No close family anniversaries. On this date in 1938, across Germany and Austria, Nazis and sympathizers unleashed a massive pogrom. Synagogues, Jewish-owned business and homes were looted, burned, and smashed throughout the country. Hundreds of Jews were murdered, thousands beaten and otherwise abused. The authorities stood by and watched, not interfering with the vandalism and assaults, but arresting thousands of Jews who tried to defend their people or property. The event was later named kristallnacht, after the shards of broken windows littering the streets of all major towns and cities. Historians view it as the beginning of Hitler’s “Final Solution.”
The pretext for this extraordinary attack was the assassination of a mid-level German diplomat in Paris, at the hands of a German-born Polish Jew. However, evidence abounds that the pogrom had long been in the making, waiting for just such an excuse. Ironically, the murdered diplomat himself was under investigation by the Gestapo for his anti-Nazi views.