[Congressional Record Volume 145, Number 156 (Monday, November 8, 1999)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2296]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                    ANNIVERSARY OF NOVEMBER 9, 1938


                            HON. TOM LANTOS

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                        Monday, November 8, 1999

  Mr. LANTOS. Mr. Speaker, the Holocaust must be remembered and it must 
be studied to prevent the real danger of repeating the experience of 
that horrendous nightmare. As recent conflicts in the Great Lakes 
Region of Africa, Kosova, East-Timor as well as many other places 
remind us only too well that, although we are now enjoying an era of 
general prosperity and relative tranquility, many peoples around the 
world have not yet learned to live with one another in peace. In fact 
in the last decade, the practice of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Kosova 
and other areas of the former Yugoslavia has only served to remind us 
how little progress we have made in the past half century.
  In this context, Mr. Speaker, it is important that we take note of a 
tragic anniversary on November 9th--the first physical violence against 
Germany's Jews by Hitler's Nazi regime. That tragic occasion has been 
given the name ``Kristallnacht''--Crystal Night--because of the number 
of broken and smashed windows that accompanied the racist violence. 
Years of dehumanizing anti-Semitic propaganda in Germany, which was 
intensified after Hitler and the Nazi party came to power in 1933, 
prepared the way for Kristallnacht. The aggressive racist and anti-
Semitic policies of the Third Reich saw their first expression in 
violence on November 9, 1938. Kristallnacht serves as a chilling 
reminder to what happens when an inflamed mob mentality overtakes a 
  Mr. Speaker, Margret Hofmann was an eye-witness to the tragedy of 
Kristallnacht. She has devoted years of her life to researching and 
studying the circumstances surrounding Kristallnacht and its 
consequences. I want to commend her for her work and insert some 
excerpts from her studies that make a valuable contribution to our 
understanding of how Kristallnacht was a first step in setting in 
motion the nightmare of the Holocaust.
  In 1933, the German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine said, ``Where books 
are burnt, Man will soon burn human beings.'' That is the point of 
beginning of Margret Hofmann as she considers the background and 
meaning of Kristallnacht.
  Books were burnt in Germany on May 10, 1933, people soon followed. In 
between the burning of the books and the burning of the people, the 
Nazi government in Germany instigated the notorious Kristallnacht, the 
``Night of Broken Glass.'' This was the event which set the stage for 
Hitler and other Nazi leaders to attempt to ``eliminate'' the Jews from 
Germany and eventually the whole world. It was the kind of event that 
proved ideal for Nazi purposes.
  On October 27, 1938, Germany expelled 15,000 non-German Jews. 
Although many had lived in Germany for decades and even raised families 
there, they were put on trains and sent to Poland. This was done by the 
German government without notifying the Polish government or without 
taking any steps to deal with the number of people. Enraged by this 
action, Herschel Grynszpan, whose parents had been summarily expelled 
from Germany, went to the German Embassy in France and shot a German 
diplomat, Ernst vom Rath.
  The occasion was tailor-made for the Nazi propaganda machine. The 
funeral of vom Rath in his hometown of Dusseldorf was grandiose. The 
Nazi government used the murder of vom Rath to give a false impression 
that German citizens spontaneously rose against the Jews. The night of 
the funeral, November 9, 1938, the Nazi government instructed the local 
police throughout Germany to ``allow'' the German people to rise up and 
``strike back'' at the Jews. ``The people'' were Nazi ``Brown Shirts'' 
and German soldiers. The police were told to make sure non-Jews were 
not attacked and only Jewish buildings were destroyed. All over Germany 
synagogues and temples were burned, Jewish homes were ransacked, and a 
number of Jews were killed. By 1938 the Nazi propaganda machine had 
complete control of the press, and this pogrom was portrayed as a 
spontaneous uprising against the Jews.
  From that point on, the Nazi regime with increasing violence stripped 
Jews of their rights. They were forced out of the schools and 
universities, they were prohibited from practicing law, medicine, and 
other professions. Many were evicted from their homes and their 
belongings were confiscated. Before long Jews were required to wear a 
yellow star of David on their clothes so others could recognize they 
were Jewish. Many streets were declared off-limits to Jews.
  After years of anti-Semitic propaganda, many Germans succumbed to 
racism, prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination. This racial hatred, 
which was given its defining violent moment in Kristallnacht, led 
directly to the ``Final Solution,'' the fanatic Nazi drive to 
annihilate the Jewish race. For each piece of history, we must find a 
defining moment. For Nazi Germany, it was Kristallnacht.