Unique document provides compelling insight into Kristallnacht

It is an event that has gone down in infamy.

Kristallnacht refers to a wave of violent anti-Jewish Pogroms that took place throughout Germany, Austria and elsewhere on November 9-10, 1938.

What happened to ordinary people exactly 79 years ago has been laid bare in a unique document owned by the Church of Scotland.

Based on truthful observations and trustworthy accounts by eye witnesses, it was compiled two months after the Night of Broken Glass.

Credit Kristallnacht Nov. 1938 Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1970-083-42 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

The name refers to the broken windows of homes, Jewish-owned businesses and synagogues that were plundered and destroyed.

The incident was instigated primarily by Nazi Party officials and members of the SA and Hitler Youth.

German officials claimed Kristallnacht erupted in response to the assassination of German diplomat, Ernst von Rath, at the hands of Polish Jewish teenager, Herschel Grynszpan, in Paris a few days earlier.


The following account is from a “trustworthy” Jewish businessman from Berlin who was lucky enough to escape harm.

“At the stroke of 3am, I was suddenly awakened.

“There is a Jewish shop in the house, both its shop windows were broken and the goods destroyed.

“I also heard the clashes of shop windows in the neighbourhood.

“An hour later another onslaught - again a bombshell of stones upon the remnants of the window glass and that of the goods .

“About 6am, a third gang appeared to complete the havoc.

“After all these observations, I could not doubt that this was an action carefully planned and executed by the SA, SS and Hitler Youth.”

This fascinating document provides a compelling insight into the Night of Broken Glass.

A Christian Swiss resident of Frankfurt-am-Main reported the persecution of women and children.

“In the East-End, all Jewish dwellings were demolished and the men arrested,” they said.

“In the West End, the men were also arrested though dwellings, for the most part, were left intact.

“I have heard from reliable sources that in the Jewish hospital, Gagernstrasse, patients were arrested in their beds.”


One account relates to the treatment of Jews.

“Old and ill Jews, on complaining of stomach aches etc, are taken to the patients room in Concentration Camp X,” the passage states.

“There they will be forced to take one to two pints of castor oil.

“Then they are taken into the open air and told to stand erect.

“No matter what kind of weather, they will have thus to stand up to 10-12 hours.

“Naturally more than one will faint and collapse.”

A Scandianavian Christian doctor reported the following incident in Berlin.

“On riding a car through Fasanenstrasse, a Jew was suddenly set upon by a gang of youths and in a few minutes severely beaten up.

“An onlooker who showed signs of indignation was also attacked.

“It seems worth noting that the thing was perpetrated not only by the common mob, but also by men wearing the badge of the Nazi Party.”

Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were plundered and destroyed.

A Dutch Christian man who was in Munich during the Pogrom reported the seizure of Jewish businesses.

“I happened to be with two businessmen who had received orders for ‘compulsory Aryanisation’ of their business and were to be induced, under irresistible compulsion, to recognise that Aryanisation.

“A businessman in that same house who refused to sign the relevant document was knocked down with a stick before my very eyes.”


A report from Austria relates to the destruction of synagogues.

“Jewish communal life in Vienna has been blotted out,” it reads.

“Some 60 synagogues have been rendered unfit for use as a result of dynamite attempts, fire and demolition.”

Another report states: “The Police, SS and SA appear to have been under instructions to arrest all Jewish men between 18 and 60.

“They would “call” at Jewish dwellings, more often than not under the pretext of searching for arms.

“The dwellings thus appropriated were sealed and the tenants compelled to seek quarters with Jews in the neighbourhood.

“At the entrance of every house a decree by the Nazi Party was posted, forbidding the Jews to sell their furniture.”