CHAPTER 9

The Onslaught

I

On the morning of November 10, 1938, at eight A.M., the farmer and local SA leader of Eberstadt, Adolf Heinrich Frey, accompanied by several of his cronies, set out for the house of the eighty-one-year-old Jewish widow Susannah Stern. According to Frey, the widow Stern took her time before opening the door, and when she saw him she smiled “provocatively” and said: “Quite an important visit this morning.” Frey ordered her to dress and come with them. She sat down on her sofa and declared that she would not dress or leave her house; they could do with her whatever they wanted. Frey reported that the same exchange was repeated five or six times, and when she again said that they could do whatever they wanted, Frey took his pistol and shot Stern through the chest. “At the first shot, Stern collapsed on the sofa. She leaned backward and put her hands on her chest. I immediately fired the second shot, this time aiming at the head. Stern fell from the sofa and turned. She was lying close to the sofa, with her head turned to the left, toward the window. At that moment Stern still gave signs of life. From time to time she gave a rattle, then stopped. Stern did not shout or speak. My comrade C. D. turned Stern’s head to see where she had been hit. I told him that I didn’t see why we should be standing around; the right thing to do was to lock the door and surrender the keys. But to be sure that Stern was dead I shot her in the middle of the brow from a distance of approximately ten centimeters. Thereupon we locked the house and I called Kreisleiter Ullmer from the public telephone office in Eberstadt and reported what had happened.” Proceedings against Frey were dismissed on October 10, 1940, as the result of a decision of the Ministry of Justice.1

In the course of the prewar anti-Jewish persecutions, the pogrom of November 9 and 10, the so-called Kristallnacht, was in many ways another major turning point. The publication in 1992 of Goebbels’s hitherto missing diary accounts of the event added important insights about interactions among Hitler, his closest chieftains, the party organizations, and the wider reaches of society in the initiation and management of the anti-Jewish violence. As for the reactions of German and international opinion to the anti-Jewish violence, these raise a host of questions, not least for their relation to events yet to come.

The idea of a pogrom against the Jews of Germany was in the air. “The SD not only approved the controlled and purposeful use of violence, but explicitly recommended it in a memorandum of January 1937.”2 Early in February 1938 the Zionist leadership in Palestine received information from “a very reliable private source—one which can be traced back to the highest echelons of the SS leadership, that there is an intention to carry out a genuine and dramatic pogrom in Germany on a large scale in the near future.”3In fact, the anti-Jewish violence of the early summer of 1938 had not entirely died down; A synagogue had been set on fire in Munich on June 9, and another in Nuremberg on August 10.4 For the American ambassador, the anti-Jewish incidents of the early summer of 1938 indicated, as had been the case in 1935, some forthcoming radical anti-Jewish legislation.5 Finally, shortly before the pogrom, during an inspection journey to Vienna at the end of October 1938, Hagen discussed the “Jewish situation in Slovakia” with his Vienna colleague SS-Obersturmführer Polte. Hagen instructed Poke to indicate to the representatives of the Slovak government that “this problem had to be solved, and that it seemed advisable to stage an action of the people against the Jews.”6

By then Hitler’s hesitations of June 1938 had disappeared. His totally uncompromising position on Jewish matters found another expression in early November. On November 4, in a letter addressed to Frick, Lammers indicated that due to repeated requests for exemption from diverse anti-Jewish measures (such as additional first names, identification cards, and so on), he himself had raised the fundamental aspect of the issue with Hitler. “The Führer is of the opinion,” wrote Lammers, “that exemptions from the special regulations valid for the Jews have to be rejected without any exception. Nor does the Führer himself intend to grant any such marks of personal favor.”7

On November 8 the Völkischer Beobachter published a threatening editorial against the Jews, closing with the warning that the shots fired in Paris would herald a new German attitude regarding the Jewish question.8 In some places local anti-Jewish violence had started even before the Nazi press brandished its first threats. An SD report of November 9 described events that had taken place in the Kassel and Rotenburg/Fulda districts during the night of November 7–8, presumably as an immediate reaction to the news. In some places Jewish house and shop windows had been smashed. In Bebra a number of Jewish apartments had been “demolished,” and in Rotenburg the synagogue’s furniture was “significantly damaged” and “objects [were] taken away and destroyed on the street.”9

One of the most telling aspects of the events of November 7–8 was Hitler’s and Goebbels’s public and even “private” silence (at least as far as Goebbels’s diaries are concerned). In his November 9 diary entry (relating events of November 8), Goebbels did not devote a single word to the shots fired in Paris, although he had spent the late evening in discussion with Hitler.10 Clearly, both had agreed to act, but had probably decided to wait for the seriously wounded Rath’s death. Their unusual silence was the surest indication of plans that aimed at a “spontaneous outburst of popular anger,” which was to take place without any sign of Hitler’s involvement. And, on that same evening of November 8, in his speech commemorating the 1923 putsch attempt, Hitler refrained from any allusion whatsoever to the Paris event.

Rath died on November 9, at 5:30 in the afternoon. The news of the German diplomat’s death was officially brought to Hitler during the traditional “Old Fighters” dinner held at the Altes Rathaus in Munich, at around nine o’clock that evening. An “intense conversation” then took place between Hitler and Goebbels, who was seated next to him. Hitler left the assembly immediately thereafter, without giving the usual address. Goebbels spoke instead. After announcing Rath’s death, he added, alluding to the anti-Jewish violence that had already taken place in Magdeburg-Anhalt and Kurhessen, that “the Führer had decided that such demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the party, but insofar as they erupted spontaneously, they were not to be hampered.” As later noted by the chief party judge Walter Buch, the message was clear.11

For Goebbels there had been no such occasion to display his leadership talents in action since the boycott of April 1933. The propaganda minister, moreover, badly wanted to prove himself in the eyes of his master. Hitler had been critical of the ineffectiveness, in Germany itself, of the propaganda campaign during the Sudeten crisis.12 Besides, Goebbels was in partial disgrace as the result of his affair with the Czech actress Lida Baarova, and his intention to divorce his wife, Magda, one of Hitler’s very special protégées. Hitler had put an end to the romance and the divorce, but his minister was still in need of some major initiative. Now he held it in his hands.

“I report the matter to the Führer,” wrote Goebbels on the tenth, alluding to the conversation at the dinner the evening before. “He [Hitler] decides: demonstrations should be allowed to continue. The police should be withdrawn. For once the Jews should get the feel of popular anger. That is right. I immediately give the necessary instructions to the police and the Party. Then I briefly speak in that vein to the Party leadership. Stormy applause. All are instantly at the phones. Now the people will act.”

Goebbels then described the destruction of synagogues in Munich. He gave orders to make sure that the main synagogue in Berlin, on Fasanenstrasse, be destroyed. He continued: “I want to get back to the hotel and I see a blood-red [glare] in the sky. The synagogue burns…. We extinguish only insofar as is necessary for the neighboring buildings. Otherwise, should burn down…. From all over the Reich information is now flowing in: 50, then 70 synagogues are burning. The Führer has ordered that 20–30,000 Jews should immediately be arrested…. In Berlin, 5, then 15 synagogues burn down. Now popular anger rages…. It should be given free rein.”

Goebbels went on: “As I am driven to the hotel, windowpanes shatter [they are being smashed]. Bravo! Bravo! The synagogues burn like big old cabins. German property is not endangered. At the moment nothing special remains to be done.”13 The main Munich synagogue, on Herzog-Max Strasse, was not among those Goebbels saw burning. Its demolition had been started a few months before, on Hitler’s explicit orders.14

At approximately the same time as the propaganda minister was gleefully contemplating a good day’s work, Hitler gave his instructions to Himmler and informed him that Goebbels was in overall charge of the operation. On that same night Himmler summed up his immediate reaction in writing: “I suppose that it is Goebbels’s megalomania—something I have long been aware of—and his stupidity which are responsible for starting this operation now, in a particularly difficult diplomatic situation.”15The Reichsfuhrer was certainly not opposed to the staging of a pogrom; what must have stung Himmler was the fact that Goebbels had been the first to exploit the shots fired at Rath to organize the action and obtain Hitler’s blessing. But he may indeed also have thought that the timing was not opportune.

The propaganda chief concluded his November 10 diary entry by alluding to some of the events of that morning: “Throughout the morning, a shower of new reports. I consider with the Führer what measures should be taken now. Should one let the beatings continue or should they be stopped? That is now the question.”16

Still in Munich on the eleventh, Goebbels kept writing about the previous day: “Yesterday: Berlin. There, all proceeded fantastically. One fire after another. It is good that way. I prepare an order to put an end to the actions. It is just enough by now…. Danger that the mob may appear on the scene. In the whole country the synagogues have burned down. I report to the Führer at the Osteria [a Munich restaurant; Hitler later left for the Obersalzberg]. He agrees with everything. His views are totally radical and aggressive. The action itself took place without the least hitch. 100 dead. But no German property damaged.”

