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The Grynszpan family, Polish Jews who had emigrated to Germany in 1911, were expelled on 27 October 1938 as part of the Nazi persecution. On 3 November their 17-year-old son Herschel, living in Paris with an uncle, received a postcard from them. Four days later he went to the German embassy and shot Ernst vom Rath, a career diplomat who was under Gestapo investigation for anti-Nazi sympathies; in the assassin's pocket was a postcard to his parents with the message, "May God forgive me...I must protest so that the whole world hears my protest, and that I will do." The next day the German government barred Jewish children from state elementary schools, suspended Jewish cultural activities, and banned Jewish newspapers and magazines. The diplomat died on 9 November, and Adolf Hitler was informed during a dinner commemorating his legendary 1923 "Beer Hall Putsch." After intense discussions he abruptly left, and the propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels told the audience that "the Führer has decided that...demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered." About 10:30 PM, two hours after the news of the death reached Germany, mobs in civilian clothes, were armed with sledgehammers and axes, began a two-day assault on Jewish shops; about half an hour later they were joined by Storm Troopers (SA). At 01:20 AM on 10 November, Reinhard Heydrich sent a secret telegram to the Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police) and the SA with instructions regarding the "spontaneous" riots: foreign and non-Jewish people and their property were to be protected, but otherwise the police were not to interfere; Jewish businesses or dwellings were to be destroyed but not looted; Jewish archives were to be taken from synagogues and community offices; "healthy male Jews, who are not too old" were to be transferred to labor camps. The ensuing violence occurred throughout Germany and the recently annexed Austria, destroying about 7,500 stores and businesses (hence the appellation "Kristallnacht" -- Crystal Night -- alluding to the enormous number of glass windows broken). Out of about 200 German synagogues, 191 were damaged (76 destroyed), along with most of Vienna's 94 synagogues and prayer-houses; Jewish cemeteries were desecrated; more than 7,000 Jewish shops, and 29 department stores, were attacked, of which 815 were destroyed. Prayer books, scrolls, artwork, and philosophical texts were burned in bonfires. Ninety-one Jews, as well as a few non-Jews, were killed, 100,000 Jews and three foreigners were arrested, as well as 174 looters, and over 30,000 were taken to camps, where they were brutally treated; within three months most of the camp survivors were deported. Counting the hundreds of suicides and deaths in the camps, 2,000–2,500 people died due to the pogrom. In its wake, the Jewish community was fined 1 billion reichsmarks. Marc Chagall, living in Paris, was inspired by these events to paint "White Crucifixion." A crucified Jesus is wearing a prayer shawl instead of the traditional loincloth, and a headcloth instead of a crown of thorns. Instead of mourning angels, Jesus is attended by three biblical patriarchs and a matriarch clad in traditional Jewish garments. On the left, a village is pillaged and burned, and refugees flee by boat while the three bearded figures below them, one clutching the Torah, escape on foot. On the right, a synagogue and its Torah ark go up in flames, while below a mother comforts her child. However, to make a universal statement rather than merely a topical one, Chagall painted over a swastika on the armband of the soldier burning the synagogue and the slogan "Ich bin Jude" on a placard around a man's neck; but he included the flags of his Lithuanian birthplace and the red flags of Communism.
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