"Wenn sie Juden sind, können wir nichts machen"
November 9, 2013 3:39 PM   Subscribe

Tonight marks the 75th anniversary of the November Pogroms throughout Germany, known as Kristallnacht. @9Nov38 is live-tweeting the events of the night (in German.)
posted by muckster (29 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
posted by R. Schlock at 3:42 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

•x 6 million
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:46 PM on November 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

When I was little, the only people allowed to stand up for the Mourner's Kaddish in temple were people who had relatives or friends who had recently died. However, I went to a Jewish overnight camp for several years in elementary and middle school, and had friends who stood up during the Kaddish every time. I asked one of them why, since it seemed impossible that so many kids had recently suffered a loss. She said that she had been told as a child that no matter how many times you said the Mourner's Kaddish, it would never be enough to mourn every man, woman and child lost in the Holocaust.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:48 PM on November 9, 2013 [47 favorites]

posted by R. Schlock at 3:55 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

All Things Considered: 75 Years Ago, Kristallnacht Presaged The Holocaust
posted by muckster at 4:03 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by jquinby at 4:07 PM on November 9, 2013

@9Nov38 is live-tweeting the events of the night

I wonder how it would be covered if cable news outlets were there broadcasting live. Somehow I picture them discussing it as "riots" and airing mostly official press conferences in Berlin.
posted by crapmatic at 4:19 PM on November 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

-Speak, Memory
-A City of Memorials
posted by kliuless at 4:26 PM on November 9, 2013

BAP - Kristallnaach, from 1982, when auslander hatred seemed to be gaining strength again and a song about the Kristallnacht was suddenly relevant again.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:29 PM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by scody at 4:38 PM on November 9, 2013

posted by arcticseal at 5:05 PM on November 9, 2013

posted by anadem at 5:09 PM on November 9, 2013

Speaking sort of tangentially to robbyrobs' link -- as an American who never really had much history, which taught that WWII began when Pearl Harbor was bombed, I was genuinely shocked when I read a book I picked up in an airport bookshop based strictly on the author's name. The book was In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson, and it tells the story of the American ambassador to Germany from 1933. It starts out as this relatively straightforward fish out of water tale, and then you start to see how the context was being shaped. I feel somewhat ashamed to admit now that I never really paid attention to the part of the war that happened before America got involved -- so far as I was concerned, WWII was four years and always involved both the Germans and the Japanese. (And the Russians were a plain mystery, given the Cold War.) It probably sounds unbearably USA-centric to say this, but honestly, that book was a revelation to my middle-america self. The story of the Ambassador who tried so hard to tell people that bad things were happening, and worse were to come, and was ignored because he was bad at workplace politics... it's indescribably awful in its banality. Especially the bits where the only Jews who were safe were foreign Jews, because of public relations.

. for all the innocent dead.
posted by sldownard at 5:47 PM on November 9, 2013 [11 favorites]

roomthreeseventeen: "She said that she had been told as a child that no matter how many times you said the Mourner's Kaddish, it would never be enough to mourn every man, woman and child lost in the Holocaust."

This wasn't done when I was growing up, either. My limited understanding is that a similar tradition has been carried into quite a few congregations during weekly services, and especially during Yiskor (for anyone who isn't familiar, Yiskor is a service for those in mourning held four times a year -- and is typically only attended by those who have lost a loved one.) When Yiskor is held at my synagogue, most people stay to say prayers for those who died during the Holocaust. Who may not have families still living who remember them and can bless their memories.
posted by zarq at 7:44 PM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by klausness at 8:11 PM on November 9, 2013


Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is spot on daily journalism on the report. Though you know how things are going to turn out, you--or at least I did--found myself screaming silently to warn people of what was coming.
posted by etaoin at 8:18 PM on November 9, 2013

I give no moment of silence. People must be told; people must remember.
posted by Spatch at 8:42 PM on November 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by pokoleo_runs_with_wolves at 8:48 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

For folks who supposedly loathed everything the Jews stood for, those SA men sure did steal a lot of Jewish household goods for their own use...
posted by Scram at 9:02 PM on November 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I learned about Kristallnacht and the horrors that followed when I was pretty young. My Great Grandparents had emigrated from Germany in 1908, and to this day we still have family in our Homeland.

My Opa, a first generation German-American, was a Buchenwald liberator. What he saw hurt him deeply and made him ashamed of our heritage, so he taught me about the Shoah throughout my life and taught me to speak up. He taught me to remember and to be watchful, and to be mindful of the pain, suffering, and loss that older members of our family were complicit in.

