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The Night of Broken Glass: Eyewitness Accounts of Kristallnacht [Hardcover]

Uta Gerhardt , Thomas Karlauf
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 July 2012
November 9th 1938 is widely seen as a violent turning point in Nazi Germany′s assault on the Jews. An estimated 400 Jews lost their lives in the anti–Semitic pogrom and more than 30,000 were imprisoned or sent to concentration camps, where many were brutally mistreated. Thousands more fled their homelands in Germany and Austria, shocked by what they had seen, heard and experienced. What they took with them was not only the pain of saying farewell but also the memory of terrible scenes: attacks by mobs of drunken Nazis, public humiliations, burning synagogues, inhuman conditions in overcrowded prison cells and concentration camp barracks. The reactions of neighbours and passersby to these barbarities ranged from sympathy and aid to scorn, mockery, and abuse. In 1939 the Harvard sociologist Edward Hartshorne gathered eyewitness accounts of the Kristallnacht from hundreds of Jews who had fled, but Hartshorne joined the Secret Service shortly afterwards and the accounts he gathered were forgotten – until now. These eyewitness testimonies – published here for the first time, with a foreword by Saul Friedländer, the Pulitzer Prize historian and Holocaust survivor – paint a harrowing picture of everyday violence in one of Europe′s darkest moments. This unique and disturbing document will be of great interest to anyone interested in modern history, Nazi Germany and the historical experience of the Jews.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press (6 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780745650845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745650845
  • ASIN: 0745650848
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 16.3 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 749,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"An exceptional array of eyewitness accounts ... this fascinating collection honours the Holocaust′s victims, as well as the sociologist who preserved their memories." Times Literary Supplement "A fantastic asset for Holocaust historiography." European Review of History "This riveting book prints a collection of 21 eyewitness accounts by German Jews. The value of these testimonies lies above all in their detail and immediacy. Mostly they confirm the picture we already have from other sources, though few are as vivid as these." The Guardian "Provides heartrending testimony of Nazi racial hatred." Tribune "Taken together, these survivors’ voices bring the focus back onto what is essential: human lives, their preservation and loss." Forward Magazine "There are few more powerful or moving collections of testimonies from the Jewish victims of the Nazi pogrom of 9–10 November 1938. This is an extraordinary collection that conveys the full extent of Nazi brutality towards Jews even before the ′Final Solution′ had begun." Richard J Evans, Regius Professor of history at the University of Cambridge and author of The Third Reich at War "The testimonies about the pogrom of November 9 and 10, 1938 and its sequels, assembled in this volume, describe what the authors deemed to be the height of Nazi barbarism. In reality, these events were but the faintest of preludes to what was about to happen to the Jews in Germany and in occupied Europe. Nonetheless, these reports carry a poignancy of their own that overwhelmingly evokes the suffocating and terror filled atmosphere of Jewish everyday existence in the Reich during those November days and the immediate pre–war months." Saul Friedlander, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939–1945 "What sets this anthology, edited by German sociologist Uta Gerhardt and literary agent Thomas Karlauf, apart from other firsthand accounts is the immediacy of the testimonies. All of the accounts reveal the degree to which their authors were traumatized by their experiences." S.Ross Doughty, Ursinus College

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A memorial to victims of terrible events. 24 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an important and very affecting collection of eyewitness accounts of the terrible events of Krytallnacht and its utterly terrifying aftermath, all the more significant for not being published in the UK before.

Whilst being of great interest to the academic historian, there is much in here to engage the more casual reader, though it has to be said that the fact that these accounts were composed for a non-literary purpose, without the studied narrative structure and control of pace that accounts with more 'literary' pretensions would have, makes them a different kind of reading experience: they are compulsive for the significance of the subject matter, not the style. The translation can also be a little awkward at times, though this, together with the unstudied nature of these personal stories, often gives them a visceral rawness which is compelling in its own right: what they lack in artfulness is more than compensated for by immediacy and importance of the events they describe. But it has too be said that this book is a collection of documents rather than 'a good read'.

Thankfully there is some opportunity to read here in the victims' accounts of those non-Jews who risked their lives to protect and minimise the impact of the orchestrated terror and thuggery: inevitably one wonders if one would have had the courage to act as they did. And it is important that we are reminded of the variety of individual human experience that can be subsumed in the traditional historical account.

On a more critical note, I confess my heart sank a little to read in the introduction on page 3, 'When at about 4.30pm on 9 November von Rath finally succumbed to his injuries ......', (which I think can only mean he died - if not, what is it supposed to mean?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very informative read 22 Sep 2012
By D. Richards VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is about the "night of broken glass" in 1938 when Nazis raided / destroyed jewish buisneses, synagogues / homes accross Germany.

