Teaching the Holocaust with Primary Sources

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IntroductionNuremberg Race Laws | Kristallnacht | Ghettos
Concentration CampsDachau | Bergen-Belsen | Auschwitz
Righteous Among the NationsGies | Schindler | Winton | Grueninger

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Kristallnacht

Hershel Grynszpan was a 17-year old student living in Paris.2 He knew of the atrocities against Jews in Germany, when his Jewish parents were deported from Germany to Poland he took drastic measures. In an effort to draw the world's attention to what was happening to the Jews in Germany, Grynszpan shot and killed Ernst von Rath, the Third Secretary of the German Embassy in Paris.2 

holocaustAfter hearing the news of von Rath's death, Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels delivered a speech urging Germans to take action. The Jews would pay for von Rath's assassination. On November 9, 1938, Nazi storm troopers vandalized Jewish businesses, breaking store front windows and setting businesses, homes and synagogues on fire. Fire departments were called, not to put out fires, but to protect German property. By the end of the night, the Nazi attack on the Jewish community destroyed 7,000 businesses, set fire to more than 900 synagogues, killed 91 and deported 30,000 Jewish men to concentration camps.2 This would become known as Kristallnacht or night of broken glass. 

After Kristallnacht, the Nazis tightened their grip on the Jews. It was declared that no Jewish business could reopen unless it was managed by non-Jews.2 Jewish children were banned from attending school. The Nazis issued a decree that restricted Jews from selling goods and services, basically making it impossible for them to support their families. As a final insult, Nazi Germany declared the Jewish people responsible for Kristallnacht resulting in no insurance to help them rebuild or replace what was lost. The Jewish community was then punished with a one-billion mark fine, supposedly for the death of von Rath.2

After Kristallnacht, the Jewish population was ordered to wear anholocaust identification badge; this ostracized the Jewish community. The badge was the Star of David, which had to be worn on the outside of their clothing and visible at all times. This helped the Nazis identify Jews, who they would harass, torture and murder in the streets. Jews were not the only people given badges. As the war continued the Nazis forced criminals, political prisoners, Gypsies, homosexuals, and Jehovah's Witnesses to wear identifying badges as well.9


Citations:

2. Public Broadcasting Service, American Experience, America and the
   Holocaust, People and Events, Kristallnacht.
Accessed 8.1.12

9. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Encyclopedia,
    Classification System in Nazi Concentration Camps. Accessed 8.3.12

 

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Teaching with Primary Sources
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
217-581-7857

Director: Cindy Rich, Ph.D.  


 

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