On the night of November 9, 1938, violent anti-Jewish demonstrations broke out across Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. Nazi officials depicted the riots as justified reactions to the assassination of German foreign official Ernst vom Rath, who had been shot two days earlier by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year old Polish Jew distraught over the deportation of his family from Germany.
Over the next 48 hours, violent mobs, spurred by antisemitic exhortations from Nazi officials, destroyed hundreds of synagogues, burning or desecrating Jewish religious artifacts along the way. Acting on orders from Gestapo headquarters, police officers and firefighters did nothing to prevent the destruction. All told, approximately 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses, homes, and schools were plundered, and 91 Jews were murdered. An additional 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Nazi officials immediately claimed that the Jews themselves were to blame for the riots, and a fine of one billion reichsmarks (about $400 million at 1938 rates) was imposed on the German Jewish community.
The Nazis came to call the event Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night,” or, “The Night of Broken Glass”), referring to the thousands of shattered windows that littered the streets afterwards, but the euphemism does not convey the full brutality of the event. Kristallnacht was a turning point in the history of the Third Reich, marking the shift from antisemitic rhetoric and legislation to the violent, aggressive anti-Jewish measures that would culminate with the Holocaust.
The following bibliography was compiled to guide readers to materials about the Kristallnacht pogrom that are in the Library’s collection. It is not meant to be exhaustive. Annotations are provided to help the user determine the item’s focus, and call numbers for the Museum’s Library are given in parentheses following each citation. Those unable to visit might be able to find these works in a nearby public library or acquire them through interlibrary loan. Follow the “Find in a library near you” link in each citation and enter your zip code at the Open WorldCat search screen. The results of that search indicate all libraries in your area that own that particular title. Talk to your local librarian for assistance.
Berenbaum, Michael, editor. “The November Pogroms: Kristallnacht and Its Aftermath.” In Witness to the Holocaust, 40-68. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997. (D 804.19 .W58 1997) [Find in a library near you]
Collects six translated original documents concerning Kristallnacht, including telegrams, personal accounts, and Nazi memos and reports.
Hill, Jeff, compiler. “Kristallnacht.” In The Holocaust, 109-123. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2006. (D 804.19 .H55 2006) [Find in a library near you]
Collects seven primary sources, in translation, related to the events of November 9-10, 1938. Includes the text of police decrees, personal accounts, and Nazi memoranda. Part of the Primary Sourcebook series.
Mendelsohn, John, compiler. “The Crystal Night Pogrom.” Volume 3 of The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes. New York: Garland, 1982. (Reference D 810 .J4 H645 1982 v.3) [Find in a library near you]
Reproduces 48 original primary sources related to the forced expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany in 1938 and Kristallnacht, with English translations. Includes telegrams, letters, interview notes, memoranda, and official police reports regarding the destruction across Germany and Austria.
Friedländer, Saul. Nazi Germany and the Jews: Volume 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. (DS 135 .G3315 F75 1997 v.1) [Find in a library near you]
Traces the development of Nazi antisemitic policies throughout the 1930s and the implications of these actions on the lives of German and Austrian Jews. Includes endnotes, an extensive bibliography, and an index.
Graml, Hermann. Antisemitism in the Third Reich. Oxford: Blackwell, 1992. (DS 135 .G3315 G73 1992) [Find in a library near you]
Opens with a detailed account of Kristallnacht, and then traces the history of antisemitism in Germany to delineate the precise origins of the eliminationist anti-Jewish attitudes that led to Kristallnacht and the Holocaust. Includes an appendix with translations of key original documents along with a bibliographic essay outlining the historiography of the subject.
Kaplan, Marion A. Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. (DS 135 .G3315 K37 1998) [Find in a library near you]
Chronicles Jewish daily life in Nazi Germany in the years leading up to Kristallnacht and the Holocaust. Provides insight into the effects of Nazism on German Jews and details the shift in attitudes among Jews after the events of November 1938. Includes endnotes, a bibliography, and an index.
