Seventy-three years ago this week, on the night of November 9-10, 1938, mobs of Nazi storm troopers and German civilians carried out a wave of violence against Jews throughout Germany. About 100 Jews were murdered, and 30,000 were rounded up and taken to concentration camps. Beatings, rapes, torture, and suicides were widespread. Hundreds of synagogues were set on fire, and more than 7,000 Jewish businesses were attacked and damaged. The enormous number of shattered windows gave the pogrom its name Kristallnacht, or “Night of the Broken Glass.”
High school and middle school students in Connecticut and elsewhere will soon be learning about Kristallnacht from a unique perspective: through the eyes of American editorial cartoonists.
Leaders of the free world condemned the anti-Jewish violence, but were unwilling to take concrete steps to aid German Jewish refugees. By contrast, a number of cartoonists in prominent American newspapers sought to rouse public support for practical steps to aid the Jews.
The work of these cartoonists, including the samples on these pages, will be featured in a forthcoming book, ‘Cartoonists Against the Holocaust,’ by Holocaust historian Dr. Rafael Medoff and comics historian and editor Craig Yoe. Medoff is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C. Yoe, formerly a creative director at Nickelodeon and Jim Henson’s Muppets, heads Yoe! Studio, which designs for MTV and Disney theme parks, among other things.
Laurel Leff of West Hartford, an associate professor of journalism and Judaic studies at Northeastern University in Boston, says ‘Cartoonists Against the Holocaust’ should be used in classes for students of all ages. “These cartoons are a powerful visual way for students to explore how America responded to the Nazi genocide,” says Leff, who is also the author of the award-winning book “Buried by ‘The Times’,” concerning the New York Times’ coverage of the Holocaust. “The fact that cartoonists spoke out, at a time when most editors were silent, raises intriguing questions.”
For more information, visit www.wymaninstitute.org