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In November 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a Jewish refugee living in Paris, walked into his city’s German Embassy and assassinated Nazi diplomat Ernst vom Rath. Grynszpan was just seventeen years old. His actions would later be used as justification for Kristallnacht, the violent antisemitic pogrom which took place on November 9 and 10, 1938. Now, eighty-three years later, Herschel Grynszpan has largely faded into history.

This Museum program explores Grynszpan’s story, how it came to be used as propaganda, and why it was ultimately forgotten. The program includes a discussion between Jonathan Kirsch, author of The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan: A Boy Avenger, a Nazi Diplomat and a Murder in Paris, and Alan E. Steinweis, Professor of History and Raul Hilberg Distinguished Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont.

Watch the program below.

This program’s original recording transcript is below. This transcription was created automatically during a live program so may contain inaccurate transcriptions of some words.

Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Hello everyone, my name is Sydney Yaeger and i'm the public programs coordinator here at the Museum of Jewish heritage, a living memorial to the Holocaust.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): It is my pleasure to introduce today's program the forgotten life of herschel grins fun joining us today or Allen East time wise and Jonathan.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Allen who is an expert on Kristallnacht is a professor of history and the rebel hilbert distinguished professor of Holocaust studies at the University of Vermont.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): He is the author of four books, including studying the Jews scholarly anti Semitism in Nazi Germany and most relevant to today Kristallnacht 1938.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Professor Stein mice has been a Fulbright professor at the University of Heidelberg.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): A visiting professor at the University of Frankfurt and the University of Munich and in 2018 he was the Libyan senior invitational scholar at the United States Holocaust Memorial museum.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Jonathan is a publishing and intellectual property attorney based in Los Angeles, he has written 13 books, including the harlot by the side of the road.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): And most importantly for our purposes the short strange life of Russia, Britain spawn a boy avenger a Nazi diplomat and umberger in Paris.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Jonathan is the book editor of the Jewish Journal and a book reviewer for the Washington Post.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): During the program please feel free to share questions and zoom Q amp a box and we'll get to as many as we can, during the hour this program is being recorded and the video will be available tomorrow on the museum's YouTube channel so now, I would like to welcome both Alan and Jonathan.

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Jonathan Kirsch: happy to be with you yeah.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Thank you so much, both of you for.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Meeting.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So to start out Alan, I would like you to if you wouldn't mind telling us about the background of Kristallnacht and and sort of what we should know to better understand group spawn story.

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Alan E. Steinweis: mm hmm yeah so of course it's the Crystal and loft was a momentous event in the history of the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany leading up to the Holocaust.

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Alan E. Steinweis: it's hard to boil down to a very brief synopsis but i'll do my best, and just kind of in bullet points fashion.

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Alan E. Steinweis: First, I would observe that it was the only it was the only large scale incidents of violence against Jews in Germany before the war.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Previously anti Jewish measures and Nazi Germany.

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Alan E. Steinweis: had had.

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Alan E. Steinweis: A primarily legal empirical bureaucratic quality there had been sporadic violence or brief waves of violence in certain municipalities, but there was nothing even remotely approaching anything like the Kristallnacht before the war.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Second.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Just to review some of the damage, most of the countries synagogues were either destroyed or severely damaged.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In the crystal enough thousands of Jewish owned shops were vandalized and plundered.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Many Jewish institutions were attacked.

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Alan E. Steinweis: schools, hospitals, retirement homes.

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Alan E. Steinweis: and also many Jewish homes were invaded people just broken to homes and apartments and you know terrorized and beat up.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The inhabitants, you know, in the collective memory of the freestyle not the images that tend to predominate are those of burning synagogues and the broken shop windows that created the crystal like you know.

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Alan E. Steinweis: pieces of glass on the sidewalk from which the events Texas name, then the night of of broken, glass and we tend to overlook the attacks on Jews in their homes.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The official death toll of the Kristallnacht was 91, but that was an official count by the the German police apparatus.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The real number was probably several hundred, especially if you include the suicides and the deaths of Jews who were arrested in the day in the days after the crystal meth and sent off to to concentration camps.

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Alan E. Steinweis: A point that's important to know.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Is that the the Kristallnacht was not planned in advance, it was only organized a few hours before it actually began, well, it was planned in advance, but only a few hours in advance right it wasn't something that had been planned, you know for weeks in advance and and then executed.

