We stopped the presses to re­port it

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

THE FULL hor­rors of Kristall­nacht un­folded across the Nazi Re­ich — then com­posed of Ger­many, Aus­tria and the Sude­ten­land — on the night of Wed­nes­day Novem­ber 9, 1938.

Then, as now, the Jewish Chron­i­cle would go to press on a Wed­nes­day night, but the grav­ity of the news meant that the is­sue dated Fri­day Novem­ber 11 con­tained a last-minute “Stop Press” no­tice, added as the pa­per went to print.

It read: “Over five thou­sand Jews ar­rested, mostly in Vi­enna, where 22 peo­ple com­mit­ted sui­cide dur­ing the ri­ots. In Ber­lin, Mu­nich and many other cities, syn­a­gogues set on fire. Nine Ber­lin syn­a­gogues de­stroyed.”

The no­tice also con­tained sim­i­larly brief re­ports from Cologne, Frank­furt and Ham­burg.

It was only a week later, by which time the full sav­agery of the at­tacks had been laid bare, that this news­pa­per could pub­lish a full re­port on what it called “The Nazi Pogroms”. Kristall­nacht was not a term which it would use to de­scribe the event un­til the 1950s.

The JC’s lead­ing ar­ti­cle on Novem­ber 18 talked about how the “pogrom has dis­graced the name of Ger­many in the eyes of civil­i­sa­tion”. The Ger­man lead­er­ship was de­scribed as “the most ruth­less set of des­per­a­does that has ever seized the reins of govern­ment”.

Yet even then, in 1938, there was an un­der­stand­able in­abil­ity to com­pre­hend that what it called this hor­ren­dous “process” had not come even close to its dev­as­tat­ing “cul­mi­na­tion”.

But a full-page ad­ver­tise­ment taken out in that same is­sue looks par­tic­u­larly heartrend­ing now. Placed by N.M Roth­schild and Sons, it was a call for funds to help the vic­tims: “Hu­man­ity to the res­cue of Ger­man Jewry. HELP! Be­fore it is too late.”

The JC de­tailed “Bri­tain’s unan­i­mous con­dem­na­tion” of the Nazi ter­ror, from “Churches, Politi­cians and Press”, as well as the in­ter­na­tional out­rage.

But, as the pa­per said, “The Nazi lead­ers care noth­ing for the in­dig­na­tion of the rest of the world, be­cause they know very well that the aim of Ger­many’s for­eign pol­icy is in any case in­ca­pable of achieve­ment with­out the dam­ag­ing and crush­ing of other na­tions.”

The Roth­schild ad­vert was one of sev­eral ap­peals for funds to help Ger­man Jews.

“Their plight is ap­palling,” an­other How we cov­ered the news: clip­pings from the JC’s pages from Novem­ber 11 and 18, 1938

read. “If they are not as­sisted in­stantly, this ter­ri­ble story will have a yet more ghastly se­quel.”

But there were also strong calls to help fund de­fence ini­tia­tives for Jews in the UK. In a piece ti­tled “Jewish De­fence — What are we do­ing?”, the pa­per’s spe­cial cor­re­spon­dent de­scribed the ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties of the British Union of Fas­cists.

“It is the duty of ev­ery British Jew to help strengthen his de­fence or­gan­i­sa­tions,”

the cor­re­spon­dent wrote.

“By de­fend­ing him­self, he will be de­fend­ing the British peo­ple; for as the Jews are in the first line of the at­tack on democ­racy, so ev­ery­thing that in­creases the re­sis­tance of that first line strength­ens democ­racy.”

And on the let­ters page, a reader wrote: “The vol­umes of the Jewish Chron­i­cle will re­main an open in­dict­ment of Nazi Ger­many be­cause of the au­then­tic and de­tailed record they con­tain of ac­tual hap­pen­ings.

“May this record in the fu­ture be a hap­pier one for Is­rael.”

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