✏️ Kristallnacht — The Turning Point Towards Barbarism
The Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass, was a pogrom in November 1938 that would serve as a prelude to the horrific genocide of European Jews during the Holocaust.
In the 1920s, German Jews were fully integrated members of German society, having served in the military during the 1st World War and participated in all realms of German culture and business. However, following the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor in 1933, a wave of anti-semitic legislation would be implemented, restricting the rights of German Jews and stripping them of citizenship. Many saw the writing on the wall and left the country. But a sizeable Jewish population remained; emigration was difficult as many countries tightened borders to prevent a flood of refugees. The Nazi regime countered this by expelling thousands of Polish Jews in late October 1938, many of whom were left in limbo between the Germany-Poland border.
It was the act of a single man, 17-year-old Herschel Grynszpan, which would spark the violent anti-Jewish demonstrations we now know as the Night of the Broken Glass. Herschel’s family was part of the expulsion of Polish Jews. Upon hearing of their mistreatment, he purchased a revolver and a box of bullets, went to the German embassy in Paris, and assassinated Ernst von Rath, a Nazi diplomat. He made no attempt to resist arrest. A postcard to his parents found in his pocket read, “May God forgive me….I must protest so that the whole world hears my protest, and that I will do.”
Retribution was swift from the Nazis. Soon after, Jewish children were banned from state schools, Jewish cultural activities were suspended, and Jewish newspapers were silenced.
On 9 November 1938, two days after the assassination attempt, Ernst vom Rath died of his wounds. That day, Nazi officials signalled to party members across the country that anti-Jewish demonstrations should commence, and police should not interfere. Swarms of SA and Hitler Youth members took to the streets. Thousands of Jewish businesses had their windows shattered and hundreds of synagogues were damaged. Cases of suicide and rape were reported to the bystanding police force. Over 30,000 Jewish men would be arrested and sent to the Nazi concentration camps which had been springing up all over the German Reich.
For the first time, I am ashamed to be German.
Wilhelm II, former Kaiser
To make matters worse, the Jews were made to foot the bill of their own misery. “Atonement contributions” of 1 billion Reichsmarks for the murder of vom Rath were imposed on the Jewish community in the form of a 20% property acquisition tax. Moreover, millions of Reichsmarks in insurance payments were instead paid to the state as “damages to the German nation”.
In the following months, hundreds of thousands of Jews would leave Germany. The Night of Broken Glass marked a turning point towards barbarism in Germany: in the coming years, extreme violence would turn to genocide. And soon, the fog of war would engulf all of Europe.
📸 Photo of the Week
📖 Book of the Week — Mastery by Robert Greene
What does it take to achieve mastery? By analyzing the lives of the many great masters of the past, from Darwin to Faraday, Robert Greene breaks down the process of developing mastery and how you can become a master yourself. Learning from your mistakes, stepping outside your comfort zone, developing emotional intelligence, finding mentors, and deliberate practice are among the many ways you can improve your skills and set yourself up for success. Applying the lessons of this book to your career will help supercharge your growth.
💭 Quote of the Week
Your personal experiences make up maybe 0.00000001% of what's happened in the world but maybe 80% of how you think the world works.
🔭 Sunday Best
Leon Fleisher on Brahms B-flat Concerto (ft. Rachel Kudo) — “Music isn’t math. It’s physics.”
Sinosphere (Vol. 1) — A student-run journal on Chinese politics, national security, and foreign affairs.
The Dead Sea is disappearing — one of the most historic bodies of water is vanishing.
💡 Food for Thought
To live the life you want, you must be in control of yourself. Obsess with never being broken.
See you in 10 days!