Lesson 13

To deepen your understanding of the ideas in this lesson, read Chapter Six in Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior.

Kristallnacht: Decision-Making in Times of Injustice


WHY teach this material?


Events throughout history, and in our lives today, are shaped by decisions made by ordinary individuals—decisions to perpetrate injustice, stand by while unjust acts occur, or take action against injustice. To help students understand this idea, students will analyze two events in this lesson: a contemporary story of bullying from a middle school in Arkansas and a night of state-sanctioned violence against Jews in Germany in 1938. First, students will identify the choices made by individuals and groups involved in these moments. Second, they will evaluate the ways in which these decisions contributed to the prevention or the escalation of injustice. Third, students will consider how the specific historical context, combined with universal aspects of human behavior, may have influenced the decisions made by children, women, and men involved in these events. Through deeply analyzing these moments of injustice, we hope to help students better understand their own decision-making process in ways that lead them to make safer choices for themselves and the greater community.

The purpose of this lesson is to help students: • Reflect on these guiding questions: • What happened to Billy Wolfe? What happened in Germany on November 9, 1938? • Who are the individuals and groups involved in these events? What role did they play in perpetuating or preventing injustice? • What factors influenced their decision-making? • What is the role of authorities, including governments, in protecting people from violence and injustice? What are the implications if those in authority fail to protect innocent people? • Practice these interdisciplinary skills: • Recognizing key facts of a historical moment • Identifying the direct and indirect actors involved in historical events • Interpreting the decisions made by these actors based on their historical context and universal aspects of human behavior • Analyzing the factors that have influenced their own decision-making during a time of conflict or crisis • Deepen understanding of these key terms: • Bully • Authority • Kristallnacht • Bystander
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• Perpetrator • Victim • Upstander • Citizen • Historical context • Conformity/peer pressure • Fear • Obedience • Prejudice • Inclusion (in group)/Exclusion (out group) (See the main glossary in the unit’s “Introduction” for definitions of these key terms.)

Between 1933 and 1938, the Nazis implemented laws and disseminated information aimed at weakening the power of the German-Jewish community. Jews lost civil service jobs, many were forced to sell their businesses at bargain prices, and Jewish youth suffered humiliation in school. German Jews watched as their friends and relatives left the country. While these actions concerned and frustrated Jews, they were not seen as indicative of a long-term program leading to the destruction of German and European Jewry. Only in hindsight is it possible to understand how earlier actions, such as the passage of the Nuremberg laws, established the foundation upon which the Holocaust was built. Throughout the 1930s, even though Hitler and other Nazi leaders spoke openly about their desire to rid Germany of Jews, many Jews thought that this stage of antisemitism would pass, as had others in Jewish history. Throughout 1938, Hitler and his top officials accelerated their campaign against the Jews. The first step was the mandatory “Aryanization” of Jewish businesses. Up until then, it was voluntary. But now the Nazis required that all Jewish-owned companies be sold to “Aryans,” usually at a fraction of their value. In August, a new law required that all Jews have a “Jewish first name” by January 1, 1939. Next, the Nazis began to mark the passport of every Jew with the letter J. As a result of these explicit policies designed to limit the economic opportunities of Jews and segregate them from the rest of the population, increasing numbers of Jews within Germany were seeking emigration, as were those in recently annexed areas such as Austria (annexed by Germany in March 1938) and parts of what was later Czechoslovakia (annexed by Germany in October 1938). Thousands of Jews tried desperately to emigrate only to find stumbling blocks wherever they turned. The increasing desire of Jews to emigrate from German-occupied Europe coincided with more stringent regulations by the Nazi bureaucracy: Jews had to register their possessions and obtain appropriate identification and proof of sponsorship in countries of immigration, and they also had to surrender the major portion of their wealth to the state in order to be granted an exit visa. Their difficulty in leaving “Greater Germany” could not be blamed solely on the Nazis. The Nazis were more than eager to see the Jews go, as long as they left their money and possessions behind. Indeed, in just six months, Adolf Eichmann, a young SS officer who made himself an expert on the “Jewish question,” had pushed 50,000 Jews out of Austria, after he had done the same in Germany. The problem lay with other nations. They had little interest in accepting thousands of penniless Jewish refugees.
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WHAT is this lesson about?

Shortly after the Anschluss (the annexation of Austria), United States President Franklin Roosevelt called for an international conference to discuss the growing refugee crisis. In July 1938, delegates from thirty-two nations met in Evian, France. There, each representative expressed sorrow over the growing number of refugees, boasted of his nation’s traditional hospitality, and wished it could do more in the present situation. At Evian, the delegate from Colombia raised a fundamental question about the situation in which many German Jews found themselves. He asked, “Can a state . . . arbitrarily withdraw nationality from a whole class of its citizens, thereby making them stateless persons whom no country is compelled to receive on its territory?”1 In July, the inaction by most nations to accept more Jews into countries suggested that the answer to this question was “yes.” Stripped of citizenship from their nation of residence and unable to obtain citizenship from another nation, the Jews of German-occupied Europe had become “stateless.” Over the next seven years, this answer would lead to a crisis for the Jewish population of German-occupied Europe. This crisis began on October 26, 1938, when the Nazis expelled Polish Jews living in Germany (which totaled approximately seventy thousand women, children, and men). After the Polish government refused to accept them, thousands of Jewish families were trapped in refugee camps near the German-Polish border. Among them were the parents of seventeen-year-old Herschel Grynszpan. Grynszpan was living in France at the time. Angry and frustrated by his inability to help his family, he marched into the German Embassy in Paris on November 7, 1938, and shot a Nazi official. When the man died two days later, many Germans decided to avenge his death. The night of November 9 came to be known as Kristallnacht (“Night of the Broken Glass”). That night the Nazis looted and then destroyed thousands of Jewish homes and businesses in every part of the country. They set fire to 191 synagogues, killed over ninety Jews, and sent 30,000 others to concentration camps. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda, held a press conference the next day. He told reporters that Kristallnacht was not a government action but a “spontaneous” expression of German dissatisfaction with the Jews, and he justified the violence with the following words:
It is an intolerable state of affairs that within our borders and for all these years hundreds of thousands of Jews still control whole streets of shops, populate our recreation spots and, as foreign apartment owners, pocket the money of German tenants, while their racial comrades abroad agitate for war against Germany and gun down German officials.2

