AwesomeStories.com. May 08, 2016. Jun 05, 2020.
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