This book puts together the eye wittness accounts of 21 Jews who saw these events unfold. The eyewitness accounts themselves don't seem to follow any particular order, but each account is as shocking as the other and help portay a very vivd, and harrowing account of the events of that night.

The accounts themelseves are neither too long, nor short and offer good diversity in what they describe - from synagoges being burnt down to the treatment of the Jewish people that night by the SS and the German populace in general. As a result of this, and the detail in which they descibe events, I have started used some of these acounts as Source material for history GCSE and A level pupils studying this topic.

All in all a very good book that's informative and shocking at the same time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars fultoni - Eyewitness Accounts of Kristallnacht 13 Nov 2013
On many counts, this book is, for me a revelation particularly as, at the time of this review, it is the 75th Aniversary of Kristallnacht.
Right from the beginning, Thomas Karlauf's (one of the book's editors) introduction relates the story of Harvard sociologist Edward Harthorne who was responsible for gathering the eyewitness accounts in 1939 of hundreds of Jews who had first hand experience of the events of the 9th Nov 1938. (Harthorne's subsequent assassination in Germany in 1946 unbelievably reads as if it were straight from "James Bond" or "The Bourne Conspiracy" series).
The significance of the eyewitness accounts is that they were collected in 1939, within months of the events and subsequent tribulations of Kristallnacht itself. They are thus fresh and vivid in the mind of the reader and therefore not subject to possible distortion of recollection through passage of time. Each chapter (approx 21 in all) relates the very personal account and testimony of individual Jews who were eyewitnesses to the pogrom and sequels of Nov 9th & 10th 1938. They are quite harrowing.
However, the biggest revelation for me personally has to be the chapter relating to the manuscript of Karl E Schwabe. He relates being arrested by the Gestapo and being put on a train which was heading for Buchenwald. On the train he, he meets a few young men from a particular Zionist educational institutution. From my own records, I know that one of these young men was my own father 17 years old (and his friends) heading in the same direction. Schwabe relates in detail the subsequent events and traumatic conditions sufferred by those incarcerated in Buchenwald Concentration Camp until release in early 1939. My father for his part, was most reluctant, perhaps understandably, to tell his story.
Seventy odd years later, this story still goes on. This book is an absolutely invaluable testament to what I can only describe as the "Jewish 9/11"
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lest we forget. Important testimonies 16 April 2013
By M. D Roberts VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Presenting first-hand accounts of the experiences of individual Jews, this book does justice to providing the reader with a detailed account of the events surrounding what became known as "Kristallnacht." The content is at times disturbing but the book difficult to put down. A considerable amount of the information and accounts are appearing in this study for the first time.

Having recently acquired an earlier study by Sir Martin Gilbert, "Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction," I subsequently found this more recent book an excellent addition to my library, and a worthy contribution to that of anyone interested in the Holocaust.

Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction

Other reviewers, and the book's summary provided by Amazon have eloquently detailed the circumstances surrounding "Kristallnacht," so I will not repeat what has already been said. In summary this book is well written, presented and easy to understand, but sometimes difficult to come to terms with. Man's inhumanity to man being demonstrated through the platform of a regime's agenda to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe. A sobering and extremely important read.

Having read these accounts I am reminded of the importance underlying the phrase attributed to George Santayana, "those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Thank you for your time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Shattering
The story of Kristallnacht is one which should be known around the world. Following the murder of a diplomat in Paris the Nazi Govt in Germany rouses a night of terror on all... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Donald Thompson
4.0 out of 5 stars A Night to Remember
A great but distressing collection of first hand accounts. The introduction needs to be supplemented with references to alternative interpretations - this is a rather simplistic... Read more
Published 20 months ago by C. J. Tyler
4.0 out of 5 stars The Kristallnacht experience described in disturbing detail
On the night of 9th-10th November 1938, synagogues throughout Germany were set on fire, Jewish-owned shops and homes systematically vandalised, and thousands of Jews were arrested. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Lost John
5.0 out of 5 stars "Nazi Madness: November 1938"
"The Night of Broken Glass" is a collection of contemporaneous reports gathered in the late 1930's for a research project being done at Harvard University. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Jill Meyer
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving first hand accounts from nazi germany
Historians draw, as indeed they must, from first hand accounts whenever possible. In this volume, these accounts graphically describe the terrible events of the Kristalnacht. Read more
Published 22 months ago by J. Aitken
4.0 out of 5 stars We must bear witness
In many ways, there has been so much written about Nazi Germany and their treatment of the Jews that it can feel everything that can be said has already been put into print. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Simon Tavener
5.0 out of 5 stars A World Gone Mad.......................
What to say about this book? Well, 'The Night of Broken Glass: Eyewitness Accounts of Kristallnacht' gives us eyewitness accounts of the terrible events experienced by German Jews... Read more
Published 23 months ago by laineyf
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