"Crystal Night", or better known as "Kristallnacht"!
Who hasn't heard the words? It stands for the night when, so goes the sordid story, the Germans went berserk and smashed every window of every synagogue or business that belonged to German Jews. It was the turning point in time where admiration, sympathy and even awe for Hitler's social revolution turned into visceral global revulsion - and nothing was ever the same.
Or so we are made to believe.
Until last night, when I chanced upon a German author's presentation of her deeper look into that unfortunate and murky night, I absolutely believed the above. I always thought of Kristallnacht as the "straw that broke the camel's back" when an enraged mob, composed of simple people, who had been on the receiving end of years of misery caused by an arrogant and powerful but numerically small Jewish minority, turned on their tormentors and had themselves an orgy of destruction. I did not - and do not - approve of what happened, but I could easily see how it could have finally happened.
I am running a 6-part ZGram of a presentation given by this German author, Ingrid Weckert, who did some thorough research and "felt for the nerve of the aching tooth", as we like to say in German.
As I was reading her lecture, I kept on saying "SS Liberty!" "Waco!" "Oklahoma City!" "USS Cole."
I let you read and decide for yourself:
"Crystal Night" is the name that's been given to the night of 9-10 November 1938. In almost all large German cities and some smaller ones that night, store windows of Jewish shops were broken, Jewish houses and apartments were destroyed, and synagogues were demolished and set on fire. Many Jews were arrested, some were beaten, and some were even killed. The "Reich Crystal Night" (Reichskristallnacht) was one of the most shameful events of National Socialist Germany. Although the Jews suffered initially, the greatest harm was ultimately done to Germany and the German people.
Even people who are sympathetic to National Socialism cannot understand how this event could have happened. Julius Streicher, the so-called "number one Jew baiter" for example, was shocked when he first learned about the demonstrations and destruction the next morning.
The all-important question is: Who was responsible for the incident? It is generally accepted, especially by contemporary historians, that the Nazi gang organized and carried out the pogrom, and that the chief instigator was Propaganda Minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels. The truth of the matter is that Adolf Hitler was so disgusted by the incident that he forbade anyone from discussing the matter in his presence. Dr. Goebbels complained that he would now have to explain this terrible affair to the German people and the world, and that he simply did not know what kind of credible explanation to give. If he had actually been responsible for the Crystal Night, he surely would have had a well-prepared explanation. The explanation he gave on the morning...was extremely unconvincing and was generally not believed by the German public. During my study of this subject, which resulted in my book on the Crystal Night, Feuerzeichen, I found many facts which do not agree with the generally accepted thesis. On the contrary, the evidence which I have found gives a completely different picture.
The Story We Are Given
The generally accepted sequence of events, according to most writers on the subject, is this:
In early October 1938 the Polish government announced that all Polish passports would become invalid at the end of the month unless they received a special stamp before then, obtainable only in Poland. This measure was meant to rid Poland effectively for all time of all Polish Jews living in foreign countries, most of whom were in Germany. Many of the approximately 70,000 Polish Jews living in the Reich at the time had arrived after the First World War. Of course, the German government now feared that it would have to permanently accept these 70,000 Jews. The German government tried to negotiate this issue with the Poles, but they flatly refused.
On 28 October, just two days before the deadline, German police rounded up between 15,000 and 17,000 Polish Jews, mostly adult males, from across the Reich and transported them to the German-Polish border. The deportees traveled in regular German passenger trains with more than adequate space. Contrary to some claims, they were not crammed into cattle cars. The deportees were well provided with food and medical care. Red Cross personnel and medical doctors accompanied them on the trains.[note 2]
The Polish border officials were surprised when the first trainloads arrived at the border, and they let the Jews enter Poland. At about the same time, the Polish government was deporting German Jews back to Germany. The next day, 29 October, the Polish and German governments suddenly agreed to stop the deportations of their respective Jewish populations to each other's countries. The deportations were completely halted that night.