What follows shows that some of the most notorious orders given by Göring during the conference that was about to take place on November 12 were decisions made by Hitler on the tenth: “With small changes, Hitler agrees to my decree concerning the end of the actions,” wrote Goebbels, and he added: “The Führer wants to take very sharp measures against the Jews. They must themselves put their businesses in order again. The insurance companies will not pay them a thing. Then the Führer wants a gradual expropriation of Jewish businesses…. I give appropriate secret orders. We now await the foreign reactions. For the time being, they are silent. But the uproar will come….17

“Information arrives from Berlin about enormous anti-Semitic riots. Now the people move ahead. But now one has to stop. I give the requisite instructions to the police and the Party. Then everything will be calm.”18

The pogrom was much less coordinated than Goebbels claimed. According to one reconstruction of the sequence of events, after Goebbels’s initial order “the Gauleiters started around 10:30 P.M. They were followed by the SA at 11:00, by the police shortly before midnight, by the SS at 1:20 in the morning, and again by Goebbels at 1:40.”19 Heydrich’s orders to the Gestapo and the SD were precise. No measures endangering German life or property were to be taken, in particular when synagogues were burned down; Jewish businesses or apartments could be destroyed but not looted (looters would be arrested); foreigners (even when identified as Jews) were not to be molested; synagogue archives were to be seized and transferred to the SD. Finally, “inasmuch as in the course of the events of this night the employment of officials used for this purpose would be possible, in all districts as many Jews, especially rich ones, are to be arrested as can be accommodated in the existing jails. For the time being only healthy men not too old should be arrested. Upon their arrest, the appropriate concentration camps should be contacted immediately, in order to confine them in these camps as fast as possible. Special care should be taken that the Jews arrested in accordance with these instructions are not mistreated.”20

The November 10 telephone report from SA Brigade 151 in Saarbrucken was concise and to the point: “During the past night, the synagogue in Saarbrucken was set on fire; the synagogues in Dillingen, Merzig, Saarlautern, Saarwillingen, and Broddorf were also destroyed. The Jews were taken into custody. The fire brigade is engaged in extinguishing the fires. In the area of Brigade 174, all synagogues were destroyed.”21

On November 17 Hitler attended Rath’s funeral in Düsseldorf.

Only a few hundred Jews lived in the Gau Tyrol-Vorarlberg. Like all other Jews of the Austrian province, they had to leave the country by mid-December or move to Vienna. In October, Eichmann had arrived in Tyrol’s main city, Innsbruck, and issued a personal warning to the community’s three leading Jews: Karl Bauer and Alfred and Richard Graubart. Gauleiter Franz Hofer and the local SD office meant to fulfill Himmler’s orders and have the Gau judenrein within weeks. The night of November 9 to 10 offered an unexpected opportunity. Hofer rushed back from the Alte Kampfer dinner in Munich and set the tone: “In response to the cowardly Jewish assassination of our embassy counsellor vom Rath in Paris, in the Tyrol too the seething soul of the people should, this night, rise against the Jews.”22

The SS had been put on alert by Heydrich’s message. After the midnight swearing-in ceremony of the new SS recruits which on that same night had taken place in Innsbruck as in all other major cities of the Reich, the men reassembled in civilian clothes around 2:30 in the morning, under the command of SS-Oberführer Hanns von Feil. Within minutes a special SS murder commando, divided into three groups, was on its way to No. 4-5 Gänsbacher Strasse, where some of the more prominent Jewish families of Innsbruck still lived. According to SS-Obersturmführer Alois Schintlholzer, he “received instructions at the Hochhaus in Innsbruck from regional leader Feil to kill the Jews on Gänsbacher Strasse silently.”

At No. 4 Gänsbacher Strasse the engineer Richard Graubart was stabbed to death in the presence of his wife and daughter. On the second floor of the same building, Karl Bauer was dragged into the hall, stabbed, and beaten with pistol butts; he died on the way to the hospital. On Anichstrasse, the turn of Richard Berger, the president of the Jewish community in Innsbruck, came approximately at the same time. Berger was taken out in pajamas and winter coat and pushed into an SS car that was supposedly taking him to Gestapo headquarters. But the car started off in a different direction. According to SS-Untersturmführer Walter Hopfgartner: “We drove west through Anichstrasse, over the university bridge, in the direction of Kranebitten. During the trip, Berger asked where we were going, since this was not the way to the Gestapo. Berger, who, understandably, was somewhat nervous, was calmed down by the men in the back of the car…. Suddenly Lausegger announced, in a voice sufficiently loud so that all could hear him, that ‘no firearms are to be used.’ This upset Berger again and he asked what we wanted from him, but he was quieted down again…. After Lausegger’s statement, I realized immediately that Berger was to be killed.”

At a bend of the Inn River, Berger was dragged out of the car, battered with pistols and stones, and thrown into the river. Against instructions he was shot at, but the subsequent Gestapo investigation established that by then he was already dead.

All the SS men involved in the Innsbruck murders were old-timers fanatically devoted to Hitler, extreme anti-Semites and exemplary members of the order. Gerhard Lausegger, the man in charge of the squad that killed Berger, had been a member of a student corporation and had “headed the federation of all dueling companies at the University of Innsbruck.” On March 11 he had been among the men who, just before the arrival of the Wehrmacht, seized the provincial administration hall of the city.

Heydrich’s report of November 11 indicated that thirty-six Jews had been killed and the same number seriously injured throughout the Reich. “One Jew is still missing, and among the dead there is one Jew of Polish nationality and two others among those injured.”23 The real situation was worse. Apart from the 267 synagogues destroyed and the 7,500 businesses vandalized, some ninety-one Jews had been killed all over Germany and hundreds more had committed suicide or died as a result of mistreatment in the camps.24 “The action against the Jews was terminated quickly and without any particular tensions,” the mayor of Ingolstadt wrote in his monthly report on December 1. “As a result of this measure a local Jewish couple drowned themselves in the Danube.”25

For the Würzburg Gestapo nothing was self-evident. In an order issued on December 6 to the heads of the twenty-two administrative districts of Gau Main-Franken (Franconia) as well as to the mayors of Aschaffenburg, Schweinfurt, Bad Kissingen, and Kitzingen, the secret police demanded immediate details about Jews who had committed suicide “in connection with the action against the Jews”; question no. 3 required information about “the presumed motive.”26

In a secret letter addressed on November 19 to the Hamburg Prosecutor General about the events of November 9–11, the Ministry of Justice stated that the destruction of synagogues and Jewish cemeteries, as well as of Jewish shops and dwellings, if not committed for purposes of looting, were not to be prosecuted. The murder of Jews and the infliction of serious bodily damage were to be prosecuted “only if committed for selfish reasons.”27

The decisions of the courts and the various administrative decrees regarding the (lack of) culpability of the murderers were given their adequate “conceptual framework” in the report prepared by the Supreme Court of the NSDAP of February 13, 1939. The report stated that on November 10, at 2 A.M., Goebbels had been informed of the first killing, that of a Polish Jew. He was told that something had to be done to stop what could become a dangerous development. According to the report, Goebbels’s answer was in terms of “not getting upset because of a dead Jew.” The report then adds the following comment: “At this point in time, most of the killings could still have been hindered by an additional order. As it was not given, this very fact as well as the remarks expressed [by Goebbels] lead to the conclusion that the final result was intended or at least taken into account as possible and desirable. This being the case, the individual perpetrator has put into action not merely what he assumed to be the intention of the leadership, but what he rightly recognized as such, even though it was not clearly stated. For this he cannot be punished.”28

Was the Nazi action perceived by its perpetrators as a step that could hasten the emigration of the Jews from the Reich or possibly as an initiative aimed at furthering some other, more encompassing policy? After the pogrom Göring, on Hitler’s orders, would make the most of the Paris shooting. But despite prior SD plans about the use of violence, nothing systematic seems to have been considered before the unleashing of the action of November 9. At that moment total, abysmal hatred appears as the be-all and end-all of the onslaught. The only immediate aim was to hurt the Jews as badly as the circumstances allowed, by all possible means: to hurt them and to humiliate them. The pogrom and the initiatives that immediately followed have quite rightly been called “a degradation ritual.”29 An explosion of sadism threw a particularly lurid light on the entire action and its sequels; it burst forth at all levels, that of the highest leadership and that of the lowliest party members. The tone of Goebbels’s diary entries was unmistakable; the same tone would suffuse the November 12 conference.

An uncontrollable lust for destruction and humiliation of the victims drove the squads roaming the cities. “Organized parties moved through Cologne from one Jewish apartment to another,” the Swiss consul reported. “The families were either ordered to leave the apartment or they had to stand in a corner of a room while the contents were hurled from the windows. Gramophones, sewing machines, and typewriters tumbled down into the streets. One of my colleagues even saw a piano being thrown out of a second-floor window. Even today [November 13] one can still see bedding hanging from trees and bushes.30 Even worse was reported from Leipzig: “Having demolished dwellings and hurled most of the movable effects to the streets,” the American consul in Leipzig reported, “the insatiably sadistic perpetrators threw away many of the trembling inmates into a small stream that flows through the Zoological Park, commanding the horrified spectators to spit at them, defile them with mud and jeer at their plight…. The slightest manifestation of sympathy evoked a positive fury on the part of the perpetrators, and the crowd was powerless to do anything but turn horror-stricken eyes from the scene of abuse, or leave the vicinity. These tactics were carried out the entire morning of November 10 without police intervention and they were applied to men, women and children.”

