Monday, February 20, 2012

Hitler's 9/11: How fortunate for leaders that men do not think


On November 7, 1938, Ernst vom Rath was shot outside the German embassy by Herschel Grynszpan, who wanted revenge for his parents' sudden deportation from Germany to Poland, along with tens of thousands of other Polish Jews. 

[The murder provided the Nazis with a justification for] a campaign of terror against Jewish people and their homes and businesses in Germany and Austria. The violence, which continued through November 10 and was later dubbed "Kristallnacht," or "Night of Broken Glass," after the countless smashed windows of Jewish-owned establishments, left approximately 100 Jews dead, 7,500 Jewish businesses damaged and hundreds of synagogues, homes, schools and graveyards vandalized. An estimated 30,000 Jewish men were arrested, many of whom were then sent to concentration camps for several months; they were released when they promised to leave Germany.

Excerpts from This Day in History. 


  1. Surely Herschel Grynszpan had to respond, somehow; and he was brave, capable and self-conscious. Did he make "a mistake"? What should people in Grynszpan's position take as a lesson?

  2. To be critical of Herschel Grynszpan exposes one to the risk of being regarded as a Nazi apologist, which I am certainly not. However, it seems unreasonable to me, and indeed clearly criminal or insane, for Grynszpan to have murdered a German diplomat in Paris because his Polish parents were deported from Germany to Poland. In fact, it was the extraordinary irrationality of Grynszpan's act that made it, for the Nazis, a useful pretext for an assault on all German Jews.

    That is not to say that Germany's deportation of Polish Jews was humane or justifiable (does anyone know what the circumstances of those deportations were?) but it is the sort of thing that happens all the time, e.g., in Canada with the deportation of refugee claimants whose refugee status is not accepted.