Some years back, Maus, the Monsters, and I became Guardians of The Name. Every year on Yom HaShoah, the anniversary of his birth, and the anniversary of his death, we light a candle for Jakob Winicki, who perished at Auschwitz. It is such a small thing, but I like to think of him as part of our family now, and hope that his spirit can find a little peace, knowing that he is not forgotten.
posted by MissySedai at 11:20 PM on November 9, 2013 [17 favorites]

Swastikas, Slurs and Torment in Town’s Schools Pine Bush, N.Y., School District Faces Accusations of Anti-Semitism [NYT]
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:16 AM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is spot on daily journalism on the report.

Actually no. Rise and Fall was based on an earlier book by Shirer published in 1941 called Berlin Diary. Throughout that book (a first-hand diary admittedly kept with a view towards publication one day), Shirer who was an American radio correspondent based in Germany during latee 1930s makes only tangential reference to Jewish persecution. He talks about Jews being desperate to leave the Reich, he mentions that Jews were forced to clean latrines, he mentions he rented a flat in Berlin from Jews who had fled in a hurry, but he does not mention the night of 9 Nov 1938, nor does he go into any depth about the reasons why. He devotes some pages to the "mercy killing" of mentally handicapped children and some of the other aspects of Germany's "total war" but really very little about the Jews. As one of the most well-informed journalisis in Nazi Germany it always strikes me as a lacuna in his reporting. He mentions an interview with Churchill where WC says he wanted to ask Hitler what was his problem with the Jews, but Shirer himself never seemed all that interested in digging further. Most of what is known about these events seems to come from post-war reporting and this would seem inconsistent with how much was known as it happened. I've never been able to square that inconsistency in Shirer's work.
posted by three blind mice at 12:28 AM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was looking yesterday at this photograph of Willy Brandt kneeling in Warshaw.
posted by ersatz at 4:38 AM on November 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Thanks, muckster. I've followed the @9Nov38 account and have encouraged my friends on Twitter to do the same.

We were taught about the Kristallnacht (UK, late 1990s) but not in much detail. I remember seeing a photo of a smashed shop window with a Star of David on the glass, and I guess I thought that was all the events were about. The last few years of my life have involved a lot of filling in the gaps in my European history education, and this is an important piece. I also really recommend robbyrobs' English-language link for background information and discussion of how the world responded (well, shamefully didn't respond) at the time.

From @9Nov38:
"Dies wird uns heimgezahlt, irgendwann!" sagt einer der Zuschauer am Straßenrand. Ein anderer: "Das kann der Führer doch nicht wünschen!" ("This will be paid back to us at some point!" says one of the onlookers at the street edge. Another: "The Führer surely cannot wish this!")
From the Spiegel:
Although there was some looting, many diplomats, like Finnish representative Aarne Wuorimaa, reported on "withering criticism" from members of the public. According to Wuorimaa, "As a German, I am ashamed" was a "remark that was heard very frequently." However, the reports generally do not delve into whether the critics fundamentally rejected the disenfranchisement of the Jews in general or just the Nazis' brutal methods.

US Consul-General Honaker estimated that about 20 percent of Germans supported the pogrom. There is a surprising parallel between this number and the result of a poll that American officials took in 1945, after the Holocaust, in their zone of occupation. At the time, one-fifth of all respondents still "agreed with Hitler over the treatment of the Jews." In other words, they admitted to being murderous anti-Semites.

For many of the later perpetrators of the Holocaust, Kristallnacht marked a turning point. Suddenly everything seemed possible, writes historian Raphael Gross, alluding to the emerging mood. The Nazis felt "like pioneers who had just successfully entered new territory," Gross says.
It seems that although individual German citizens who saw these crimes may have disagreed with them, they weren't strongly enough moved to protest or take sides with the Jews, and neither were the foreign countries whose diplomats witnessed and reported the events. The Nazi leadership's attempt to portray these atrocities as an uprising of the general German population was successful.
posted by daisyk at 4:53 AM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Another tweet that struck me:
Eine 83-jährige Frau in München fragt einen SA-Mann, wo sie nun hin solle. Antwort: "Der Starnberger See hat genug Platz für euch alle!" (An 83-year-old woman in Munich asks an SA man where she should go now. Answer: "Lake Starnberg has enough room for you all!")

- so many.
posted by daisyk at 4:58 AM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Threeblindmice, yes on Kristallnacht. But what I was commenting on was this sense of onrushing horror. I first read the book as a kid, knowing a little about "the concentration camps," since no one I knew at the time referred to it as the Holocaust. I've just started reading it again and will watch for your observations, which are excellent. And then there's this guy.
posted by etaoin at 9:47 AM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: One deleted; make an effort.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:03 AM on November 10, 2013

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