The same scenes were repeated in the smallest towns: the sadistic brutality of the perpetrators, the shamefaced reactions of some of the onlookers, the grins of others, the silence of the immense majority, the helplessness of the victims. In Wittlich, a small town in the Moselle Valley in the western part of Germany, as in most places, the synagogue was destroyed first: “The intricate lead crystal window above the door crashed into the street and pieces of furniture came flying through doors and windows. A shouting SA man climbed to the roof, waving the rolls of the Torah: ‘Wipe your asses with it, Jews,’ he screamed while he hurled them like bands of confetti on Karnival.” Jewish businesses were vandalized, Jewish men beaten up and taken away: “Herr Marks, who owned the butcher shop down the street, was one of the half dozen Jewish men already on the truck…. The SA men were laughing at Frau Marks who stood in front of her smashed plate-glass window [with] both hands raised in bewildered despair. ‘Why are you people doing this to us?’ She wailed at the circle of silent faces in the windows, her lifelong neighbors. ‘What have we ever done to you?’”31

Soon the Jewish masses of occupied Poland would offer the choicest targets to the unquenchable rage that, stage by stage, propelled the Greater German Reich against the hapless European Jews.32

Once again Hitler had followed the by-now familiar pattern he had displayed throughout the 1930s. Secretly he gave the orders or confirmed them; openly his name was in no way to be linked with the brutality. Having refrained from any open remark about the events on November 7–8, Hitler also avoided any reference to them in his midnight address to SS recruits in front of the Feldherrnhalle on November 9. At the time of his address, synagogues were already burning, shops being demolished, and Jews wounded and killed throughout the Reich. A day later, in his secret speech to representatives of the German press, Hitler maintained the same rule of silence regarding events that could not but be on the mind of every member of the audience;33 he did not even speak at Rath’s funeral. The fiction of a spontaneous outburst of popular anger imposed silence. Any expression of Hitler’s wish or even any positive comment would have been a “Führer order.” Of Hitler’s involvement the outside world—including trustworthy party members—was, at least in principle, to know nothing.

However, knowledge of Hitler’s direct responsibility quickly trickled out from the innermost circle. According to the diaries of Ulrich von Hassell, the former German ambassador to Rome and an early opponent of the regime, many conservatives were outraged by the events, and the minister of finance of Prussia, Johannes Popitz, protested to Göring and demanded the punishment of those responsible for the action. “My dear Popitz, do you want to punish the Fuhrer?” was Göring’s answer.34

At the low end of the party hierarchy some justifications were rapidly concocted. On November 23 a Hüttenbach Blockleiter (block leader), who was also the chronicler of party history in his town, was ordered by his district party leader to collect incriminating evidence against the local Jews. Only two days later he had completed his research and could report that the task had been accomplished: “Herewith,” the Blockleiter wrote, “I am sending some material about the Jews in Hüttenbach. I don’t know whether I hit upon the right things. I couldn’t do it more quickly, if what was wanted was an overview of these racial foreigners and about how they behaved in Hüttenbach.” At that point the Blockleiter, with engaging openness, voiced some doubts about his own qualifications as a full-fledged historian: “I may have more material here, but I cannot become a historian along with my professional work and in any case the necessary documentation is missing.”35

Incidentally, the same local historian had not yet exhausted his efforts, or his worries, regarding the events of November 9 and 10. On February 7, 1939, he announced to his district party leader that he had completed the chronicle for the year 1938. The November events he memorialized as follows: “During the night of November 9, 1938, Party member v. Rath died in Paris as a result of the cowardly aggression perpetrated by the Jew Grünspan. During the same night all the Jews’ synagogues went up in flames all over Germany; Party member Ernst v. Rath was avenged. Early, at 5 in the morning, District Party Leader Party Comrade Waltz and Mayor Party Comrade Herzog, District Propaganda Leader Party Comrade Büttner and Sturmführer Brand, arrived and set the Jewish temple on fire. Party members from the local section gave energetic help. But this sentence was criticized by a few Party members: it should not be written that Party members Walz, Herzog, and Büttner/Brand set the synagogue on fire, but the people did it. That’s right. But as the writer of a chronicle I should and I must report the truth. It would easily be possible to take this page out and to prepare another entry. I ask you, my District Party Leader, how should I prepare this entry and how should it be worded? Heil Hitler.”36

II

On the morning of November 12, Goebbels summed up the events of the previous days in the Völkischer Beobachter. “The Jew Grynszpan,” so the last paragraph ran, “was the representative of Jewry. The German vom Rath was the representative of the German people. Thus in Paris Jewry has fired on the German people. The German government will answer legally but harshly.”37 The German government’s legal answers were hurled at the Jews throughout the remaining weeks of 1938; they were accompanied by three major policy interpretations: the first on November 12, at the top-echelon conference convened by Göring; the second on December 6, in Göring’s address to the Gauleiters; the third on December 28, in a set of new rules also announced by Göring. All of Göring’s initiatives and interpretations were issued on Hitler’s explicit instructions.

It has often been assumed that Göring had lost much of his influence since the summer of 1938 as a result of his relatively moderate attitude in the Sudeten crisis.38 The new star among Hitler’s underlings was Ribbentrop, the presumptuous new foreign minister, who was convinced that the British would continue to back down from crisis to crisis. It may well be, however, that within the new scheme of things following Munich, Göring’s role as coordinator of Jewish matters had become essential for Hitler’s plans. Göring was to orchestrate all measures that would make Jewish life in Germany untenable and accelerate Jewish emigration. The constant threat of further anti-Jewish violence and the need to find places of refuge for the fleeing Jews would mobilize “world Jewry” and convince it to tone down its anti-German incitement; this in turn would persuade the Western governments that compromise solutions to Hitler’s new demands were a necessity. In other words, Hitler may well have thought that anti-Jewish pressure in Germany would ensure the success of Nazi foreign aggressions, due to what he believed to be the influence of world Jewry on the policies of the Western democracies. And Hitler’s forthcoming declarations about settling Jews in some Western colonies, and his public threats to exterminate them in case of war, also indicate that his belief in the influence of world Jewry in Paris, London, and Washington was an essential part of his worldview.

The conference of high-ranking officials that Göring convened on November 12 at the Air Transport Ministry has become notorious. “Gentlemen,” Göring began, “today’s meeting is of decisive importance. I received a letter that Bormann, the Führer’s Deputy’s chief of staff, wrote to me on instruction from the Führer, according to which the Jewish question should now be dealt with in a centralized way and settled in one form or another. In a telephone call which I received from the Führer yesterday, I was once again instructed to centralize the decisive steps to be taken now.”39

The concrete discussions that took place on November 12 at Göring’s headquarters dealt not only with various additional ways of harassing the Jews and further economic steps to be taken against the Jews but also, and at length, with the immediate problem of insurance compensation for the damages inflicted on Jewish property during the pogrom. A representative of the German insurance companies, Eduard Hilgard, was called in. The windowpanes alone destroyed in Jewish shops were insured for about six million dollars, and because the glass was Belgian, at least half of this amount would have to be paid in foreign currency. That prompted an aside by Göring to Heydrich: “I wish you had killed two hundred Jews and not destroyed such property.” Heydrich: “Thirty-five were killed.”40 Göring issued the orders secretly given by Hitler two days before: The Jews would bear all the costs of repairing their businesses; the Reich would confiscate all payments made by German insurance companies. “The Jews of German citizenship will have to pay as a whole a contribution of 1,000,000,000 RM to the German Reich.”41

On the same day Göring ordered the cessation of all Jewish business activity as of January 1, 1939. The Jews had “to sell their enterprises, as well as any land, stocks, jewels, and art works. They could use the services of ‘trustees’ to complete these transactions within the time limit. Registration and deposit of all shares was compulsory.”42 Göring’s main policy statement, again delivered after consultations with Hitler, was yet to come, in a meeting with the Gauleiters on December 6. But more than for its major executive decisions, the November 12 conference remains significant for its sadistic inventiveness and for the spirit and tone of the exchanges.

Still carried away by the flurry of his activities the days before, the propaganda minister had a whole list of proposals: The Jews should be compelled to demolish the damaged synagogues at their own expense; they should be forbidden public entertainments (“I am of the opinion that it is impossible to have Jews seated next to Germans at variety shows, cinemas, or theaters; one could eventually envisage later that here in Berlin one or two movie houses be put at the disposal of the Jews in which they could present Jewish films”).43 At that point a notorious debate arose between Goebbels and Göring on how to segregate Jews on trains. Both agreed on the necessity of separate compartments for Jews but, Goebbels declared, there should be a law forbidding them to claim a seat even in a Jewish compartment before all Germans had secured one. The mere existence of a separate compartment would have the undesirable effect of allowing some Jews to sit at their ease in an overcrowded train. Göring had no patience for such formalities: “Should a case such as you mention arise and the train be overcrowded, believe me, we won’t need a law. We will kick him [the Jew] out and he will have to sit all alone in the toilet all the way!” Goebbels insisted on a law, to no avail.44

This minor setback did not paralyze Goebbels’s brainstorming: the Jews, he demanded, should absolutely be forbidden to stay in German resorts. The propaganda minister also wondered whether German forests should not be made out of bounds for them (“Nowadays, packs of Jews run around in Grunewald; it is a constant provocation, we constantly have incidents. What the Jews do is so annoying and provoking that there are brawls all the time”). This gave Göring an idea of his own: Some sections of the forests should be open to Jews, and animals that resembled Jews—“the elk has a crooked nose like theirs”—should be gathered in those sections. Goebbels continued; he demanded that parks should also be forbidden to Jews, as Jewish women, for instance, might sit down with German mothers and engage in hostile propaganda (“There are Jews who do not look so very Jewish”). There should also be separate benches for Jews, with special signs: FOR JEWS ONLY! Finally, Jewish children should be excluded from German schools (“I consider it as out of the question that my son be seated next to a Jew in a German school and [that the Jew] be given a German history lesson.”).45

At the end of the debate on the economic issues, Göring made it clear that the decisions taken would have to be “underpinned by a number of police, propaganda, and cultural measures, so that everything should happen right away and that, this week, slam-bang, the Jews should have their ears slapped, one slap after the other.”46

It was Heydrich who reminded those present that the main problem was to get the Jews out of Germany. The idea of setting up a central emigration agency in Berlin on the Viennese model was broached (Eichmann had been specially summoned from Vienna for the occasion). But in Heydrich’s opinion at the current rate it would take some eight to ten years to achieve a solution of the problem, which, it will be remembered, was also Hitler’s assessment in the meeting with Goebbels on July 24. How, then, should the Jews be isolated in the meantime from the German population without their losing all possibility of a livelihood? Heydrich was in favor of a special badge to be worn by all those defined as Jews by the Nuremberg Laws (“A uniform!” Göring exclaimed. Heydrich repeated: “A badge.”) Göring was skeptical: He himself was in favor of establishing ghettos on a large scale in the major cities. For Heydrich ghettos would become “hiding places for criminal activities” uncontrollable by the police, whereas a badge would allow surveillance by “the vigilant eye of the population.” The debate on the introduction of a badge or the creation of ghettos went on, concentrating on the ways the Jews would pursue their daily life (“You can’t let them starve!” Göring argued).47 The difference of opinion remained unresolved, and, three weeks later, Hitler was to reject both badges and ghettos.

