jeudi 25 avril 2019

Herschel Grynszpan et l'Holocauste

Rick Richman @ Mosaic Magazine:
A new book gives reason to reflect on the little-known story of the Jewish teenager who assassinated a German diplomat in 1938, an act that served as the pretext for Kristallnacht.

In the morning of November 7, 1938, a seventeen-year old named Herschel Grynszpan entered the German embassy in Paris. Hidden within his three-piece suit was a gun he had purchased earlier that day; in his pocket was a postcard on which he had written an abbreviated Hebrew phrase invoking God’s help and a message in German for his family:
My dear parents,
I could not do anything else, may God forgive me, my heart bleeds when I hear of the tragedy that befell you and 12,000 other Jews. I need to protest so that the entire world hears it, and this I will do. Forgive me.
At the embassy, Grynszpan asked to see an official, saying he had a document to submit that was too important to be left with a clerk. He was ushered into the office of a junior-level diplomat, twenty-nine-year-old Ernest vom Rath, who asked to inspect it. Drawing his gun, Grynszpan told him, “You’re a filthy Kraut, and in the name of 12,000 persecuted Jews, here is the document.” He fired five shots at vom Rath, who died two days later.  […] 
In evaluating the morality of Herschel Grynszpan’s act, we should perhaps consider it not as an abstract issue but rather within the specific context of 1938. 
In March of that year, German troops entered Austria to carry out the annexation of that country to the Reich. Jews in Austria were immediately attacked and publicly humiliated, their property and businesses seized, and harsh anti-Semitic legislation was enacted against them. In July, America convened a 32-nation conference in Evian, France, to address the crisis of Jewish refugees. The conference led to no serious action whatsoever, even by the United States. At the end of September, Britain and France signed the Munich agreement, agreeing to Hitler’s dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. In the following month, more than 12,000 Jews were summarily stripped of their homes, property, and businesses and expelled from Germany with no place of refuge. 
A week later, Herschel Grynszpan walked into the German embassy in Paris with a gun, trying to make the Jewish voice heard. From a moral standpoint, which was more problematical: Herschel’s action or the world’s inaction?

Even with four books on Grynszpan, we are still left with the questions raised by Ron Roizen in 1986: was Herschel Grynszpan a heroic martyr or a misguided pariah? Was the assassination of vom Rath a moral act or an immoral act? Was it productive, or counter-productive? And how are we to decide? 
The four books on Grynszpan demonstrate that there is no single or simple answer. But they also demonstrate that Herschel Grynszpan deserves to be remembered and memorialized. At age seventeen, as the worst disaster in Jewish history unfolded, he fought back, refusing to be treated like a dog or to react like an ostrich.
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