• Intro

    This front page of the Daily Express from 1938, reports a violent pogrom in Nazi Germany, known as 'Kristallnacht' (night of broken glass). In a single night, at least 91 Jews were killed, approximately 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps, and thousands of Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were attacked.


    The article gives an accurate account of the events, but it misleadingly suggests that the violence was carried out by uncoordinated ‘gangs drunk with destruction’, and that the Nazis tried to maintain order. In reality, the violence and destruction was planned from the top of the Nazi regime. The assassination of Nazi diplomat Ernst vom Rath, a few days earlier, was used as an excuse for the actions, and detailed instructions were given to the secret police on how to carry out the pogroms.


    As Kristallnacht is one of the first examples of orchestrated mass violence against the Jews, some historians consider it to be the start of the Holocaust. Others disagree and believe that the ‘Final Solution’, the plan to exterminate all Jewish people in Europe, was conceived later. Either way, after Kristallnacht there was an acceleration in the rate of anti-Semitic decrees. Just a matter of days after the violence, it was demanded that the Jews themselves pay one billion Reichsmarks for the damage caused on Kristallnacht.


    Shelfmark: British Library Newspaper Archive

Find out more about the Kristallnacht Here

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