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The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris Paperback – February 10, 2014
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Herschel Grynszpan wanted nothing more than to be remembered for his rash, heroic actions. In Kirsch, he has finally found an objective, yet passionate, chronicler. --Ronald C. Rosbottom, professor of French and European studies, Amherst College
Kirsch expertly picks through the murky details to shed new light on the historical significance. A compelling study.
No novelist could invent a story with as many twists of history and character as the one Jonathan Kirsch tells about Herschel Grynszpan...The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan 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, author of The Collaborator and Dreaming in French
Kirsch's investigation of its international history invites us to chart the troubling boundaries of responsibility for atrocity. --Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
With a storyteller's touch and a lawyer's insight, Kirsch elevates this tragic tale and makes it read like a legal and moral thriller. --Thane Rosenbaum, author of Payback: The Case for Revenge and The Myth of Moral Justice
[An] excellent account...Reading this excellent, thought-provoking biography, one is all too easily reminded of Camus's 1942 novel, The Stranger. --Philip Kerr
In his well-crafted study... Jonathan Kirsch manages to put some meat on the skinny frame of his protagonist and also to put a human face on his victim. In so doing, Kirsch has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of Kristallnacht. --David Clay Large
On Nov. 7, 1938, a troubled Jewish teenager walked into an embassy in Paris, got in to see a low-level Nazi attache and shot him dead a killing that gave Hitler a pretext for the savage, anti-Semitic orgy of Kristallnacht. --Scott Martelle"
In his well-crafted study Jonathan Kirsch manages to put some meat on the skinny frame of his protagonist and also to put a human face on his victim. In so doing, Kirsch has made a valuable contribution to our understanding of Kristallnacht. --David Clay Large"
[Herschel Grynszpan] faced what his biographer Jonathan Kirsch perceptively calls the 'existential threat of statelessness.' Kirsch has a dramatic story, and he tells it well. --Timothy Snyder"
Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Kirsch's belief that Grynszpan has somehow been neglected by history and Jews is hard to understand. Almost all books on Kristallnacht deal with Grynszpan. This includes fiction as well as non-fiction. Kirsch has some information on the Jewish resistance but fails to mention the case of Shlomo ben Yosef who was hanged by the British in June of 1938 in Acre, Palestine. He also fails to mention the work of Ze'ev Jabotinsky who was training Jews in self-defense for a very long time as well as warning them. Shlomo ben Yosef was a genuine hero. Grynszpan was not.
Worse still Kirsch fails to mention Andy Marino's book: "Herschel,The boy who started WWII" in which Marino has explored the matter of vom Rath being a spy for the French., (a possibility also mentioned by Dr. Cuonot). Then too no matter Kirsch has the German historian Hans Juergen Doescher's book on Kristallnacht on his list of books (footnotes list) , he should certainly have discussed the dubious nature of Doescher's discussion of certain aspects of vom Rath's foreign service record. Then too there is Doescher's mention of an alleged letter from Grynszpan to his parents before the assassination.Read more ›
Herschel Grynszpan grew up a Jew in Nazi Germany, but escaped to France in 1936 to live with hi aunt and uncle. A series of events leads to him to the German Embassy, where he shot and killed an Embassy official, Ernst vom Rath, to avenge the atrocities done to the Jews.
The news of the murder spread quickly with lots of people finding his story engaging. American radio broadcaster and journalist Dorothy Thompson, the second most influential woman in America in 1939, was sympathetic to Herschel. Her radio program about him lead to over $40,000 in donations, enabling the hiring of top quality lawyers for his case. British composer Michael Tippett composed an oratorio in Herschel's honor, titled A Child of Our Time.
Herschel sat in prison waiting as the trial was delayed over and over again. In September 1939, after France declared a state of war with Germany, the trial was put on the back burner, as his lawyers and the trial's judge were call upon to serve in the army. Herschel urged the new judge to move ahead with trial, as he had been in prison for two years, and he was afraid if the war was over quickly, people would care less about the trial and he's be more likely to be found guilty.
As Germany took control of Paris, the prison guards transferred the prisoners, including Herschel to prisons in southern France. But since no one really wanted the responsibility of housing him in their prison, they kept sending him off to the next prison south of them, usually forcing him to walk from town to town. He would show up at the next prison, begging to be let in and fed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I just happened upon this little book at Half Price Books. I am a voracious reader with much interest in WWII and especially events surrounding the Holocaust. Read morePublished 2 months ago by JillJean
The story of an obscure figure comes to life in this book. The author provides a lot of background that allows the reader to understand the context of the times.Published 19 months ago by Saul Schwarzberg
Aside from Anne Frank-and not too many other Holocaust victims,it's always been difficult to think of a more memorable Holocaust Jewish face;Grynspan is a longtime hero of time-and... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Jaywilton
I found the book to be well researched and informative about the subject and his place in world history. Read morePublished on August 21, 2014 by john singer
Very wordy, but learned lots about the predicament of Jewish families and inconsistencies of the German government. Read morePublished on June 23, 2014 by DMP
Jonathan Kirsh’s biography of the German-Polish Jew, Hershel Grynszpan should be classified as a whydoneit. Read morePublished on May 21, 2014 by Harold W. Miller