48 Hours of Kristallnacht

48 Hours of Kristallnacht

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by Mitchell Bard
     
 

On the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, rampaging mobs throughout Germany and the newly acquired territories of Austria and Sudetenland freely attacked Jews in the street, in their homes and at their places of work and worship. At least 96 Jews were killed and hundreds more injured, as many as 2,000 synagogues were burned, almost 7,500 Jewish businesses were

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Overview

On the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, rampaging mobs throughout Germany and the newly acquired territories of Austria and Sudetenland freely attacked Jews in the street, in their homes and at their places of work and worship. At least 96 Jews were killed and hundreds more injured, as many as 2,000 synagogues were burned, almost 7,500 Jewish businesses were destroyed, cemeteries and schools were vandalized, and 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps. This pogrom has come to be called Kristallnacht, "the Night of Broken Glass." Although numerous anti-Jewish regulations had been adopted prior to Kristallnacht, these measures had only imposed restrictions on German Jews' economic activity and occupational opportunities. Prior to Kristallnacht, the Jews had little reason to believe their physical safety was at risk. That all changed 70 years ago this coming November. The events of that night were the beginning of the Holocaust. It is fitting that a book record the events of this seminal historical event on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht. This book provides an account of the incidents immediately preceding the attacks on November 9-10, an oral history that provides a minute-by-minute and hour-by-hour account of what happened during the pogroms, and an analysis of the immediate aftermath and why the Holocaust can be dated from this evening.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Gripping oral history . . . A searing depiction of the Holocaust’s opening ceremonies.” —Kirkus Reviews “The further away we get from the years of the Holocaust, the more necessary it is to recount what happened. One of the seminal events in Hitler’s goal to destroy European Jewry was the “Night of Broken Glass” — Kristallnacht. Mitchell Bard provides a comprehensive and penetrating account that should be read not only as a history of Holocaust, but as a lesson for the future.” —Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League and author of The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control and Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism “Kristallnacht’s new Book of Lamentations. Mitchell Bard’s 48 Hours of Kristallnacht’s power derives from the stark and vivid words of German Jewish children who, in a single day saw their well-ordered world suddenly destroyed by the Nazis’ brutality and the apathy and silence of neighbors and classmates.” —Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Weisnthal Center “The most detailed and thoroughly researched book yet on the events of Kristallnacht.” —Booklist
Library Journal

In a book timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Bard (director, Jewish Virtual Lib.) interweaves a variety of survivor oral histories into a unique perspective on that tragic event-unique in that the overwhelming majority of these accounts are from people who were teens or preteens in 1938. Telling the story from a child's perspective makes for compelling reading, and Bard's main strength is letting the victims speak with minimal contextual information. This is also one of the book's weaknesses, however, for the transition from Bard's historical context into the survivor accounts does not always flow smoothly. It is also not clear if the intended audience is young adults or general readers because of the sometimes too simplistic context. When discussing the U.S. response to Kristallnacht and Nazism, for example, he acknowledges the role of anti-Semitism and the Great Depression in restricting U.S. immigration, remarking that FDR "could have done far more." Since the issue of FDR's role is subject to intense, polemical debate today, Bard should have acknowledged the controversial nature of the issues. Recommended for school libraries and some specialized collections.
—Frederic Krome

Kirkus Reviews
Eyewitnesses recall the degradation and devastation that 70 years ago marked a point of no return Jews in Germany. Kristallnacht, "the night of broken glass," was actually two nights: November 9 and 10, 1938, when throughout the Third Reich (including the annexed Sudetenland and Austria) crowds engaged in a premeditated, organized pogrom. The assassination of a Nazi functionary in Paris provided the excuse, but in fact Kristallnacht continued the campaign of systematic persecution begun five years earlier with the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws; many today consider the brutal term the Nazis originally used, "Jew Action," to be a more accurate summary of their intentions. Bard (Will Israel Survive?, 2007, etc.), the director of the Jewish Virtual Library, culls his griping oral history primarily from survivor accounts collected by other scholars and the Shoah Foundation. Overnight, power and phone lines were cut. Jewish homes, offices and shops all previously identified, were invaded, destroyed and looted. Mobs burned books, furniture, toys, schools and thousands of synagogues. Fire brigades, ready to protect adjacent Aryan property if necessary, stood by and watched the conflagrations. Marauding SS and Brown Shirts scorned Iron Crosses earned by Jewish soldiers in the Great War. They took souvenirs, stole silver and piggy banks, smashed china and pianos-and the glass windows that gave the action its historic sobriquet. Tens of thousands of adult men were seized and sent to concentration camps. Families were broken. Children were scattered. Some Jews emigrated soon after, some were murdered that night, some died by suicide. Kristallnacht has been the subject of scholarly attention, butBard focuses on the experiences of children, reprinting powerful testimonies of the fear they felt and the hatred directed against them. A few gentiles expressed sympathy, but the majority of the German population seemed quite pleased with the Wagnerian events. There would be little popular objection to the murder of millions that was to come. A searing depiction of the Holocaust's opening ceremonies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781599214450
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
09/02/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
785,828
Product dimensions:
5.62(w) x 7.68(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Mitchell Bard is the Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and the director of the Jewish Virtual Library (www.JewishVirtualLibrary.org), the world’s most comprehensive online encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture (which averages nearly 1.5 million visitors per month).

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