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Herschel Grynszpan
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Assassin
    (March 28, 1921-circa 1944)
    Born in Hanover, Germany
    Son of Polish Jews
    Left Germany for exile in France (1936)
    At the German embassy in Paris, fatally shot Ernst vom Rath (November 7, 1938)
    Event triggered the Kristallnacht pogrom (November 9-10, 1938)
    Believed to have died in German custody
    Officially declared dead by West Germany (1960)
    He immigrated illegally to France.
    He chose his assassination target essentially at random.
    Ironically, vom Rath had been placed under surveillance by the SS after expressing disapproval of German anti-semitism.
    He shot vom Rath to protest Nazi Germany's treatment of Jews, only to trigger worse violence.
    When the French were transporting prisoners during the German invasion in WWII, he got separated from his convoy during an air raid.
    Rather than take advantage of the opportunity to escape, he turned himself in to the French police; after France's surrender, Vichy officials handed him over to the Nazis.
    He attempted to immigrate to Palestine but had been rejected for being too young.
    Just days before the shooting, he got word that his parents were among 12,000 Jews who had had their property seized and had been deported to Poland, only to end up in a no-man's land between border towns when Poland refused to admit them.
    Let's face it, even without him shooting vom Rath, the Nazis would have dug up some pretext to ratchet up their violence against Jews.
    He derailed Nazi plans for a show trial to implicate 'world Jewry' in the assassination by threatening to claim in court that the shooting was an apolitical crime of passion caused by vom Rath seducing him.
    Ironically, his parents, who had sent him abroad for safety, survived the war, having escaped to the Soviet Union in 1939 and settled in Israel after WWII.

Credit: C. Fishel


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