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Judaica

The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris

 
 
Author
Jonathan Kirsch.
Publisher Liveright  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.85 inches
ISBN 9780871407405
Pages/Publication Date 336/2013
Daedalus Item Code 73038
List Price: $16.95
Sale Price: $4.98
You Save: $11.97
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On the morning of November 7, 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a desperate 17-year-old Jewish refugee, walked into the German embassy in Paris and shot Nazi diplomat Ernst vom Rath. Two days later vom Rath lay dead, and the Third Reich exploited the murder to instigate Kristallnacht, the nationwide demonstration against Jewish businesses and citizens, in a bizarre concatenation of events that would rapidly entangle such top Nazi officials as von Ribbentrop, Goebbels, and Hitler himself. Was Grynszpan a crazed lone gunman, or an agent provocateur of the Gestapo? Was he motivated by a desire to avenge Jewish people, or did his act of violence speak to an intimate connection with his target, as Grynszpan later claimed? Part historical thriller and part Kafkaesque legal drama, this biography from the author of The Harlot by the Side of the Road and A History of the End of the World illuminates the historical details and moral dimensions of one of the most enigmatic cases of World War II.

"No novelist could invent a story with as many twists of history and character as the one Jonathan Kirsch tells about Herschel Grynszpan.... [This book] illuminates the countless short and tragic lives of eastern European Jews running for shelter in the terrible days leading up to World War II."—Alice Kaplan

"The shooting of Ernst vom Rath, a low-level German diplomat, in Paris in November 1938 provided an immediate pretext for Kristallnacht.... It has never been clear why the Jewish killer, a teenage refugee from Poland by way of Germany, committed the act. Was he a hero, a psychopath (as Hannah Arendt believed), a tool of the gestapo? Had there been a homosexual relationship between Rath and Grynszpan? Nor is it known what became of Grynszpan during and after the war. The legal proceedings against him were interrupted by the German occupation of Paris, and a later show trial was put off by high Nazi officialdom. Grynszpan was sent to a concentration camp, but there is no definitive evidence of his death there. His case, prominent at the time, faded into obscurity. Kirsch has eloquently and carefully remedied a gap in the historical literature and provided a dramatic real-life mystery with potentially broad appeal. His concluding meditations on the nature of resistance, of which this may (or may not) be a compelling example, are thoughtful and illuminating."—Booklist

 
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