Like Goebbels earlier, Heydrich had more suggestions on his list: no driver’s licenses, no car ownership (“the Jews could endanger German life”), no access to areas of national significance in the various cities, no access to cultural institutions—along the lines of Goebbels’s suggestion—none to resorts and not even to hospitals (“a Jew cannot lie in a hospital together with an Aryan Volksgenosse”). When the discussion moved to what the Jews could do to counter the financial measures about to be taken against them, Göring was sure that they would do nothing whatsoever. Goebbels concurred: “At the moment, the Jew is small and ugly and he will remain at home.”48

Shortly before the last exchange, Göring commented, as if an afterthought: “I would not like to be a Jew in Germany.” The Generalfeldmarschall then mentioned that on November 9 Hitler had told him of his intention to turn to the democracies that were raising the Jewish issue and to challenge them to take the Jews; the Madagascar possibility would also be brought up, as well as that of “some other territory in North America, in Canada or anywhere else the rich Jews could buy for their brethren.” Göring added: “If in some foreseeable future an external conflict were to happen, it is obvious that we in Germany would also think first and foremost of carrying out a big settling of accounts with the Jews.”49

On the same day that Goebbels forbade Jews access to cultural institutions, he also banned the Jewish press in Germany. Shortly afterward, Erich Liepmann, director of the Jüdische Rundschau, which by then had been closed down, was summoned to the propaganda minister’s office: “‘Is the Jew here?’ Goebbels yelled by way of greeting,” Liepmann recalled. “He was sitting at his desk; I had to stand some eight meters away. He yelled: ‘An informational paper must be published within two days. Each issue will be submitted to me. Woe to you if even one article is published without my having seen it. That’s it!’”50 Thus the Jüdisches Nacbricbtenblatt was born: It was designed to inform the Jews of all the official measures taken to seal their fate.

But sometimes, it seems, even Goebbels’s eye wasn’t sharp enough. In early December, some six weeks after Kristallnacht, the Nachrichtenblatt reviewed the American film Chicago: “A city goes up in flames and the firefighters stand by without taking any action. All the hoses are poised, the ladders have been prepared…but no hand moves to use them. The men wait for the command, but no command is heard. Only when the city has burned down and is lying in cinders and ashes, an order arrives; but the firefighters are already driving away. A malicious invention? An ugly tale? No. The truth. And it was revealed in Hollywood.”51

The law of November 12 compelling the Jews to sell all their enterprises and valuables, such as jewels and works of art, inaugurated the wholesale confiscation of art objects belonging to them. The robbery that had already taken place in Austria now became common practice in the Reich. In Munich, for example, the procedure was coordinated by Gauleiter Wagner himself who, in the presence of the directors of state collections, gave the orders for “the safekeeping of works of art belonging to Jews.” This “safekeeping” was implemented by the Gestapo: An inventory was duly taken in the presence of the owners (or their “delegates”) and a receipt issued to them. One of these documents reads: “25 November 1938. Protocol, recorded in the residence of the Jew Albert Eichengrün, Pilotystrasse 11/1, presently in protective custody. The housekeeper, Maria Hertlein, b. 21/10/1885, in Wilpolteried, B.V., Kempten, was present. Dr. Kreisel, Director, Residenzmuseum, and criminal investigators Huber and Planer officiated.”52

On November 15 all Jewish children still remaining in German schools were expelled.53 In a letter the same day addressed to all state and party agencies, Secretary of State Zschintsch explained the minister of education’s decision. “After the heinous murder in Paris one cannot demand of any German teacher to continue to teach Jewish children. It is also self-evident that it is unbearable for German schoolchildren to sit in the same classroom with Jewish children. Racial separation in schooling has already been accomplished in general over the last few years, but a remnant of Jewish children has stayed in German schools, for whom school attendance together with German boys and girls cannot be permitted anymore…. I therefore order, effective immediately: Attendance at German schools is no longer permitted to Jews. They are allowed to attend only Jewish schools. Insofar as this has not yet happened, all Jewish schoolchildren who at this time are still attending a German school must be dismissed.”54

On November 19 Jews were excluded from the general welfare system. On November 28 the minister of the interior informed all the federal state presidents that some areas could be forbidden to Jews and that their right of access to public places could also be limited to a few hours a day.55It did not take long for the Berlin police chief to move ahead. On December 6 the city’s Jews were banned from all theaters, cinemas, cabarets, concert and conference halls, museums, fairs, exhibition halls, and sports facilities (including ice-skating rinks), as well as from public and private bathing facilities. Moreover Jews were banned from the city districts where most government offices and major monuments and cultural institutions were located: “the Wilhelmstrasse from the Leipzigerstrasse to Unter den Linden, including the Wilhelmsplatz, the Vossstrasse from the Hermann Göring-Strasse to the Wilhelmstrasse, the Reich Commemorative Monument including the northern pedestrian way on Unter den Linden from the University to the Arsenal.” The announcement indicated that in the near future the banning of Jews would probably be applied to “a great number of Berlin streets.”56

On December 3, on Himmler s orders, the Jews were deprived of their driver’s licenses. The access of Jewish scholars who possessed a special authorization to university libraries was cancelled on December 8. On December 20 Jews were no longer allowed to train as pharmacists, and a day later they were excluded from midwifery.57 On the twenty-eighth, besides further measures of segregation (access was prohibited that day to dining and sleeping cars on trains, and also to public swimming pools and hotels that usually catered to party members), the first indications of a potential physical concentration of the Jews (to be discussed further on) appeared.58 On November 29 the minister of the interior forbade Jews to keep carrier pigeons.59

In the meantime, following Heydrich’s order of November 9, the Gestapo started to impound all Jewish communal archives. The police and SA did the preliminary work, even in the smallest towns. In Memmingen the criminal police arrested the local Jewish religion teacher who also dealt with all of the community’s official correspondence. He was forced to lead the inspectors to the archives, which were kept in “three old closets” in the synagogue and in “a wooden case” in the attic of his house. The closets and the case were locked and sealed, the key of the synagogue deposited at the police station.60 In large cities the procedure was basically the same. According to a report by the state archives director in Frankfurt, he was ordered by the mayor on November 10 to take over all Jewish communal archives. When he arrived at the Fahrgasse synagogue, he found “broken windowpanes, unhinged gates, paintings cut to pieces, smashed exhibit cases, files and books scattered all over the floors, and so on.” On the twelfth, a small fraction of the files were removed to the state archives for examination by the Gestapo. On the fifteenth, two Gestapo officials started cataloging, with the historical material destined to be added to the ever-growing collection of plundered Judaica being assembled in Frankfurt for the new Research Institute on the Jewish Question. In passing, the state archives director mentioned that among the files there was a complete list of the (some 23,000) Jews living in Frankfurt;61 for the Gestapo such a list must have been of particular interest.

Göring s main policy statement was delivered on December 6, following the instructions given him by Hitler on December 4. This time he was addressing the inner core of the party, the Gauleiters, and although the speech, in the usual Göring style, was relaxed in tone, there could have been no doubt in the minds of the audience that he was conveying clear orders backed by Hitler’s authority. These were to be followed strictly to the letter. As Göring put it (regarding Hitler’s decision that the Jews would not be marked by any special sign), “Here, gentlemen, the Führer has forbidden it, he has expressed his wish, he has given the order, and I think that this should entirely suffice for even the lowliest employee not to get the idea that the Führer actually wishes it but maybe he wishes even more that I do the opposite. In terms of the Führer’s authority, it is clear that there is nothing to change and nothing to interpret.”62

What is striking in Göring’s address is his constant reference to the fact that these were Hitler’s orders, that all the steps mentioned had been discussed with Hitler and had his complete backing. The most likely reason for this repeated emphasis was that some of the measures announced would not be popular with the assembly, since they would put an end to the profits party members of all ranks, including some Gauleiters, had derived from their seizure of Jewish assets. It seems that this was why Göring repeatedly linked the Jewish issue to the general economic needs of the Reich. Party members were to be fully aware that any transgression of the new orders was harmful to the Reich’s economy and an outright violation of the Führer’s orders. In concrete terms, after stressing the fact that the party and the Gaue had taken Jewish assets, Göring made it clear that, on Hitler’s orders, such unlawfully acquired property would have to be transferred to the state: “The Party should not engage in any business…. A Gau leadership cannot set up an Aryanization office. The Gau leadership has no authority to do this, it is not allowed to do it…. The Fuhrer has issued the following guidelines: obviously, Aryanization has to take place locally, because the state itself cannot do it…but the benefits from all the Aryanization measures belong exclusively and solely to the Reich, i.e., to its authorized representative, the Reich Finance Minister, and to no one else in the whole Reich; it is only thus that the Führer’s rearmament program can be accomplished.”63 Previously Göring had made it clear that deals already made by party members in order to enrich themselves were to be cancelled. It was not the fate of the Jews that mattered, Göring added, but the reputation of the party inside and outside Germany.64 The other internal party issue dealt with at some length was that of punishment for deeds committed on November 9 and 10: Whatever was undertaken on purely ideological grounds, out of a justified “hatred for the Jews,” should go unpunished; purely criminal acts of various kinds were to be prosecuted as they would be prosecuted under any other circumstances, but all publicity liable to cause scandal was to be strictly avoided.65

