“What I saw were hordes of people standing in front of a beautiful synagogue and throwing stones through these magnificent colored windows. … Jewish stores in the center of Hamburg had been demolished, windows had been broken, the merchandise had been thrown into the streets. t was a total chaos, a total destruction,” recalled Johanna Gerechter Neumann when describing the events of Kristallnacht in Hamburg, Germany.
The “Night of Broken Glass,” or Kristallnacht, was a series of violent attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany, occupied Austria, and the Sudetenland by Nazi SA and Hitler Youth on November 9, 1938. Local fire departments were ordered by Nazi officials to intervene only to prevent the fire from spreading to other buildings—but not to stop it from destroying synagogues. The brutal violence and mass arrests resulted in the destruction of more than 200 synagogues and the murder of 91 Jews.
Because community members stood by to watch, the Nazi regime received the clear message that the German people were willing to tolerate and participate in more radical measures against Jews.