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Alan E. Steinweis: It was organized only a few hours in advance Hitler only gave his personal approval.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In a meeting with the propaganda minister and Joseph Goebbels on that very day on November 9.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And of course the pretext was for that decision and for unleashing the violence was the death on November 9 of the German diplomat.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And from a lot, who had been shot in Paris on November 7 by herschel going on and I won't say more about going on, because Jonathan is the the expert on that subject.

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Alan E. Steinweis: A further point the very wide spectrum of Germans participated in the anti Jewish violence of the Kristallnacht.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The stormtroopers the the essay.

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Alan E. Steinweis: was at the core of the violence but we're also many participants from the Hitler youth mainly teenage boys.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And many ordinary Germans, including the the neighbors of the Jews who were whose homes or businesses were being attacked.

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Alan E. Steinweis: kind of joined into the violence.

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Alan E. Steinweis: spontaneously.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The other side of that coin was that there were also a quite a few instances of Jews receiving help from non Jewish friends and neighbors help in the form of providing shelter, you know hiding them defending sometimes defending them from physical assault.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know, trying to scold the attackers.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And then, after the the crystal not helping their Jewish friends and neighbors clean up.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The damage that had been done.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Turning to the Jews themselves it's important for people to realize that they did not remain passive.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Many defended themselves insofar as that was possible and, of course, you know vastly outnumbered many cases, you know, old people.

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Alan E. Steinweis: were not in a position to mount and effective Defense about what was be against what was being done to them, but you know many did kind of like actively hide actively ran away.

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Alan E. Steinweis: When they were being hit they tried to hit back you know if that was possible, and so forth, we just need to kind of get away from this notion that the Jewish victims of these kinds of events.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Just took what was coming to them.

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Alan E. Steinweis: What was directed at them.

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Alan E. Steinweis: One point that I tried to emphasize in my in my book, is that the Kristallnacht or night of broken glass was really not a night, you know that the the the the common designation.

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Alan E. Steinweis: emphasizing that this was a night is really kind of historically very misleading because it was really a prolonged event the violence really began already in certain localities on the seventh of November in the hours, during which German the German Nazi propaganda machine.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Was drumming up and I enjoy a sentiment that after the shooting in Paris.

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Alan E. Steinweis: That should invite her to respond that violence continued on the eighth of November, the ninth of November, the night of the ninth to the 10th of November was a kind of a crescendo of this wave of violence that had begun earlier in the week.

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Alan E. Steinweis: After daylight on November 10 the violence continued you know well into the day.

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Alan E. Steinweis: So you know, sometimes we imagine that the violence kind of unfolded, under cover of darkness, but in many places it happened in.

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Alan E. Steinweis: in broad daylight, and then you have this wave of mass arrests that ensued beginning on the 10th of November and continuing for a few days, which resulted in.

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Alan E. Steinweis: About 30,000 Jewish men being arrested and sent to several concentration camps where many of them spent weeks or even months before their eventual release and, of course, in the camps, they experience the terror, so you know, in the testimonies of Jews who.

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Alan E. Steinweis: went through the crystal loft testimonies that I studied for my book, it became very clear that for from from you know in their lived experience the crystal loft was a sustains nightmare of you know days or even weeks in some cases of the men in the camps.

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Alan E. Steinweis: It wasn't just one really traumatic night.

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Alan E. Steinweis: But the final point.

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Alan E. Steinweis: I want to make is that the crystal meth is often thought of or referred to as the beginning of the Holocaust or prelude.

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Alan E. Steinweis: To the Holocaust, and you know that's an understandable view and I don't necessarily object to that terminology, but I just want to point out that the.

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Alan E. Steinweis: History is really somewhat complicated because in important ways the Kristallnacht was really a break from the general or a break in the general pattern that had been as anti Jewish.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Persecution that began in 1933 and then continued after November 1938.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The the primary strategy for excluding Jews from German Society starting in 1933 had been legal and.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Bureaucratic there was, as I said earlier, you know sporadic localized violence and I don't want to minimize the importance.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Of that, but the Kristallnacht really was a kind of a deviation from that pattern, and after the crystal i'm off the Nazi leadership came to understand that the that violence, you know the chaos on the streets, the destruction of property and so forth.

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Alan E. Steinweis: What had been widely criticized in German society, including in elite circles in the diplomatic corps the diplomatic corps and the.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In the in the bluff in the military officer corps in the civil service.

