Grynszpan (Gruenspan), Herschel

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GRYNSZPAN (Gruenspan ), HERSCHEL (1921–?), assassin of a German diplomat in Paris. Grynszpan, who was born in Hanover, Germany, into a family of Polish Jews, moved to Paris early in 1938. When he learned that Polish Jews, including his parents, were being deported from Germany (Oct. 28, 1938), he decided to assault the German ambassador in Paris in order to arouse public opinion in the West regarding the Nazi persecution of Jews. Grynszpan shot at a German embassy official, Ernst vom Rath, who, mortally wounded, died two days later. His death served as a pretext for the November pogroms against Jews throughout Germany and Austria, termed *Kristallnacht. Grynszpan was held for questioning by the French authorities, and the Germans accused him of being a tool of "world Jewry." When France capitulated, Grynszpan escaped to the Free Zone. However, he later returned to the Occupied Zone, where he was arrested and handed over to the Germans, who made elaborate preparations for a show trial. In the end, the whole affair was hushed up and Grynszpan disappeared without trace.


F.K. Kaul, Der Fall des Herschel Grynszpan (1965). add. bibliography: R. Roizen, in: hgs, 1:2 (1986), 217–28; K. Jonca, in: sfzh, 10 (1987), 65–111; M.R. Marrus, in: American Scholar, 57:1 (1988), 69–79; L. van Dijk, Der Attentäter Herschel Grynszpan und die Vorgänge um die "Kristallnacht" (1988).

[Shaul Esh]

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