Prelude to Destruction
By Martin Gilbert
HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060570835, 320pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2006
List Price: $21.95*
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On November 7, 1938, a young Jew, enraged by his family's expulsion from Germany, walked into the German embassy in Paris and fired five shots at a junior diplomat. Three days later the diplomat was dead, and Germany was in the grips of skillfully orchestrated anti-Jewish violence.
In the early hours of November 10, Nazi storm troopers and Hitler Youth rampaged through Jewish neighborhoods across Germany, leaving behind them a horrifying trail of terror and destruction. More than a thousand synagogues and many thousands of Jewish shops were destroyed, while thirty thousand Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps. This was the moment when deliberately inflamed hatreds ignited nationwide destruction.
With rare insight and acumen, Martin Gilbert, one of the leading historians of our time, examines Kristallnacht -- the Night of Broken Glass -- and describes how the rest of the world reacted in its wake. His narration of that night and day of terror is chilling, vividly conveying its scale and intensity through more than fifty previously unpublished eyewitness testimonies and graphic newspaper accounts of the events as they unfolded. No other attack on Jews during the course of the Second World War was as widely reported by contemporary observers.
Kristallnacht marked the beginning of the systematic eradication of a people who traced their origins in Germany to Roman times and was a sinister fore-warning of the Holocaust. By setting the tone for the terrible war to follow, it shaped the second half of the twentieth century and continues to haunt us, almost seventy years later. Meticulously researched and masterfully written, this is an eye-opening study of one of the darkest chapters in human history.
"Factual, well documented and brilliant, Martin Gilbert's book on Crystal Night is a poignant lesson."
"Searing and specific. . . a well-written survey of a turning point in modern history."
"A powerful account of the helplessness of the Jews."
"An excellent addition to Holocaust and World War II literature."