As for the main policy matters regarding the Jews, the recurring two issues—two facets of the same problem—reappeared once again: measures intended to further Jewish emigration, and those dealing with the Jews remaining in the Reich. In essence the life of the Jews of Germany was to be made so unpleasant that they would make every effort to leave by any means; however, those Jews still remaining in the Reich had to feel that they had something to lose, so that none of them would take it into their heads to make an attempt on the life of a Nazi leader—possibly the highest one of all.66

Forced emigration was to have top priority: “At the head of all our considerations and measures,” Göring declared, “there is the idea of transferring the Jews as rapidly and as effectively as possible to foreign countries, of accelerating the emigration with all possible pressure and of pushing aside anything that impedes this emigration.” Apparently Göring was even willing to refrain from stamping Jewish passports with a recognizable sign (the letter “J”) if a Jew had the means to emigrate but would be hindered from doing so by such identification.67 Göring informed the Gauleiters that the money needed to finance the emigration would be raised by an international loan (precisely the kind of loan that, as we shall see, Schacht was soon to be discussing with the American delegate of the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees); Hitler, Göring stated, was very much in favor of this idea. The guarantee for the loan, presumably to be raised by “world Jewry” and by the Western democracies, was to consist of the entire assets still belonging to the Jews in Germany—one reason why Jewish houses were not to be forcibly Aryanized at that stage,68even though many party members were particularly tempted by that prospect.

From world Jewry Göring demanded the bulk not only of the loan but also the cessation of any economic boycott of Germany, so that the Reich could obtain the foreign currency needed to repay the principal and the interest on the international loan. In the midst of these practical explanations, Göring mentioned that he wanted the Jews to promise that the “international department store corporations, which in any case are all in Jewish hands, should commit themselves to take millions worth of German goods.”69 The myth of Jewish world power loomed again.

Regarding the Jews still remaining in Germany, Göring announced Hitler’s rejection of any special identifying signs, and of excessively drastic travel and shopping restrictions. Hitler’s reasons were unexpected: Given the state of mind of the populace in many Gaue, if Jews wore identifying signs they would be beaten up or refused any food. The other limitations would make their daily life so difficult that they would become a burden on the state.70 In other words, the Gauleiters were indirectly warned not to launch any new actions of their own against the Jews in their Gaue. Jewish-owned houses, as has been seen, were the last Jewish assets to be Aryanized.

While discussing the measures that would induce the Jews to leave Germany, Göring assured his listeners he would make sure that the rich Jews would not be allowed to depart first, leaving the mass of poor Jews behind. This remark probably explains what followed three days later.

In the Würzburg Gestapo files there is an order issued December 9, on Göring’s instructions, to the twenty-two Franconia district offices; that order must have been issued on a national scale. In it, the State Police demanded the “immediate forwarding of a list of ‘influential Jews’ living in each of the districts.” The criteria of influence were spelled out as follows: wealth and relations with foreign countries (of “economic, family, personal, or other kinds”). The regional officers were to give the reason for every influential Jew’s inclusion on the list. The matter was so urgent that the lists had to be sent in by express mail on the next day, the tenth, so as to reach Würzburg Gestapo headquarters by 9 A.M. on Saturday, December 11. Each regional office director was made “personally responsible for strict adherence to the deadline.”71

There is no explanation in the files regarding Göring’s intentions, nor any record of further action; it may have been a short-lived start at taking rich and influential Jews hostage to guarantee the departure of the poor ones.

A few days before the Würzburg Gestapo transmitted Göring’s orders, Frick informed the federal state presidents and interior ministers that “by expressly highest order”—a formula used only for orders from Hitler—no further anti-Jewish measures were to be taken without explicit instructions from the Reich government.72 The echo of Göring’s announcement to the Gauleiters is clearly perceptible. On December 13 it was the Propaganda Ministry’s turn to inform its agencies that “the Führer had ordered that all political broadcasts deal exclusively with the Jewish problem; political broadcasts on other topics were to be avoided so as not to diminish the effect of the anti-Jewish programs.”73 In short, German opinion had yet to be convinced that the November pogrom had been amply justified.

After the series of internal meetings of party and state officials that aimed at clarification of the goals and limits of post-pogrom anti-Jewish policies, one additional conference took place on December 16. Convened by Frick, that meeting was held in the presence of Funk, Lammers, Helldorf, Heydrich, Gauleiters and various other party and state representatives. In the main Frick and Funk took up Göring’s explanations, exhortations, and orders. Yet it also became apparent that throughout the Reich, party organizations such as the German Labor Front had put pressure on shopkeepers not to sell to Jews. And, mainly in the Ostmark, Mischlinge were being treated as Jews, both in terms of their employment and of their business activities. Such initiatives were unacceptable in Hitler’s eyes. Soon no Jewish businesses would be left, and the Jews would have to be allowed to buy in German stores. As for the Mischlinge, the policy, according to Frick, was to absorb them gradually into the nation (strangely enough Frick did not distinguish the half- from the quarter-Jews), and the current discrimination against them contravened the distinctions established by the Nuremberg Laws. On the whole, however, the main policy goal was emphasized over and over again: Everything had to coincide to expedite the emigration of the Jews.74

Yet another set of measures descended on the Jews toward the end of December. On the twenty-eighth Göring, again referring to orders explicitly given by Hitler, both at the beginning of the document and in its conclusion, established the rules for dealing with dwellings belonging to Jews (they should not be Aryanized at this stage, but Jewish occupants should gradually move to houses owned and inhabited only by Jews) and defined the distinction between two categories of “mixed marriages.” Marriages in which the husband was Aryan were to be treated more or less as regular German families, whether or not they had children. The fate of mixed marriages in which the husband was Jewish depended on whether there were children. The childless couples could eventually be transferred to houses occupied only by Jewish tenants, and in all other respects as well, they were to be treated as full Jewish couples. Couples with children—whereby the children were Mischlinge of the first degree—were temporarily shielded from persecution.75 “The government appears, if one is prepared to accept the government’s point of view, to treat correctly Aryan’ husbands of Jewish wives,” Jochen Klepper noted in his diary. “Many of them hold important positions in the army and the economy. They are not forced to divorce and are able to transfer their possessions. But much worse off are Aryan’ wives of Jewish men. They are expelled to Jewry; on their heads fall all the misfortunes that we others are spared according to the present regulations and conditions.”76 Klepper mentions that Aryan husbands of Jewish wives “are not forced to divorce.” Aryan wives of Jewish husbands were not forced to divorce either, but the law of July 6, 1938 (already mentioned in chapter 4), had made divorce on racial grounds possible, and Göring’s decree of December 28 clearly encouraged Aryan women to leave their Jewish husbands: “If the German wife of a Jew divorces him,” said the decree, “she again joins the community of German blood, and all the disadvantages [previously imposed on her] are eliminated.”77

Why did Hitler oppose the yellow badge and outright ghettoization in December 1938? Why did he create a category of “privileged mixed marriages” and also decide to compensate Mischlinge who had suffered damages during the pogrom? In the first case, wariness about German and international opinion was probably the main factor. As for the mixed marriages and compensation decision for Mischlinge, it seems evident that Hitler wanted to circumscribe as tightly as possible the potential zones of discontent that the persecution of mixed marriages and of Mischlinge in general could create within the population.

Göring’s decree of December 28 aiming at the concentration of Jews in “Jews’ houses” became more easily applicable when, on April 30, 1939, further regulations allowed for the rescinding of leasing contracts with Jews.78 The Aryan lessor could not annul a contract of Jewish tenants prior to obtaining a certificate from the local authorities that alternative quarters in a Jewish-owned house had been secured. But, as noted by the American chargé d’affaires Alexander Kirk, these new regulations allowed municipal and communal authorities to “compel Jewish house-holders, or Jewish tenants in a Jewish owned house, to register with them vacant rooms, or space which they would not seem to require for their own needs. The latter may then be forced, even against their will, to lease these quarters to other Jews who are liable to eviction from ‘Aryan’ houses. The local authorities may draw up the terms of these involuntary contracts and collect a fee for this service.”79

On January 17, 1939, the eighth supplementary decree to the Reich Citizenship Law forbade Jews to exercise any paramedical and health-related activities, particularly pharmacy, dentistry, and veterinary medicine.80 On February 15 members of the Wehrmacht, the Labor Service, party functionaries, and members of the SD were forbidden to marry “Mischlinge of the second degree,”81 and on March 7, in answer to a query from the Justice Minister, Hess decided that Germans who were considered as such under the Nuremberg Laws but who had some Jewish blood were not to be hired as state employees.82

During the crucial weeks from November 1938 to January 1939, the measures decided upon by Hitler, Göring, and their associates entirely destroyed any remaining possibility for Jewish life in Germany or for the life of Jews in Germany. The demolition of the synagogues’ burned remains symbolized an end; the herding of the Jews into “Jewish houses” intimated a yet-unperceived beginning. Moreover, the ever-present ideological obsession that was to receive a paroxysmic expression in Hitler’s Reichstag speech of January 30, 1939, continued unabated: A stream of bloodthirsty statements flowed from the pages of Das Schwarze Korps, and an address by Himmler to the SS top-echelon leadership of the elite unit SS-Standarte “Deutschland,” on November 8, 1938, carried dire warnings.

