Today in History, November 9: 1938 – Kristallnacht. In order to direct Germany in the direction they wanted, the Nazis believed that they had to give the people someone to blame, someone to hate, for their misfortunes. The Jewish people of Germany and Austria were the perfect targets.
The Nazis used the murder of a low level diplomat in Paris as an excuse. Hitler ordered storm troopers to act as if they were citizens angered by the murder and to vandalize and destroy Jewish businesses, thus “The Night of Broken Glass” from the broken windows. Many Jews were killed and 30,000 men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. They were released if they promised to leave Germany….100,000+ did so. Kristallnacht would eventually lead to the Holocaust, during which 6,000,000+ Jews were killed in the Nazis attempt at genocide.
Today in History, December 17: 1862 – Even our heroes make misguided decisions. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant issues General Order 11, expelling all Jewish people from the area he commands, Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky. During the war, trade in the South’s staple, Cotton, was severely restrained, which of course led to a black market trade. It became a real problem for the Union Army in the west. Grant felt it was being driven by Jewish profiteers and ordered them expelled. After complaints from the Jewish community and Congress, President Lincoln quickly rescinded the order. Grant would go on to gain Lincoln’s…and the nation’s trust. But this was not his finest moment.