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Alan E. Steinweis: people realize that it had done damage to German foreign policy so after the crystal off the Nazi leadership made a point to return to the more systematic form of kind of legal bureaucratic exclusionary practices that had pertained.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Really, you know before the crystal loft as well, so it was a return to kind of like a more orderly form of of persecution so.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Yes, the Kristallnacht was a kind of a prelude or beginning of the terrible things that happened later in as much as it was this kind of incredible outburst.

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Alan E. Steinweis: of violence, but when you look at the longer continuity of Nazi anti Jewish policy it stands out really for being exceptional rather than typical.

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Alan E. Steinweis: So i'll i'll leave it there certainly we can talk more about these issues in the discussion later.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah Thank you so much for that so Alan mentioned that on November 7 1938 personal friends bond assassinate a Nazi diplomat in Paris so Jonathan Can you give us a bit of background about herschel and sort of what his life was like and kind of what led up to this assassination.

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Jonathan Kirsch: You happy to do that, I want to start by saying.

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Jonathan Kirsch: When I went to Yad Vashem, with my wife to doing archival research for the book, I wrote, we went through the public gallery of that the exhibits and the exhibit for crystal na.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Had a film running and significantly, there was a microsecond when the picture of hair chagrined spawn and his name were spoken but it lasted a microsecond he was a good knowledge and then passed on.

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Jonathan Kirsch: that's the fate, he has suffered as a historical figure he's been almost entirely overlooked that there's an eye redeemed to that as will have an occasion to talk about because in his own lifetime, he was world famous he was a world celebrity.

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Jonathan Kirsch: He was born in Germany to Polish Jewish parents.

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Jonathan Kirsch: In and he was came of age, at a time when the events that Alan has described we're beginning to occur, the the exclusion of Jews from the social life and the business life educational life of Germany.

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Jonathan Kirsch: So they the Greenspan family, like all the other Jews of Germany, both immigrant Jews from Poland, which is true of the expense or native born Jews.

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Jonathan Kirsch: were under tremendous pressure and deprivation and even physical threat, so the Greenspan family, which is quite a large family contrived to smuggle herschel out of Germany.

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Jonathan Kirsch: He went first to an uncle In essence, it was a big family, then he went to an uncle in Belgium in Brussels, then he smuggled himself at the age of 15.

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Jonathan Kirsch: across the border into France, where he went to live with yet another uncle and so he was living in Paris essentially as a stateless person when Hitler took a very.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Grave step by escalating the war against the Jews by arresting and deporting 12,000 Polish Jews living in Germany and taking them to the Polish border and forcing them across the border.

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Jonathan Kirsch: He wanted to get rid of his Jews, he wanted to reduce the Jewish population of Germany and here were 12,000 non citizens that would be repatriated to Poland, the Polish frontier guards saw these Jews approaching the border and turn them back, and so they were caught in a no man's land.

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Jonathan Kirsch: and unable to go back into Germany unable to move forward into Poland and this itself became a world event of a media event and hershel.

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Jonathan Kirsch: By now 17 living in Paris was aware of the plight of these Jews and among these Jews were her was his mother and father and his older sister and his older brother.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Here we begin to see the personality of herschel grinstein with plays such an important part in the history, he was a very emotional high strong impulsive.

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Jonathan Kirsch: young man he had emotions he could not control, he was tortured by the plight of his.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Relatives in custody now they were eventually granted admission into Poland and they're putting a refugee camp.

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Jonathan Kirsch: and his sister wrote a very heart rending postcard from the camp about their plight and at that point herschel Greenspan remarkably again at the age of 70 decided to do something about.

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Jonathan Kirsch: This atrocity, and what he did was get up one morning go to a gun store purchases pistol the price tag was still on the trigger guard when he took this gun concealed this gun in his coat and went to the German Embassy in Paris told the guard.

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Jonathan Kirsch: But he had some important documents and he needed to see a member of the consulate staff for the ambassador himself.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And he was faithfully ushered into the office of Aaron spawn Roth was actually very low ranking third Secretary.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And, according to the story that comes down to us Yvonne Roth says to this slight short anguish looking Jewish boy 17.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Some show me your important papers and he replied here, in the name of the 12,000 Jews are your papers and he took out of his pocket his gun with the price tag hanging from the tree regard and he fired all five shots at bomb rock.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And thus, wrote himself into the pages of history.

