David Gelber

Triggering Kristallnacht

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

By

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Twice in the fitful life of the Third Republic, Paris was convulsed by a criminal scandal with a Jew at its heart that split public opinion and sent crackles of disquiet through Europe. The first of these, the Dreyfus Affair, has become shorthand for the anti-Semitism, xenophobia and venality that streaked the political culture of fin de siècle France. The second, the murder in 1938 of a minor German diplomat by a refugee from Nazi persecution, is now all but forgotten – or if not forgotten, then reduced to a tiny footnote in the grand tragedy of the genocide of Europe’s Jews. In this engaging history, which at times reads like a thriller, the American journalist Jonathan Kirsch sets out to illuminate this murky episode and rescue its protagonist from obscurity.

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