A collection of 1930’s photographs, depicting some of the hairstyles of the time, like the perm, softwave bob and the coxcomb curls, and one lady even sporting a boat ornament on her head.
Kristallnacht came…and everything was changed.
November 9, 1938: Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) takes place.
The event that set off this violent series of pogroms, which flared up across Germany and Austria through November 9 and 10, was the assassination of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by a young Jewish refugee. When the news of vom Rath’s death reached Nazi higher-ups, Joseph Goebbels made a speech in which he stated 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.” In effect, the government declared that it would not officially organize any “demonstrations”, but it would do nothing to prevent them, either; to many, Goebbels’ message was a clear call to Gauleitersacross the country to organize pogroms. To what extent this was Goebbels’ own plot or a joint and widely-agreed upon plan by Nazi officials is unclear, since some prominent officials disagreed with or at least criticized Goebbels’ actions.
Nevertheless, the attacks that would be collectively be known as Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) and the Night of Broken Glass began during the late hours of November 9. Orders from Reinhard Heydrich explicitly stated that German life and property were not to be harmed, but with no direct statement condoning or encouraging violence against Jews and Jewish property, they were more or less fair game. The attacks gained their name from the over 7,000 Jewish businesses that were destroyed, the glass windows of their storefronts shattered. Also given special attention were synagogues, which Goebbels referred to as “Jewish fortresses”; in all, over 200 were damaged or destroyed, and, in general, little effort was made by local fire departments to stop their destruction. Jewish civilians were attacked by mobs of civilians and SA men. In all, over 90 people were killed (hundreds more were injured), and some 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
The Nazi regime’s apparent encouragement for the violent actions that took place strained the country’s relations with much of the Western world, including the United States. It was, in that way, a sort of turning point, but it also marked a turning point within Germany with regards to the treatment of German Jews. While anti-semitism had certainly been endorsed by the government through boycotting measures and miscegenation laws, persecution now took a definite and irreversible turn toward violence and physical destruction. Because of this, Kristallnacht is sometimes used to mark the beginning of the Holocaust.
July 2, 1937: Amelia Earhart disappears en route to Howland Island.
In 1932, this Kansas native became the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic, just five years after Charles Lindbergh accomplished the same feat. In 1937, Earhart and flight navigator Fred Noonan set out to circumnavigate the globe; if successful, their trip would have them travel a total of 29,000 miles.
The final stretch of the journey - a few thousand miles over the Pacific Ocean - would end at Howland Island. On the morning of July 2, Earhart radioed some of her last transmissions to the USCGC Itasca, which apparently received her transmissions but was unable to send any back. Shortly after receiving Earhart’s last transmission, official searches for the disappeared aviator and her navigator began. No trace of the aircraft or the occupants were ever found, and on January 5, 1939, Earhart was declared legally dead.
What happened to Amelia Earhart? The most widely-accepted theory is that her plane simply crashed into the ocean and sank, and that its wreck is simply sitting somewhere in the Pacific, waiting to be found. Another theory is that she and Noonan were left stranded on a deserted island, before perishing. And of course, others hold more far-fetched theories - shot down by the Japanese for spying, eloped with Noonan, crashed on the island from LOST (or is that just me?), abducted by aliens… The search and speculation still continue today.
Japan Bound: Travel Brochures, c. 1930s
New York City, 1934
New York City, 1931
Nazi book-burnings (Berlin) - May 10, 1933.
German men and women! The age of arrogant Jewish intellectualism is now at an end! … You are doing the right thing at this midnight hour—to consign to the flames the unclean spirit of the past. This is a great, powerful, and symbolic act… . Out of these ashes the phoenix of a new age will arise… .
Oh Century! Oh Science! It is a joy to be alive!
- Joseph Goebbels, Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.
May 10, 1933: Mass book-burnings take place across Germany.
The policy of Gleischaltung, or “coordination”, served the ultimate purpose of aligning all aspects of German culture and society with Nazi ideology, under the control of the Nazi government. In accordance with this policy, Nazi officials declared the beginning of a movement called “Action against the Un-German Spirit” in April of 1933, a nationwide effort to “purify” German literature and art. The movement would climax in a massive book-burning on May 10 of the same year.
In Berlin, Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels delivered a fiery speech to tens of thousands of people, declaring:
German men and women! The age of arrogant Jewish intellectualism is now at an end! … You are doing the right thing at this midnight hour—to consign to the flames the unclean spirit of the past. This is a great, powerful, and symbolic act… . Out of these ashes the phoenix of a new age will arise…
Oh Century! Oh Science! It is a joy to be alive!
A large number of those who participated in or organized book-burnings were university students and professors, and the main sites of the events were university towns. In all, around 25,000 volumes were burned - among the books burned were the writings of Karl Marx, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Mann, even Jack London, Albert Einstein, H.G. Wells, Sigmund Freud, Helen Keller, and Erich Maria Remarque (author of All Quiet on the Western Front). Also targeted were the works of Heinrich Heine, the celebrated 19th century poet, who once wrote prophetically, back in 1821:
Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.
The Reich stands in the shadow of the German sword. Trade and industry, and cultural and national life flourish under the guarantee of the military forces… The name of Herr Hitler is our political program. Imagination and realism are harmoniously combined in the Führer.
The parade that marched through Berlin on April 20, 1939 in honor of Adolf Hitler’s fiftieth birthday was the largest display of military might that the Third Reich had ever attempted. While the Treaty of Versailles limited the German army to a mere 100,000 men, half that number marched through the capital in only a few hours.
Adolf Hitler’s Fiftieth Birthday: April 20, 1939.
Although the Führer’s birthday had always been celebrated throughout the Reich, the festivities of 1939 outstripped all past ones in grandeur. Two days earlier, the government had declared April 20 a holiday, and on April 19, the celebrations began. Hitler first rode through Berlin at the head of a motorcade, travelling along Albert Speer’s grand new boulevard, then arrived at the Reich Chancellery, where he received a number of gifts - some silly, some quite lovely. From Ferdinand Porsche, who had been commissioned by Hitler some years earlier to design an affordable Volkswagen (“people’s car”), he received his very own convertible Volkswagen.
Most notably, the rebuilt German military displayed its full power in an enormous parade that lasted five hours and involved all three branches of the Wehrmacht, plus the SS. The event was organized (naturally) by Joseph Goebbels, who declared, in a still true statement:
Even those who are neutral or oppose us cannot ignore the strong impact of the events. Adolf Hitler’s name is a political program for the entire world. He is almost a legend. His name is a dividing line. No one on earth can remain indifferent to his name.
The 50,000 troops that marched through Berlin that day made sure of that; when some of these very same troops participated in the Invasion of Poland five months later, no one in the world could possibly remain indifferent to Hitler and his military machine.