Herschel Grynszpan

By Suzanne Friedman

Let’s not allow another Kristallnacht anniversary to pass without paying homage to Herschel Grynszpan, the Jewish teen responsible for this night different from all others.

Herschel, a seventeen year old Polish misfit was adrift in France and disgruntled over his parent’s deportation. On November 7, 1938, he strode into the German Embassy in Paris and requested a meeting. When ushered into an office, he fired a concealed revolver and mortally wounded Ernst vom Rath, the Nazi diplomat.

Ernst vom Rath






Two days later  on November 9th, 1938, Kristallnacht.

Herschel was a smart boy. Whipping into action, he claimed he was having an affair with vom Rath, a homosexual. In the Third Reich, it was admirable to be a brute and a sadist–but a feigelah? Verboten.

Little is known about the true fate of Herschel Grynszpan. And historians are still trying to ascertain if vom Rath’s dying words were, “Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”



Suzanne Friedman is a talented agent who writes, rescues beached creatures, fashions Jewish jellyfish from yarmulkes and tzitzit, and is the mother of Carlen Altman–creator of Jewish Rosaries.