Among the Polish Jews deported was the family of Herschel Feibel Grynszpan (Gruenspan), a l7-year-old then living (in) Paris. What followed next is generally reported either incorrectly or very one-sidedly. On 7 November Grynszpan went to the German Embassy in Paris and shot Embassy Secretary Ernst vom Rath. It is said that Grynszpan did this because he was furious over the deportation of his family. The truth about his motivation is very different. It is also claimed that the German population, upset by the news of vom Rath's death on the 8th, organized anti-Jewish demonstrations, destroyed Jewish stores, and demolished or set on fire all the synagogues in Germany. Demonstrations and destruction did take place, but the truth is that they were not organized by the German people and did not affect most of the synagogues in the Reich. Finally, it is claimed that the Crystal Night was the beginning of the extermination of the Jews in Germany. This is entirely false.
German-Jewish Relations Prior to the Crystal Night
Before explaining how the events surrounding the Crystal Night differ from what is generally believed, I must first give some background information about the peaceful years in Germany after Hitler came to power in 1933. Anyone who is aware of the true situation in Germany during the Third Reich era recognizes that the Crystal Night episode was quite extraordinary. It was a radical aberration from the normal pattern of daily life. The outburst was not in keeping with either the official National Socialist Jewish policy nor with the general German attitude towards the Jews. The Germans were no more anti-Semitic than any other people. In fact, Jews who had to leave other European countries preferred Germany as a place to live and work.
Within the National Socialist-Party itself there were two distinct anti-Semitic factions. One was scholarly and one was vulgar. The scholarly faction was centered around the Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question. It published several journals and gave lectures to civic and political groups. Its activities were consistent with the policy of peacefully removing the Jews from Germany and resettling them elsewhere. The SS was totally committed to this policy and rejected vulgar anti-Semitism. The vulgar anti- Semitic faction tried to influence popular feeling. The chief exponent of this approach was Julius Streicher, who published the unofficial monthly Der Stuermer. It used crude caricatures to portray Jews in the most horrible way in an effort to convince readers that the Jews were as evil as Satan. For years the motto "The Jews Are Our Misfortune" appeared on the front page of every issue. Der Stuermer often employed improper and undignified means to make its point.
German National Socialism basically regarded the Jews as non- German aliens who had proven themselves destructive to any nation that permitted them to dominate. Therefore, the only way to prevent further problems was to separate the Jews from the Germans. In other words, they had to emigrate. On this point the National Socialists and the Zionists were in full agreement. Although the Jews made up less than one percent of the total German population in 1933, they had power and influence in finance, business, cultural affairs and scientific life far out of proportion to their small numbers. Jewish influence was very widely regarded as harmful to German recovery after the First World War. No legal measures were taken against the Jews in Germany until after the international Jewish "Declaration of War" against Germany, as announced, for example, on the front page of the London Daily Express of 24 March 1933. This "declaration" took the form of a worldwide boycott of German goods. A week later there was an officially sanctioned boycott of Jewish shops and stores throughout Germany. This action was in direct response to the international Jewish boycott of German goods already in effect. However, the German response was a rather absurd affair and it was therefore limited to a single day, the first of April 1933. Hitler and Goebbels privately recognized that the German counter-boycott was a failure and would only turn people against the new government.
Furthermore, this one-day action came on a Saturday, the Jewish sabbath. Religious Jews took malicious pleasure at the discomfort of the Jews who normally kept their stores open on Saturdays and were now, in effect, forced by the government to obey the Jewish law against work on the sabbath. The National Socialist regime thereafter sought to diminish Jewish influence and power by strictly legal means. The first German law which could be considered anti-Jewish was dated 7 April 1933. Although the legal status of the Jews was restricted, each and every Jew knew what his legal rights were and to what he was still entitled. There were no secret or extra-legal measures against the Jews.
Ironically, it was precisely the official discrimination policy against the Jews which reduced the effectiveness of anti-Semitic propaganda to almost nothing. The Germans are a generally fair-minded people. When Germans saw their Jewish neighbors being treated unjustly, they considered that far worse than the dangers which the Jews supposedly represented simply because they were Jewish. Furthermore, the examples of Jewish criminality and perversion described in Der Stuermer were widely regarded as exceptions to normal Jewish behavior. The average German was convinced that the Jews whom he knew personally were completely unlike the criminal types sometimes described in newspapers. In my home town of Berlin most of the doctors and lawyers were still Jewish. And even the public health officer for children in the district of Berlin where my family lived was a Jew who kept this job throughout the war. I still remember one day when my mother returned from her Jewish doctor. She told us that she hadn't been able to see him because he was no longer there. He had been taken away - hauled off the previous night. My mother was very upset. A crowd of people had gathered outside his house. They were all shocked, and they discussed the injustice of this measure quite openly. My parents later talked about what had happened, and they both agreed that the doctor had never really done anything wrong. Their reaction was typical. A few days later our family pediatrician, who was also Jewish, was likewise taken away.
At the time I did not know what it meant to be taken away. It was only many years after the war, when I started reading the Holocaust literature, that I learned that I was supposed to believe that to be taken away meant deportation to a concentration camp and probable death. But like so many thousands of others, these two doctor families were not exterminated. One summer day in 1973, as I was walking through the streets of the German quarter in Tel Aviv, I came upon the name plates of both doctors on the doors of two houses. I immediately tried to visit them and found out that both families had migrated to Palestine in 1939. Although one of them had died in the meantime in Israel, I was able to speak to the other. He remembered my father very well and explained that when he and his family were arrested, they were taken to a camp and given the choice of either signing a document declaring their intention of emigrating from Germany or being taken to a labor camp. He and his family chose to emigrate. In fact, most German Jews survived the anti-Semitic measures quite well. That does not mean that those measures were not unfair to individual Jews, but they could usually manage to live with them.
The Haavara Agreement
As already mentioned, the main goal of Germany's Jewish policy was to encourage the Jews to emigrate. After the beginning of the international Jewish boycott against German goods in March 1933, the Jewish community in Palestine contacted the German government and offered a break in the boycott as far as Palestine was concerned provided it was combined with Jewish emigration from Germany. As a result, the "Haavara" or "Transfer" agreement was signed by the Germans and Jews in May 1933. [note 3] The Jewish community thus concluded an extremely beneficial agreement with the National Socialist government only a few months after its formation. This agreement was a crucial phase in the creation of the State of Israel. When I made this claim in my book Feuerzeichen, which appeared in 1981, some readers considered it outrageous.[note 4] But then this same claim was made in The Transfer Agreement, a book by Edwin Black published in 1984. The final paragraph of his book concludes with the statement that the continuing economic relationship between the Jewish community of Palestine and National Socialist Germany was "an indispendable factor in the creation of the State of' Israel."[note 5}
The Haavara agreement made it possible for any Jew to emigrate from Germany with practically all of his possessions and personal fortune provided that Jews could deposit all of their assets in one of two Jewish-owned banks in Germany which had branch offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Upon arrival in Palestine they could withdraw their assets according to the terms of the agreement. The German capital of these two Jewish banking firms was guaranteed by the German government. Even after the war these assets were fully available to the Jewish owners or their representatives If a Jew did not wish to emigrate immediately he could transfer all of his personal assets to Palestine where they would be safeguarded by a trustee while he remained in Germany for an indefinite period with emigration as his eventual goal. In the meantime his personal fortune was safe outside of Germany.
Even poorer Jews who did not possess 1,000 English pounds were able to emigrate to Palestine with credits provided through the Haavara. The British authorities generally required minimum assets of 1,000 pounds for each immigrant to Palestine if he was not entitled to a so-called worker's certificate. Only a limited number of these certificates were available and they were issued only to persons with special job skills. In addition, Jews emigrating to Palestine were exempt from the so-called "Reich flight tax," which all emigrating Germans normally had to pay. However, the Jewish companies which arranged the transfers charged the emigrants a fixed percentage of their total assets. The Haavara agreement remained in operation until the end of 1941 when the United States entered the war.
Tomorrow: National Socialist Ethical Standards - Part II
Courtesy of the Institute for Historical Review 'Crystal Night' 1938: The Great Anti-German Spectacle - Ingrid Weckert
(Paper Presented to the Sixth International Revisionist Conference.)
This and other Revisionist articles are posted, among many other websites, at www.ihr.org and www.vho.org
Thought for the Day:
"The loveliest tune imaginable becomes vulgar and insupportable as soon as the public begins to hum it and the hurdygurdies make it their own."
(Jordis Karl Huysmans)
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