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Which of these two sources would an historian studying kristallnacht find the more useful essay

What Makes Us Remember? When I took my first in-depth class on the Holocaust, a reading seminar, I was surprised at the strong emotions that I felt after reading memoirs and diaries of survivors. In this paper I wanted to convey that feeling, and to express what I gathered as most important from my own studies: Many historians believe that Kristallnacht was the event that led to the extermination of six million Jews throughout Europe, and what amazed me was that almost no one I talked to, friends and parents alike had ever heard of the incident.

This paper is a means by which to express the importance of such a monumental occurrence in history, and to show how something of its magnitude can become lost in our memory over time. After reading his essay, which focused mainly on anniversaries in Germany, I decided that I wanted to look exclusively at commemorations within the United States.

To do this I researched various newspapers and magazines to try to get a sense of how Americans reacted throughout the decades. Books on Kristallnacht, in particular, as well as historical textbooks enabled me to find background information from which I could base my theories. These sources facilitated my developing a question whose answer could further my understanding of Kristallnacht, as well as the way Americans remember events in general.

  1. It is hard for us to imagine the scope of destruction on Kristallnacht.
  2. Chancellor Schmidt in Germany, as well as other leaders, sought to combine three themes.
  3. Books on Kristallnacht, in particular, as well as historical textbooks enabled me to find background information from which I could base my theories.
  4. In England, the Manchester Guardian fully covered the events surrounding Kristallnacht.
  5. Michal Bodemann argues that the motive for moving the date to the ninth, even though most damage was done on the tenth, is because of two earlier events that occurred on the ninth of November in which the Left was held responsible. Like the articles from the twentieth anniversary, many of the facts were either mixed up or incorrect, and there seemed to be a trend of writing about Germans who were trying to assuage their guilt over what occurred during Kristallnacht.

I came to the conclusion that immediately after Kristallnacht occurred, much of the world, including the United States, expressed horror and disgust at the events that took place in Nazi Germany. The question that I wanted answered from this observation was why, after this initial expression of shock and premonitions of danger for the Jews, did information concerning Kristallnacht disappear from the news in subsequent years?

I also wanted to see if Kristallnacht was ever commemorated again, and if so, why the recurrence in later years? Kristallnacht as an Event in History Before tracing the anniversaries of Kristallnacht through time, I wanted to look at the historical background of the event. To understand the significance of Kristallnacht and why it is important to study its appearance in our memory, it is essential to have a clear picture of what occurred on November 9 and 10, 1938, as well as to deal with certain discrepancies that have emerged in later years pertaining to its origin, name, and date.

Interpretations What was Kristallnacht? The traditional definition recalls that on November 9, 1938, propaganda minister Josef Goebbels announced a government-sanctioned reprisal against the Jews following the murder of Ernst vom Rath by seventeen-year-old Herschel Grynszpan.

Synagogues were ravaged and then burned, while Jewish shops were destroyed and their windows were broken. Throughout Germany and Austria the pogroms raged while police and firefighters stood by, only taking action to prevent the spread of fire to non-Jewish owned properties.

These different interpretations surrounding the idea of Kristallnacht as an evolutionary event are important to note, because it creates controversy surrounding the origin of the actual occurrence.

Kristallnacht Sources Questions

At midnight on November 10, the Nazis announced the occurrence of an Aktion or Judenaktion, which gave Kristallnacht its first name. The actual term Kristallnacht, or Crystal Night in English, did not come into popular usage until 1946. These people believe that Walter Funk, at a November 12, 1938 Nazi meeting, coined the term as a derogatory remark against the Jews. Recent debates, especially research projects on local pogroms of 1938, have provided information that the notion of Reichkristallnacht conveyed not so much Nazi cynicism but a critical stance toward Nazi brutality.

Accordingly, the folks of Berlin articulated their wit and supposed distance from fascism by coining and employing that very term. Origin of Date The origin of the anniversary date of Kristallnacht is another issue with certain discrepancies surrounding it. Although Kristallnacht is celebrated on November ninth, most of which of these two sources would an historian studying kristallnacht find the more useful essay damage occurred on November tenth.

Michal Bodemann argues that the motive for moving the date to the ninth, even though most damage was done on the tenth, is because of two earlier events that occurred on the ninth of November in which the Left was held responsible. Pre-Kristallnacht Preparations Before looking at the events that occurred on the ninth and tenth of November, it is important to look at the events that arose preceding the pogroms.

From the beginning of the Nazi regime, measures restricting Jews from all aspects of life emerged gradually, until the culmination of events during the Kristallnacht pogroms. The SS journal, Das Schwarze Korps, stated on October 14, 1937 that all Jewish businesses should disappear, and in April of 1938 this began when all Jewish persons were required to register their businesses.

