In Part IV, Ingrid Weckert tells of the strange story of "strangers"/imposters pouring into Germany across the borders of France and Belgium at an opportune moment to incite the populace against the German Jews:
Already on 8 November 1938, one day before the Crystal Night, strange persons who had never been seen there before suddenly appeared in several small towns in Hessen near the French- German border. They went to mayors, Kreisleiters (district Party leaders) and other important officials in these towns and asked them what actions were being planned against the Jews. The officials were rather startled by these questions and replied that they didn't know of any such plans. The strangers acted as if they were shocked to hear this. They shouted and complained that something had to be done against the Jews and then, without further explanation, they disappeared. Most of those who were approached by these strangers reported the incidents to the police or discussed them with friends. They usually regarded the strangers as crazy anti-Semites and promptly forgot about the incidents - until the next evening. Some of these apparently crazy individuals really outdid themselves. In one case two men, dressed as members of the SS, went to an SA Standartenfuehrer (Colonel) and ordered him to destroy the nearby synagogue. To understand the absurdity of this one must know that the SS and SA were completely separate organizations. A real SS member would never have tried to give orders to an SA unit. This case shows that the strangers were foreigners who did not even understand the distinctions of German authority. The SA Standartenfuehrer rejected the demands of the self-styled SS men and reported the incident to his superiors.
When the provocateurs realized that their efforts were not working with local officials, they changed their tactics. Instead they tried to incite directly the people in the streets. In another town, for example, two men appeared at the market place and began making speeches to the people there, trying to incite them against the Jews. Eventually some people did indeed storm the synagogue, but by then the two provocateurs had, of course, disappeared.
Similar incidents occured in several towns. Unidentified strangers suddenly appeared, gave speeches, started throwing stones at windows, stormed Jewish buildings, schools, hospitals, and synagogues, and then disappeared. These unusual incidents had already started on the 8th of November, that is, before Ernst vom Rath was dead. His death was only reported late on the evening of the 9th. The fact that this strange pattern of incidents had already begun one day earlier proves that the death of vom Rath was not the reason for the Crystal Night outburst. Vom Rath was still alive when the pogrom began.
And this was only the beginning. Well organized and widespread incidents began on the evening of 9 November. Groups of generally five or six young men, armed with bars and clubs, went down the streets smashing store windows. They were not Jew-hating SA men, enraged over the murder of a German diplomat. They operated too methodically to have been motivated by anger. They carried out their work without any apparent emotion. Nonetheless, it was their destruction that encouraged certain other individuals from the lowest social classes to become a mob and contimue the destruction. There is another mysterious aspect to all this. Several district and local Party leaders (Kreisleiters and Ortsgruppenleiters) were awakened from their sleep in the middle of the night by telephone calls. Someone claiming to be from the regional Party headquarters or the regional Party propaganda bureau (Gauleitung or Gaupropagandaleitung) would ask what was happening in the official's town or city. If the Party official answered "Nothing, everything is quiet," the telephone caller would then say in German slang that he had received an order to the effect that the Jews were going to get it tonight and that the respective official should carry out the order. In most cases the Party leader, disturbed from his sleep, did not even understand what had happened. Some simply dismissed the call as a joke and went back to bed. Others called back the office from where the telephone voice had pretended to be calling. If they managed to reach someone in charge, they were often told that nobody knew anything about such a call. But if they reached only a lower official they were often told: "Well, if you got that order, you'd better go ahead and do what you were told." These telephone calls caused considerable confusion. All this came out months later during the trials conducted by the Supreme Party Court. The Chief Judge concluded that in every case a misunderstanding had arisen in one link or other of the chain of command. But when they were confronted with apparently genuine orders to organize demonstrations against the Jews that night, most of the Party leaders had simply not known what to do.
The pattern of seemingly sporadic anti-Jewish incidents in small towns, followed only later by a carefully planned outburst in many large cities throughout Germany, clearly suggests the work of a centrally organized group of well-trained agents. Even shortly after the Crystal Night, many leading Party officials suspected that the entire affair had been centrally cordinated. Significantly, even Hermann Graml, the only West German historian who has written in detail about the Crystal Night, carefully distinguished between provocateurs and people who were simply carried away by their emotions and spontaneously took part in the riot and destruction. Without providing the slightest shred of real evidence, Graml claims that the provocative agents were directed bv Dr. Goebbels.
Munich on the Ninth of November
While all this was happening across the Reich, a special annual commemoration was being held in Munich. Fifteen years earlier, on 9 November 1923, a movement led by Adolf Hitler, Erich von Ludendorff (a leading First World War General), and two major figures in the Bavarian government tried to depose the legal government and take responsibility themselves as a new national government. The uprising or putsch was put down and 16 rebels were shot down next to the Feldherrnhalle, a famous old monument building in central Munich. Accordingly, the 9th of November had been commemorated every year since 1933 as the memorial day for the martyred heroes of the National Socialist movement. Adolf Hitler and the Party veterans, as well as all of the Gauleiters (regional Party leaders) met every year in Munich for the occasion. Hitler would usually deliver a speech to a select audience of Party veterans at the famous Buergerbraeukeller restaurant on the evening of the 8th. On the morning of the 9th Hitler and his veteran comrades would reenact the 1923 "March to the Feldherrnhalle." On the evening of the 9th the Fuehrer always held an informal dinner at the Old Town Hall ("Alte Rathaus") with old comrades as well as all the Gauleiters. At midnight young men who were about to enter the SS and the SA were sworn in at the Feldherrnhalle. All of the Gauleiters and other guests participated in this very solemn ceremony. After it was over they left Munich and returned to their homes throughout the Reich.
It is clear that the 8th of November date was chosen very cleverly. The annual commemoration ceremony of that day insured that almost all of the Gauleiters would be away from their home offices when the anti-Jewish demonstrations began. In other words, the actual decision-making responsibilities that were normally carried out by the Gauleiters were temporarily in the hands of lower-ranking individuals with less experience. Between 8 and 10 November, subordinate officials stood in for the Gauleiters who were either in Munich or en route to or from the annual commemoration there. This temporary transfer of decision-making authority is very important because it contributed to much of the subsequent confusion and thus helped the provocateurs. Another contributing factor was the fact that no one expected any trouble. At that time Germany was one of the most peaceful countries in the world. There was no reason to expect any kind of unrest. It was only during dinner at the Old Town Hall that the first sporadic reports of riot and destruction reached Munich from some of the Gauleiter's home offices. At the same time it was learned that Ernst vnm Rath had died in Paris from his wounds.
What Was Goebbels Doing?
After the dinner was over, the Fuehrer left at about g p.m. and returned to his apartment. Dr. Goebbels then stood up and spoke briefly about the latest news. He informed the audience that vom Rath had died and that, as a result, anti-Jewish demonstrations had spontaneously broken out in two or three places. Goebbels was renowned for his passionate and inspiring speeches. But what he gave that evening was not a speech at all but only a short and very informal announcement. He pointed out that the times were over when Jews could kill Germans without being punished. Legal measures would now be taken. Nevertheless, the death of vom Rath should not be an excuse for private actions against Jews. He suggested that the Gauleiters and the head of the SA, Viktor Lutze, should contact their home offices to make sure that peace and order were being maintained. It's very important to understand that Dr. Goebbels had no authority to give any orders to the others present. As fellow Gauleiters they were colleagues of equal rank. Anyway, what he said was apparently considered so reasonable that the others agreed and did what he suggested.
Tomorrow: Orders to Stop the Pogrom - Part V
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:
"Tar-baby ain't sayin' nuthin', and Brer Fox, he lay low."
(Joel Chandler Harris)
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