How the Jew Whom Hitler Blamed for Kristallnacht Outsmarted His Captors

When, a Polish Jew named Herschel Grynszpan walked into the German embassy in Paris and assassinated an official in retaliation for the Nazis’ persecution of his family, Adolf Hitler immediately used it as a pretext to launch violent attacks on Jews throughout the Third Reich. Saturday marks the 81st anniversary of these pogroms, which came to be known as Kristallnacht. Stephen Koch, whose biography of Grynszpan was reviewed in Mosaic, explains how Grynszpan—arrested by the Gestapo in 1940—foiled Nazi plans to use him as a pawn:

Hitler had decided to turn [Grynszpan] into the defendant in a major show trial in Berlin, “proving” that World War II had been started by the “World Jewish Conspiracy,” using the “evil” Herschel as their trigger. . . . Enormous amounts of Nazi money, time, and energy went into planning this charade. Hitler was kept constantly informed. The star witness was to be no less than the former French foreign minister Georges Bonnet, a covert Nazi fellow-traveler and major player in Munich, who promised the Nazis to tell the world that, yes, indeed, France went to war in 1939 only because of relentless, irresistible, warmongering pressure from “the Jews.”

The trial . . . never took place because Herschel Grynszpan kept it from taking place. As a prisoner of the Nazis, Herschel had quickly grasped that he was being primed for more anti-Semitic propaganda. To prevent that disgrace, he concocted an extraordinarily ingenious lie. He claimed that he had not really killed the German diplomat for any political reason at all. His “protest” had merely been his cover for a deeper secret: the unspeakable truth that he’d killed the diplomat in the midst of a homosexual lovers’ quarrel.

This inspired falsehood was certain to turn into the trial’s most scandalous news story. It made an enraged Goebbels advise Hitler to postpone the whole thing. It stayed postponed forever.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Adolf Hitler, Kristallnacht

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter