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British Diplomat Reports on Kristallnacht Violence in Cologne

(November 14, 1938)

On November 14, 1938, the British Consul-General in Cologne, John Bell, wrote to Sir George Ogilvie-Forbes, Counsellor to the Embassy in Berlin about Kristallnacht. He reported that many Jews were committing suicide and four hundred were taken into “preventive arrest” and were unlikely to be released. He said industrialists told him they have no influence over Hitler.

“I have been more shocked by the coldblooded and calculated manner in which action was taken than by anything else about the recent events,” he said, and observed that the “masses of Germans” seemed to take joy in mischief.

Bell said that no attacks had been made to his knowledge on “British subjects of the Jewish race.” Jews, however, are not a race. It was Hitler who saw them as defiling the racial purity of Germany and necessitated their extermination. Bell seemed to understand this as he noted that the Nazi Party had made “such a point of racial purity that the Führer must carry his theories to their logical conclusion.”