Two days later, the government fined the Jewish community one billion marks for “property damaged in the rioting.” Quite clearly, Kristallnacht marked a point of crisis for Jews living in German-occupied Europe. This event was different from prior discriminatory acts because it marked the beginning of government-sanctioned physical violence against the Jewish community. Not only was the long-term prospect for Jews bleak, the short-term outlook was imminently dangerous. Emigration became considerably more difficult in the aftermath of Kristallnacht. While national leaders, including President Roosevelt, condemned violence against innocent Jews, they did not pursue actions, such as expanding immigration quotas, which would have made it easier for Jews to leave German-occupied Europe. Thus, by the end of 1938, German Jews were stuck—many wanted to leave the area but found they had no place to go. Stripped of their citizenship by the Nuremberg laws, Jews could
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not rely on laws, government officials, or institutions for protection. Jews also learned that they could not count on many of their German neighbors for support, as once-friendly Germans often stood by or actively participated in discriminatory, unjust, and violent acts against the Jewish community. Not all Germans acted as perpetrators or bystanders during Kristallnacht. Some protested by resigning their membership in the Nazi Party—though many made it clear that they were not objecting to antisemitism but to mob violence. Others sent anonymous letters of protest to foreign embassies. Still others quietly brought Jewish families food and other necessities to replace items that had been destroyed. Neighbors told one Jewish woman that helping her was a way to “show the Jews that the German people had no part in “Façade” by Samuel Bak represents the destruction of Jewish property this—it is only Goebbels and his gang.”3 that began on Kristallnacht and continued throughout the Holocaust. Most Germans, however, responded to the violence of Kristallnacht with denial, rationalizations, indifference, or enthusiasm. Dietrich Goldschmidt, a minister in the Confessing Church, explains that for most Germans “the persecution of the Jews, this escalating persecution of the Jews, and the 9th of November—in a sense, that was only one event, next to very many gratifying ones.” According to Goldschmidt, his fellow Germans chose to disregard unjust acts against their Jewish neighbors, and instead focus on the good things Hitler and the Nazis had brought to their lives, saying, “He got rid of unemployment, he built the Autobahn, the people started doing well again, he restored our national pride again. One has to weigh that against the other things.’”4 After Kristallnacht, “the hoodlums were banished and the bureaucrats took over.”5 In the weeks that followed, key Nazi officials, led by Heinrich Himmler, saw to it that measures against the Jews were strictly “legal.” On November 15, the bureaucracy excluded all Jewish children from state schools. At about the same time, the government announced that Jews could no longer attend German universities. A few days later, Himmler prohibited them from owning or even driving a car. Jews were also banned from theaters, movie houses, concert halls, sports arenas, parks, and swimming pools. The Gestapo even went door to door confiscating radios owned by Jewish families. Jews who opposed these laws could be jailed. And, the German community allowed this escalation of discrimination against their Jewish neighbors. Some may have actively supported these laws, believing the propaganda that Jews were subhuman, while others may have believed the laws to be unfair, but did not want to risk their own social or economic well-being by voicing any protest. The responses to Kristallnacht were not lost on Hitler and the other Nazi leaders. First, they saw that the German populace accepted violence against Jews, and other “unfit”
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groups (such as Gypsies and Nazi dissenters). Second, they recognized that the world would not intervene in order to protect these vulnerable groups. When nations, such as the United States, refused to grant entrance to Jewish refugees, Hitler and Goebbels used this news as propaganda to demonstrate the unworthiness of the Jewish people. On January 30, 1939, just months after Kristallnacht, Hitler gave a speech justifying “the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.” He explained, “Nor can I see a reason why the members of this race should be imposed upon the German nation,”6 when other nations refused to admit Jews into their own borders. Richard Rubenstein summarizes the vulnerability of the Jewish community in German-occupied Europe when he writes, “no person has any rights unless they are guaranteed by an organized community with the power to defend such rights.”7 The choices made during and after Kristallnacht indicated that there was no “organized community” willing to defend the rights of the Jews to live free from violence and persecution. Holocaust scholar Helen Fein agrees with this point. She describes Jews living in German-occupied Europe at the dawn of World War II as being outside the “universe of obligation” of any particular nation.8 In other words, there was no government that felt responsible for their plight. The story of the Holocaust emphasizes the tragic significance of what it means to live outside of a nation’s, or the world’s, “universe of obligation.” Hitler and the Nazis interpreted the fact that there were no significant efforts to protect Jews or prevent future violence against them as a green light to continue their plans to isolate Jews (as exemplified by the policies described above) and eventually implement a program to annihilate the European Jewish community. Questions are always raised about what people could have done to resist or speak out, especially once the persecution of Jews became so obvious. It is critical to look at the decisions made by perpetrators, bystanders, upstanders, and victims against the backdrop of powerful social forces, such as propaganda, fear, and opportunism. Whether Germans chose to act or not act reveals much about how they saw their universe of obligation in the 1930s: whom did the German people feel a responsibility to protect? For five years prior to Kristallnacht, the Nazis effectively separated Jews and other targeted groups from full membership in German society, depriving them of legal rights, economic opportunities, religious freedom, and public education access. They used propaganda to scare the general public into believing Jews were harmful vermin who would destroy the racial purity and economic success of the German people. Thus, when students ask why more Germans did not speak out to stop the injustice, it is important to point out the many steps, beginning with the rise of the Nazi Party in the 1920s, that shaped the attitudes and actions of the German people: the destruction of democratic institutions, the use of fear to smother dissent, the antisemitic propaganda, the laws aimed to weaken and isolate the Jewish community, the sense of belonging provided by the Hitler Youth Movement, specifically, and the Nazi Party, in general. All of these factors, and more, created an environment where ordinary, decent people committed unspeakable acts of violence. Kristallnacht represents the beginning of these acts—a moment when the world decided that violence against innocent civilians would go unpunished. Joe Lobenstein, whose family was one of the lucky ones to leave Germany after Kristallnacht, recalls his experience on November 9, 1938, and explains why it is important that we continue to tell the story of Kristallnacht:
Even 70 years later, it remains an unforgettable nightmare. We were woken by the Nazis, who took him [my father] away, after turning our apartment upside-down. . . . Stunned by what had happened, I went to the synagogue the following morning for Lesson 13 • 200

