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The Day the Holocaust Began: The Odyssey of Herschel Grynszpan [Hardcover]

Gerald Schwab

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Book Description

9 Nov 1990
On November 7, 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year old Polish-German Jew, walked into the German Embassy in Paris and shot Third Secretary, Ernst vom Rath, who died shortly after. Vom Rath's death triggered the destruction and mahem which became known as Kristallnacht, or The Night of Broken Glass, resulting in the death of hundreds, the razing of 265 synagogues and 200 houses, the demolition of 7,500 business establishments, and the incarceration of 30,000 Jews in concentration camps. Herschel Grynszpan was immediately arrested. France's foremost criminal lawyer took over his defense. On June 8, 1940, two days before the French Government evacuated Paris, the youth was indicted for murder. A month later he was in Nazi hands, being interrogated by the Gestapo in anticipation of a major show trial. Little has been known in the past about this extraordinary young man. Using German documents never before revealed, including a startling coded testament, Gerald Schwab examines his background and the events culminating in the shooting. The book describes, in considerable detail, Grynszpan's experiences in French and German hands and his trial which was to become Nazi Germany's justification of the Holocaust. It also challenges some commonly held ideas about the cause of the shooting and its aftermath. The Day the Holocaust Began describes the life of a mixed-up, emotionally immature youngster who developed into one of the most amazing and unlikely heroes of modern history, demonstrating the power of the human spirit against overwhelming odds. Anyone interested in modern European history, the Nazi Government, the persecution of the European Jews, as well as students of the Holocaust and its many ramifications, will find The Day the Holocaust Began invaluable reading.

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"Gerald Schwab's The Day the Holocaust Began is fascinating reading. It is an extremely valuable account of the story of Herschel Grynszpan, the expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany, the November 1938 pogrom (Crystal Night), and of Grynszpan's subsequent fate as a prisoner of the Nazis. This vivid and dramatic story is both biographical and historical and fills a critical gap in our understanding of the Holocaust."-Sybil Milton, Resident Historian U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

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The news came to the attention of a nervous world through newspapers and the radio on November 7, 1938. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sad, but true, well researched story. 18 Sep 2013
By Mr. Gee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a good book, a very detailed account by the author who originally did this as a scholastic paper report, part of his graduate program. It was expanded into it's final form after the war, a well researched book. It is a sad, true story of what actually happened in November 1938 in France, a year prior to the out break of WWII. A young Jew who was seventeen years old at the time, went into a German Diplomatic office in France, shot and killed a relatively high ranking official, was caught, he said he did it to bring attention to the treatment of Jews in Germany. He was arraigned to stand trial for his murderous deed. The trial never happened, never took place, although it was intended to be originally tried in France, it lingered on for several years, Mr. Grynszpan all the while in jail, after many false attempts, delays, until eventually the German's took aggressive action and removed and transferred Herschel Grynszpan to Germany. This happened when Hitler invaded France, Paris 1941. By now, after millions of Jews in Europe were gassed, exterminated in concentration camps, it seemed trivial, small-minded to worry about or be concerned about this single individual. So, in time Herschel Grynszpan disappears from the scene,the Nazi's were originally planning on exploiting this man's actions to their benefit in a trial, but the events of the war took priority. We don't know any of the details of what eventually happened to him, but probably he was sent to the gas chamber when his PR value for the Germans diminished. One of the things that caught my attention was the lawyer who was to represent him in a trial in France said, Herschel Grynszpan was too impressed with himself, would not listen to reason, misunderstood how at risk he was to survive. The young man felt he was on a mission to save Jews by his example. He probably saved some lives, Jews in 1938 and early 1939 who fled Germany, but it didn't last long enough, less than a year and WWII started.
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