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How far do these sources back up the view that crystal night was a spontaneous act by the German people

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Introduction

How far do these sources back up the view that Kristallnacht was a spontaneous act by the German people? Kristallnacht, a massive nationwide pogrom in Germany and Austria, took place on 9/10th November. The target was Jewish citizens and it foreshadowed the events of the holocaust. Jewish properties were destroyed and more than 30,000 Jews were arrested. Was this a spontaneous (unplanned and unstructured) act by the German people or was it orchestrated by the Nazi government? Several sources are available to help answer this question; however, one must take into account the origin of the source, as people's views can be influenced by their positions. Sources A, C and D originate from the Nazi party. The Nazis would want to portray Kristallnacht as a spontaneous act by the people rather than an organised move by the government. Josef Goebbels wrote sources C and D. One is from the Nazi newsletter and the other is from Goebbel's private diary. ...read more.

Middle

At no point does it give a direct order but gives palpable hints about Hitler's wishes. Although Heydrich tries to make out that the instructions are a "precaution" in case the "expected" does occur, it indicates there is a degree of pre-planning involved. The Nazis would not have written it in so much detail unless they were sure it was going to happen. Source G is an account by a Jewish Rabbi. One must bare in mind that out of anger, he may have exaggerated the treatment from the Nazis increasing the source's unreliability. However, the fact that this is first hand evidence and he had no real reason to lie makes this source quite strong. He states that he had his home destroyed by SA (SA? Does he mean SS or SD?) And that the street was thick with SA troops. He also says that passers by shouted "down with the Jews." This source gives the impression that Kristallnacht did involve the German people but the main "demonstrators" were actually Nazis. Source F is similar to Source G. ...read more.

Conclusion

The following morning the citizens were shocked when they saw the carnage. Witnesses told him how Nazis made the people jeer and spit at the Jews. This is without a doubt the strongest source as it is by a neutral and it is built up with "reliable testimonials." To conclude, the sources do not back up the view that Kristallnacht was a spontaneous act by German people although the Nazi sources try to portray that it was. Nazi sources are notoriously unreliable. Sources C and D, although written by the same Nazi do not agree and Source A is too detailed to make one believe that the Nazis did not plan Kristallnacht. Source F's strength is that it was written by a person who was actually there but that person is a Jew and may have exaggerated their statement, as with Source G. Source H is the most reliable as it is by a neutral and firmly supports the claim that Kristallnacht was not a spontaneous act by the German people. One can therefore conclude that the government orchestrated it. Chris Buley Holocaust coursework History AS ...read more.

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