Kershaw, Ian. Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich: Bavaria 1933-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. (HN 460 .P8 K47 2002) [Find in a library near you]
Provides an overview of popular responses to Nazi ideology by exploring everyday life for residents in one region of Germany. Traces the reactions of “ordinary Germans” to the increasing persecution of Jews, through the study of reports, testimonies, and newspaper accounts of the Kristallnacht pogrom (see pp. 257-277). Includes extensive footnotes documenting the sources used.
Limberg, Margarete, and Hubert Rübsaat, editors. Germans No More: Accounts of Jewish Everyday Life, 1933-1938. New York: Berghahn Books, 2006. (DS 135 .G3315 S5413 2006) [Find in a library near you]
Presents first-hand accounts of daily life in Nazi Germany, including the effects of Kristallnacht on Jews who were targeted by local officials across Germany. Includes brief biographical information for each contributor.
Nachama, Andreas, Uwe Neumärker, and Hermann Simon. Fire!: Anti-Jewish Terror on Kristallnacht in November 1938. Berlin: Topography of Terror Foundation, 2008. (DS 134.255 .F57 2008) [Find in a library near you]
Examines the events in the months leading up to Kristallnacht, the November Pogrom, and its after-effects. Includes historical images, a recommended reading list, a list of abbreviations, and an index.
Schleunes, Karl A. The Twisted Road to Auschwitz: Nazi Policy Toward German Jews, 1933-1939. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990. (DS 135 .G33 S29 1990) [Find in a library near you]
Traces the evolution of anti-Jewish legislation and sentiment throughout the 1930s and the erosion of Jewish culture and status in Nazi Germany in the years leading up to World War II. Includes a detailed analysis of the year 1938—and Kristallnacht in particular—as a turning point in the history of the Third Reich. Includes an extensive bibliography, an updated bibliographic essay written by the author for the second edition, and an index.
Tenenbaum, Joseph. “The Crucial Year 1938.” Yad Vashem Studies 2 (1958): 49-77. (DS 135 .E83 Y3 v.2) [Find in a library near you]
Traces the political maneuverings between the Reich Foreign Ministry and several European countries attempting to resolve the “Jewish question” in Germany through emigration. Argues that the failure of other countries to resolve immigration issues, most notably at the Evian Conference, emboldened Nazi Germany into forcibly expelling foreign Jews in 1938 and, ultimately, to the violence of Kristallnacht and the Holocaust.
Marino, Andy. Herschel: The Boy Who Started World War II. Boston: Faber and Faber, 1997. (DS 135 .G3315 M38 1997) [Find in a library near you]
Biography of Herschel Grynszpan that provides a detailed account of the assassination of Ernst vom Rath. Attempts to untangle questions concerning Grynszpan’s possible relationship with vom Rath prior to the shooting.
Marrus, Michael. “The Strange Story of Herschel Grynszpan.” In The Origins of the Holocaust, 597-607. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1989. (Reference D 810.J4 N38 1989 v.2) [Find in a library near you]
Summarizes the life of Herschel Grynszpan, his assassination of Ernst vom Rath, and his fate at the hands of French and German officers after the shooting.
Roizen, Ron. “Herschel Grynszpan: The Fate of a Forgotten Assassin.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 1, no. 2 (1986): 217-228. (D 810 .J4 H6428 v.1) [Find in a library near you]
Survey of the available sources on Herschel Grynszpan, specifically those that contend he survived the war and settled in Paris. Reflects on the meaning of Grynszpan’s actions in the overall context of Holocaust history.
Schwab, Gerald. The Day the Holocaust Began: The Odyssey of Herschel Grynszpan. New York: Praeger, 1990. (DS 135 .G3315 S37 1990) [Find in a library near you]
Detailed account of the assassination of vom Rath and the treatment of his killer by French and German officials. Presents the arguments that prosecution and defense lawyers planned to present at Grynszpan’s trial, which was never held. Includes photographs, an extensive bibliography, an appendix listing key individuals mentioned in the text, and an index.
