On November 7, 1938, Jewish minor Herschel Grünspan assassinated Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in
This incident was used by the Nazis to initiate the transition from legal repression to large-scale outright violence against Jewish Germans.
What the Nazis claimed to be spontaneous "public outrage" was mass pogroms conducted by the Nazi party and SA members and affiliates throughout Nazi Germany (then consisting of
Germany proper, Austria and Sudetenland).
The progroms became known as Reichskristallnacht ("the Night of Broken Glass", literally "Crystal Night"), or November pogroms.
Jews were attacked and Jewish property was vandalized, over 7,000 Jewish shops and 1,668 synagogues (almost every synagogue in
) were damaged or destroyed. The death toll is assumed to be much higher than the official number of 91 dead. 30,000 were sent to concentration camps, including Dachau, Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, and Oranienburg concentration camp, where they were kept for several weeks, and released when they could either prove that they were about to emigrate in the near future, or transferred their property to the Nazis. Germany
Coinciding with Kristallnacht, was the November 11, 1938 passage of Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons, which made it illegal for Jews to possess firearms or other weapons (see The 1938 German Weapons Act).
The German Jewry was collectively made responsible for restitution of the material damage of the pogrom, amounting to several hundreds of thousand Reichsmark, and furthermore had to pay collectively an "atonement tax" of more than a billion Reichsmark.
After these pogroms, Jewish emigration from Nazi Germany accelerated, while public Jewish life in
ceased to exist. Germany
Deportation to colonies and reservations
Before the war, the Nazis considered mass exportation of German (and subsequently the European) Jewry from
Europe. Plans to reclaim former German colonies such as Tanganyika and South West Africa for Jewish resettlement were halted by Adolf Hitler, who argued that no place where "so much blood of heroic Germans had been spilled" should be made available as a residence for the "worst enemies of the Germans".
Diplomatic efforts were undertaken to convince the other former colonial powers, primarily the
United Kingdom and , to accept expelled Jews in their colonies. France
Areas considered for possible resettlement included British Palestine, Italian Abyssinia,British Guinea,British Rhodesia,French Madagascar,and
Of these areas,
was the most seriously discussed. Heydrich called the Madagascar Plan a "territorial final solution"; it was a remote location, and the island's unfavorable conditions would hasten deaths. Madagascar
In retrospect, although futile, this plan did constitute an important psychological step on the path to the Holocaust.
Approved by Hitler in 1938, the resettlement planning was carried out by Eichmann's office. Once the mass killing of Jews began in 1941, however, resettlement planning was abandoned. The end of the Madagascar Plan was announced on February 10, 1942. The German Foreign Office was given the official explanation that, due to the war with the
Soviet Union, Jews were to be "sent to the east".