Blogging the Anniversary of Kristallnacht

Paul Harvey

Katrina Gulliver, a historian currently residing in Munich, runs a wonderful blog called “Notes from the Field” full of fascinating images and photos and commentary on her research and travels. Gulliver is also the ringleader of the Twitterstorians, or historians on Twitter who send out < 140 character messages about their work, about life in the historical profession, and sometimes live tweets about lectures and conferences they attend. Follow the twitterstorians here. The twitterstorians are one of many signs of the current ferment and experiments in what has come to be called the “digital humanities.”

Today Gulliver has some posted fascinating images and thoughts from Munich on the anniversary of Kristallnacht — November 9, 1938. Here is a little excerpt, and the New York Times headline reporting on the original event.

Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht (or, night of broken glass), which occurred on the night of November 9, 1938. Supposedly as a response to the assassination of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, (a German-born Polish Jew), a massive coordinated attack was launched on Jewish businesses and property across Germany. The broken glass reference was to all the windows being broken.

Read through to the end of the post for Gulliver’s pictures from the new (as of 2006) Jewish museum and synagogue that now stands on the spot of the major synagogue destroyed in Munich on Kristallnacht. The new Jewish cultural center there features a glass-ceilinged cube on top of the modernist building. Anyone still want to argue that studying history is not important? I didn’t think so.

The perennial popularity of our course offerings on Holocaust-related topics suggests to me the great interest of our students in learning more on the subject. And, in case you didn’t know, we have one of the great authorities on the history of Munich in our department (and about modern Germany), our esteemed chair Robert Sackett, author of the book Popular Entertainment, Class, and Politics in Munich, 1900-1923, published by Harvard University Press in 1982.

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