the observer Sun 23 November 2008
After a night and day that saw thousands of synagogues and shops destroyed, a quarter of the Jewish male population in Germany deported and the rest 'hunted like rats in their homes', Lore Pels's father still refused to take the golden ticket of freedom offered by an American cousin. Germany was his country: he had fought for it in the First World War; his brother had died for it. Even after almost six years in the ever-tightening grip of Hitler's administration, Pels was far from alone in his fatal naivety. But as Martin Gilbert demonstrates with sombre aplomb - with tales of the guilt of many and the heroism of a few - Kristallnacht's organised mayhem was simply the first full stride towards genocide. Though the events took place 70 years ago, the warning remains relevant.