09 Nov Kristallnacht Remembered
Today is the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass, during which 92 Jews were murdered, 25-30,000 Jews were arrested and deported to concentration camps, and more than 200 synagogues and Jewish businesses were destroyed.
I was in Vienna for the 60th anniversary. Late that night, I was walking through the Heldenplatz, where Hitler announced the anschluss of Austria to the German Reichstag, on my way to a friend’s apartment. It was cold, damp,and foggy. As I approached the plaza, I saw four gigantic speakers standing in each corner. The same stentorian voice boomed from each speaker, reading the names of the Jews that died that night in an endless loop. The speakers were time delayed, so the voice overlapped with itself. In the center of the square was a row of viewfinders — modern versions of the View Master toys we enjoyed as kids. Inside the viewfinders were photos of the murdered Jews, the burning synagogues, and the destroyed businesses. It was an overwhelming experience, one that brought me to tears. The memory is as vivid today, ten years later, as it was the next morning.
Time magazine has a wonderful photo essay on Kristallnacht here.
UPDATE: Hands, meet brain. As Howard points out, Kristallnacht is not, in fact, the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler’s 1934 purge of the SA. I have edited the post accordingly. My German isn’t that bad…
UPDATE 2: At Volokh Conspiracy, Jim Lindgren has posted the fascinating — and disturbing — results of a 1938 Gallup poll about Europe’s Jews.