- Save 10% on selected children’s books, compliments of Amazon Family Promotion exclusive for Prime members .
Kristallnacht: Prelude to Destruction Paperback – 6 Aug 2007
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Special offers and product promotions
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Praise for ‘Kristallnacht’:
‘An incisive, heartbreaking account.’ The Times
‘Horribly vivid…a book that makes the horror strikingly fresh.’ Observer
‘Gilbert’s meticulous documenting of the slope from discrimination to Kristallnacht to the Holocaust.’ Financial Times
Praise for ‘Empires of Conflict’:
‘Martin Gilbert is the most prodigious author of our time…He is a phenomenon who arouses envy among less productive professional historians…He has a fine eye for a telling passage and a memorable detail.’ John Ramsden, Financial Times
About the Author
Martin Gilbert was born in London in 1936 and educated at Highgate School and Magdalen College, Oxford. In 1962, he became research assistant to Randolph Churchill and, after Randolph’s death, succeeded him as biographer of Sir Winston Churchill. He is the author of many works of history and lives in London and Jerusalem.
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Top customer reviews
As well as examining events of the shocking night of the Kristallnacht pogrom itself (which was more severe and much more widepread than I had realised) this book also looks at the aftermath to Kristallnacht, when the Nazis embarked on a campaign of insult, violence, robbery, and state out-lawing of Jews. It was a return to medieval barbarism in the middle of the twentieth century.
The book features numerous well-researched eye-witness statements. These include contemporary reports by diplomatic representives of foreign countries, and foreign press-reporters, who all express the greatest alarm at what is unfolding in front of their eyes as the Jewish population are deprived of the means to survive.
It is disturbing to realise that on this evidence, close beneath the surface of civilisation there is danger, and cruelty waiting to be expressed. It appears that it only requires someone in authority, such as Hitler, to license the cruelty, for people to act on it. The Jews of Germany and Austria had done nothing to deserve the terrible suffering inflicted upon them.
This significant book stands witness to what happened at Kristallnacht and later by means of startling first-hand evidence from Jews and others. Thank goodness Sir Martin Gilbert has collected and published this extremely important information.
Gilbert describes in detail the barbarous events in Berlin, Vienna and throughout Germany. What's very clear is that the attacks were driven by a concerted plan, this was no co-incidental mob revolt. In total over 1,000 synagogues were burnt, 91 Jewish people murdered, countless others beaten up, detained and / or sent to concentration camps. In addition, thousands of Jewish shops and businesses were destroyed. Since only a detailed amount of systematic planning could be behind such carnage in such a short space of time, it really prompts the thought that a backlash for the assassination of Rath could have been a pretext rather than a trigger. Especially as the Jewish people were made to pay finacially for the attack as when the German government decided they needed to money to cleanup the carnage, they declared it was all the Jews fault ergo they should be paid for it. Difficult to find another example of such perverse reasoning.
The book is extremely well researched. Personal testimonies from the victims of the tragedy are provided from all over Germany, as are the stories of some heroes who manged to buck the wave of a very grave evil and in some cases put their own personal safety at risk for the benefit of others. Unfortunately their stories are only a minute minority in what can only be described as ubiquitous sadism.
Gilbert also details the reactions of other countries, organisations and leading figures at this very troubling time. For example, Pope Pius XI wished to break diplomatic ties with Germany following Kristallnacht but he was dissuaded by his successor Pope Pius XII who had negotiated the Vatican Concordat with Hitler five years earlier. The US and Britain come out in a positive light as they took in by far the largest number of refugees but lamentably some countries would take in none at all. This includes my own country the Republic of Ireland. At this time the Republic of Ireland was a staunchly Catholic state but not even a request from the Vatican could make it change its apathetic and shameful policies. They even refused a number of Jewish refugees had converted to Catholicism.
Finally, the sad fate of the Jewish people in World War II is discussed. But this is really just a summary, if one could even use that word for one of the saddest and bleakest episodes of human history. The book's main focus is Kristallnacht itself.
It's hard to find any criticisms in what is an excellent book. But if I were to be a bit pedantic there isn't too much background given to the antisemitism which existed outside the Nazi regime and throughout Europe (apparently it was quite high in Poland and France as well). In the introduction, Gilbert does point out Martin's Luther's unequivocal antisemitism, referencing Luther's pastoral letter: 'On Jews and their Lies'. In this, in a bitter and horrific irony Luther advised that the synagogues of the Jews should be set on fire for the 'honour of God'. However, it's still very hard to understand why 400 years later how what were less than 1% of the Germany population could be turned on by such an evil. The Jewish people were people who in many cases were proud Germans and who fought in World War I. It's in no doubt that evil can manifest very quickly and very easily but the reasons why merit a lot of thought.
But that's being picky. Overall it's a superb book. I have read a few Gilbert's books. He's a superb writer and Historian. Buy it, read it and reflect on it.
Gilbert gathered the remembrances of people or their offspring who survived the onslaught. There are letters, journals and interviews with the author, bringing a disturbing intimacy to this account. That there were survivors to make these records seems surprising after a half-century of condemnation by the victorious Powers. Yet, Kristallnacht itself wasn't an orgy of killing. Less than a hundred died of beatings or unknown causes, although there were many suicides. Jews were seized and incarcerated, even in the notorious concentration camps, but most were later released. Pre-war Germany was more interested in ridding itself of its Jews by exile and emigration was encouraged. "Time to leave" became a byword among Germany's Jews after Kristallnacht, which was part of its purpose, according to Gilbert. Emigration, however, was more than packing up and leaving. There had to be places to go, and not all nations opened their borders to Jews fleeing manifest hatred.
Although the historian notes how the destruction was orchestrated by Nazi officials and that Brownshirts and the Hitler Youth were present, the attackers were either joined or cheered on by a large, although not universal, proportion of the general population. The opportunity to obtain goods, stores, homes and money was seized by many Germans. Firms were closed, to open "under new management" by the stroke of a pen. Homes gained new owners as Jews emigrated, were shoved into ghettos or concentration camps or, later, killed. There were few enough to defend them and Gilbert avoids explaining whether lawyers helped or hindered the processes. Given the absolute powers the Nazi regime granted itself, the only good lawyer was one who acceded to the process. Another void in this book is the lack of accounts from smaller towns. Gilbert provides a series of maps showing how many towns experienced Kristallnacht's violence. Yet, the text focusses on Vienna, Frankfurt-am-Main, Hamburg and other large cities. How big did a town have to be to host a synagogue? How many small-town neighbours assisted in its destruction? We aren't given this information.
If history has "watersheds", Kristallnacht serves as a type specimen. Only the French massacre of St Bartholomew's Night stands as a peer. In the same way that a cabal of French Catholics plotted to rid their country of its Protestant minority, so too, did Nazi thugs await a trigger to launch their onslaught. It came with the murder of a German diplomat in Paris, but the event hardly matches the scope of the response. Clearly, "everyday" Germans participated in the destruction, but Gilbert ties the causes solely to Nazi policy. That hardly seems sustainable, but worse, it denies the possibility of a reprise in different nations under different leaders. If this book could teach us anything, it's that being on guard against those promoting hate is an endless task. Read this book for what happened, but go elsewhere to learn why it did. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Ontario]
Most recent customer reviews
I discovered I personally know some of the people of interviewed by Sir Martin Gilbert.