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Home > Books, History, Quotes, Reading > What I’m Reading: The Anatomy of Fascism – 11 in a series – “…consider the reactions of ordinary Germans to the events of Kristallnacht…”

What I’m Reading: The Anatomy of Fascism – 11 in a series – “…consider the reactions of ordinary Germans to the events of Kristallnacht…”

September 30th, 2019

“For example, consider the reactions of ordinary Germans to the events of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass). During the night of November 9, 1938, incited by an incendiary speech to party leaders by the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, and in reaction to the murder of a German diplomat in Paris by a young Polish Jew enraged by the recent expulsion of his immigrant parents from Germany, Nazi Party militants rampaged through the Jewish communities of Germany. They burned hundreds of synagogues, smashed more than seven thousand Jewish shops, deported about twenty thousand Jews to concentration camps, and killed ninety-one Jews outright. A fine of a billion marks was imposed collectively on the Jews of Germany, and their insurance reimbursements were confiscated by the German state, in order to compensate for incidental damage done to non-Jewish property. It is clear now that many ordinary Germans were offended by the brutalities carried out under their windows.62 Yet their widespread distaste was transitory and without lasting effect. Why were there no lawsuits or judicial or administrative enquiries, for example? If we can understand the failure of the judicial system, or of religious or civilian authorities, or of citizen opposition to put any brakes on Hitler in November 1938, we have begun to understand the wider circles of individual and institutional acquiescence within which a militant minority was able to free itself sufficiently from constraints to be able to carry out genocide in a heretofore sophisticated and civilized country.“

From The Anatomy of Fascism by Robert O. Paxton

Anatomy fascism

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