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'Kristallnacht was a spontaneous event by the German people' - How far do these sources support this claim?

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Introduction

Rebecca Strickland Spring 2003 Kristallnacht, November 10th 1938 Question (f) : Study all the sources. 'Kristallnacht was a spontaneous event by the German people.' How far do these sources support this claim? The majority of the sources do not agree that Kristallnacht was a spontaneous event by the German people because six out of the nine claim that the Nazi Party, or a selected few Nazis, were guilty of conducting the aggressive attack. Source A claims that Goebbels was the one to plan Kristallnacht in an attempt to win back Hitler's support. An officer apparently interrupted the Party leaders' meal on 9 November to confirm the details to Goebbels about the situation. Goebbels then informed Hitler who was clearly pleased as the quote recalled he 'squealed with delight and slapped his thigh with enthusiasm.' Obviously the impact of damaged Jewish property on the economy did not bother Goebbels as stated in Source H. ...read more.

Middle

This cartoon does not involve the German people at all but by telling Hitler not to persecute the Jews it implies that the Nazis were responsible for the events of Kristallnacht. Source G is a British cartoon about Kristallnacht illustrating how helpless the German people were against the actions of the Nazis. A uniformed man has an injured, possibly dead person between his legs representing a Jew. This cartoon is trying to say that the Nazis were responsible for Kristallnacht and that even though the German people were concerned about the Nazi's actions, they were powerless to stop them. Source H is the final source which claims that Kristallnacht was not a spontaneous event by the German people. It is an account by Goering given during his trial for war crimes at Nuremberg in 1945-6. He claims that Goebbels was responsible for the events of Kristallnacht. He felt Goebbels was very inconsiderate in his actions by not taking into account just what damage to the German economy he could cause by damaging all the Jewish property. ...read more.

Conclusion

Hitler says that 'The people responsible have destroyed everything for me' which suggests that he was not to blame for the events and that Kristallnacht caused nothing but hassle for him. By using such a general term as 'the people' he does not blame anyone in particular, yet the only interpretation I can make from this is that Hitler blames the German people for Kristallnacht. An indication that the events were spontaneous is given when Hitler says 'And then this happened!' which suggests he knew nothing about any plans. The reliability of this source is not great because the writer may have lied in her report in an attempt to protect her husband who was a favourite architect of Hitler and therefore may have been accused of war crimes. Overall this source claims that Hitler felt the German people were to be blamed for the spontaneous events. Overall I can draw the conclusion that these sources do not support the claim that 'Kristallnacht was a spontaneous event by the German people although a few unreliable sources try to convince us that this claim is true. ...read more.

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