Wollenberg examines the painful question of the extent to which the German public was aware of Nazi persecution of the Jews. By weaving together eyewitness reports of Reichskristallnacht, this 'night of arson, terror, and destruction' of November 9, 1938, with interpretative essays by contemporary scholars, he constructs an eerie insider look at a gruesome event. Written in stark, almost conversational tones, the eyewitness testimony of Jews, half-Jews and non-Jews is both moving and horrifying. The first-person narratives of the non-Jews document how impossible it was not to know what was happening on Reichskristallnacht and how painful it is years later to deal with repression and denial. The victims whose accounts are included here struggle with the subjectivity of their childhood memories, filling gaps with adult verification and continuing to agonise about distrust of their record. The text is arranged in two parts: first the eyewitness accounts from Nuremberg of the events of November 1938; then a section containing analyses of policies, behaviour, and events as they were directed at the Jews during the Third Reich.
Jorg Wollenberg is director of the Educational Center of the City of Nuremberg and professor for continuing education at the University of Bremen. Rado Pribic is a professor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, and is currently serving as chair of the International Affairs Program