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Kristallnacht: Massacre of Jews in Nazi Germany

Kristallnacht was the murder and persecution of Jews, who lived in Germany. The name Kristallnacht owes its origin to the German word ‘crystal night’, which represents broken crystals of glass evident from the burning down and demolishing of Jewish property. Remarkably, the persecution and massacre took place in 1938 after enactment of several anti-Jewish laws. Although the government knew that the massacre was going on, they kept quiet and the mass executions progressed resulting in the death of several Jews as well as Germans confused to be Jews.

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During the massacre, rioters demolished and burned down property, residential houses, and sacred buildings belonging to the Jews. Therefore, this report explains Kristallnacht using media attention, extent of preventability, victim impact, interveners, crime, effect on stakeholders, level of risk, public attitude, role played by politics, violated laws, and presence of a critical incident.

Before, during, and after the incident, the media played an integral role in informing the world about the events taking place in Germany and Poland. Journalists, newspapers, and others forms of media gathered information and reported Kristallnacht’s riots and killings. Deem (2012) explains that although at some point the German government imposed restrictions on Jewish newspapers, the other journalists continued relaying information about the massacre all over the world. Consequently, since Kristallnacht took place after the government singled out Jews and engaged in false propagandas, the event was preventable.

If the German government had engaged in a manner that did not limit Jewish operations and did not spread false propagandas about their influence on events like the Second World War, the massacre would not have occurred. According to Steinweis (2009), the Hitler government spread propaganda that Jews played a role in the Second World War that saw defeat of the Germans. Imperatively, the victims of the massacre were Jews, who lost their lives, belongings, and businesses.

During Kristallnacht, most of the stakeholders were the government and the people of Germany. Imperatively, the intervention of these stakeholders was minimal especially in aspects that concerned prevention of the massacre. For instance, the orders were that the government seizes the Jewish property and that the police would not stop the riots. Deem (2012) notes that the orders concerning riots and seizing of the Jewish property explains the little intervention exerted by the German government, who were the major stakeholders.

The events before, during, and after the riots clearly demonstrate the presence of criminal activities. As such, Kristallnacht was a crime that the country and the citizens undertook. Although stakeholders that included the government and the non-Jews suffered minimal negative effects from the crime, several Jews died and others lost their properties.

The extent of danger or risk involved was high particularly on the Jews, who lived in Germany and Poland. In the assertion of Crowe (2014), the fact that over 2,000 Jews died during the riots and massacre is an indication that the risk had a pronounced impact on the Jewish community. The negative propaganda that singled out Jews as individuals, who compromised the progress of the German government triggered public reaction. Therefore, majority of the German citizens, who were not Jews, developed a negative attitude that peaked with riots and killing of the Jews.

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Politics was one of the major players used to spread propagandas to the public with the intention of changing their attitudes towards people of Jewish origin. Practically, the laws that protect human property, human life, and racial discrimination are among the laws violated during the Kristallnacht incident. Violation of the laws was evident since the government encouraged the massacre and destruction of property. It is fundamental to highlight that the incident is among the critical incidences that has occurred in Germany and globally.


Crowe, D. (2014). War crimes, genocide, and justice: A global history. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Deem, J. (2012). Kristallnacht: The Nazi terror that began the Holocaust. Berkeley: Enslow Publishers.

Steinweis, A. (2009). Kristallnacht 1938. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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