daily prayers, thinking innocently that it would still be standing. Instead, the majestic building was engulfed by fire and smoke, with hundreds of people—members of the Herrenvolk, the master race—dancing around the smoking edifice. Some of them, I saw, were my classmates—people I had, in my ignorance and my youth, considered friends. . . . Kristallnacht did not only mean the destruction of billions of marks’ worth of property, or the igniting of flames of racial hatred that would sweep across the continent. It was the beginning of the end for communities that seemed just as settled, just as prosperous, as ours do now—and of the men and women who had sustained and nurtured them. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must keep telling the story—lest we forget.9

We believe the story of Kristallnacht is relevant today because as a world community we still struggle with how to respond when governments turn against their own people. And, just as nations are still trying to figure out their responsibilities to those outside of their borders, as individuals we are also faced with decisions about our responsibilities to those outside of our immediate family or community. Thus, analyzing the choices made before, during and after The Night of the Broken Glass can help us recognize the consequences of excluding individuals (like Billy Wolfe) or groups of people from our universe of obligation. Facing History hopes that through deeper understanding of the factors that cause neighbor to turn against neighbor, future generations can learn how to prevent injustices large and small—from genocide to schoolyard bullying. Related reading in Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior “The Night of the Pogrom,” pp. 263–67 “Taking a Stand,” pp. 268–70 “World Responses,” pp. 270–72 “The Narrowing Circle,” pp. 272–73 “The Failure to Help,” pp. 275–78


HOW can we help students engage with this material?

Duration: two class periods

Suggestion for how to implement this lesson over two class periods: Depending on how you structure this lesson, an appropriate place to end the first part could be after students are introduced to Kristallnacht (i.e., after step one or two of the main activity). Students might be assigned one of the readings to interpret for homework. You can resume the second part of this lesson with students’ analysis of Kristallnacht (i.e., steps three and four of the main activity).

Handout 1: Analyzing an event worksheet Handout 2: Analyzing an event worksheet—Kristallnacht example Handout 3: Kristallnacht: Excerpt from Klaus’s diary from Salvaged Pages Handout 4: Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 1) (Readings 1–5) Handout 5: Kristallnacht: The range of choices: Note-taking guide Handout 6: Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 2) The complete article, “A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly” (March 24, 2008)
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by Dan Barry can be found on the New York Times website: http://www.nytimes.com /2008/03/24/us/24land.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink.

To prepare students to think about the different choices people made in the event of Kristallnacht, ask them to think about the different ways that people responded in this true story about an episode of injustice and violence closer to students’ lives: the bullying of a middle-school student, Billy Wolfe. (Alternatively, you could use the ostracism case study from Lesson 2 for this activity, or you could use a story of injustice from your own community. Be aware that the closer the story is to the students’ own lives and experiences, the more likelihood the story will spark emotional reactions. For this reason, we suggest starting with a story that students can relate to, such as a story about other middle school students, but not a story situated at your own school that could possibly involve students in the class.) This opening activity also gives students the opportunity to practice using a four-step process they will use to analyze Kristallnacht, and which can use to analyze any other historical event. Handout 1, “Analyzing an event worksheet,” uses a tree diagram to help students visualize the range of choices that influenced historical events and the factors that shaped these decisions. Other graphic organizers or notetaking systems could be substituted for this one. Regardless of the template used, when taking notes, students should be encouraged to record information about the choices made by various individuals that influenced the event under review.
Using a Tree Diagram to Help Students Understand Historical Events In this lesson, students will be learning about two moments of violence and injustice through the lens of the different choices made by individuals and groups and how these choices were influenced by the specific historical context in which the event took place. The relationship between individual and group choices, key facts, and historical context is a complicated one. To make this information more accessible to students, we suggest using the metaphor of a tree. When we see a tree, we see the trunk, branches, and leaves. Yet, this part that we see is built upon a much larger base of roots that we cannot see. The same might be said for historical events. When studying an historical moment, we are immediately aware of the basic facts—the “who, what, and when” of the event. But, this event, like the tree itself, grew out of many factors—the roots of the event. Also, just as branches and leaves grow out of the trunk, the facts of an event give rise to choices made by individuals and groups. Building on this metaphor, we have provided a graphic organizer (handout 1) that allows students to record specific information in the roots, trunk, and branches of a tree. Handout 2 is an example of what a tree diagram might look like when completed with information from this lesson about Kristallnacht.

