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The Kristallnacht (meaning Crystal Night), also known as the Night of Broken Glass, refers to the night of 9–10 November 1938, during which pogroms in National Socialist Germany damaged Jewish buildings and property and Jews were beaten and killed. It occurred after the Jewish Herschel Grynszpan assassinated the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris. The news spread rapidly and created an instant reaction against Jews in Germany. The Kristallnacht has continued to be one of the most well-known and criticized events of National Socialist Germany. Revisionists have criticized various aspects of the politically correct version.

German and National Socialist treatment of Jews prior to the Kristallnacht

The revisionist Ingrid Weckert has argued that "No legal measures were taken against the Jews in Germany until after the international Jewish "Declaration of War" against Germany, as announced, for example, on the front page of the London Daily Express of 24 March 1933. This "declaration" took the form of a worldwide boycott of German goods." Thereafter, there were legal restrictions on Jews, an official policy of supporting emigration of Jews, but the pogrom of the Crystal Night is argued to have been an extraordinary aberration and not in keeping with either the official National Socialist Jewish policy nor with the general German attitude towards and treatment of Jews.[1]

Alleged German conspiracy

The events are frequently stated to have been organized, encouraged, and/or accepted without intervention by German authorities and National Socialists. Revisionists have instead argued that it was spontaneous and that the authorities tried to stop the events.[1]

According to Weckert, when Hitler learned of the events he was furious and sent a telex message to all Gauleiter (party leaders) offices: "By express order from the very highest authority, arson against Jewish businesses or other property must in no case and under no circumstances take place."[1]

"Himmler ordered Reinhard Heydrich to prevent all destruction of property and to protect Jews against demonstrators. The telex communication of this order still exists. It is in the files of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. However, during the Nuremberg trial this telex order was presented in three different forms, with forged amendments to change the original meaning. In my book Feuerzeichen I undertook to restore the original text."[1]

The head of the SA, Viktor Lutz, ordered that under no circumstances could SA men take part in any demonstrations against Jews, and that furthermore the SA was to intervene to stop any demonstrations already in progress. As a result of these strict orders, SA men began to guard Jewish stores that very night wherever windows had been broken.[1]

Hitler stated that "It is terrible. They have destroyed everything for me like elephants in a china shop-and much worse. I had the great hope that I was about to come to an understanding with France. And now that!"[2]

Alleged anti-German conspiracy

Revisionists have argued that many factors point to the events being organized and/or incited by non-Germans. Possible motivations have been argued to include causing anti-German sentiment, causing pro-Jewish sentiment, Zionists]] wanting to increase Jewish emigration to Palestine, and Zionists wanting to influence Britain, which at exactly this date was making a crucial decision on whether to halt further Jewish immigration to Palestine.[1]

The event turned the tide of public opinion in the USA and UK against Germany. In the USA and UK, there were National Socialist political parties. Many American-German and American-Irish were interested in volunteering for the German army and many did (including volunteers from non-European British colonies).[3]

The assassin Grynszpan

The assassin Grynszpan was an 17-year old unemployed Jew. Herschel had a reputation for disliking work. Despite having no job or money, he in 1938 for many months lived in a hotel in Paris very close to offices of an important and influential pro-Jewish organization, the International League against Anti-Semitism (LICA), today the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA). He was also able to buy a handgun with cash. His family was later able to emigrate to Palestine, despite his father being poor and the British demanding that immigrants must possess relative means to support themselves.[1]

The usual stated motivation for the murder is that Grynszpan's parents, along with other Polish Jews, had been expelled from Germany to Poland. Less often mentioned is that this was due to a Polish attempt to in effect permanently ban from Poland the Polish Jews living in foreign countries, by demanding that they must quickly apply for a special stamp for their passport in Poland, or otherwise their Polish passports would become invalid.[1]

