By Jonathan Kirsch
"Reading this wonderful, thought-provoking biography, one is all too simply reminded of Camus’s 1942 novel, The Stranger."―Philip Kerr, Wall highway Journal
at the morning of November 7, 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a determined seventeen-year-old Jewish refugee, walked into the German embassy in Paris and shot Ernst vom Rath, a Nazi diplomat. days later vom Rath lay useless, and the 3rd Reich exploited the homicide to unharness Kristallnacht in a extraordinary concatenation of occasions that might quickly contain Ribbentrop, Goebbels, and Hitler himself. yet was once Grynszpan a crazed lone gunman or agent provocateur of the Gestapo? used to be he encouraged by way of a wish to avenge Jewish humans, or did his act of violence communicate to an intimate connection among the murderer and his goal, as Grynszpan later claimed? half page-turning historic mystery and half Kafkaesque criminal drama, The brief, unusual lifetime of Herschel Grynszpan brings to lifestyles the old info and ethical dimensions of 1 of the main enigmatic instances of worldwide conflict II. This compelling biography provides a narrative with twists and turns that “no novelist may possibly invent” (Alice Kaplan). eight pages of pictures
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Extra info for The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris
In the streets I suffered many troublesome incidents with the Hitlerites. ’”31 Herschel later spoke of a crucial conversation that put him on an entirely different path. He may have abandoned the yeshiva, but he continued to adhere to the religious practices of Judaism, keeping the Sabbath and praying at the local synagogue. ”32 Old Katz lectured the boy on the danger of tarrying in Nazi Germany while waiting for an opportunity to emigrate to Palestine: “A boy like you can’t stay here under such conditions,” he warned Herschel.
13 Even so, when Herschel started going to school, he quickly acquired the reputation of a “quarreler” and proved to be quite capable of defending himself in the school yard. 14 The Grynszpan family belonged to the Ostjuden (Eastern Jews), which set them apart from the native-born Jews of Germany who had been recognized as full-fledged citizens in the nineteenth century. ”15 The newcomers were suspected of carrying with them the contagion of Bolshevism; Rosa Luxemburg and Sholom Schwartzbard, for example, were both Ostjuden whose radical words and deeds seemed to confirm a Jewish stereotype that was later viciously and relentlessly caricatured in Nazi propaganda.
A Jew who would lift a stick to defend himself was an unknown phenomenon,” conceded his defense attorney, Henri Torres, who pointed out that Schwartzbard had joined the Foreign Legion and earned the Croix de Guerre after being wounded in battle during World War I. “Well! ”11 The duty of the jury, argued Torres, was to acquit Schwartzbard for the assassination of Petliura, thereby symbolically condemning his army for the mass murder of Jewish men, women, and children in Ukraine. And Torres explicitly charged the jury with the duty to prevent future acts of violence against the Jewish people.