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Sunday August 4th 2019Tim Candler9

 

    Let's start in the fall of 1938 when a German diplomat in Paris was shot by a 17 year old Jewish boy. The boy, apparently, knew the diplomat quite well, the diplomat was in the habit of frequenting those bars in Paris that catered to Gay people. It was a Monday morning, the boy purchased a revolver and box of bullets, he walked to the German Embassy asked to see the diplomat, was directed to the diplomats office and when the door was closed the boy shot five bullets at the diplomat, three missed, two hit the diplomat in the stomach. The boy was immediately arrested, he made no attempt to escape. About two weeks later the diplomat died of his wounds. The news of the diplomats death reached Adolf Hitler's dinner table just as dinner was over, a time when Hitler liked to stand up and issue a rousing speech to his important quests about whatever happened to be on his mind. Instead of making the speech Hitler appeared, stunned, shocked, outraged, excused himself and Goebbels stood up in his stead and apparently said, "...the Fuhrer has decided that... demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered."  Well a "spontaneous" demonstration very quickly ensued, and it was so "spontaneous" that some local party leaders across Germany had already refused to participate. A man like Herman Goring, for example, reckoned you could certainly be "spontaneous" about stealing Jewish stuff, nothing wrong with that but damaging perfectly good stuff was a terrible waste. Others, like Himmler of all people, worried a little about the international reaction to a pogrom designed to terrify Jews into leaving the country, off to Palestine, it didn't matter where, send them all back where they came from. The point was, Hitler didn't want people to know that it was all about him, he wanted people to believe it was the will of the people, so there was nothing he could really do about any of it, and after all when the people spoke he like a good Dear Leader had to listen, he was the instrument of his people, and when the people weren't exactly on the same wave length as the Dear Leader, they needed to at the very least lose their 'election to the party,' and in time there were quicker ways of dealing with less committed minds.

 

Past

    Across Germany it was three days of agony for the Jewish communities. Looting, killing, rounding people up, window breaking, synagogue burning. It was a pogrom conducted by the paramilitary units paid for by the Nazi Party and their hangers on. As for the paid officials of the state, police, army, firefighters, they were directed not to interfere unless non-Jewish property was in danger of damage. A British journalist called Hugh Greene reported back to his newspaper; "Mob law ruled in Berlin .... hordes of hooligans indulged in an orgy of destruction. ....... Racial hatred and hysteria seemed to have taken complete hold of otherwise decent people. I saw fashionably dressed women clapping their hands and screaming with glee, while respectable middle-class mothers held up their babies to see the "fun"." And while you can debate the spontaneity or otherwise of Kristallnacht, you can't really get away from the reaction to it. Many, many Germans, the great majority, disapproved of their countrymen's behavior. A former German Kaiser Wilhelm II let it be known that for the first time in his life he felt ashamed to be German, which was really saying something from the man who's contribution as German Kaiser to putting down the Boxer Rebellion was so intensely brutal it resulted in his nation earning the nickname of Huns. There were Church groups that took a stance against mass violence against Jews, but it was all mostly one of those "I'm sure it'll pass" type silences. And there were other church groups who re-read Martin Luther and came up with quotes that suggested Martin Luther was in fact all about burning down synagogues and getting rid of the Jews so the German people were absolutely right to be vehement anti-Semites, it was the way God wanted it. In time, less than a couple of weeks in fact, any expression of sympathy for the lot of the Jewish people in Germany became a treasonous act of unpatriotic disloyalty, and if as a good Christian you assisted Jewish people in their time of need, you got sent to die in a concentration camp. Less than a year later, in the September of 1939, German mechanized units invaded Poland. The German Army wanted more time to prepare, a couple more years, but following international reactions to the Night of Broken Glass the Dear Leader reckoned they needed to get on with the whole living space theory before the rest of the world got it's act together. Tomorrow, the German Revolution of 1918-19 and the role played by the German Workers Party.

 

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