Himmler made no mention of the Paris shooting the day before, and most of his speech dealt with the organization and tasks of the SS. But the Jewish question was ominously there. Himmler warned his audience that, within ten years, the Reich would face unprecedented confrontations “of a critical nature.” The Reichsführer referred not only to national confrontations but, in particular, to the clash of worldviews in which the Jews stood behind all other enemy forces and represented the “primal matter of all that was negative.” The Jews—and the forces they directed against the Reich—knew that “if Germany and Italy were not annihilated, they themselves would be annihilated.” “In Germany,” Himmler prophesied, “the Jew will not be able to maintain himself; it is only a matter of years.” How this would be achieved was obvious: “We will force them out with an unparalleled ruthlessness.” There followed a description of how anti-Semitism was intensifying in most European countries, as a result of the arrival of Jewish refugees and the efforts of Nazi propaganda.

Then Himmler launched into his own vision of the final phase. Trapped, the Jews would fight the source of all their troubles, Nazi Germany, with all the means at their disposal. For the Jews the danger would be averted only if Germany were burned down and annihilated. There should be no illusions, said Himmler, and repeated his warning that in case of a Jewish victory, there would be total starvation and massacre; not even a reservation of Germans would remain: “Everybody will be included, the enthusiastic supporters of the Third Reich and the others; speaking German and having had a German mother would suffice.”83 The implicit corollary was clear.

In October 1935, in the immediate wake of the promulgation of the Nuremberg Laws, Goebbels had issued a decree according to which the names of fallen Jewish soldiers would not be inscribed on any memorial erected in Germany from then on.84 It so happened, however, that when on June 14, 1936, a memorial was unveiled in the small town of Loge, in Eastern Friesland, the name of the Jewish soldier Benjamin was inscribed among those who had fallen in 1915. Loge’s Gruppenleiter took the initiative of having Benjamin’s name deleted and replaced (to fill the conspicuous void) by that of a local soldier who had died of his wounds soon after the war’s end. Local protests, including those of Dutch citizens living in this border town, such as the retired ambassador Count van Wedel, led to the removal of the new name. Was, then, the Jewish soldier Benjamin to be reinscribed? The Gauleiter of Weser-Ems decided that such a move would be “intolerable.”85

The overall problem remained unsolved until the pogrom of November 1938. On November 10 Paul Schmitthenner, rector of Heidelberg University, wrote to the Baden minister of education in Karlsruhe: “In view of the struggle of world Jewry against the Third Reich, it is intolerable that the names of members of the Jewish race remain on plaques of the war dead. The students,” Schmitthenner continued, “were demanding the removal of the plaque, but this was not done out of respect for the German dead.” The rector therefore asked the ministry to find an immediate solution to the problem in cooperation with the Reich student leader: “I consider removal of the Jewish names necessary,” Schmitthenner concluded. “It should take place in an orderly and dignified way in the spirit of the regulations I am asking for.”86

The minister of education of Baden forwarded Schmitthenner’s letter to the Reich minister of education with the following comment: “In my opinion, as the question is of fundamental significance, it should be submitted to the Führer for decision.”87 Rust did so, and on February 14 he was able to announce Hitler’s decision: Names of Jews on existing memorials would not be removed. Newly erected memorials would not include names of Jews.88

Schmitthenner’s resolve to eliminate the names of fallen Jewish soldiers from the halls of Heidelberg was echoed by the no less determined action of Friedrich Metz, the Freiburg University rector, who thereby preempted a decision that would be taken in Berlin on December 8. “I have been informed,” Metz wrote to the university library director on November 17, “that the library of the university and the academic reading room are still being visited by Jews. I have already instructed former members of the faculty Professor Jonas Cohn and Professor Michael, who are in question in this matter, to abstain from using any services of the Albert-Ludwig University in order to avoid unpleasantness. I authorize you herewith to act in the same spirit if the university library or the academic reading room are visited by other Jews.”89

III

“Regarding your request concerning a residence permit for your wife, I have to inform you of the following.” Thus started a letter that Party Comrade Seller, the Kreisleiter of Neustadt on the Aisch, near Nuremberg, addressed on November 21, 1938, to the German farmer and grocery store owner Fritz Kestler of Ühlfeld. Kesder’s wife, the mother of his four children and the family member in charge of the grocery store, had been expelled from Ühlfeld during the November pogrom and was temporarily staying with relatives in Nuremberg.

“Your wife, born Else Rindeberg,” the letter continued, “is a full-blooded Jewess. That is why she has repeatedly shown to all members of her race, through personal contact and all possible help, that she feels that she totally belongs to them. That is why, for instance, she took the reponsibility for the reimbursements of debts owed to Ühlfeld Jews. Moreover, she has given shelter to Jews who felt threatened. Further, she allowed Volksgenossen who have not learned a thing and who wished to buy at the Jew Schwab’s to walk through her store and enter Schwab’s premises from the back. Your wife has proved thereby that she considers herself a Jew and that she thinks she can make fools of the political leadership and the authorities.

“I am not astonished that you were not enough of a man to put an end to this, since someone who admits that he has been happily married to a Jewess for twenty-five years shows that he is badly contaminated by this evil Jewish spirit. If, at the time, you were oblivious enough of your race to marry a Jewess against the warnings of your parents, you cannot expect today to have the right to ask that an exception be made for your Jewish wife.” After warning Kestler that his wife should not try to return, Kreisleiter Seller ended his letter with the appropriate flourish: “Your question regarding what should now happen to your wife is of as little interest to me as twenty-five years ago it was of interest to you what would become of the German people if everybody entered a marriage that defiled the race.”90

Seiler’s anti-Jewish fury was not shared by the majority of Germans. On November 10 a clear difference emerged from the outset between activists and onlookers on the streets of the large cities: “I myself,” the counselor of the British Embassy reported to his foreign minister a few days later, “and members of the staff were witnesses of the later stages of the excesses in Berlin, which lasted until well into the night of the 10th. Gangs of youths in plain clothes and armed with poles, hammers and other appropriate weapons were visiting the Jewish shops and completing the work of destruction, done in the early morning. In some cases the premises had been entirely looted, in others the stock in trade was only mishandled and scattered. And at one or two places a crowd was gaping in silent curiosity at the efforts of the owners to tidy up the débris. I especially noted the demeanor of the groups which followed each band of marauders. I heard no expression of shame or disgust, but, in spite of the complete passiveness of many of the onlookers, I did notice the inane grin which often inadvertently betrays the guilty conscience.”91

Whereas the British diplomat recognized the signs of a troubled conscience on the onlookers’ faces, the French chargé d’affaires perceived “silent condemnation” in the attitude of the people on the streets.92

The SD reports show widespread popular criticism of the violence and the damage caused during the pogrom. Some of the criticism, expressed even by people usually favorable to the regime, was motivated by practical considerations: the wanton destruction of property and the losses thus incurred not only by all Germans but also by the state. When news of the billion-mark fine imposed on the Jews was announced, and when official propaganda stressed the immense wealth still possessed by the Jews, the general mood improved.93 Sometimes, however, the reactions of the population were not negative at all. Thus, according to a SOPADE report of December 1938, “the broad mass of people has not condoned the destruction, but we should nevertheless not overlook the fact that there are people among the working class who do not defend the Jews. There are certain circles where you are not very popular if you speak disparagingly about the recent incidents. The anger was not, therefore, as unanimous as all that. Berlin: the population’s attitude was not fully unanimous. When the Jewish Synagogue was burning…a large number of women could be heard saying, ‘That’s the right way to do it—it’s a pity there aren’t any more Jews inside, that would be the best way to smoke out the whole lousy lot of them.’ No one dared to take a stand against these sentiments…. If there has been any speaking out in the Reich against the Jewish pogroms, the excesses of arson and looting, it has been in Hamburg and the neighboring Elbe district. People from Hamburg are not generally anti-Semitic, and the Hamburg Jews have been assimilated far more than the Jews in other parts of the Reich. They have intermarried with Christians up to the highest levels of officialdom and the wholesale and shipping trades.”94

How did people closer to Hitler who were neither committed party members nor “old-fashioned” conservatives react? In his memoirs, Albert Speer indicates a measure of unease, if only because of the material destruction and the “disorder”: “On November 10, driving to the office, I passed by the still smoldering ruins of the Berlin synagogues…. Today this memory is one of the most doleful of my life, chiefly because what really disturbed me at the time was the aspect of disorder that I saw on Fasanenstrasse: charred beams, collapsed façades, burned-out walls,…The smashed panes of shop windows offended my sense of middle-class order.”95 But even this lack of any human empathy compounded with later pseudo-candor demands some qualification. According to Speer’s recent biographer, Gitta Sereny, there was nothing about Kristallnacht in the early draft of Speer’s book, and it was only after the proddings of his publisher, Wolf Jobst Siedler, and of Hitler’s biographer Joachim Fest that Speer came up with his feelings of annoyance at the material damage.96 Thus, even a questionable but clever sincerity may have been entirely faked: Speer may simply not have felt anything at all, as was probably the case when he planned the eviction of Jewish tenants from their Berlin apartments. As for Speer’s secretary, Annemarie Kempf, she knew nothing and saw nothing: “I just never knew about it,” she declared, “I remember that someone was shot in an embassy abroad, and Goebbels gave speeches, and there was a lot of anger. But that’s all.”97 Again, however, even among these young technocrats the reactions were not all the same. Consider one of “Speer s men,” Hans Simon. “When [Kristallnacht] happened,” another witness later told Sereny, “Simon said: for people like that, I don’t work. And he resigned from the GBI [Generalbauinspektorat, or Construction Inspectorate General].”98

