On November 9, 1938 the Nazis and some of their supporters began a two-day spree of destruction in Germany, Austria and other territories, torching synagogues, vandalising Jewish homes, schools and businesses and killing almost 100 Jews. Recognised as the onset of the Holocaust, the attack is known as Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass). About 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps. German Jews had already been subjected to discriminatory policies and civil rights violations since 1933, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. After Kristallnacht, conditions for German Jews grew increasingly ominous, and during World War II th Nazis implemented their so-called “Final Solution” – a plan to annihilate all Jews. The outcome was the systematic murder of six million European Jews in what has come to be known as the Holocaust.

The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies organises an annual Kristallnacht commemoration at which Holocaust survivors, their descendants and communal leaders are joined by members of parliament, councillors, diplomats and leaders of other faith and ethnic communities in a ceremony that pays tribute to the victims of Kristallnacht and acknowledges the event as a warning sign of the genocide which was to follow.

A Jewish-run shop in Germany, after being vandalized by Nazis and covered with antisemitic graffiti on November 10, 1938: AFP/Getty Images.
A destroyed Jewish shop in Berlin on November 11, 1938, after the anti-Jewish violence of Kristallnacht: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images.
View of the old synagogue in Aachen after its destruction on Kristallnacht: Stadtarchiv Aachen.
Destroyed interior of the Hechingen synagogue on the day after Kristallnacht: Dr Adolf Vees.
Children play among the ruins of the Peter Gemeinder Strasse synagogue in Beerfelden that was destroyed during Kristallnacht: Stadtarchiv Beefelden.
The Boemestrasse Synagogue in Frankfurt burns on November 10, 1938: Yad Vashem.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the community was unable to be physically together to mark Kristallnact in 2021. Instead, the Board of Deputies produced an online commemoration that was viewed by thousands of people worldwide.