A four-step process for understanding the range of choices when responding to injustice: The bullying of Billy Wolfe

Step one: What happened? When? Where? To introduce the story of Billy Wolfe, you can have students read an excerpt from the New York Times article about Billy Wolfe called “A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly.” (See the materials section for a link to this story.) Or, you can ask a volunteer to read the synopsis of Billy’s story below:

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This is the story of Billy Wolfe, a teenager living in Arkansas, as told by a reporter in March 2008. A few years ago, Billy Wolfe told his mom about a classmate who was making prank calls. Since then, he has been beaten up by various boys all over school. He has been attacked in Spanish class, wood shop class, the school bathroom, and at the bus stop. Some students even started a Facebook page called “Everyone that hates Billy Wolfe.” Billy’s parents have met repeatedly with the principal of the middle school Billy attends. Some of the beatings have been so bad that Billy’s parents have asked school officials to file a police report. According to the article, school officials have not taken any major actions to stop bullies from attacking Billy. Now Billy’s parents are suing one of the bullies in court and are thinking of filing a lawsuit against the school system.10

After students learn about this event, ask them to record key facts in and around the trunk section of their tree. For example, students might record that this story takes place it Arkansas; it began “a few years ago” and is still happening. Other facts include that Billy is a middle school student who has been beaten up many times on school property. Step two: Who? Ask students to list the people involved in this event. They will likely list Billy, the bullies, and the students who started the Facebook page. Some students might realize that the students who are at the bus stop or who attend the school are also involved in this event. Teachers, parents, and school administrators should also be added to the list. The purpose of this step is to expand students’ thinking beyond those directly affected to those who witnessed the event or may have been touched by this event indirectly. Students can record the names of the people and groups involved in this event in the branches of the tree. Step three: Why? Ask students to suggest why they think the individuals and groups identified during step two made the choices that they did. What factors might have influenced their behavior? These factors can be recorded on the roots section of the tree diagram. Later in this lesson, you can compare this list of factors to students’ brainstorm of factors that influenced the choices made during and after Kristallnacht. In addition to having students think about why people made the choices they did, you might also have students consider the reasons why individuals did not make other choices. For example, in the article about Billy Wolfe, the reporter suggests that nobody has been able to successfully stop the violence against Billy. Students can brainstorm examples of what could have been done, and by whom, that might have stopped the bullying behavior and the reasons why individuals in the community might not have acted in this way. Step four: Interpretation and evaluation Now that students have identified who was involved in the event and the factors that shaped their decisions, they are prepared to evaluate the different roles played by these individuals and groups. Who were the victims, bystanders, perpetrators, and upstanders? Discussion about which label is most appropriate should be encouraged, as well as questions about whether two labels might apply to the same person. For example, Billy is clearly a victim in this class. Yet, some might also consider Billy to be an upstander

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because by sharing his story with a national audience he is increasing awareness of this unjust behavior. Because the role of authority figures and the government is relevant to students’ understanding of Kristallnacht, be sure to spend some time thinking about the role of authority figures in this event. In this situation, were authority figures (i.e., principal, teachers, school officials, and police) acting as bystanders, victims, perpetrators, or upstanders? Other questions you might use to stimulate students’ thinking include: Who do you think was responsible for protecting Billy? What message does it send to a community when those who are in positions of authority, such as a school principal, do not take actions to stop the violence, such as by punishing the perpetrators? What reasons might explain why more people did not act to stop the violence against Billy?
Main Activities

The same process introduced in the opening activity section of this lesson will be used to help students understand Kristallnacht, “Night of the Broken Glass,” and the different ways individuals and groups responded to this event.
A four-step process for understanding the range of choices when responding to injustice: Kristallnacht

