Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Kristallnacht 75 years on

My attention was drawn that it is now 75 years since Kristallnacht occurred.
Sinclair Davidson attempts to write about it but naturally is inaccurate.
He quotes Scott Ryan "Never before had an allegedly civilised nation attempted an elimination of an entire people. Never before had all the gains of the renaissance, enlightenment and industrial revolution been put to such evil use. But these were only the means; the driving force behind the Holocaust was not new, it was thousands of years old, it is the oldest of hatreds."

 Whoopsy. Armenian genocide anyone. It only occurred in 1915!
( In what could only be described vas IRONY the Israeli Government has it as official policy to deny this atrocity! Maybe that is why it slipped the memory).
(Postscript. I was asked whether this is an example of denial. I very much doubt it. Indeed He probably didn't even know of the Armenian holocaust)

Why did Kristallnacht occur?
Adam Tooze in his book The Wages of Destruction makes the hypothesis that it was mostly due the the feeling of the SS Leadership  that war was imminent and Jews were seen as a fifth column that would undermine any war effort.

This is borne out by the fact that until Kristallnacht Jews were not put into prison or camps simply for being Jews but for being  influential members of trade Unions, the social Democrats, Communists etc.

We also had the absurd job given to Schacht. He would meet International Jewry and they would finance all German Jews to move to Palestine. ( In another irony Nazi Germany fully supported the setting up of a Jewish state in Palestine!).
Of course this never happened because International Jewry never existed. It only existed in the minds of the Nazi hierarchy who now believed their own propaganda.

Kristallnacht did show how much the German population had changed. When Goebbels tried to stop Germans from buying goods in Jewish retail stores he failed miserably and Hitler stopped it after only a day.  Germans continued to buy goods despite SA bully boys at the entrance of most Jewish stores,

By 1938 a lot of Germans had turned and blamed the Jews for the war they thought was certain. They also disgracefully joined in the pogrom against the Jews at this time.

We can only hope such an event never eventuates again.

I forgot to mention Robert Gellately mentioned two things of note in his excellent book Backing_Hitler. Consent_and _Coercion _in Nazi_Germany

1) By 1934 there was a recommendation to get rid of all concentration camps for political prisoners as they were no longer needed.
The Nazis being bureaucrats didn't do this.   ( Gellately has two distinct chapters on concentration camps. Before 1938 and after b1938 because their reason for being in Nazi Germany changed drastically.)

2) The Gestapo could not have functioned without support from the broad public as their numbers were far too small.

Further update on a related topic
Tooze and Gellately are at opposite ends of the terror debate. Tooze believes the population were terrorised to support Hitler whereas Gellately believes terror was invoked only on a small proportion of the population.
I think their writing on 1934 shows how accurate both of them were. Tooze merely notes the German population was more worried about inflation than the night of the long knives whereas Gellately explicitly says Germans supported Hitler's action and it boosted his popularity ( which was always much  higher than that of the Nazi party.)