I’m continuing my WWII Timeline series with a look at October – December 1938 in this post.
A Timeline of WWII, Fall 1938
October 1, 1938
Nazi troops began the occupation of the Sudetenland and the Czech government resigned. The Sudetenland was the portion of Czechoslovakia inhabited by over three million Sudeten Germans, many of which became Nazis and strongly supported Hitler’s acquisition.
October 3, 1938
The Nazi Decree on the Confiscation of Jewish Property regulated the transfer of assets from Jews to non-Jews in Germany.
October 5, 1938
The Reich Ministry of the Interior invalidated all German passports held by Jews. Jews were required to surrender their old passports, which only become valid again after a large red letter “J” had been stamped on them.
October 28, 1938
The Nazis arrested 17,000 Jews of Polish nationality living in Germany, then expelled them back to Poland, transporting them by rail in boxcars. Poland refused them entry, leaving them in a no-man’s land near the Polish border for several months.
November 4, 1938
Japan declared the Nine Powers Treaty of 1922 (which guaranteed China’s independence) obsolete.
November 7, 1938
Herschel Grynszpan, the seventeen year old son of one of the deported Jews (see October 28, 1938), shot and mortally wounded Ernst vom Rath, the Third Secretary in the German Embassy in Paris.
November 9/10, 1938
Ernst vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after Herschel Grynszpan shot and wounded him. In retaliation for vom Rath’s death, the Nazis coordinated a massive attack on Jews throughout the German Reich. It began on the night of November 9, 1938 and lasted into the next day. The attack is known as the Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht.
The shooting was the perfect excuse for Adolf Hitler and Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels to incite Germany to “rise in bloody vengeance against the Jews.” Nazi storm troopers, members of the SS, and the Hitler Youth vandalized Jewish homes, beat and murdered Jewish men, and brutalized Jewish women and children. Thousands of (estimated to be 25,000) male Jewish survivors were later sent to concentration camps.
The German police and crowds of spectators did not attempt to stop any of the violence. In Germany, Austria, and other areas controlled by the Nazis, Jewish businesses were destroyed. Synagogues were vandalized and sacred Torah scrolls were desecrated. Hundreds of synagogues were burned without any rescue effort from local fire departments.
November 12, 1938
At a Nazi meeting regarding the economic impact of the damage as a result of Kristallnacht, which included Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels, SS leader Reinhard Heydrich reported 7500 Jewish businesses destroyed, 177 synagogues destroyed out of 267 burned, and 91 Jews killed.
Goebbels proclaimed the burned out synagogues would be turned into parking lots after he forced the Jews to clean up the debris.
Göring declared the Jews would be billed for the damage and that any insurance money they received would be taken by the State. He imposed a fine on the Jews of one billion marks for damages related to Kristallnacht, damages which the Nazis themselves had caused.
Heydrich requested new decrees barring Jews from any contact with Germans, excluding them from public transportation, schools, and hospitals. His aim was to force them into ghettos or out of the country.
The Nazi “Decree on the Exclusion of Jews from German Economic Life” closed all Jewish-owned businesses. It barred Jews from operating retail stores, sales agencies, from carrying on a trade, and from selling goods or services at an establishment of any kind. All Jewish property and enterprises would be transferred to ‘Aryans.’ Jews would receive minimal compensation in the form of bonds.
Göring threatened “a final reckoning with the Jews” if Germany should become involved in a war, and closed the meeting with, “Incidentally, I would like to say that I would not like to be a Jew in Germany.”
November 15, 1938
The Reich Ministry of Education expelled all Jewish children from German public schools. The were allowed to only attend special Jewish schools.
November 16, 1938
The United States recalled its ambassador to Germany, Hugh R. Wilson, permanently.
November 28, 1938
The Reich Ministry of the Interior restricted the freedom of the movement of Jews.
November 29, 1938
The Reich Ministry of the Interior forbid Jews to keep carrier pigeons.
December 3, 1938
The Nazis enacted a law for the compulsory Aryanization of all Jewish businesses, a process involving the dismissal of Jewish workers and managers, as well as the transfer of companies and enterprises to non-Jewish Germans, who bought them at prices officially fixed well below market value.
December 14, 1938
Hermann Göring took the helm of resolving the “Jewish Question.”
The Executive Order on the Law on the Organization of National Work canceled all state contracts held with Jewish-owned firms.
December 21, 1938
The Nazi Law on Midwives banned all Jews from the profession.
December 1938 – September 1939
In a rescue effort known as the Children’s Transport, or Kindertransport, during the nine months before the beginning of WWII, the United Kingdom took in nearly ten thousand unaccompanied Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the free city of Danzig.
This series of posts is based on a compilation of timelines from:
The History Place:
Most recent post from the series:
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2019