No criticism of the pogrom was publicly expressed by the churches. Only a month after the events, in a message to the congregations, did the Confessing Church make an oblique reference to the most recent persecutions, albeit in a peculiar way. After declaring that Jesus Christ was the “propitiation of our sins” and “also the propitiation for the sins of the Jewish people,” the message continued with the following words: ‘We are bound together as brethren with all the believers in Christ of the Jewish race. We will not separate ourselves from them, and we ask them not to separate themselves from us. We exhort all members of our congregations to concern themselves with the material and spiritual distress of our Christian brothers and sisters of the Jewish race, and to intercede for them in their prayers to God.’ The Jews as such were excluded from the message of compassion and, as has been noted, “the only reference to the Jewish people as a whole was a mention of their sin.”99

Some individual pastors did protest; we know of them mainly from brief mentions in surveillance reports. Thus the monthly report for November 1938 for Upper and Mid-Franconia notes laconically: “Pastor Seggel of Mistelgau, administrative district Bayreuth, expressed himself critically on the Day of Prayer and Repentance regarding the actions against the Jews. The State Police of Nuremberg-Fürth was informed.”100

The overall attitude of the Catholic Church was no different. Apart from Provost Bernhard Lichtenberg of Berlin’s St. Hedwig Cathedral, who declared on November 10 that “the temple which was burnt down outside is also the House of God,” and who later was to pay with his life for his public prayers for the Jews deported to the East,101 no powerful voice was raised. Quite to the contrary, Cardinal Faulhaber found it necessary to proclaim in his New Year’s Eve sermon, less than two months after the pogrom: “That is one advantage of our time; in the highest office of the Reich we have the example of a simple and modest alcohol- and nicotine-free way of life.”102

No open criticism (or even indirect protest) came from the universities. Some strong condemnations of the pogrom were committed to private correspondence and, probably, to the privacy of diaries. On November 24, 1938, the historian Gerhard Ritter wrote to his mother: “What we have experienced over the last two weeks all over the country is the most shameful and the most dreadful thing that has happened for a long time.”103 Ritter’s indignation, however, and the initiative that followed, paradoxically shed some light on the anti-Semitism that underlay the attitudes of the churches and the universities.

Following the pogrom, and certainly in part as a result of it, an opposition group was formed at Freiburg University. The Freiburg Circle (Freiburger Kreis) was composed mainly of university members close to the Confessing Church (and also of some Catholics); Gerhard Ritter, Walter Eucken, Franz Böhm, Adolf Lampe, and Constantin von Dietze were its leading figures.104 The group’s discussions resulted in the drafting of the “Great Memorandum,” which offered a social, political, and moral basis for a post-National Socialist Germany. The fifth and last appendix to the Memorandum, completed by Dietze in late 1942, listed “Proposals for a Solution of the Jewish Question in Germany.”105 Present-day German historians still find it hard to explain these proposals, and refer to the “schizoid atmosphere” that engendered them.106 The Freiburg group—which had come into being after the pogrom and by the time of this last appendix was also fully aware of the extermination of the Jews (which is mentioned explicitly in Dietze s “Proposals”)—suggested nonetheless that after the war the Jews be internationally subjected to a special status. Moreover, although the “Proposals” rejected the Nazis’ racial theories, they recommended caution regarding close contacts and intermarriage between German Christians and other races—the allusion to the Jews is clear.107 It seems that even in one of the most articulate groups of anti-Nazi academics, there was explicit and deep-seated anti-Jewish prejudice. One of the best-informed historians on the subject of the Freiburg Circle, Klaus Schwabe, rejects the conclusion that Dietze was motivated by anti-Semitism.108 Yet, in his program, Dietze accepted and recommended some of the traditional German conservative anti-Semitic positions, despite what he knew of the Jews’ fate. The logical corollary is obvious: If a university resistance group, consisting mostly of members of the Confessing Church or the Catholic Church, could come up with such proposals even though they had knowledge of the extermination, the evidence of prevalent anti-Semitism among Germany’s elites must be taken into account as a major explanation of their attitudes during the Third Reich.

In an indirect way, however, the pogrom created further tension between the German Catholic Church and the state. On November 10 the National Socialist Association of Teachers decided not only to expel all remaining Jewish pupils from German schools but also to stop providing (Christian) religious education—as had been the rule until then—under the pretext that “a glorification of the Jewish murderers’ nation could no longer be tolerated in German schools.” Cardinal Bertram sent a vigorous protest to Rust in which he stated that “whoever has the least familiarity with the Catholic faith and certainly every believing teacher knows that this assertion [that the Christian religion glorified the Jews] is false and that the contrary is true.”109

IV

“The foreign press is very bad,” Goebbels noted on November 12. “Mainly the American. I receive the Berlin foreign correspondents and explain the whole issue to them…. This makes a big impression.”110 Press comments were scathing indeed. “There happen in the course of time,” said the Danish Nationaltidende on November 12, “many things on which one must take a stand out of regard for one’s own human dignity, even if this should involve a personal or national risk. Silence in the face of crimes committed may be regarded as a form of participation therein—equally punishable whether committed by individuals or by nations…. One must at least have the courage to protest, even if you feel that you do not have power to prevent a violation of justice, or even to mitigate the consequences thereof…. Now that it has been announced that after being plundered, tortured and terrorized, this heap of human beings [the Jews of Germany] will be expelled and thrown over the gate of the nearest neighbor, the question no longer remains an internal one and Germany’s voice will not be the only one that will be heard in the council of nations.”111

The American press was particularly vehement. “In the weeks following Kristallnacht, close to 1,000 different editorials were published on the topic…. Practically no American newspaper, irrespective of size, circulation, location, or political inclination failed to condemn Germany. Now even those that, prior to Kristallnacht, had been reluctant to admit that violent persecution was a permanent fixture in Nazism criticized Germany.”112 President Roosevelt recalled Ambassador Hugh Wilson for consultation.

But despite such emotional outpourings, basic attitudes and policies did not change. In the spring of 1939, Great Britain, increasingly worried by the pro-Axis shift in the Arab world—a trend with possibly dire consequences for Britain in case of war—reneged on its commitments and for all practical purposes closed the doors of Palestine to Jewish immigration. No alternative havens were even envisaged by the British colonial authorities. As A. W. G. Randall of the Foreign Office stated on June 1: “The proposed temporary solution of Cyprus has, I understand, been firmly rejected by the Governor, it is unthinkable that a miscellaneous crowd of Jews could be admitted to any other part of the Empire.”113

After slightly liberalizing its immigration policy in 1937, the United States did not even fill the quotas for Germany and Austria in 1938.114 In July 1939 the Wagner-Rogers Child Refugee Bill, which would have allowed twenty thousand Jewish refugee children to enter the country, was not passed by the Senate,115 and, at the same time, despite all entreaties, the 936 hapless Jewish emigrants from Germany who had sailed on the soon-to-become-notorious St. Louis, after being denied entry to Cuba, their destination, were not admitted into the United States.116 Their voyage back to Europe became a vivid illustration of the overall situation of Jewish refugees from Germany. After Belgium, France, and England finally agreed to give asylum to the passengers, the London Daily Express echoed the prevalent opinion in no uncertain terms: “This example must not set a precedent. There is no room for any more refugees in this country…. They become a burden and a grievance.”117

By then even some relatively well-known Jews had not the least certainty of reaching the the United States. In February 1939 Thomas Mann intervened in favor of Kafka’s friend and biographer Max Brod with H. M. Lyndenberg, the director of the New York Public Library: “Dr. Max Brod, the German-Czechoslovakian novelist and dramatist…is anxious to leave Czechoslovakia and come to the United States. He fears he will not survive the period of fifteen months to two years which he would have to wait to enter this country as an ordinary immigrant…. He writes that he is willing to give his collection of books and manuscripts of Franz Kafka to any institution of repute which would accept it and in return offer him a position to act as assistant or curator of the collection, and so make possible his entry into this country…. Perhaps you will agree with me that the possibility of acquiring the manuscripts and books of so well known a writer as Franz Kafka is an opportunity deserving of consideration quite apart from the human tragedy of the individual for whom the collection represents the one real chance of escape from an intolerable situation.”118 Ultimately Brod managed to escape to Palestine.

France was neither more nor less inhospitable than other countries, but it did not volunteer even a symbolic gesture of protest against the anti-Jewish pogrom. It was the only major democratic country that did not react.119 Most newspapers expressed their outrage, but neither Prime Minister Édouard Daladier nor Foreign Minister Georges Bonnet did so. On the contrary, Bonnet continued with the planning for Ribbentrop’s visit to Paris, which was to lead to a Franco-German agreement.

