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A Picture from History: Kristallnacht

In this dive into history, we look at the Night of Broken Glass that left Jewish businesses vandalized and destroyed in November 1938.

“It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once,” such were the words of philosopher David Hume.

At least for the Jews in Nazi-owned Germany, those words couldn’t have been truer.


Subject to a rising number of discriminatory policies ever since Hitler rose to power, things reached a climax on November 9-10, 1938.

It was then that the Germans had something sinister in store for the Jewish populace…Kristallnacht.

The Beginnings

In 1933 Hitler rose to power in Germany, quickly instituting a number of mandates discriminating against both Jews and others he deemed a “threat” to German society.

These state-sponsored policies only grew more and more oppressive as time went on.

In just two short years, businesses throughout Germany announced they would no longer provide service to Jews.

Nazis with Sign
Nazis warning public about a Jewish business.

By the end of that same year, the Nuremberg Laws announced only Aryan Germans could be full German citizens, with all the benefits such entailed. 

Hitler was always on the lookout for reasons to further justify his “purification” of German society, and on November 7, 1938, he believed he’d found just what he’d been looking for.

The Assassination

After hearing the news that his parents – along with tens of thousands of other Jews – had been rounded up into boxcars and shipped off to Poland, 17-year-old Herschel Grynszpan was furious.

He’d already witnessed years of discrimination against his people, but the strike against his parents was the last straw.

Herschel Grynszpan
Herschel Grynszpan

Armed with a revolver, young Herschel sought his revenge by shooting German ambassador Ernst vom Rath right outside of the German embassy in Paris.

Vom Rath died of his wounds two days later. Yet, his death would be the birth of something truly terrible just a short distance away.


Joseph Goebbels – the Nazi minister of propaganda – had waited for this moment.

Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels

Upon hearing the news of the assassination, he quickly sent orders down throughout the German military.

Goebbels told Stormtroopers to carry out violent riots against Jews — burn down buildings and arrest as many as possible all under the guise of “spontaneous demonstrations.”

Holocaust News Headline

Goebbels wanted to make it look like the chaos created came from the people – not his Nazi soldiers.

If he could pull this off successfully, further acts of discrimination could be justified to the public at large.

In addition, police and fire departments were told to stand down. Firemen could only intervene if the flames threatened Aryan-owned businesses.

Holocaust Flames

The result?

A night of broken glass.

The Crystal Night

As ordered, the riots and burnings began the night of November 9, carrying on well into the night of the 10th.

Synagogues, Jewish businesses, homes, and schools were systematically looted, burned to the ground, and destroyed.

Men Digging Through Rubble
Men dig through the rubble.

Authorities arrested 30,000 Jewish men and promptly shipped them off to concentration camps.

By the end of the chaos, Nazis murdered approximately 100 Jews, destroyed or damaged 7,500 Jewish businesses, and vandalized hundreds of synagogues, homes, schools, and graveyards.

And while the Nazis referred to the night as made of crystal, the Jews had another name for it, “The Night of Broken Glass.”

Destroyed Jewish Storefront
Destroyed Jewish storefront


After Kristallnacht, the German government still found reason to blame the Jews.

The government fined them 1 billion marks ($400 million in 1938 money), seized their property, and confiscated insurance money as well. Further discriminatory policies soon took place, virtually excluding Jews from all other aspects of life in general.

Jewish Man and Woman Stars

Seeing the writing on the wall, over 100,000 Jews left Germany as soon as they could, fully understanding what Kristallnacht forebode.

This is a new style of article for Pew Pew Tactical, if you liked it — let us know in the comments! If you didn’t enjoy it…well phooey. To catch up on previous Pictures From History, click on over to our History Category.

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21 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    Keep doing articles like this. But add the parallel behavior of the Marxist progressives so that those who were never taught history or solely revisionist history, might see the similarities and wake up.

    June 28, 2021 7:25 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Thank you for this article - keep them coming. It is only when we are constantly reminded of such tyranny that we can ensure it never happens again.

    June 28, 2021 11:47 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Absolutely wonderful article! History—especially a history like this—is vital in helping us as a people to remember how easy it is to lose everything so fast. Thank you so much for keeping our memories fresh and our eyes open.

    June 27, 2021 9:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I come to this website to avoid politics. Thanks for ruining that.

    June 27, 2021 7:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Interesting and informative. Reads balanced and well.

    June 27, 2021 7:28 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Need more articles like it. It's a reminder of why the Second Amendment is so important.

    June 27, 2021 7:23 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Thank you for the History article.
    "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - George Santayana

    June 27, 2021 6:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    In a day when history is being unwritten and rewritten to fit particular agendas so that we forget what really happened (so that it can be repeated with the same evil intent but with different faces), this is a welcome article. Thank you for the reminder of where we’ve come from so we don’t have to go there again. Keep it coming.

    June 27, 2021 5:53 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Nick Nolan

    Great article

    June 27, 2021 3:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steve Sherridon

    An excellent and important article`about freedom and evil. Never again!

    June 26, 2021 12:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jack Hauser

    Good job. As has been already noted, a timely article. An injustice against one is an injustice against all. Thank goodness for the AR platform.

    June 26, 2021 10:44 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Sua Sponte

    History may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme. We're often told that history does indeed repeat itself, but, it's not so much that it does but that human nature doesn't change.

    June 26, 2021 7:39 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    A nice reminder! We can all learn from this. Thanks and keep up the good work!

    June 26, 2021 5:09 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jack Toffmore

    A very informative article. I did not know that an assassination was the pretext for Kristalnacht. Thank you for widening my knowledge on the subject.

    June 25, 2021 9:04 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I enjoyed the history lesson, thank you

    June 25, 2021 7:10 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    excellent, well-timed article!!

    June 25, 2021 6:49 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    History repeats itself. Ignore that fact at your own peril.

    PPT should continue with these historical references; 1930’s Germany v 2021 USA is not only about religion, it is about heinous tyranny and how it manifests itself.

    We are in very perilous times indeed.

    June 25, 2021 3:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    History repeats itself. Ignore that fact at your own peril.

    PPT should continue with these historical references; 1930’s Germany v 2021 USA is not only about religion, it is about heinous tyranny and how it manifests itself.

    We are in very perilous times indeed.

    June 25, 2021 3:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    All sounds strikingly familiar to the tactics of the modern left. In case anyone needed another reason to oppose their gun control agenda...

    June 25, 2021 3:30 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Good article. Succinct and informative.

    June 25, 2021 10:53 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mr. Gray

    I liked this article very much. It’s accurate history. I’d hate to see any revisionism such as we see from the left today though.

    June 25, 2021 10:16 am
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