Ball-Kaduri, K.Y. “The Central Jewish Organizations in Berlin During the Pogrom of November 1938 (‘Kristallnacht’).” Yad Vashem Studies 3 (1959): 261-281. (DS 135 .E83 Y3 v.3) [Find in a library near you]
Provides translated reports of seven officials from Jewish organizations in Berlin describing their responses to Kristallnacht. Based on archival collections at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Benz, Wolfgang. “The November Pogrom of 1938: Participation, Applause, Disapproval.” In Exclusionary Violence: Antisemitic Riots in Modern German History, edited by Christhard Hoffmann, Werner Bergmann, and Helmut Walser Smith, 141-159. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002. (DS 146 .G4 E93 2002) [Find in a library near you]
Traces the involvement of “ordinary citizens”—as opposed to Nazi party officials—in the Kristallnacht pogrom, providing an overview of how the riots developed in urban and rural areas throughout Germany. Argues that the “silent majority” of Germans did not necessarily approve of the violence but did not voice their concerns.
Gehler, Michael. “Murder on Command: The Anti-Jewish Pogrom in Innsbruck, 9th-10th November 1938.” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 38 (1993): 119-153. (DS 135 .G3 A262 v.38) [Find in a library near you]
Details the particularly brutal nature of Kristallnacht in Innsbruck, Austria, in which three Jews were murdered and several others severely injured.
Gilbert, Martin. Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. (DS 135 .G3315 G55 2006) [Find in a library near you]
Thorough account of the events of November 10, 1938, with emphasis on the experiences of those targeted by Nazi mobs. Based primarily on eyewitness accounts. Includes numerous photographs and maps as well as a bibliography and index.
Hamburger, Arno. “The Night of the Pogrom of November 9-10, 1938 in Nuremberg.” In The German Public and the Persecution of Jews, 1933-1945: “No One Participated, No One Knew,” edited by Jörg Wollenberg, 11-14. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1995. (DS 135 .G3315 N5313 1995) [Find in a library near you]
First-hand account written by a survivor who was a 15-year-old resident of Nuremberg at the time.
Herz, Yitzhak S. “Kristallnacht at the Dinslaken Orphanage; Reminiscences.” Yad Vashem Studies 11 (1976): 344-368. (DS 135 .E83 Y3 v.11) [Find in a library near you]
Detailed, first-person account written by a resident of Dinslaken, Germany, that describes not only Kristallnacht but also the ensuing restrictions on the lives of Jews in the town.
Kley, Stefan. “Hitler and the Pogrom of November 9-10, 1938.” Yad Vashem Studies 28 (2000): 87-112. (DS 135 .E83 Y3 v.28) [Find in a library near you]
Outlines the decision-making process among Nazi officials that led to the events of November, 1938, emphasizing how Hitler’s personal actions and ideology influenced actions of the time.
Kochan, Lionel. Pogrom, 10 November 1938. London: A. Deutsch, 1957. (DS 135 .G3315 K635 1957) [Find in a library near you]
History of Kristallnacht, including a discussion of the aftermath of the riots and an overview of worldwide public reaction. Includes a brief bibliography and an index.
Loewenberg, Peter. “The Kristallnacht as a Public Degradation Ritual.” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 32 (1987): 309-323. (DS 135 .G3 A262 v.32) [Find in a library near you]
Examines Kristallnacht as an act of “public humiliation” designed to transform German Jews into outcasts from society. This essay also appears in The Origins of the Holocaust, edited by Michael Marrus, p. 582-596. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1989 (Reference D 810.J4 N38 1989 v.2).
Pehle, Walter H., editor. November 1938: From “Reichskristallnacht” To Genocide. New York: Berg, 1991. (DS 135 .G3315 J8313 1991) [Find in a library near you]
Collection of essays from various scholars exploring the origins of Kristallnacht and its aftereffects on the Jews of Germany. Places the event in the overall context of the history of the Third Reich and the Holocaust.