Step one: What happened? When? Where? Explain to students that they will be learning about an event known as Kristallnacht, which means “Night of the Broken Glass” in German. You can introduce students to Kristallnacht by having them watch a two-minute excerpt from the video “I’m Still Here” (2:56–4:44). In this clip, a young German Jewish boy, Klaus, explains how Kristallnacht changed his life. Handout 3 includes excerpts from Klaus’s diary that are used in the film. You could also use excerpts from readings in the resource book (see the materials section for a list of relevant readings) or you could present a brief lecture to help students understand this event. Students can record important facts about Kristallnacht in their journals or on a tree diagram (handout 1). By the end of step one, students should know that on November 9, 1938, in cities throughout Germany Jewish businesses and homes were ransacked, synagogues were burned, and thousands of Jewish men were arrested. Some Jews were hurt and even killed in the violence. Additionally, students should know that Kristallnacht was significant because it was the first official act of state-sanctioned violence. In other words, the government ordered these actions to take place and they did nothing to stop them from happening. Step two: Who? The purpose of this next step is to help students understand how Kristallnacht was the result of the decisions made by hundreds of thousands of ordinary people. We have provided several resources that describe different choices made by various individuals at this moment in history. “Handout 4: Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 1)” includes five readings that describe different responses to the events of November 9. “Handout 6: Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 2)” provides an example of eight different choices made by individuals and groups before and after this event. You might assign groups of 3–4 students the task of presenting one reading to the larger class. Students can record notes from these presentations on their tree diagrams. Or, you could post these readings around the room and ask students, possibly in pairs, to read as many as they can, noting the individuals and groups that were involved in this event. Handout 5 is a
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note-taking guide they could use for this exercise. Alternatively, you could review handout 6 as a whole class exercise, leaving room for discussion as students label the choices that were made. (This handout could also be assigned for homework.) Step three: Why? Steps one and two help students develop an understanding of Kristallnacht through the lens of the choices made by individuals and groups. During step three, students think about these choices in the context of the other material they have learned about Germany in the 1930s. You might take a moment to review the concept historical context with students—the idea that people’s actions are shaped by the place and time in which they live—and ask students to list aspects of the historical context that may have influenced the decisions made by Germans at this time (i.e., propaganda, education, fear, opportunism, discriminatory laws, antisemitism, a sense of belonging, living in a dictatorship, etc.). Students can record these factors on their tree diagrams. After brainstorming the many factors that gave rise to Kristallnacht, you can give students time to respond to the following prompt in their journals: Given what you know about Germany in the 1930s, do you think the violence of Kristallnacht was inevitable (unavoidable)? Why or why not? What would have had to happen to prevent this violence from occurring? A class discussion of this question can begin with having volunteers share what they wrote. Step four: Interpretation and evaluation Now students can engage in large or small group discussions in which they evaluate the behavior of individuals and groups involved in Kristallnact through assigning the following labels: perpetrator, victim, bystander, or upstander. This is an interpretive process, requiring students to use evidence to make a judgment about the role somebody played in preventing or perpetuating injustice. In the readings, as in real life, the complexity of a situation can blur distinctions between a bystander and a perpetrator, for example. One of the most important ideas for students to consider is the role of the government in this event. During Kristallnacht, most of the violence was committed by regular citizens. The Nazi government denied organizing or inciting the event. Yet, the government, in the form of police or judges or soldiers, did not step in to stop the violence against Jews. Take some time to have students discuss the role the Nazi government played in this event. Students can respond to the following prompts in their journal: What responsibility does a government have to protect its own citizens? What responsibility does a government have to protect the lives of people living within its borders, who may not be citizens? What happens if government fails to protect residents, or even commits violence against them? To whom can those people turn for help? As the class discusses these questions, listen for students to mention the fact that the Nuremberg laws deprived Jews of citizenship. If they don’t bring up this point, you can raise it. Help students draw a connection between the Jews’ lack of citizenship status and the German government’s lack of protection on their behalf.
Follow-Through (in class or at home)

In the book Parallel Journeys, Alfons Heck tells the story of Frau Marks, the butcher’s wife. On Kristallnacht, after her husband was arrested and taken away on the back of a truck, Frau Marks “whirled around at the circle of silent faces staring from the sidewalks and windows, neighbors she had known her whole life, and she screamed, ‘Why are you
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people doing this to us?’”11 This is an important point for students to think about. Why would neighbors turn against their own neighbors, simply because they were Jewish? As a follow-through activity, students can write a letter to Frau Marks explaining why they think many of her neighbors turned against her and the rest of the Jewish community. When writing their letters, encourage students to refer to the “root” factors they recorded on their tree diagrams. In other words, they should consider how factors such as propaganda, peer pressure, fear, obedience, antisemitism, and opportunism might have shaped the choices people made on the night of November 9, 1938. After students write these letters, you can give them the opportunity for personal reflection on their own experience as bystanders, victims, perpetrators, or upstanders. One way to do this is to ask them to identify a moment where they experienced or witnessed injustice—a time when they were involved with something that they knew was wrong. Ask students to write about their role in this event. Were they a victim, a bystander, a perpetrator, or an upstander? Then ask them to consider the different factors that influenced their actions. Students could express their ideas in a journal entry or by completing a tree diagram of this event. Teachers who assign this activity often allow students to keep their work private because they might be reflecting on sensitive subject matter. If you expect students to publicly share their work, with you or their peers, let them know in advance. To maintain students’ privacy, you might have them only share the factors that influenced their actions, without going into any detail about the actual experience and their role in it. An interesting conversation could focus on a comparison of the list of factors that motivated the choices made by individuals and groups involved in the three “events” explored in this lesson: the bullying of Billy Wolfe, Kristallnacht, and students’ own experiences.

Students’ tree diagrams will reveal their ability to accurately understand historical events, identify the groups and individuals involved in the event, label their roles, and suggest factors that influenced decision-making at this specific moment in time. In class discussion, journal entries, and/or letters to Frau Marks, pay attention to students’ understanding of the significance of the role governments and authority figures can play in protecting vulnerable groups or allowing these groups to be mistreated. Students who have a sophisticated understanding of this history will be able to make sense of decisions made during Kristallnacht by referring to universal aspects of human behavior, without excusing the decisions as appropriate or ethical.

