Kristallnacht (German pronunciation: [kʁɪsˈtalnaχt] (listen)) or the Night of Broken Glass, also called the November pogrom(s) (German: Novemberpogrome, pronounced [noˈvɛm.bɐ.poˌɡʁoːmə] (listen)),[1][2] was a pogrom against Jews carried out by the Nazi Party's Sturmabteilung (SA) paramilitary forces along with civilians throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938. The German authorities looked on without intervening.[3] The name Kristallnacht ("Crystal Night") comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues were smashed. The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath[4] by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old German-born Polish Jew living in Paris.

Destroyed synagogue in Berlin
LocationNazi Germany
(then including Austria and the Sudetenland)
Free City of Danzig
Date9–10 November 1938
Attack type
Pogrom, looting, arson, mass arrests
PerpetratorsSturmabteilung (SA) stormtroopers, German civilians

Jewish homes, hospitals and schools were ransacked as attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers.[5] Rioters destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland.[6] Over 7,000 Jewish businesses were damaged or destroyed,[7][8] and 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps.[9] British historian Martin Gilbert wrote that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so widely reported as it was happening, and the accounts from foreign journalists working in Germany drew worldwide attention.[5] The Times of London observed on 11 November 1938: "No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenceless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday."[10]

Estimates of fatalities caused by the attacks have varied. Early reports estimated that 91 Jews had been murdered.[lower-alpha 1] Modern analysis of German scholarly sources puts the figure much higher; when deaths from post-arrest maltreatment and subsequent suicides are included, the death toll reaches the hundreds, with Richard J. Evans estimating 638 deaths by suicide.[11] Historians view Kristallnacht as a prelude to the Final Solution and the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.[12]