In a way the official French attitude demonstrated that Hitler did not have to worry too much about international reactions when he unleashed the pogrom. But the outcry that immediately followed the events of November and the criticism now directed at the French attitude confirmed that the Munich atmosphere was quickly dissipating. No less a supporter of appeasement than the London Times was taken aback by Bonnet’s eagerness to go ahead with the agreement, the pogrom notwithstanding. The American secretary of state rejected Bonnet’s request that the American government express its approval of the agreement, even if only in the form of a press statement. In view of the strained United States-German relations following Kristallnacht, the secretary deemed such approval entirely inappropriate. Even the Italian government expressed surprise that “the recrudescence of anti-Semitic persecutions in Germany did not lead to the ruin of the project of Franco-German declaration.”120

The German foreign minister arrived in Paris on December 6. According to the German version of the second discussion between Ribbentrop and Bonnet, which took place on December 7, the French foreign minister told Ribbentrop “how great an interest was being taken in France in a solution of the Jewish problem,” and he added that “France did not want to receive any more Jews from Germany.” Bonnet then supposedly asked whether Germany could not take measures to prevent further German Jewish refugees from coming to France, since France itself would have to ship ten thousand Jews somewhere else. (They were actually thinking of Madagascar for this.) Ribbentrop then told Bonnet, “‘We all wish to get rid of our Jews,’ but the difficulty lay in the fact that no country wished to receive them and, further, in the shortage of foreign currency.”121

Bonnet’s oft-quoted remarks to Ribbentrop were not an isolated occurence. In fact, less than two weeks before the Franco-German meeting, on November 24, the prime ministers and foreign ministers of Great Britain and France met in Paris in order to coordinate their countries’ policies. The problem of the Jewish refugees from Germany was raised. Daladier complained that there were some forty thousand of them in France and that no more could be taken in. The possibility of sending the refugees to the colonies was discussed. It was agreed that the French would ask Ribbentrop if the German measures making it almost impossible for the refugees to take along some of their belongings could be alleviated.122 Whether this issue was mentioned at all during Ribbentrop’s visit to Paris is unclear.

Yet another sequel to the events of November took place—at least for a time—in the French capital: preparations for the trial of Herschel Grynszpan. The forthcoming event attracted worldwide attention. Hitler dispatched Professor Friedrich Grimm to Paris in order to follow the work of the prosecution, while an international committee headed by the American journalist Dorothy Thompson collected money to pay for Grynszpan’s defense. Grynszpan’s lawyer, Vincent Moro-Giafferi, was one of the most respected criminal lawyers in France and an ardent antifascist.123

The beginning of the war interrupted the preparations of both prosecution and defense. When the Germans occupied France, the Vichy government duly delivered to them the young Jew they were searching for. Grynszpan was incarcerated in Germany, and Goebbels started to plan a huge show trial in which Herschel Grynszpan would have stood for “international Judaism.” Nothing came of it, as in 1942 the accused suddenly announced that he had had a homosexual relationship with Rath. Such a line of defense, if presented in public, would have been disastrous in the eyes of the Nazis. Grynszpan did not survive the war; the circumstances of his death remain unknown.124

During these early months of 1939, the expulsion of the Jews from the Reich continued to follow the pattern inaugurated in 1938; the Jews were sent over the borders, but usually to no avail. In February 1939 a SOPADE report described a scene witnessed in the west of the country, near the border with France. The Jews were taken from their homes and herded together in the city square. In the evening they were transported to the border, only to be brought back the next day, as the French would not let them through. Later they were shipped off to Dachau.

The report described the jeering and the insults coming from youths and “hysterical women.” But “most of the older people who accidentally came upon this scene could not hide their indignation over this spectacle. Words were exchanged with people who wanted to defend the measures against the Jews. People said: ‘They [the Jews] are no worse than other businessmen; and those who took over their businesses are more expensive and have poorer quality goods.’ The excitement was so great that nothing could be undertaken [by the authorities] against these dissidents. A large segment of those previously transported are here again, and have been received kindly by the public. People ask them sympathetically if they have no possibilities of emigrating. Some answer that they are trying, and others point to the great difficulties. Now it has reached the point where children confront Jews and demand money. Some give it to them and create the impression that they themselves have become childish.”125

On December 23, 1938, very strict orders had been issued by Gestapo headquarters to all stations on the western borders of the Reich to prevent illegal crossings of Jews into neighboring countries, due to increasing complaints. However, as the SOPADE report indicates, and as a further Gestapo order of March 15, 1939, confirms, such illegal crossings, mostly initiated, it seems, by local authorities, must have continued well into the spring of that year.126 On exceptionally rare occasions, officials on the non-German side of the borders took the risk of aiding the illegal entry of Jews into their countries, whether the refugees were pushed over the frontier by the Germans or were trying to cross on their own. Such was the case of Paul Gruninger, the commander of the border police in the Swiss canton Saint Gall. By predating visas and falsifying other documents, he helped some 3,600 Jewish refugees to enter Switzerland in late 1938 and early 1939. Gruninger’s activities were discovered. In April 1939 he was dismissed and, later, sentenced to a heavy fine and to the loss of his pension rights.127 As the result of a lengthy public campaign, Gruninger was rehabilitated—fifty-four years after his sentencing, twenty-three years after his death.128

One escape route was still open, but only for a very short time. An interministerial conference held in Tokyo on December 6, 1938, decided on a lenient policy toward Jewish refugees, making Japanese-occupied Shanghai accessible to them and even permitting prolonged transit stays in Japan itself. The Japanese seem to have been moved by their distrust of Germany and possibly by humane considerations, but undoubtedly too, as accounts of the conference show, by their belief in Jewish power—a belief reinforced by Nazi propaganda and by study of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion—and its possible impact on Japanese interests in Great Britain and the United States. Be that as it may, Shanghai, where no visa was required, became an asylum for desperate German and Austrian Jews. By the end of 1938, fifteen hundred refugees had arrived; seven months later the number had reached fourteen thousand, and if the Japanese had not begun curtailing access to the city because of local conditions, the total would have mushroomed. On the eve of the war, the Jews who had reached the safe shores of the China Sea numbered between seventeen and eighteen thousand.129 This influx triggered a fear of economic competition among some of the earlier Jewish settlers who had not yet established themselves, as well as among the large community of White Russian exiles. Some aspects of the European pattern reappeared with uncanny similarity. But there were very few reactions among the great majority of the Shanghai population, the Chinese themselves, because their standard of living was too low for any sort of competition.130

Thus some tens of thousands of Jews managed to leave Germany for neighboring European countries, North, Central, and South America, and remote Shanghai. Tiny groups were driven over Germany’s borders. And finally, despite British policy, Jewish emigrants managed to reach Palestine by way of illegal transports organized secretly both by the majority Zionist leadership and by its right-wing rivals, the Revisionists. These illegal operations were backed by Heydrich and all branches of the SD and the Gestapo, with the full knowledge of the Wilhelmstrasse. On the occasion of the first working session of the newly established Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration, on February 11, 1939, Heydrich was quite explicit: “He [Heydrich] stated that any illegal emigration should be opposed on principle, to be sure. In the case of Palestine, however, matters were such that illegal transports were already going there at the present time from many other European countries, which were themselves only transit countries, and in these circumstances this opportunity could also be utilized in Germany, though without any official participation. Senior Counselor Walter Hinrichs and Minister Ernst Eisenlohr from the Foreign Ministry had no objection to this and expressed the viewpoint that every possibility for getting a Jew out of Germany ought to be taken advantage of.”131

The illegal road first led through Yugoslavia, then down the Danube to the Romanian harbor of Constantsa. The main problem was not for the emigrants to leave the Greater Reich, but for the Zionist organizations to find the money to bribe officials and buy ships, and then to avoid the British patrols along the Palestine coast. Some seventeen thousand illegal immigrants reached Palestine from early 1939 to the outbreak of the war.132 On September 2, 1939, off the beach at Tel-Aviv, a Royal Navy ship fired at the Tiger Hill, which was carrying fourteen hundred Jewish refugees, two of whom were killed. As Bernard Wasserstein ironically noted, “these were probably the first hostile shots fired by British forces after the [previous day’s German] attack on Poland.”133

On March 15, 1939, the Wehrmacht had occupied Prague. Czecho-Slovakia ceased to exist. Slovakia became a German satellite; Bohemia-Moravia was turned into a protectorate of the Reich. The crisis had started in the early days of the month. Enticed and supported by the Germans, the Slovaks seceded from the already truncated Czecho-Slovakia. The elderly Czech President, Emil Hacha, was summoned to Berlin, threatened with the bombing of Prague, and bullied into acceptance of all the German demands. But before he even signed the document of his country’s submission, the first German units had crossed the border. Some 118,000 more Jews were now under German domination. Stahlecker was transferred from Vienna to Prague to become inspector of the security police and the SD in the new protectorate, and Eichmann soon followed; imitating the Viennese model, he set up a Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Prague.134

“At home for breakfast, I found that I myself had a refugee, a Jewish acquaintance who had worked many years for American interests,” the American diplomat George F. Kennan, who had been posted to the Prague legation a few months earlier, wrote in a March 15 memorandum. “I told him that I could not give him asylum, but that as long as he was not demanded by the authorities he was welcome to stay here and to make himself at home. For twenty-four hours he haunted the house, a pitiful figure of horror and despair, moving uneasily around the drawing room, smoking one cigarette after another, too unstrung to eat or think of anything but his plight. His brother and sister-in-law had committed suicide together after Munich, and he had a strong inclination to follow suit. Annelise pleaded with him at intervals throughout the coming hours not to choose this way out, not because she or I had any great optimism with respect to his chances for future happiness but partly on general Anglo-Saxon principles and partly to preserve our home from this sort of unpleasantness.”135

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