Facing History Scholar Reflections: Kristallnacht

Dr. Paul Bookbinder describes Kristallnacht and explains what it meant for German Jews.

Transcript (Text)

I'm Paul Bookbinder, Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Once Hitler and the Nazis were firmly in control of power in Germany, they accelerated their war against the Jews. Certainly the last, most dramatic event which told Jews that they had no future in Germany occurred in November of 1938. As Jewish synagogues went up in flames and the sound of broken glass echoed through the streets of German cities and Jews were beaten and, by the thousands, often led off to concentration camps, this was the final blow telling most German Jews that if they possibly could, they needed to leave Germany.

The tragedy is that as the situation became worse and worse for the Jews of Germany, more and more of the world's doors closed to them. And although the United States would take the largest number of Jews, many of those who wished to come were denied entrance. And certainly with the accelerating violence characterized by Kristallnacht, the situation of the remaining Jews became more and more desperate.

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