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Jonathan Kirsch: As as in his own mind an avenger of the Jewish people and uh and and a person who was willing to take it upon himself to call attention.

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Jonathan Kirsch: To an atrocity that the rest of the world was ignoring that's the beginning, just the beginning of the of what my the title of my book characterizes as the short strange life of herschel grinspoon.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): yeah we will definitely get into more of what happened to him, but um before we sort of get further and respond story was so was this assassination sort of publicized immediately afterwards and what was sort of the press reaction to it and and how is that all tying into.

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Jonathan Kirsch: It was a media sensation in the term in the in the context of the time it was a headline story, it was on the radio, it was known all over the world.

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Jonathan Kirsch: and part of the reason was as Alan has already indicated, the Nazis themselves propagandized on the shooting they made it a big story themselves.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Because, in their eyes, this was the international Jewish conspiracy at work, and this insignificant friendless 17 year old boy was actually.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The active agent of a world conspiracy aimed at Nazi Germany so between the outrage and vilification campaign of the Nazis.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And the shock and horror of the Jewish community, we felt very endangered by this and the concern that was expressed in American media that's a very significant aspect of this story he became a world celebrity was under immediately arrested placed in custody by the French police.

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Jonathan Kirsch: He never really emerged from custody, the rest of his life and he was under arrest and awaiting trial for years, but from the moment that the shooting took place, he was a world celebrity.

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Jonathan Kirsch: One ironic, because today he's an.

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Jonathan Kirsch: entirely obscure and and almost completely forgotten, and there are reasons for that there, there are reasons why he was an uncomfortable figure.

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Alan E. Steinweis: One can very easily trace the systematic nature of the vilification of groupon and kind of trying to show him as part of a World Jewish conspiracy.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And you this is very easily seen in this kind of really you know when when historians work on you know i'm a topic sometimes they just kind of like stumble along to a source and they you know they can't believe their luck that the propaganda Ministry.

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Alan E. Steinweis: would send out daily multiple times daily on a kind of a news wire, the instructions to newspapers all over Germany, how they should cover certain events and the complete print out of this news wire.

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Alan E. Steinweis: is available, and you can actually kind of like you know just read it almost minute by minute seeing how they're instructing newspapers in Germany to.

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Alan E. Steinweis: cover this.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And just went out over the radio as well, and therefore you know it was so the the shooting happened on the morning of November 7, which was a Monday morning and that evening already in Germany, you have the first anti Jewish riots in the city of a castle in North central Germany.

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Jonathan Kirsch: You know I can set the stage for something that I believe Allen is going to take the laboring or on an A question just came in why didn't the Nazis.

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Jonathan Kirsch: kill a grin span when they invaded France in 1940 and the answer was they wanted to use grin span for a massive show trial to validate their conspiracy theory about the Jews, so he was a very valuable prisoner in their eyes.

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Jonathan Kirsch: I want to give you the first part of this story, he was first for a couple of years under investigation.

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Jonathan Kirsch: by the French authorities who had him in custody and we're going to put them on trial.

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Jonathan Kirsch: A very famous of media figure from the 40s her name was Dorothy Thompson, who is a syndicated columnist broadcaster she took up the case.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The grinch pancakes and became his champion and she and she did it in a very interesting way the Jews of France completely disappointed, they were terrified and horror stricken by the danger that this represented to them.

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Jonathan Kirsch: There was an open letter published in a Jewish newspaper in Paris address to the victim's mother apologizing and expressing.

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Jonathan Kirsch: condolences to bond rots mother and dis associating themselves from rin spent Dorothy Thompson understood this and she started a what you call the journalist Defense fund.

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Jonathan Kirsch: To pay for the legal defense of Greenspan in the French courts and she said in her broadcast, this is a Christian duty.

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Jonathan Kirsch: We won't even accept donations from Jewish donors, because this exposes them to danger in Nazi Germany and in the eyes of the Germans so it's very high minded on her part and her fund.

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Jonathan Kirsch: was able to secure the services of a French lawyer who was what we would call a cause lawyer who is a celebrity lawyer, he took cases that had high.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Publicity value we have lawyers like that, here in the United States on and his theory of Defense This is where the grandstands dory takes its strangest turn.

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Jonathan Kirsch: He began to realize that if you went into a French courtroom before this is before war had broken.