Expulsion of Polish Jews A new Polish law was enacted in March of 1938, which stated that a person living abroad could be stripped of citizenship if he or she acted in detriment to the Polish state, lost ties by a stay of five or more years, or did not return by their specified deadline. This conflict of laws caused thousands to be stranded on the border in the freezing cold with little or no provisions.

On November 3, 1938 Grynszpan received a postcard from his parents on the border, telling of the horrific conditions in which they were living. His anger over the situation in Poland and the way Germans treated the Jews caused him to walk into the German Embassy in Paris and shoot German official Ernst vom Rath. On November 8 following the murder, local attacks in several German towns against Jewish business occurred, and several synagogues were set ablaze. These events were preceded by party rallies in commemoration of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, and speeches causing incitement against the Jews.

Kristallnacht Pogrom On November 9, vom Rath died at a hospital in Paris after Hitler sent his own personal physician for his care. Soon after, Goebbels gave a speech regarding the death of vom Rath to those present at the meeting. Roosevelt Following the Nazi attack on Jewish homes, the Jews were required to make certain reparations to the German government. There were also mandatory regulations established to force the Jews, at their expense, to make repairs to all business establishments, with insurance money confiscated by the Reich.

Lastly the Decree on the Exclusion of Jews from Economic Life on November 12, 1938 prohibited Jews from operating any retail business or conducting trade. The drama and theatrical quality of Kristallnacht makes it ideal for tribute; it symbolizes the onset of the Holocaust, it has vivid imagery, and it comprises a good and a bad side involving violence.

The choice of Kristallnacht as a single event to commemorate is also appropriate because on that occasion the government made clear its intention toward the Jews. I also searched for information on Kristallnacht during the post-war period to see how the reaction to Kristallnacht differed from reactions right after the event occurred. These primary responses are important; it is from these that we can frame our discussion of Kristallnacht in the memory of Americans over the decades. Germany and Europe, 1938 In Germany, the initial reaction to Kristallnacht seemed muted, with efforts made not to place any direct fault on members of the Nazi party.

It is not conceivable that this admirable body of police would have tolerated such infraction of order. In England, the Manchester Guardian fully covered the events surrounding Kristallnacht.

  1. Overnight it all went up in flames.
  2. University of Michigan Press, 1996 , 181.
  3. It is interesting how the fiftieth anniversary exhibited the first major, national interest in the remembrance of Kristallnacht. The November 11, 1963 article of the Christian Science Monitor also contained information about Kristallnacht in relation to the 1918 proclamation of the German Republic as well as the 1923 Nazi Putsch.
  4. So he got a gun, walked to the German embassy in Paris, and shot an embassy official named Ernst Von Rath.
  5. In most high-school textbooks, Kristallnacht is nothing more than a side blurb to history. Article 4 of 13 in the series Holocaust Overview.

On November 10, however, the Guardian displayed anger over the fact that Germans were blaming all Jews for the act of one individual. From the non-reaction in Germany and Europe immediately following Kristallnacht, it can be seen that both the German and London public did not agree with what occurred on November ninth and tenth, yet neither group took any action to stop further measures from being taken against the Jews.

A telegraph from the American Embassy in Berlin claimed that Stories of violence, ill-treatment, and arrest of Jews…come to me hourly. I was talking with a number of American pressmen and they told me that realizing the gravity of the measures, they had reported only events which had been seen by members of their staff. Anticipate trouble with Goebbels. The Germans, too, realized that Kristallnacht would affect the way the Americans hereafter perceived Germany. Almost all gave their addresses and asked what they could do.

In July of 1938, delegates from thirty-two countries had met to deal with the refuge crisis during what is now known as the Evian Conference. However, at the meeting the delegates offered only sympathy, and excuses for not accepting more immigrants.

On November 9, the New York Times quoted Nazi elites in an article saying that International Jews living in Germany will soon feel the consequences that the Reich will draw from the fact that for the second time in three years a Jew has shot. The nations of Europe will unite for ruthless war against the international Jewish menace, and against Jewish murder, and against Jewish crime. These initial American reactions will be of utmost importance in tracing the history of remembrance commemorations, based on the conclusion that despite these facts nothing was done by the government to influence Germany to stop their brutal treatment of the Jewish population.

After reviewing the November 1948 issues of Die Zeit, Bodemann found that there was not a word on the tenth anniversary. Robert Abzug writes that for almost twenty-five years after the war, there was the image of the Nazis as evil and the Americans as innocent liberators. He lists three reasons for this: Because they felt that they were not to be blamed, and had done all they could by expressing anti-Nazi sentiments following Kristallnacht, many Americans chose not to remember Kristallnacht on its tenth anniversary.

