Eye-witness accounts held by the Wiener Library taken immediately following the state-sanctioned campaign of hatred against Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe on the 9/10 November 1938 have been translated for the first time to mark the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass).
Extract from Account B78 – 27 November 1938
At exactly three in the morning the house in which I lived, in which there was a small Jewish business, started to shake. Both window-panes were shattered and the contents of the shop-windows ruined. Naturally I cannot tell whether this had happened the first time. I lived in the Kurfrstendamm district. As I am in the habit of sleeping with the window open, I heard the noise of breaking windows from this area. In the house where I lived, a second bombardment of the undamaged parts had been organised. From my window I saw a small car pass by; two men in civilian clothes got out and smashed the windows. Evidently it had all been carefully planned, because they got back into the car in order to repeat their action nearby. At about 6 o’clock in the morning another convoy arrived, who likewise destroyed anything that was left to be destroyed. At intervals during these three hours fire engines could be heard rushing through the streets, and the smoke from Fasanenstrasse was an omen of what was likely to have occurred. In any case it was a planned action carried out by SA, SS and Hitler Youth in civilian clothes. In a barber’s shop, one of those involved related in my presence that they had been drinking till three in the morning to prepare themselves for the action. The next morning a terrible sight was to be seen, and the smouldering synagogue in Fasanenstrasse was like a signal. As far as I could observe, people looked at the devastation in silence, and perhaps with some inner emotion. Indeed, some people openly expressed indignation. While I was crossing the Kurfrstendamm in the morning, an old gentleman with snow-white hair addressed me impulsively and expressed his outrage, calling the event a crime against civilisation for which the Germans would one day have to atone.