Germany and Austria commemorate Pogrom Night in 1938


Central Europe


Commemoration of the Pogrom Night in 2018 in Berlin. Photo EPA, Omer Messinger

It happened to everybody's eyes: the Pogrom Night in November 1938 in Germany. Jewish property was destroyed everywhere during this Night of the Broken Glass: Reichskristallnacht.

There will be commemorations at several locations in Germany on Wednesday, November 9th. Most towns and cities have places set on fire or destroyed during this night 84 years ago. In some places, it is a large synagogue; in other areas, it is just a shop or a house. More than 400 people were killed that night in 1938, and 30,000 were arrested.

It was the goal of the Nazis to destroy all Jewish life in Germany. Different from now, Jews were very dominant in the country. From the 19th century, there had been much freedom for them, and Jews had started to assimilate into the Europeans. Many of them had been Christianised as well.

In many cities, there is a combination of a commemoration in the synagogue with a speech and a walk to a monument. Male visitors are asked to wear a hat or a kippa.

Some organisations call to polish the so-called "stumbling stones" that are in the street to mark places from where Jews have been deported, according to Deutschlandfunk. Since 1992, a German artist makes small copper monuments as street cobbles with the name of a person who lived there.

Commemorations are in the whole of Germany: from Essen in the West to Plauen in the East, from Hannover the Berlin.


Jewish life in Germany is not without sensitivity nowadays. On the one hand, there is more freedom than ever. The communities have been growing because of the migration of former Soviet Jews. On the other hand, there is growing tension, especially during a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Artist's impression of the Pogrom Night in Jerusalem, 2020. Photo AFP, Menahem Kahana

The Pogrom Night came half a year after the Austrian Annexation in early 1938. Only in Vienna were 42 synagogues and prayer houses destroyed that night. In Vienna and Salzburg, there will be commemorations. Jews and Christians will come together for an "interreligious community of remembrance", the news site Katholisch reports. In Vienna, there will also be a silent walk to the monument on the Judenplatz (Jewish square).



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