Thursday, May 30, 2013
The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, A Nazi Diplomat, and a Murder in Paris (Liveright), by Jonathan Kirsch
In 1938, a 17-year-old Jewish refugee, Herschel Grynszpan, calmly entered the German embassy in Paris and shot dead a young diplomat, a man he never knew. And although the diplomat was a Nazi Party member only for the sake of his career, Hitler used the assassination as an excuse for “Crystal Night,” when Nazi mobs burned synagogues and looted Jewish shops. Jonathan Kirsch explores Grynszpan’s short life, finding a sulky adolescent with movie star looks whose normal hormonal spikes were intensified by anxiety over the safety of himself and his family from the rising Nazi tide. Hannah Arendt dismissed Grynszpan as “psychotic,” but Kirsch succeeds in humanizing him into a troubled youth with understandable reasons for anger.