Read, Anthony, and David Fisher. Kristallnacht: The Nazi Night of Terror. New York: Times Books, 1989. (DS 135 .G3315 R426 1989) [Find in a library near you]
Comprehensive, journalistic account of the events leading up to and during Kristallnacht. Discusses the worldwide reaction to the events of that night, as well as a discussion of the fate of Herschel Grynszpan. Includes a bibliography, photographs, and an index.
Thalmann, Rita, and Emmanuel Feinermann. Crystal Night: 9-10 November 1938. New York: Holocaust Library, 1974. (DS 135.G33 T4313 1974) [Find in a library near you]
Thorough account of the events and aftermath of Kristallnacht, including its effects on the daily lives of Jews in Germany. Includes a discussion of worldwide public reaction to the violence and an investigation into the fate of Herschel Grynszpan.
Aftermath and Reactions
Bajohr, Frank. “Selling Off and Liquidating Enterprises and the Race for Personal Enrichment: ‘De-Judaisation’ and ‘Aryanisation’ from November 1938.” In “Aryanisation” in Hamburg: The Economic Exclusion of Jews and the Confiscation of Their Property in Nazi Germany, 222-261. New York: Berghahn Books, 2002. (DS 135 .G4 H3274 2002) [Find in a library near you]
Provides a case study of how Nazi seizures of Jewish property and businesses, especially in the wake of Kristallnacht, transpired in Hamburg, Germany. Details the effects of Nazi discrimination on Jewish business owners and residents in Hamburg, and of the ensuing efforts to exclude Jews from the local economy.
Bauer, Yehuda. “The Kristallnacht as Turning Point: Jewish Reactions to Nazi Policies.” In The Origins of the Holocaust, edited by Michael Marrus, 553-569. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1989. (Reference D 810.J4 N38 1989 v.2) [Find in a library near you]
Reflects upon the meaning of Kristallnacht as marking a significant shift in the way Jews viewed the antisemitic policies and actions of Nazi Germany, and on the implications of this shift on the overall view of Jews in European history.
Gottschalk, Alfred. The German Pogrom of November 1938 and the Reaction of American Jewry. New York: Leo Baeck Institute, 1988. (DS 135 .G3315 G67 1988) [Find in a library near you]
Presents the text of the author’s 1988 Leo Baeck Memorial Lecture, in which he outlines the general reaction of American Jews—and the responses of prominent community leaders—to news of Kristallnacht.
Hilberg, Raul. “Kristallnacht, Germany, and German Jews: An Interview with Raul Hilberg.” Dimensions 4, no. 2 (1988): 11-16. (D 804.15 .D56 v.4) [Find in a library near you]
Provides the text of an interview with eminent historian Raul Hilberg about the causes and effects of Kristallnacht. Part of a special issue of Dimensions with essays and personal testimonies marking the 50th anniversary of the event.
Leth, Goran. “The Construction Of Indifference: The Swedish Press and Kristallnacht.” Yad Vashem Studies 36, pt. 2 (2008): 155-187. (DS 135 .E83 Y3 v. 36 pt. 2) [Find in a library near you]
Examines Swedish press coverage of Kristallnacht and aspects of Swedish popular opinion on the plight of the Jews. Includes footnotes and a list of sources.
Lookstein, Haskel. “Kristallnacht.” In Were We Our Brothers’ Keepers? The Public Response of American Jews to the Holocaust, 35-80. New York: Hartmore House, 1985. (E 184.354 .L76 1985) [Find in a library near you]
Chronicles the responses of American Jewish leaders to news of Kristallnacht. Reviews coverage in mainstream newspapers and the Jewish press, public protests against the Nazi violence, and other public and private responses. Offers an evaluation of the response by Jewish community leaders to the threat of Nazism.