• Drama is a tool that many teachers find helps students connect with the choices made by individuals during historical moments. Therefore, another way of helping students make sense of the choices made during and after Kristallnacht would be to ask small groups of students to act out one of the readings included in handout 4. After they present their dramatic interpretation to the class, students can lead a discussion about the factors that they think influenced the choices made by the figures they represented. • While this lesson focuses on decision-making, it is important to help students keep in mind that not everyone has the same degree of choices available to them. For example, the Jewish victims during Kristallnacht had fewer options than their nonLesson 13 • 206

Jewish neighbors; Billy Wolfe had fewer options than the boys who beat up on him. Victims do not choose to be victimized. This is a role forced upon them. As you teach this lesson, look for opportunities to help students understand these ideas. One such opportunity might be when students label someone as a victim. At that moment, ask students to take out their journals and respond to the following questions: Some people say that what makes someone a victim is that they have limited or no options about how to act. Do you strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree with this statement? While students are discussing their responses to this question, help them recognize that during many moments of injustice, and especially during the Holocaust, the victims were especially vulnerable because the larger society had limited their choices. For example, Jews in Germany had no citizenship rights. They could not sue someone in court. In fact, after Kristallnacht, the Jews not only had no way to get paid back for the damage to their homes and businesses, but they were forced to pay a hefty fine to the German government for the damage. • To help students think about the factors that encourage individuals to turn against their neighbors, you might have them compare the root causes for violence against Billy Wolfe to the root causes for the violence against Jews during Kristallnacht. Using a Venn diagram to display students’ answers will emphasize the similarities and differences between these events. For example, while conformity or peer pressure might have been a motivating factor in both events, factors such as antisemitism or living in a dictatorship are unique to Kristallnacht.

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Lesson 13: Handout 1
Analyzing an event worksheet
Directions for Completing the Tree Diagram Step 1: What happened? When? Where? In the trunk area, record basic facts about the event. Step 2: Who? In the branches, record the names of individuals and groups involved in the event. Step 3: Why? In the roots, record the factors that may have influenced the choices made by the individuals and groups involved in this event.

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 208

Lesson 13: Handout 2
Analyzing an Event Worksheet—Kristallnacht Example
Directions for Completing the Tree Diagram Step 1: What happened? When? Where? In the trunk area, record basic facts about the event. Step 2: Who? In the branches, record the names of individuals and groups involved in the event. Step 3: Why? In the roots, record the factors that may have influenced the choices made by the individuals and groups involved in this event.

German police Nazis Hitler youth – Alfons Heck Helmut

United States and other countries President Roosevelt U.S. Senator Wagner Jewish children, women, and men – Klaus Frederic Morton

German citizens – Paul Wolff, Melita Maschmann, Andre

November 9, 1938 Kristallnacht – “Night of the Broken Glass” throughout Germany (and Austria) synagogues burned the police did not stop the violence against Jews Jewish homes and property destroyed violence ordered by the government

thousands of Jews arrested

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Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 209


Lesson 13: Handout 3
Kristallnacht: Excerpt from Klaus’s Diary from Salvaged Pages
(Excerpted from Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust, pages 19–23.) Klaus Langer, from Essen, Germany, wrote the following words in his diary when he was 12 years old.

November 11, 1938 The past three days brought significant changes in our lives. On November 7 a German [diplomat] was assassinated in Paris. He died two days later. The day following, on November 10. . . came the consequences. At three o’clock the synagogue and the Jewish youth center were put on fire. Then they began to destroy Jewish businesses. . . . Fires were started at single homes belonging to Jews. At six-thirty in the morning the Gestapo came to our home and arrested Father and Mother. Mother returned after one and a half hours. Dad remained and was put in prison. . . . We . . . returned to our neighborhood by two o’clock . . . When I turned into the front yard I saw that the house was damaged. I walked on glass splinters. . . . I ran into our apartment and found unbelievable destruction in every room. . . . My parents’ instruments were destroyed, the dishes were broken, the windows were broken, furniture upturned, the desk was turned over, drawers and mirrors were broken, and the radio smashed. . . . In the middle of the night, at 2:30 A.M., the Storm Troopers [also known as the Brownshirts] smashed windows and threw stones against store shutters. After a few minutes they demanded to be let into the house. Allegedly they were looking for weapons. After they found no weapons they left. After that no one was able to go back to sleep. . . . I shall never forget that night. . . . Books could be written about all that had happened and about which we now begin to learn more. But, I have to be careful. A new regulation was issued that the Jews in Germany had to pay one billion reichmarks for restitution. What for? For the damage the Nazis had done to the Jews in Germany. . . . November 16, 1938 A number of events occurred since my last entry. First, on November 15, I received a letter from school with an enclosed notice of dismissal. This became [unnecessary] since that same day an order was issued that prohibited Jews from attending public schools. . . . December 3, 1938 Taking up this diary again is not for any pleasant reason. Today, the day of National Solidarity, Jews were not allowed to go outside from noon until eight at night. Himmler . . . issued an order by which Jews had to carry photo identity cards. Jews also are not permitted to own driver’s licenses. The Nazis will probably take radios and telephones from us. This is a horrible affair. Our radio was repaired and the damaged grand piano was fixed. I hope we can keep it. But one can never know with these scums.12
Glossary: Reichmarks: the German currency or money (like the U.S. dollar) Restitution: Making things better after a crime or injury Himmler: One of the most powerful Nazi politicians after Hitler

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 210

Lesson 13: Handout 4, Reading 1
Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 1)

Alfons Heck (From the biography of Alfons Heck, a leader in the Hitler Youth Movement, excerpted from Parallel Journeys by Eleanor Ayer)

On the afternoon of November 9, 1938, we were on our way home from school when we ran into small troops of SA and SS men [Nazi police]. . . . We watched open-mouthed as the men . . . began to smash the windows of every Jewish business in [our town]. Paul Wolff, a local carpenter who belonged to the SS, led the biggest troop, and he pointed out the locations. One of their major targets was Anton Blum’s shoe store next to the city hall. Shouting SA men threw hundreds of pairs of shoes into the street. In minutes they were snatched up and carried home by some of the town’s nicest families—folks you never dreamed would steal anything.13 It was horribly brutal, but at the same time very exciting to us kids. “Let’s go in and smash some stuff,” urged my buddy Helmut. With shining eyes, he bent down, picked up a rock and fired it toward one of the windows.14 My grandmother found it hard to understand how the police could disregard this massive destruction. . . . [She said,] “There is no excuse for destroying people’s property, no matter who they are. I don’t know why the police didn’t arrest those young Nazi louts.”15

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 211

Lesson 13: Handout 4, Reading 2
Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 1)

Andre (Excerpted from “Taking a Stand” pp. 268–70 in Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior)

In November, 1938, twelve-year-old Andre came home from a youth group meeting. He told his father that his youth group leader said that everyone was supposed to meet the next day to throw stones at Jewish stores. Andre said to his father, “I have nothing against the Jews—I hardly know them— but everyone is going to throw stones. So what should I do?” Andre went for a walk to help him figure out what he should do. When he came back, he explained his decision to his parents. “I’ve decided not to throw stones at the Jewish shops. But tomorrow everyone will say, ‘Andre, the son of X, did not take part, he refused to throw stones!’ They will turn against you. What are you going to do?” His father was proud and relieved. He said that the following day, the family would leave Germany. And that is what they did.16

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 212

Lesson 13: Handout 4, Reading 3
Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 1)

Melita Maschmann (Excerpted from “Taking a Stand,” pp. 268–70 in Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior)

Melita Maschmann lived in a small suburb of Berlin and knew nothing of Kristallnacht until the next morning. As she picked her way through the broken glass on her way to work, she asked a policeman what had happened. After he explained, she recalled: I went on my way shaking my head. For the space of a second I was clearly aware that something terrible had happened there. Something frighteningly brutal. But almost at once I switched over to accepting what had happened as over and done with, and avoiding critical reflection. I said to myself: the Jews are the enemies of the New Germany. Last night they had a taste of what this means. . . . I forced the memory of it out of my consciousness as quickly as possible. As the years went by, I grew better and better at switching off quickly in this manner on similar occasions.17

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 213

Lesson 13: Handout 4, Reading 4
Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 1)

Frederic Morton (Excerpted from “The Night of the Pogrom,” pp. 263–67 in Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior)

The writer Frederic Morton recalls his experience in Vienna, Austria (which had been taken over by Germany) on November 9, 1938: The day began with a thudding through my pillow. Jolts waked me. . . . By that time we’d gone to the window facing the street. At the house entrance two storm troopers lit cigarettes for each other. Their comrades were smashing the synagogue on the floor below us, tossing out a debris of Torahs [holy scripture] and pews. “Oh, my God!” my mother said. . . . The doorbell rang. . . . Ten storm troopers with heavy pickaxes . . . were young and bright-faced with excitement. . . . “House search,” the leader said. “Don’t move.”. . . They yanked out every drawer in every one of our chests and cupboards, and tossed each in the air. They let the cutlery jangle across the floor, the clothes scatter, and stepped over the mess to fling the next drawer. Their exuberance was amazing. Amazing, that none of them raised an axe to split our skulls. “We might be back,” the leader said. . . . We did not speak or move or breathe until we heard their boots against the pavement. “I am going to the office,” my father said. “Breitel might help.” Breitel, the Reich commissar in my father’s costume-jewelry factory, was a “good” Nazi. Once he’d said we should come to him if there was trouble. My father left. . . . I began to pick up clothes, when the doorbell rang again. It was my father. “I have two minutes.” “What?” my mother said. But she knew. His eyes had become glass. “There was another crew waiting for me downstairs. They gave me two minutes.” Now I broke down. . . . Four months later he rang our doorbell twice, skull shaven, skeletal, released from Dachau [a prison], somehow alive.18

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 214

Lesson 13: Handout 4, Reading 5
Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 1)

The United States (Excerpted from “World Responses” pp. 270–72 in Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior)

On November 15, six days after Kristallnacht, President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened a press conference by stating, “The news of the last few days from Germany has deeply shocked public opinion in the United States. . . . I myself could scarcely believe that such things could occur in a twentieth-century civilization.”19 As punishment to Germany, he announced that the United States was withdrawing its ambassador to Germany. But he did not offer to help the thousands of Jews now trying desperately to leave Germany. Few Americans criticized Roosevelt’s stand. According to a poll taken at the time, 72 percent did not want more Jewish refugees in the United States. In the 1930s Americans were more concerned with unemployment at home than with stateless Jews in Europe. Although many were willing to accept a few famous writers, artists, and scientists who happened to be Jewish, they were less willing to let in thousands of ordinary Jews. Then in February 1939, Senator Robert Wagner of New York and Representative Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts sponsored a bill that would bypass the immigration laws and temporarily admit 20,000 Jewish children who would stay in the country only until it was safe for them to return home. As most were too young to work, they would not take away jobs from Americans. Furthermore, their stay would not cost taxpayers a penny. Various Jewish groups had agreed to assume financial responsibility for the children. Yet the bill encountered strong opposition and was never passed.20

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 215

Lesson 13: Handout 5
Kristallnacht: The range of choices: Note-taking Guide
Directions: As you read about different responses to Kristallnacht, complete this chart.

