Kristallnacht in Perspective
In November 1938 a Jew, Herschel Grynspan, shot a low level German diplomat in Paris, Ernst Vom Rath, killing him. Shortly thereafter a huge pogrom against Jews erupted in Germany called Kristallnacht, (or Crystal Night) . Synagogues and Jewish businesses were attacked, a huge amount of property damage was done and 91 Jews were killed.
The French authorities planned to put Grynspan on trial. The trial was forestalled by the German invasion of France the following year. Grynspan then turned himself in to the French authorities in Toulouse in Vichy occupied France. The Germans demanded his extradition to Germany; the French complied.
Grynspan supposedly acted alone in assassinating Vom Rath. But there are legitimate reasons for doubting it. Grynspan was poor and had no visible means of support. Yet Grynspan, a Polish Jew, was in contact in Paris with an organization, the LICRA, ("The League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism") before he shot Von Rath. After he shot Vom Rath, it was "The League" which provided his lawyer, Morro Giaferri, free of charge.
Did the LICRA, a known Zionist organization, hire Herschel Grynspan to assassinate Vom Rath? A German lady, Ingrid Weckert, argues this thesis very convincingly in her book, "Flashpoint". [Feuerzeichen in German]
To understand why the Zionists would hire a Jew to assassinate a German diplomat, one must understand the political alignments of the time. In November 1938 when the assassination took place, the British Empire, then in control of Palestine, was considering cutting off further Jewish immigration to the Holy Land. Such immigration was alienating the Arabs. In the spring/early summer of 1939 the British issued their famous White Paper proclaiming that no Jewish state would be created in Palestine and that no further Jewish immigration would be permitted after five years without Arab consent.
The Zionists in November 1938 knew what was coming. Their contacts within the British Government had alerted them. The Zionists needed a way to pressure HMG into allowing continued immigration.
Enter Herschel Grynspan and the LICRA. If the German government could be provoked into an anti-Semitic outrage through the premeditated murder of a German diplomat, then the resulting persecution in Germany could be used to keep immigration to Palestine open. "The Jews are being persecuted in Germany! How dare the British deny the Jews refuge in Palestine!" would be the battle cry. And, of course, Nazi persecution of the Jews had always been useful to the Zionists from day one of the Hitler regime. Jewish aliyah, or return to Palestine, had been in sharp decline during the 1920's, until Nazi persecution revived it.
Did the LICRA and international Zionism put Herschel Grynspan up to the murder? We will never know. As to Grynspan himself, his denouement in Germany is quite interesting. Originally the Nazis intended to put him on trial to prove that international Jewry had forced Germany into the war. However, there were problems. Von Rath had been a known homosexual. Grynspan's lawyer, Giaferri, had concocted a story that Grynspan and Vom Rath had been having an affair. Although this was false, to have the fact of Vom Rath's homosexuality brought out at trial would have been embarrassing. (Under French law, political assassination was a guillotine offense. If Giaferri could have demonstrated that Grynspan acted as a jilted lover, that might have spared him the guillotine.) Moreover, the German courts were not entirely convinced that they had the legal authority to try Grynspan. Grynspan was not a German citizen; he was a Polish Jew who had migrated to Germany on a passport and then moved to Paris. His crime had been committed on French, not German soil.
In the event, Herschel Grynspan was never put on trial. Some believe that he was eventually executed by the Germans in Sachsenhausen concentration camp according to the testimonies of certain inmates; others believe he survived the war under an assumed identity.
Whatever really happened to Herschel Grynspan, he was merely a pawn in a much bigger game. Whether Ingrid Weckert is right or not, Grynspan's foolish act served larger purposes.
Kristallnacht did not intimidate the British into reopening Palestine to Jewish immigration, even if that had been the hidden Zionist intent. The shot which killed Ernst Vom Rath was not the "shot heard round the world". It was, however, a shot which concealed much deeper political intrigues, intrigues whose parameters continue to the present day. Those intrigues are as little understood by the man-un-the-street now as they were then.