In the week following the presidential election, many around the world will mark the anniversary of the worst anti-Semitic pogrom in modern times.
For two days in November 1938, Nazis rampaged throughout Germany in what they called Kristallnacht, or “the night of broken glass.” Looting, arson, assault and murder became the order of the day. Mass arrests of Jews and increasingly restrictive anti-Semitic laws immediately followed.
What motivated such violence? The murder of a German diplomat in Paris by a Jewish teenager.
More than eight decades later, the American Left embraces the exact same tactics.
George Floyd’s death while in police custody May 25 provided the excuse for widespread looting, arson, assault and murder. Perhaps more importantly, activists demanded and implemented measures designed to impose their agenda on the United States.
The past five months of nationwide mayhem constitute America’s Kristallnacht. As in Germany, radical totalitarians exploited a spontaneous tragedy to organize nationwide mayhem, promote a racist agenda, manipulate reality and intimidate opposition.
Just as the Nazis blamed all Jewish men for the diplomat’s death, so do “progressives” blame all police for Floyd’s death. Just as the Nazis blamed “World Jewry,” so do “progressives” blame “systemic racism” and “white supremacy.”
Just as the Nazis sought to remove Jews from every aspect of German society, so do “progressives” seek to remove the police from legitimate societal influence.
Just as the Nazis exploited one man’s untimely death to impose destructive policies, so do “progressives.”
Just as Kristallnacht served as a turning point in German history, so do “progressives” hope Floyd’s death serves the same purpose.
Germany’s Kristallnacht started after 17-year-old Herschel Grynszpan shot Ernst vom Rath at the German embassy in Paris on Nov. 7, 1938. Though Grynszpan was born in Germany, his parents were Polish citizens who emigrated in 1911.
They were among 17,000 Polish Jews whom the Nazis forcibly tried to repatriate in late October. But Poland refused to accept the refugees. So they were stranded in squalid camps along the border. Those stranded included Grynszpan’s parents.
Grynszpan, who was living with relatives in Paris, planned to assassinate the German ambassador, Johannes von Welczek. But Grynszpan walked past the ambassador as the 17-year old entered the embassy. Vom Rath, the embassy’s secretary, died from his wounds Nov. 9.
Immediately, the Nazis went into action.
Upon learning of vom Rath’s death, Adolf Hitler chose Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to organize the pogrom. As Goebbels wrote in his diary:
“I report the matter to the Führer. He decides: Demonstrations should be allowed to continue. The police should be withdrawn. For once, the Jews should get the feel of popular anger. That is right. I immediately give the necessary instructions to the police and the Party. Then I speak briefly in that vein to the Party leadership. Stormy applause. (emphasis added)”
Reinhard Heydrich, head of the SS’s Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service), exemplified the synchronization of Nazi power. In a telegram issued at 1:20 a.m. Nov. 10, Heydrich ordered Gestapo chiefs to coordinate their efforts with local party and police officials. Demonstrations could become violent as long as non-Jewish Germans were protected.
Once the demonstrations ended, Heydrich ordered authorities to arrest “healthy male Jews, whose age is not too advanced” and ship them to concentration camps. About 30,000 Jewish men suffered that fate in the Nazis’ first mass arrest of Jews.
During the pogrom, members of the brown-shirted SA and Hitler Youth vandalized or destroyed Jewish-owned businesses, homes and synagogues, with religious articles desecrated. More than 7,000 businesses sustained damage while 267 synagogues were destroyed.
The atrocities included the murder of an 81-year-old widow, Susannah Stern. At 8 a.m. Nov. 10, an SA squad came to Stern’s home, ordered her to dress and to come with them. When Stern refused after several orders, the squad shot her numerous times on her couch.
After traveling through Berlin, Goebbels wrote this in his diary Nov. 11:
“Yesterday: Berlin. There, all proceeded fantastically. One fire after another. It is good that way. I report to the Führer. He agrees with everything. His views are totally radical and aggressive. The action itself took place without the least hitch.”
