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    Kristallnacht: Hitler’s Authorization

    How do we know Adolf Hitler authorized the Kristallnacht pogroms?

    As a means of exonerating Adolf Hitler, many Holocaust deniers claim:

    Adolf Hitler did not know about and did not authorize the Kristallnacht pogroms. Holocaust denier David Irving asserts that Josef Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, initiated the pogroms without Hitler’s knowledge or permission.[1]

    The facts are:

    Available evidence shows that Adolf Hitler knew about and authorized the Kristallnacht pogroms. In the early evening of November 9, 1938, Josef Goebbels informed Hitler of the first stirrings of widespread pogroms. Hitler gave his authorization for Kristallnacht to be continued and even increased. 

    The facts about Hitler’s knowledge and authorization of Kristallnacht..

    Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath was assassinated by a Jewish teenager in Paris on November 9, 1938. He died at 5:30 p.m. By early that evening, several cases of antisemitic violence had occurred in Germany. Goebbels was informed that disturbances had already broken out in two locations in Germany. Hitler and Goebbels discussed these incidents before attending a dinner together at the Old Town Hall in Munich.

    Several eyewitnesses reported that Goebbels and Hitler had an intense discussion together at dinner that night. Goebbels’ diary entry for that day read: “I go to the Party reception in the Old Town Hall. Colossal activity. I brief the Führer about the matter. He orders: let the demonstrations go on. Withdraw the police. The Jews must for once feel the people’s fury. That is right.”[2] Hitler left the dinner around 9:00 p.m., strangely allowing Goebbels to give the speech that Hitler himself had given for the previous five years.

    The report of the Supreme Nazi Party Court, held after the pogroms, stated that Goebbels gave a rousing speech in which he informed the Gauleiters (party district leaders) of the disorder already erupting in parts of Germany. Attendees recalled that Goebbels invoked Hitler’s approval of the violence, including future violence against Jews: “on his briefing, the Führer has decided” that future demonstrations should not be stopped.[3]

    The Gauleiters at the meeting understood their orders as such: “the Party should not appear to the outside world as the originator of the demonstrations, but should in reality organize them and carry them out.”[4] After Goebbels’ speech, they rushed to the telephones and issued orders to their subordinates across Germany that they should directly incite and/or encourage the violence.

    Berlin, 1933. Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-03016 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons.
    Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-03016 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

    Conclusion

    Contrary to the claims of Holocaust deniers, Adolf Hitler knew about and authorized the Kristallnacht pogroms. Reputable scholars assert that Goebbels fully informed Hitler of antisemitic disturbances in the early evening of November 9, 1938. During his dinner with Goebbels, Hitler authorized more widespread pogroms, which the SA (Stormtroopers) and SS organized and encouraged. Hitler left the dinner so that the international community could not hold him directly responsible for the resulting destruction and violence. With Hitler’s blessing, Goebbels gave Hitler’s keynote speech for him, rousing the Gauleiters into action. They put the plan into effect promptly after his speech.

    NOTES

    [1] Richard J. Evans, David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial, Section (4)(4.3)(c)(ii)(A)(2) at www.hdot.org, “Expert Witness Reports.”

    [2] Diary entry of Josef Goebbels, November 9, 1938 as cited in Richard J. Evans, David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial, Section (4)(4.3)(c)(ii)(A)(3-5).

    [3] Richard J. Evans, David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial, Section (4)(4.3)(c)(ii)(B)(5).

    [4] Richard J. Evans, David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial, Section (4)(4.3)(c)(ii)(C)(3).