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Virtual Student and Teacher Talk: 85 Years On: ‘Polenaktion’ and The November Pogrom (Kristallnacht)

November 8, 2023 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

On the last weekend of October 1938, 25,000 Jews with Polish passports were arrested, rounded up and deported by train to the Polish border. After living in Germany often for decades, they were expelled without prior warning. A huge humanitarian catastrophe played out at the German-Polish border. Hundreds were injured and dozens died as they were forced to cross into Poland at gunpoint.

Only a few weeks later on 9 and 10 November 1938, in hundreds of towns across Germany and Austria, thousands of Jews were terrorised, persecuted and victimised. The November Pogrom, known alternatively as Kristallnacht, also led to the desecration of over 1,200 synagogues and the looting of thousands of Jewish businesses and homes. Approximately 90 people were killed and over 25,000 Jewish men were arrested and deported to camps.

85 years on, this talk explores the experiences of Jewish men, women and children whose lives were changed forever by the events of the Polenaktion and November Pogrom.

Aimed at GCSE and A-Level students, this talk will utilise sources from the Library’s unique archive to gain an understanding of the history of Polenaktion; to explore the November Pogrom from the perspective of eyewitnesses; to consider why the events were so significant; and to reflect on them 85 years on.

This session is suitable for those studying the following:

KS3 & KS4 History:

  • AQA: Germany, 1890 – 1945: Democracy and Dictatorship
  • Edexcel: Weimar and Nazi Germany, 1918 – 1939
  • OCR (History A): Germany, 1925-1955: The People and The State
  • OCR (History B): Living under Nazi Rule, 1933 – 1945

KS5 History:

  • AQA: Democracy and Nazism: Germany, 1918 – 1945
  • Edexcel: Germany and West Germany, 1918 – 1989
  • OCR: Democracy and Dictatorships in Germany 1919 – 1963
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