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Jonathan Kirsch: up and tried to put Hitler in the defendants box with as the phrase went put Hitler on trial.

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Jonathan Kirsch: that the French seeking to avoid provocation with Germany and frightened of a war with Germany they would not acquit.

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Jonathan Kirsch: So he came up with a theory of the case which he suggested to Greenspan himself.

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Jonathan Kirsch: What if he.

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Jonathan Kirsch: asks, in a kind of a leading way, this was actually an affair of the heart, what if this was a crime of passion, what if you and bon rot were homosexual lovers.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And he had said there were several different variants of the story that he extract he extracted sexual favors from grin spawned by promising to get his parents out of Poland, he offered to pay.

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Jonathan Kirsch: grin spot and then reneged on the payment and what if you went to the embassy on that day, to take revenge against him for this sexual predation against you.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Then it would de politicized the case.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And allow a jury or judge to acquit true of this crime without provoking.

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Jonathan Kirsch: animosity with German at least that was his theory of the case.

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Jonathan Kirsch: At that point in time Greenspan said to his attorney that's not what happened, I will not say that in court, I did this for higher purposes and.

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Jonathan Kirsch: His lawyer was was kind of disgusted with him thought he was a foolish boy, because he wouldn't take this line of Defense when it was offered to him.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Now.

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Jonathan Kirsch: This story will resurface again not in France, but in Germany, and I believe that alan's gonna take that part of the story, but i'll conclude by saying wall in custody in France.

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Jonathan Kirsch: No one felt more empowered and privileged than Greenspan himself, he would sit in his prison cell and write letters to Roosevelt to Hitler he knew he was famous he was playing on his moment of fame.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Then, when the war, the when the invasion of France by Germany, which followed the outbreak of the word, by ear so.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And everything went into chaos in in France, there was a great event called like sewed the exodus where.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The French were fleeing from the fighting in the northern part of the country, and he was able to escape or he was released from custody by the Spice jailers.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Once the Nazis came into France they he was on a wanted list because of their goal of putting them on trial back in Germany.

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Jonathan Kirsch: After a kind of a comedy of errors, he was eventually found and arrested and flown back to Berlin and that's where the second half of the grandstand story takes place.

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Alan E. Steinweis: So I could pick up there.

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Alan E. Steinweis: and actually one interesting footnote here is that when grunge band was transferred by France to Germany, the Germans didn't simply arrest them and take them there was an extradition.

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Alan E. Steinweis: process that was executed formally the French insisted on that because it was important for Vichy to show that, despite everything, it was still an independent country.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And it was engaging in a voluntary expedition of a criminal suspect, and not just letting the Germans, you know kidnap someone so they take him to.

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Alan E. Steinweis: To Berlin and interrogate him he spent some time in the sachsenhausen concentration camp outside of Berlin and that the the propaganda ministry, in conjunction with the German Foreign Office, the foreign ministry.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Plans an elaborate week long show trial of British bond and the.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The documentation containing the orchestration for that trial has survived in the archives of the German Foreign Ministry.

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Alan E. Steinweis: So we can see in detail what they were trying to accomplish and what they planned on doing was showing demonstrating the grinch spawn was had simply been kind of it was a 17 year old.

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Alan E. Steinweis: teenager at the time of the shooting in Paris, so they could hardly argue that he was the you know the mastermind of all this, so the, the idea was to show that he was really kind of a tool, or a pawn of you know world jewelry or international jewelry.

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Alan E. Steinweis: and

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Alan E. Steinweis: The specific purpose of the assassination.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In November 1938 would have been.

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Alan E. Steinweis: According to this theory that would have been presented at the show trial was the Pacific, the specific purpose of the assassination was to drive a wedge.

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Alan E. Steinweis: between Germany and France it's important to remember that the assassination, and the Kristallnacht subsequently will happen, just a few weeks after the Munich Conference right.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And so.

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Alan E. Steinweis: There, there was a great deal, you know the First World War was still a very fresh memory in the minds of many Europeans, there were a lot of people in France who didn't want to go to war with Germany again so French of.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Politicians and the French public was very divided about how to deal with Germany at the time, so what the Germans wanted to show in the group on trial was that.

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Alan E. Steinweis: World jewelry use the assassination of the diplomat, in order to basically kind of provoke a fight between Germany and France that it looked you know it seemed as though France was going to have a REP or approach mall with the Germans in that world jewelry.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Would was trying to was trying to disrupt that.

