On November 9th and 10th, 1938, Nazis terrorized Jews throughout Germany and Austria. 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps; 91 were killed. Thousands of Jewish shops, businesses and homes were looted and pillaged, and over 1000 synagogues were destroyed. Because the streets were covered with broken glass from the looting, this night came to be known as Kristallnacht, which means Night of the Broken Glass.

Two days earlier, Ernst von Rath (Third Secretary of the German Embassy in Paris) had been shot by a Polish Jew. The assassination was used as an excuse by the Nazis for their long-since planned pogrom. Three days after Kristallnacht, the Nazis decided that Jews would have to pay for the damage they had provoked.