Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass (1938). Hitler and Joseph Goebbels used the assassination of a German diplomat by a Polish Jew as an excuse to organize a “spontaneous” riot. Goebbels told an assembly of National Socialists that “the Führer has decided that […] demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the Party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered.” Throughout Germany and parts of Austria and Czechoslovakia, Nazi Stormtroopers and Hitler Youth put thousands of synagogues, homes, businesses, and schools to the torch – and blamed the Jews for the damage they caused. They smashed windows, looted shops, dragged Jews from their homes, and desecrated graves. The government gave instructions to firefighters not to intervene, and told local police to round up as many young Jewish men as their jails could hold. It was the first mass incarceration of Jews by the Nazi government, and so many people consider Kristallnacht to be the beginning of the Holocaust.
— The Writer’s Almanac