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Alan E. Steinweis: They.

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Alan E. Steinweis: For the trial they organized a number of very prominent people who would have been kind of expert witnesses, one of them, Gerhard kittle was a professor of New Testament that the University of tubing in one of the great New Testament scholars of the.

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Alan E. Steinweis: 20th century, who had for much of his life than the kind of the file oh Semite before he turned into an Anti Semite that's a kind of story unto itself, and he was going to testify about how the Talmud.

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Alan E. Steinweis: permits Jews to murder of gentiles when it serves the interests of the Jews just, for example.

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Alan E. Steinweis: For critical showing them on a prominent professor of American history, who had taught who had spent time like as a guest professor at Harvard earlier and so forth, he was lined up to testify about how the government of Franklin Roosevelt and the United States was kind of you know.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In the control of the the you know the Jews on Wall Street, and you know that kind of thing, and of course that's an old anti Semitic trope from the 1930s about you know the New Deal and.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And and and all of that they even lined up George boney who had been the Foreign Minister of France in 1938 and he was going to testify.

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Alan E. Steinweis: How the Germans and the French were working the French and the Germans together we're working very hard to kind of mend fences when the Jews interfered and tried to break things up through this.

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Alan E. Steinweis: assassination, that of course the trial never came to pass and just to pick up the thread about groupon again.

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Alan E. Steinweis: So, one has to ask you know why did it, why did the trial never come to pass, one reason had to do with the Vichy government wasn't crazy about the idea and we can kind of bracket that out, for the moment that's very complicated but grinch fun.

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Alan E. Steinweis: took the initiative in the situation and, ironically now kind of.

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Alan E. Steinweis: reversed this.

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Alan E. Steinweis: As Jonathan said when when his lawyer in Paris had had originally suggested that the that he.

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Alan E. Steinweis: testified that he had been involved in a homosexual relationship.

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Alan E. Steinweis: With his victim and respond had rejected that out of hand, but now grinch bond had the presence of mind, you know as a 20 or 21 year old This is like 1941 1942 that this is taking place, he now.

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Alan E. Steinweis: He realized that that this would be potentially a way to torpedo the trial, so he begins to tell the Germans, that he indeed.

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Alan E. Steinweis: was involved with and from heart is German dictum in a in a homosexual.

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Alan E. Steinweis: relationship and.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The the architects of the trial started wondering worrying, you know what would happen if they actually put respond on the stand if they couldn't put them on the stand it wouldn't be a very effective shows show trial.

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Alan E. Steinweis: They had to put him on the stand and you know they saw him as a kind of a loose cannon that he would basically testify.

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Alan E. Steinweis: That you know, he was involved in a game, you know that the German diplomat in Paris, who it's important to point out that form and from about this diplomatically respond had killed.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In the interim, had been kind of turned into a martyr by German propaganda and if then brunch bomb, you know publicly disclosed that he had been gay, this would have.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know not fit the script, so to speak, and so.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Goebbels and Hitler Hitler made the decision personally they decided not to follow through with the with the trial and, of course, once the show trial was taken off the table, then groupon was no longer indispensable and.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Jonathan could explain the circumstances or the purported circumstances of his death.

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Jonathan Kirsch: yeah Let me follow up on that.

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Jonathan Kirsch: First of all, I want to point out because it's a it's another measure of gruen spawns notoriety or fame is that when he first came into Nazi custody.

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Jonathan Kirsch: um I man himself was sent into his cell to interrogate him, he was considered to be a prize prisoner, an important prisoner uh, but what we find out.

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Jonathan Kirsch: If there was ever any question that Nazi Germany was run by Adolf Hitler personally, then he personally made decisions, you know there's a lot of talk around the subject of the Holocaust that there's no.

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Jonathan Kirsch: document with hitler's fingerprints are signature on it that it orders, the mass murder of the Jews, this is sometimes bandied about.

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Jonathan Kirsch: When the.

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Jonathan Kirsch: bureaucrats who are in charge of the show trial learn that the evidence might go off the rails they sent what we would call a CIA memo.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And it was on a form called a fewer info boxy on this is like a standard form for sending a message to Hitler himself and they informed him that this evidence, might come out at the trial and What did he want to do about it.