The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, as well as Time magazine had no mention of the anniversary of Kristallnacht, where all three had previously covered the event just ten years earlier. This scenario, along with anti-Semitism, contributed to the reason why Kristallnacht was not honored in post-war American memory. Anti-Semitism in America While most Americans changed their attitudes about the Third Reich after Kristallnacht by vociferously expressing their disapproval, there were certain groups that still felt anti-Semitic sentiments past the post-war period.

As a result of his talk thousands of Americans inundated his office with messages of congratulations and appreciation. This rise and decline of anti-Semitic attitudes in America is one way to explain the disappearance and then reappearance of Kristallnacht in American US commemorative history.

Comparisons of Anniversaries and Commemorations In order to answer the question of how Kristallnacht was preserved in American memory, I decided to research various newspaper and magazine articles written during the sequential ten-year commemorations of the event. From the period of 1945-1960, Kristallnacht remained mostly celebrated within the Jewish community in Germany and the United States, whose focus was on family and the inner Jewish environment.

The Civil Rights movement and the war in Vietnam also influenced the resurgence of Kristallnacht in memory, based on their reference points for the ultimate evil. In my research I tried to look at both small and large newspapers, as well as those from different regions of the country to get a feel for what the nation as a whole felt towards Kristallnacht.

All of these which of these two sources would an historian studying kristallnacht find the more useful essay, coupled with evidence of the different periods of anti-Semitism throughout American history, helped me to understand the way Kristallnacht was commemorated over time. Commemorations in 1958 Much like the post-war period and the tenth anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1948, the twentieth anniversary was largely forgotten in the United States as well as German society.

This short article near the back of the paper also brought up recent Arab-Israeli situations, as well as recent synagogue burnings in Germany. The Los Angeles Times also had a small article on Kristallnacht. Although these two major newspapers contained information concerning the twentieth anniversary, many other sources did not.

Time magazine, which had written a large article in 1938, had nothing to say about the commemoration, and the German newspaper, Die Zeit, contained an article about the 1923 Putsch instead.

Those who were writing about it often misconstrued their facts. In 1958, America was still a country that publicly accepted anti-Semitism, and this is clearly shown in its reaction to this anniversary.

Commemorations in 1963 and 1968 One might expect that the twenty-five year commemoration of Kristallnacht in 1963 to have been widely reported, but in reality there was very little written about it in American newspapers. Like the articles from the twentieth anniversary, many of the facts were either mixed up or incorrect, and there seemed to be a trend of writing about Germans who were trying to assuage their guilt over what occurred during Kristallnacht.

Again, the remembrance dealt mostly with actions taking place in Germany, which shows how at the time Americans saw Kristallnacht as a German obligation, and not as something they had to feel responsible for.

An article from the Washington Post wrote that a monument was created on a site where one of the forty Jewish synagogues was burned down during Kristallnacht. Again it is interesting to note how the Post claimed only forty synagogues were burned, while in reality it was close to two-hundred. The next day there was also a small article in the back of the newspaper that talked about the memorial services throughout Which of these two sources would an historian studying kristallnacht find the more useful essay.

The November 11, 1963 article of the Christian Science Monitor also contained information about Kristallnacht in relation to the 1918 proclamation of the German Republic as well as the 1923 Nazi Putsch.

Kristallnacht & Kicking the Jews Out

This article also claimed that 36 Jews were killed during Kristallnacht, while more than 200 were actually killed. Perhaps this can show us another facet of American memory, if we look at what was going on in the country at the time. Issues with the Civil Rights movement and the threat of Communism from abroad held front page news, and Kristallnacht was not seen as relevant enough at the time for us to remember.

The thirty year anniversary in 1968 held much the same result as that of 1963. The 1968 article is more factually correct than articles from 1963 in that it claims the commonly known number of synagogues burned, in addition to the number of Jews sent to concentration camps, but it still did not get all the details right.

The Los Angeles Times issue contained an article about a woman relating the story of her father from November 9, 1938, but it said nothing about the anniversary or the commemoration of Kristallnacht. From looking at the commemorations of 1963 and 1968 we can see a definite pattern emerge. It seems as if the country is gradually taking off its blindfold towards what occurred during the Holocaust. In 1963, the tide of anti-Semitism was just starting to fade from the intense proportions of the post-war period, as the United State got back on its feet economically.

More facts became clear and articles were appearing that were not seen in 1958. This breakthrough in the mid-sixties led the way to the boom in commemorations of Kristallnacht in the seventies and eighties.