Block seminar

Summer Semester 2023

Exhibiting: The 1938 November Pogroms.

The End of the German-Jewish Era

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Raphael Gross, Dagi Knellessen (Leipzig University - German Historical Museum)

Digital introductory session: 28 April 2023 (11.15 a.m. to 12.45 Uhr p.m.); block sessions, planned to take place in person: 26 May 2023 (9.15 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.); 9 June 2023 (9.15 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.); digital conclusory meeting: 30 June 2023 (11.15 a.m. t

Start: 28 April 2023

Dubnow Institute, Goldschmidtstraße 28, Leipzig and digital

Seminar Language: German

The year 1938 marked a fundamental turning point for German Jews. Following the Nazi assumption of power in 1933, they had experienced marginalization and disenfranchisement as well as uncoordinated boycott campaigns and violent attacks. With every step of Nazi Germany’s flagrant expansionist policies, the situation deteriorated further. The »Anschluss« of Austria in March 1938 and the annexation of the Sudetenland in October 1938 were accompanied by severe acts of violence towards Jews. The pressure to emigrate increased across the entire expanded Nazi territory and the first acts of expulsion began occurring. In the days around 9 November 1938, this threatening scenario culminated in hitherto unprecedented antisemitic pogroms that erupted across the entire state. The pretext for these acts of violence was the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath in Paris by the 17-year-old Polish Jew Herschel Feibel Grynszpan. The November Pogroms ended the German-Jewish era that had begun with the Enlightenment.

This seminar will focus on the dramatic events surrounding 9 November 1938 in Germany and Austria, the direct impact these had on the affected Jews, and the reactions to the pogroms domestically and abroad. A second focus will lie on the aftermath of the pogroms from 1945 onward. When, how, and by whom did the memory of the 1938 November Pogroms emerge? And what position did this rupture, which went down in Jewish history as the »catastrophe before the catastrophe,« hold in the two German successor states and the reunited German federal republic?

The German Historical Museum is considering hosting an exhibition on the history and aftermath of the 1938 November Pogroms. This seminar will serve the development of exhibition units and explore fundamental questions regarding portrayals of violence and engagements with antisemitic images and texts.

Participation is conditional on the willingness to develop and present an exhibition unit.


Literature: The seminar reader will be made available at the beginning of the semester.


Open to mature age students: no
Participation is limited to 20 people.