Response to Kristallnacht by . . .

What did this person do?

Why? What factors may have motivated his/her actions?

Label his/her actions (victim, bystander, perpetrator, and/or upstander)

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 216

Lesson 13: Handout 6
Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 2)
Directions: How would you classify these responses to Kristallnacht? Were these individuals acting as bystanders, upstanders, victims, or perpetrators? You can assign more than one label to an individual or group. 1. Gustav Mark’s butcher shop is broken into and destroyed during Kristallnacht. Nazi troops arrest him and take him to a concentration camp (prison). In this situation, Gustav Mark is a _____________________________________________________ because . . .

2. Alfons Heck watches silently as his friend throws stones at a synagogue (a Jewish place of worship). In this situation, Alfons Heck is a _____________________________________________________ because . . .


Hannah Richter, a German of non-Jewish descent, helps her Jewish neighbor clean up after her home was broken into during Kristallnacht. In this situation, Hannah Richter is a _____________________________________________________ because . . .

4. The Schimmels, a German family of non-Jewish descent, choose not to participate in Kristallnacht and leave Germany the next day. In this situation, the Schimmels are _____________________________________________________ because . . .

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 217

Lesson 13: Handout 6
Kristallnacht: The range of choices (Part 2)
5. Herschel Frank, a Jewish boy, runs around the neighborhood to warn his Jewish neighbors to hide their valuables and to warn Jewish men to hide so that they do not get arrested. His home is broken into, but his father and brothers were not caught and arrested by the Nazis because they were hiding in the basement. In this situation, Herschel Frank is a _____________________________________________________ because . . .

6. The events of Kristallnacht are reported in newspapers all over the world. After Kristallnacht, thousands of Jews in Germany, Poland and Austria try to move to other countries. Many nations, including the United States, maintain tight restrictions (limits) on the number of Jews allowed to emigrate (move) to their countries. In this situation, the United States and many other countries are __________________________ because . . .

7. After Nazi troopers break into their Jewish neighbor’s home, Martin and Karla Schneider rush in to steal their neighbors’ belongings. In this situation, Martin and Karla Schneider are ___________________________________________ because . . .

8. After Kristallnacht, the city of Shanghai (in China) welcomes all Jewish refugees. In this situation, the government of Shanghai is a __________________________________________ because . . .

Purpose: To deepen understanding of how our decisions can perpetuate or prevent injustice and violence by studying Kristallnacht. • 218

Proceedings of the Intergovernmental Committee, Evian, July 6–15, 1938. Verbatim Record of the Plenary Meetings of the Committee. Resolutions and Reports. London: July 1938, 25. 2 Margot Stern Strom, Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior (Brookline: Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation), 264. 3 Anthony Read and David Fisher, Kristallnacht: The Unleashing of the Holocaust (New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1989), 127. 4 Victoria Barnett, For the Soul of the People: Protestant Protest Against Hitler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 142. 5 Richard Rubenstein, The Cunning of History: Mass Death and the American Future (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), 27. 6 “Extract from the Speech by Hitler,” January 30, 1939, http://www.yadvashem.org/about_holocaust /documents/part1/doc59.html (accessed on January 16, 2009). 7 Rubenstein, The Cunning of History, 33. 8 Helen Fein, Accounting for Genocide (London: The Free Press, 1979), 33. 9 Joe Lobenstein, “Kristallnacht: Still an Unforgettable Nightmare 70 Years On,” Telegraph, 10 November 2008, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/3416004/Kristallnacht-Still-an -unforgettable-nightmare-70-years-on.html (accessed January 16, 2009). 10 Dan Barry, “A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly,” The New York Times, May 24, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/24/us/24land.html?pagewanted=l&_r=l&partner=permalink&exprod =permalink (accessed January 16, 2009). 11 Eleanor Ayer, Parallel Journeys (New York: Aladdin Paperbacks, 1995), 30. 12 Alexandra Zapradur, Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 19–23. 13 Ayer, Parallel Journeys, 27. 14 Ibid., 29. 15 Ibid., 30. 16 Dan Bar-On, Legacy of Silence: Encounters with Children from the Third Reich (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989), 1. 17 Melita Maschmann, Account Rendered: A Dossier on My Former Self (New York: Abelard -Schuman, 1965), 56. 18 Frederic Morton, “Kristallnacht,” New York Times, November 10, 1978. 19 “Kristallnacht,” The American Experience, PBS website, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/holocaust /peopleevents/pandeAMEX99.html (accessed January 16, 2009). 20 “Jewish Refugees from German Reich, 1933–1939,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website, http://www.ushmm.org/museum/exhibit/online/stlouis/teach/supread2.htm (accessed January 16, 2009).


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