What Truly Caused the Pogrom of 1938

Everyone knows what happened 80 years ago, November 9-10, 1938 in Germany.  The unprecedented pogrom of the Jews got the name Kristallnacht – "Night of Broken Glass."  Today, we are well aware of the approximate number of murdered Jews, destroyed businesses, and burned synagogues.  The formal reason for the pogrom was the murder of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris by the Jewish teenager Herschel Grynszpan on November 7.

Unfortunately, few people know about the true causes of the pogrom.

Who created the conditions under which a mass pogrom of Jews in the Third Reich could even take place?

After the murder of the German diplomat, the propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, announced that neither the German government nor the ruling National Socialist Workers Party (NSDAP, AKA Nazi) would organize any protests in this regard.  Goebbels knew what was going to happen.  The government of Nazi Germany, although not formally involved in the detailed organization of the Kristallnacht, for several years was doing everything possible to make such a pogrom.

Since taking power in 1933, the Nazis had tightened the existing gun control laws.  All German citizens, including Jews, were required to register their weapons, and for every firearm purchase, they must obtain a special permit from the authorities.  In September 1935, all Jews were stripped of German citizenship.  All Jews, without exception, were declared "untrustworthy" and deprived of most civil rights.  Then, starting in December 1935, the Jews of Germany lost the opportunity to buy firearms and ammunition, but the Nazis had not yet executed a widespread confiscation of the existing weapons and ammunition.

Finally, in March 1938, a new gun control law was passed in Germany.  In this law, the only mention of Jews was in the part that declared a total ban on Jews from participating in the production and trade of firearms and ammunition.  However, this law, on the one hand, lifted restrictions of the possession of firearms by members of all Nazi-connected organizations (such as the NSDAP, the SA, and the Hitler Youth) and on the other hand prohibited the possession of firearms by all "untrustworthy" and those persons "relieved of their civil rights."  By the law of 1935, not only Jews, but also all political opponents of the Nazi regime, as well as Gypsies and the homeless, were treated as "untrustworthy."

Due to the combined application of the laws of the Third Reich of 1935 and 1938, the confiscation of all firearms from German Jews was categorically legalized.

As a result, a massive (and effective) campaign for the confiscation of weapons had begun, and in many regions of Germany, the Jews were wholly disarmed in just six months – by November 1938.  For example, the day before the pogrom, on November 8, 1938, the New York Times published an article reported that the head of the Berlin police noted with satisfaction that practically all firearms from Berlin Jews had already been taken.  The Nazis' sequester was effective because law-abiding German Jews registered all their weapons, as the law required.  As a result, the addresses of the Jewish owners of the firearms and the details of the weapons in question were known to the authorities in advance.

There is every reason to believe that the catalyst was not the murder of the third secretary of the German embassy in Paris, but rather a series of articles printed in the German morning newspapers on November 9, 1938.  Their reports about the practical completion of the seizure of weapons from Jews served as a trigger for the pogrom.

The killing of a minor diplomat cannot drive the whole country to a bloody massacre, but a guaranteed absence of armed resistance certainly can.

The collection of firearms from the Jews from March to November 1938 was not the beginning, but the end of the Nazi policy of complete disarmament of the Jews.  The seizure of weapons began several months after the Nazis came to power, although at first, this was not widespread, because in 1933, it was a question of impounding only the army-grade weapons.  Indicative is the rummage of Albert Einstein's house in March 1933 on the grounds that "Professor Einstein has a weapons depot at home."  At the time of the search, Einstein was not at home (he was outside Germany), and they found no weapons in the house of the physicist-pacifist.

The day after the start of the pogrom, on November 10, the German government decided to suppress the initiative from the rioters.  SS head Heinrich Himmler announced that the refusal to surrender weapons by Jews would be punished with 20 years' imprisonment in concentration camps.  As a result, tens of thousands of Jews were arrested and thrown into concentration camps.  To this day, nobody knows which of them actually refused to hand over legally acquired guns and which simply fell victim to the circumstances.

Also, the police received clear instructions on what can be allowed during the pogrom and what should not be allowed.  For example, businesses owned by Jews could be shattered and destroyed (but not set on fire), while looting was prohibited.  Foreigners (including Jews) should be protected.  Businesses that belonged to non-Jews should be preserved in every way possible, and "spontaneous mass demonstrations" should not be hindered.

Two days after the beginning of the pogrom, on November 11, 1938, the government of the Third Reich made its final point on this issue.  Jews were deprived of the right to hold firearms or any weapon whatsoever or any ammunition.  This final point was the beginning of the "final solution of the Jewish question" in the Third Reich.

During the pogrom in Germany, 80 years ago many more Jews perished than in the recent pogrom in Pittsburgh.  However, these two events, separated by decades, are united by one thing – National Socialism.

Both the Nazi government and the lone American neo-Nazi had the same goal.  The well known policy on gun control by the American socialists, including the idiotic Gun Free Zones, leads to the same result as the policy of the German National Socialists.  It promotes the disarmament of law-abiding American citizens similarly to how the Nazi policy led to the disarming of the Jews.  Consequently, many Jews (not only in America) for some reason forgot that the Third Reich is long gone, and it is no longer necessary to obey the Nazi laws on the disarmament of Jews.

Also, the de facto disarmament of American citizens is contrary to the de jure Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The pogrom in Germany was stopped on the evening of November 10, 1938 by order of Goebbels.  Should the Americans wait and hope that some high-ranking bureaucrat will stop another Jewish pogrom, or will we stop them by using our legal rights and legal means?

Gary Gindler, Ph.D., is a conservative blogger at Gary Gindler Chronicles.  Follow him on Twitter.