75th anniversary of Kristallnacht marked


The 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, one of the most famous events in the history of Nazi Germany during which at least 90 Jewish people lost their lives and 30,000 others were taken to concentration camps, is being remembered this weekend.

Nazis used the assassination of a German diplomat in France by a German-born Polish Jew as an excuse to launch an attack on Jewish people. During Kristallnacht – also known as the Night of Broken Glass – Nazis set fire to synagogues, destroyed Jewish businesses and launched brutal attacks on Jewish people across Germany and Australia.

The anniversary of Kristallnacht will be commemorated across Germany this weekend by various groups. One of the most poignant is a project the Berlin Business Association in which around 100 shops across the Berlin-Brandenburg area will have stickers on their window to make the glass appear broken. The Berlin-Brandenberg Trade Association’s Nils Busch-Petersen explains: “Shop owners of today are remembering the shop owners of that time.”

Busch-Petersen had the idea of remembering Kristallnacht with shop windows which appear broken a few years ago, but could not put the project in action until Kultur Projekte joined and could provide resources. The Berlin Business Association and Kultur Projekte contacted shop owners in Berlin. Busch-Petersen says one group of stores in East Berlin is situated next to a store selling neo-Nazi items. “By putting this in their windows, they want to show that they do not support the Nazis,” Busch-Petersen, the Spiegel Online International reports.

Another project commemorating the anniversary of Kristallnacht is a government in Berlin that urges people to polish the Stolpersteine – or stumbling blocks – located on sidewalks outside the homes of people killed during Nazi rule. Every stone is etched with the name of victim, together with the date and place of their death. Special rags to polish the blocks were even slotted into magazines with people urged to clean the blocks and place a white rose next to the stone. Sören Schneider of the Stolpersteine Coordination Center in Berlin says: “It is an entry point into history for young people because it locates events in a social environment.”

Another project will use technology to commemorate Kristallnacht’s anniversary and educate young people about the horrors of that took place on the Night of Broken Glass. History graduates and students will be ‘live-Tweeting’ the events that took place during Kristallnacht as if it were 1983. They will be using the username @9Nov38.

The students started Tweeting at the end of October, with messages like: “2,000 Polish Jews in Frankfurt are called in for ‘passport’-control and locked into a truck.” The project’s leader Moritz Hoffmann explains:”The advantage of Twitter is that we can reach more people and that we can briefly inject these facts into people’s everyday lives.”

Since the start of the project, nearly 1500 have followed the account, which Hoffmann says indicates people still want to learn about Germany’s past. “You often hear that people don’t want to learn about history, but I think this is a nice confirmation that people are still interested,” he explains.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE