The November pogrom - significance and background

Schwarz’s Restaurant in Munich, destroyed during the pogrom (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek - Bildarchiv, Photoarchiv Hoffmann)

In the night from 9 to 10 November 1938 a pogrom against the Jewish population took place throughout Germany. The Nazi propaganda machine presented the violence as a spontaneous "outbreak of public fury" following the shooting in Paris of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by a 17 year-old Pole, Hershel Grynszpan. The pogrom marked a climax of the attacks on Jewish people in Germany and Austria.

In this act of violence the perpetrators destroyed several hundred synagogues and ransacked some 7,500 businesses. At least 400 people lost their life. Around 30,000 Jewish citizens were herded off to concentration camps. The Pogrom Night represented the temporary apogee of anti-Semitic tyranny. It was the first time that rioting against Jews in Germany had been organized on this scale and accompanied by mass arrests.

The events were a turning point. The way was now clear for the total exclusion of Jews from German society.

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