The Night of Broken Glass: Eyewitness Accounts of Kristallnacht
Editor: Uta Gerhardt
Editor: Thomas Karlauf
November 9, 1938 is widely seen as a violent turning point in Nazi Germany’s assault on the Jews. Jews lost their lives in the antisemitic pogrom, and more than 30,000 were imprisoned or sent to concentration camps, where many were brutally mistreated. Thousands more fled their homelands in Germany and Austria, shocked by what they had seen, heard, and experienced. What they took with them was not only the pain of saying farewell but also the memory of terrible scenes: attacks by mobs of drunken Nazis, public humiliations, burning synagogues, and inhuman conditions in overcrowded prison cells and concentration camp barracks. The reactions of neighbors and passersby to these barbarities ranged from sympathy and aid to scorn, mockery, and abuse.
In 1939 Harvard sociologist Edward Hartshorne gathered eyewitness accounts of Kristallnacht from hundreds of Jews who had fled. But Hartshorne joined the Secret Service shortly afterward, and the accounts he gathered were forgotten—until now. These eyewitness testimonies—published here for the first time with a foreword by Saul Friedländer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Holocaust survivor—paint a harrowing picture of everyday violence in one of Europe’s darkest moments.