Eighty-two years ago tonight, a progrom against Jews was carried out by SA paramilitary (Nazi) forces and civilians throughout Nazi Germany. This event is called “Kristallnacht”, the night of the broken glass. The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues were smashed. Jewish homes, hospitals and schools were ransacked as attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers. Rioters destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria and the Sudentenland. Over 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed, and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps.
Prior to this pogrom being carried out, antisemitism consisted of propaganda stating that the Jewish people were responsible for the German defeat in WWI, as well as economic disasters such as Germany’s hyperinflation and Wall Street’s crash which began the Great Depression.
The next phase of persecution included anti-Jewish laws which restricted employment opportunities, limited citizenship rights and education. During this time, Jewish news outlets were shut down.
A 17 year old Jewish boy shot and killed a diplomat and the Nazis chose to use this to condone rioting. The police were told not to intervene and so the violence against the smaller Jewish population was encouraged. One witness (a News Reporter) wrote: “I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the “fun”.
November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht, changed the nature of the Nazi persecution of Jews from economic, political, and social to physical with beatings, incarceration, and murder; the event is often referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust. In this view, it is described not only as a pogrom but also a critical stage within a process where each step becomes the seed of the next.
As you read about Kristallnacht, it might remind you of some events which have taken place this year. We should remember that persecution is coming and is now here. It may begin small, and we think, “Well, that’s not good, but it won’t get worse.” But, when we read prophecy, we know that it will. We need to be in prayer to remain faithful, no matter what comes.