Compare Kristallnacht’s brutality with the continual violence since Floyd’s death. Compare the lack of police response, as mandated by superiors. Compare the Nazis’ clandestine synchronization with the apparent coordination in cities run by “progressive” mayors, exemplified by placing pallets of bricks at key positions for rioters to use.
But the connections extend further.
Compare the justifications for violence. On Nov. 12, the following paragraph ended an article in the Nazi Party’s newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter:
“The Jew Grynszpan was the representative of Jewry. The German vom Rath was the representative of the German people. Thus in Paris, Jewry has fired on the German people. The German government will answer legally but harshly.”
Now read part of this Slate piece written by Steven W. Thrasher, a left-wing writer and journalism professor at Northwestern:
“(T)here should be absolutely no confusion about the logic of destroying a police station in response to the police killing of George Floyd. You can agree with or disagree with the action. But you cannot deny that there is a logic in targeting a police station after the police have lynched a man in broad daylight, on video. It’s an attempt to create a different order in the society.
“The destruction of a police precinct is not only a tactically reasonable response to the crisis of policing, it is a quintessentially American response, and a predictable one. The uprising we’ve seen this week is speaking to the American police state in its own language….”
Compare the propaganda. A 1933 poster advocating a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses made this breathtaking claim:
“Because Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich wants social justice, big Jewish capitalism is the worst enemy of this Reich and its Führer.”
For activist Barbara Smith, “white supremacy” plays the same role as “big Jewish capitalism,” as she wrote in the Boston Globe:
“Because the power structure has always refused to acknowledge the institution of white supremacy, many people do not believe it exists, and most people are confused about what the term even means. Toxic as such beliefs are, white supremacy is not merely the individual delusion of being superior to Black people. Institutionalized white supremacy does not need individual bigotry in order to function, because it is a universal operating system that relies on entrenched patterns and practices to consistently disadvantage people of color and privilege whites.
“For example, ‘systemic racism’ clearly conveys the pervasiveness of racial oppression, but white supremacy goes further, by indicating that there is a rigid nexus of power that protects and enforces it.”
Now compare the proposed solutions. In Germany, the Nazis believed isolating Jews would extinguish their influence. In the six weeks following Kristallnacht, the Nazis forbade Jews to own businesses or valuables, send their children to German schools, or patronize entertainment centers and cultural institutions. In Berlin, the city government made driving illegal for Jews and rescinded their licenses.
In the United States, “progressives” believe defunding police would be a major first step in extinguishing “white supremacy.” That step belongs to a comprehensive program of societal indoctrination focused on critical race theory, a product of the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School of philosophy.
Since Floyd’s death, businesses and schools have rushed to implement critical race theory in their training and teaching. The Brentwood School, a private school in Los Angeles, replaced its curriculum in classical literature with studies in critical race theory and the New York Times’ controversial “1619 Project,” a student’s father told Dennis Prager on the radio Oct. 15.
The rush became so pronounced that in September, President Donald Trump banned the military, government contractors and their employees from using critical race theory.
But the ultimate “progressive” goal extends beyond defunding the police or promoting critical race theory. Osita Nwanevu stated that objective in The New Republic while complaining about growing conservative influence on the Supreme Court:
“It has become commonplace to argue that we’re on the cusp or in the middle of a constitutional crisis fed by a collapsing faith in the legitimacy of American institutions. This is wrong. The legitimacy of the Constitution is our crisis. It is a testament to the document’s still extraordinary power that one of our favorite methods of political combat is to presuppose or pretend … that outcomes we find undesirable or unjust are also ‘unconstitutional.’
“That said, the American left should work toward abolishing the Constitution someday — either for a new document or a new democratic order without a written constitution. (emphases in original)”
During the 1960s, the Students for a Democratic Society — a national Marxist group — had a slogan that perfectly summarizes the attempt to exploit Floyd’s death:
The issue is never the issue. The issue is always revolution.