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"The Night of Broken Glass"


On October 28, 1938, Jews of Polish citizenship living in Germany were arrested and relocated across the Polish border. The Polish government refused to admit them so they were interned in "relocation camps" on the Polish border. One of these deportees was Zindel Grynszpan, who had established a small store in Hanover in 1911. On this night, his store and the family's possessions were confiscated and they were forced to move over the Polish border. His seventeen-year-old son, Herschel, was living in Paris with an uncle at the time. When he received news of his family's expulsion, he went to the German embassy in Paris, planning to assasinate the German Ambassador to France. On November 7, Herschel ended up critically wounding a lesser official, Third Secretary Ernst vom Rath, who died two days later, on November 9.


The assasination provided Josef Goebbels, Hitler's Chief of Propaganda, with the excuse he needed to launch an attack against German Jews. On the nights of November 9 and 10, gangs of Nazi youth roamed through Jewish neighborhoods, breaking windows of Jewish businesses and homes, burning synagogues, and looting.

Nearly 200 synagugues were set afire and around 7,500 Jewish businesses were destroyed. 26,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Jews were physically attacked and beaten. 91 died.

Cities where synagogues were destroyed

The Aftermath

Helpful Links

Holocaust Timeline
Jewish Virtual Library
The Holocaust / Shoah Page
Kristallnacht Overview