McKale, Donald. “A Case of Nazi ‘Justice’: The Punishment of Party Members Involved in the Kristallnacht, 1938.” Jewish Social Studies 35 (1973): 228-238. (DS 101 .J555 v.35) [Find in a library near you]
Analyzes the punishment of certain members of the Nazi party for their actions during Kristallnacht, including those who committed rape (“racial pollution”) and those who destroyed property that had to be paid for by “Aryan” insurance companies. Discusses how these court cases reflected and enforced Nazi racial ideology.
Obenaus, Herbert. “The Germans: ‘An Antisemitic People’: The Press Campaign After 9 November 1938.” In Probing the Depths of German Antisemitism: German Society and the Persecution of the Jews, 1933-1941, edited by David Bankier, 147-180. New York: Berghahn Books, 2000. (DS 146 .G4 P75 2000) [Find in a library near you]
Traces the efforts of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry, under the direction of Joseph Goebbels, to capitalize on the anti-Jewish sentiment of Kristallnacht by orchestrating a campaign of antisemitic rhetoric in German newspapers and other news outlets.
Stoltzfus, Nathan. “Kristallnacht: Intermarriages and the Lessons of Pogrom.” In Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany, 98-111. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. (DS 135 .G4 B476 1996) [Find in a library near you]
Summarizes the protests raised by non-Jewish partners of victimized Jews in Berlin after Kristallnacht with special consideration of the effects of Nazi intermarriage policies on those in mixed-marriages.
Strauss, Herbert A. “The Drive for War and the Pogroms of 1938: Testing Explanatory Models.” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 35 (1990): 267-278. (DS 135 .G3 A262 v.35) [Find in a library near you]
Summarizes the events of Kristallnacht and explores its role in the overall Nazi domestic and economic policies towards Jews. Also discusses how preparations for war helped shift Nazi policies from antisemitic policies to violent actions.
Volkov, Shulamit. “The ‘Kristallnacht’ in Context: A View from Palestine.” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 35 (1990): 279-296. (DS 135 .G3 A262 v.35) [Find in a library near you]
Reviews the coverage of Kristallnacht in the Palestine press, revealing that for many Jews the violence of that night was viewed as part of worldwide anti-Jewish sentiment and not representative of a unique threat to German or European Jews.
Explore our comprehensive entries on the events, people, and places of the Holocaust.
Film and Video
Chafer, Peter, director. Kristallnacht, The Journey from 1938 to 1988 [videorecording]. Alexandria, VA: PBS Video, 1988. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Television program commemorating the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Examines the lives of Jews currently living in Berlin and Vienna and documents the efforts of Germans and Austrians to deal with the Nazi past.
Pelzer, Chris, director. More Than Broken Glass: Memories of Kristallnacht [videorecording]. Teaneck, NJ: Ergo Media, Inc., 1989. (Video Collection) [Find in a library near you]
Uses interviews with survivors and witnesses to Kristallnacht to provide a thorough account of the events that transpired.
Museum Web Resources
Synagogues in Germany - A Virtual Reconstruction (external link)
Documents the efforts of computer scientists at the Technical University of Darmstadt to create “virtual reconstructions” of synagogues destroyed on Kristallnacht. Includes dozens of computer-generated images of how the synagogues are believed to have appeared before November 1938.
USHMM Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive: Kristallnacht
Presents archival film footage related to Kristallnacht held by the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
USHMM Special Focus: Kristallnacht
Online portal to Museum Web pages about Kristallnacht. Includes links to a special online exhibit, articles, and other Web sites.
Ask at the reference desk to see the subject file labeled “Kristallnacht, 1938” containing newspaper and periodical articles.
To search library catalogs or other electronic search tools for materials on the Kristallnacht pogrom, use the following Library of Congress subject headings to retrieve the most relevant citations:
- Kristallnacht, 1938
- Kristallnacht, 1938–Austria
- Kristallnacht, 1938–Germany