Exactly what happened to Grynszpan is unclear and has caused much speculation. He never faced a trial, but was later taken into German custody, and spent some time in German camps. He presented numerous different and contradictory versions regarding why he committed the assassination. It is uncertain if he survived the war or not. It has been argued that he after the war returned to Paris, where he received a new name and new identity papers.[1][4]

A 2016 article stated that "a photograph discovered in the archives of Vienna’s Jewish Museum now appears to show that Grynszpan survived the war. The snapshot, taken in Germany in 1946, shows the then 24-year-old in a gathering of displaced persons. Its discovery effectively clears up one of the most enduring mysteries of the Nazi era. “There is little doubt this is Herschel Grynszpan,” said Armin Fuhrer, a German historian and journalist who discovered the photograph along with Christa Prokisch, an Austrian archivist." The article also described various other forms of evidence supporting that Grynszpan survived the war.[5]

LICA's legal council Morog Gafferi

Weckert writes that "Although he was a totally obscure Polish Jew with no money and no apparent supporters, nevertheless one of France's most famous lawyers, Moro Giafferi, appeared at the police station a few hours after the shooting and told the police that he was Grynszpan's attorney. Nothing could possibly have appeared about the shooting in any newspaper before his arrival. How then could Moro Giafferi have possibly known about the shooting? [...] He was not a sorcerer, but someone even more powerful: he was the legal counsel of the LICA. The LICA was founded in Paris in 1933 by the Jew Bernard Lecache and operated as a militant propaganda organization against real or imagined anti-Semitism. [...] Moro Giafferi was well worth the fees LICA paid him as its legal counsel. He apparently enjoyed spectacular scenes. He had already achieved international renown at a mass meeting in Paris following the Berlin Reichstag fire of February 1933. Without knowing at all what had happened, he nevertheless delivered a spiteful speech against National Socialist Germany in which he accused Hermann Göring of setting the fire. In February 1936 Giafferi hurried to Davos, Switzerland, where the Jew David Frankfurter had shot and killed Wilhelm Gustloff, the head of the Swiss branch of the German National Socialist Party. During the subsequent trial it was clearly established that Frankfurter had been a hired murderer with backing from an unidentified but influential organization. All clues pointed to the LICA, but with Moro Giafferi as his defense counsel, Frankfurter remained silent about who, if anyone, had hired him. Amazingly enough, Frankfurter's answers to questions about the shooting showed the same pattern as Grynszpan's answers almost three years later after Giafferi arrived to help following the shooting of Ernst vom Rath."[1]


Starting on 8 November 1938, even before Ernst vom Rath was dead, Weckert argues that provocateurs appeared, who first tried to influence German officials to start pogroms, and later tried to influence the general public. Provocateurs are also argued to have caused misleading orders to be transmitted to some German officials. Also politically correct historians have stated the presence of provocateurs, but claimed that they were organized by Goebbels (see below).[1]

The pogroms occurred when the National Socialist leadership (including the regional party leaders) were gathered in Munich, in order to commemorate the Munich Putsch. This initially left only more inexperienced leaders with lower authority to deal with the events, and this has been argued to have been intended by the provocateurs.[1]

The Lucke report

A statement in the "Lucke report", by SA Brigade 50 chief Karl Lucke, has been cited at the Nuremberg Tribunal and by practically all politically correct historians, as proof that the SA was given orders to destroy Jewish stores and synagogues. It stated that "On 10 November 1938, at 3 o'clock in the morning, I received the following order: 'By order of the Gruppenführer, all Jewish synagogues within the Brigade district are to be immediately blown up or set on fire'." Revisionists argue that this order contradicts the actual orders issued by the National Socialist leadership and was probably a false order originating from a provocateur.[1]


Goebbels has often been accused of being the organizer of the pogroms. This has been criticized, with the evidence instead argued to show that Goebbels on the evening of 9 November asked the party leaders (Gauleiters) to calm the situation and maintain peace and order. Records are argued to show that the Gauleiters attempted this. This was before Hitler's somewhat later orders (mentioned earlier).[1]

Strong evidence is argued to show that on the morning of 10 November, when Goebbels first learned about the extent of the damage and destruction of the previous night, he was furious and shocked at the stupidity of those who had participated and complained that he would now have to explain this terrible affair to the German people and the world, and that he simply did not know what kind of credible explanation to give. He announced in a radio broadcast that any action against Jews was strictly prohibited and warned that severe penalties would be imposed on anyone who did not obey this order. He also stated that the Jewish question would be resolved only by legal means.[1]

As being in charge of propaganda, Goebbels would have understood better than anyone else the immense damage that an anti-Jewish pogrom would cause for Germany.[1]

That Goebbels would have organized the provocateurs has been criticized, for reasons such as the provocateurs making basic mistakes regarding the National Socialist command hierarchy.[1]

Damages, deaths, and reparations

The damages and deaths from Kristallnacht have been argued to be overstated. The revisionist Ingrid Weckert thus states that "In 1938 there were approximately 1,400 synagogues in Germany, of which only about 180 were destroyed or damaged. Furthermore, Jews owned approximately 100,000 shops and department stores in Germany in 1938. Of this number, only about 7,500 had their windows broken."[1]

An 8 November 1938, New York Times editorial claimed that one thousand Jews had been killed during the event when it was less than one hundred.[6] One report mentions 36 killings, another 91.[7]

The Kristallnacht was followed by internment of 30,000 Jews, but most were soon released.[8]

Most Jews are argued to not have been directly affected by or initially even aware of the events.[1]

Of the 28 SA Groups that existed in Germany at the time, the available evidence is argued to identify only three as having actually received orders to join the anti-Jewish demonstrations (and this under strange circumstances).[1]

SA men who had participated in the pogrom are argued to have been punished.[1]

Weckert also argues that "History writers tell us that during the Crystal Night all the Jews were frightened, meekly accepted whatever happened to them and watched the destruction of their property with no resistance. The contrary is true. While going through the files on this subject, I found many documents which report precisely just the opposite of what is claimed. The fact is that in many cases Jews and their German neighbors fought together against the attackers, pushing them down staircases. Street mobs were beaten up and chased away in more than one case. Police and Party officials were generally on the side of the Jews. Some Jewish community leaders went to police stations the next morning and asked the police to investigate the damage done to their synagogues. The resulting police reports are still available in the files today."[1]

An often mentioned effect is a fine of one billion Reichsmarks imposed on German Jews. Weckert argues that less often mentioned aspects include the fine being argued to be justified by reasons such as citing the trade boycott against Germany by Jews in other countries, the boycott and the Kristallnacht causing effects such as lack of needed foreign exchange, only wealthy Jews being affected, and the view that Jews in other countries who had harmed the German economy should contribute to paying the fine.[1]

After the war, the President of the World Jewish Congress, Nahum Goldmann, in 1952 demanded 500 million dollars from German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, as reparation payment for the damage done during the Kristallnacht. When Adenauer asked Goldmann for his justification for this enormous request, Goldmann replied: "You find the justification yourself! What I want is not the justification but the money."[1]

See also

External links

Article archives


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 Crystal Night' 1938: The Great Anti-German Spectacle, Paper Presented to the Sixth International Revisionist Conference.
  2. Review: Feuerzeichen: Die 'Reichskristallnacht,' Anstifter und Brandstifter -- Opfer und Nutzniesser<
  3. Spingola Specials Podcasts with Veronica Clark, 2012
  4. Whatever happened to Herschel Grynszpan?
  5. Photo mystery of Jewish assassin used by Nazis to justify Kristallnacht
  6. Flash Point: Kristallnacht 1938 - Instigators, Victims and Beneficiaries
  7. Fire Signal: The Reich "Crystal Night", Book Review
  8. Holocaust Handbooks, Volume 1: Germar Rudolf (ed.): Dissecting the Holocaust—The Growing Critique of ‘Truth’ and ‘Memory’ 2nd, revised edition.