In another attempt to purge Germany of her Jews, a roundup of Jews with Polish citizenship was enacted in October 1938. These Polish Jews were herded like cattle and dumped at the Polish border, where the Poles kept them in no-man's land. One deported family wrote to their son who was studying in Paris, Herschel Grynszpan. When he heard of the torments his parents went through, he resolved to avenge them and shot a German official, vom Rath, stationed in Paris.

This small rebellion was a perfect opportunity for Adolf Hitler to rise up in indignation. The Nazis called for demonstrations, and violence erupted across Germany for two days. Stores were destroyed, synagogues burned, and twenty thousand Jews arrested.

The riots came to be known as Kristallnacht - the Night of Glass, for all the broken glass.