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Jonathan Kirsch: No one wanted to take the responsibility for canceling the trial without his approval and nobody wanted to take the.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Responsibility for going forward with the trial at risk of these disclosures without hitler's approval and so Hitler said, the trial is postpone not cancelled, but postponed and that saved probably save grins bonds life for a while.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Just as nobody wanted to go forward with the trial without his approval, nobody wanted to be the one who put a bullet into grin spawns head.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And then, when Hitler decided to go back to with the trial, they would have to tell them we don't we don't have that young man anymore, so he was probably kept in prison, right up till the end of the war.

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Jonathan Kirsch: We don't have a definitive date for his death, but there are various theories about it, and one of the theories is at the very end of the war, when the defeat of Germany was.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Obvious there was a lot of revenge taking in score settling and people who had been kept alive, for one reason or another, were taken out and shot and that's probably the fate.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Of herschel grin spent there's an appointment fact in the record, which is that since we don't know his date of death or circumstances of death.

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Jonathan Kirsch: he's given the legal death date of may 8 1945, and this is true for many Holocaust victims, whose dates and circumstances of death are not note may 8 was victory in Europe Day was the day when Nazi Germany was finally defeated and just to add a little intriguing postscript.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Many years later, there was a trial in a Western court 1960 it was a libel trial brought by the von rock family against a reporter, who had.

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Jonathan Kirsch: reprise this story, including the homosexuality aspect of it and they sued for libel they brought a case for libel against the reporter for accusing they're not long dead relative of being homosexual and.

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Jonathan Kirsch: One of the lawyers in that case, said the judge had observed, if only grin spawn we're here to testify and.

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Jonathan Kirsch: He might have been the actual defendant said why he was he was here, he was in courtroom yesterday.

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Jonathan Kirsch: He could be you could Sue serving with a subpoena and compel them to testify, and this was a fiction fantasy, but it introduced into history, the notion that somehow miraculously he survived and some spectral version of virtual Greenspan was in this very courtroom his latest 1960.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Like so much else in the Renaissance story it reads like fiction and reads like invention and there's a lot at the end of the day that we can't know with absolute certainty.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know, a prominent German historian of international relations times you're going to Russia who 15 years or so ago, published the book not exclusively on this subject, but we've dealt with it.

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Alan E. Steinweis: extensively and he actually found some evidence in the personnel folder of and find a lot in the German diplomatic archive suggesting that some hot actually was gay or had been gay.

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Alan E. Steinweis: yeah now that doesn't necessarily mean that there was a relationship between formal heart and Greenspan I mean what's entirely possible is that when and maybe Jonathan can note this when when can talk to this speak to this when when.

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Alan E. Steinweis: When grunge bonds lawyer in Paris was investigating the case he may have done or his people may have investigated the the background of the victim.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And they discovered that particular fact just by kind of talking to people kind of in the scene there and that may have given was named joffrey the.

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Alan E. Steinweis: yeah yeah that may have given him the idea of suggesting that herschel gruen spawn as a as a motive.

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Jonathan Kirsch: yeah and we should we should pause and note that.

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Jonathan Kirsch: I want to I don't want to go too close to stereotypes, but people perceived Greenspan as a plausible.

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Jonathan Kirsch: proceeded to be plausible that he was gay by certain kinds of externals he was natty dresser he was very careful about his appearance, he was delicate in size, he lists.

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Jonathan Kirsch: He was somewhat frail I mean these fits stereotypes I don't want to you know traffic and stereotypes, there was also some evidence that van rot may have been treated for.

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Jonathan Kirsch: disease and sexual disease, and so the the whole theory may in fact be rooted in reality.

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Jonathan Kirsch: But what's unmistakable is that if we ask ourselves why has Greenspan not been celebrated as a hero of the Jewish people no question one reason is.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The overlay of homosexuality, which was uncomfortable in the 40s and 50s and for some people, I fear is still uncomfortable now and i'd like to ask a question that occurred to me during your your initial talk.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Clearly, there was a point at which.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The Nazis had the goal of getting Jews out of Germany and part of the Greenspan story is how hard it was for them to get rid of their Jews.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And they and then another part of the story is that they realized that solving the Jewish problems in the streets of German cities was unacceptable because it costs too much chaos and damage, but when do you think.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The decision was made to take the final solution, the solution of keeping the Jews and executing.

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Alan E. Steinweis: well.

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Alan E. Steinweis: That particular question has been the focus of a great deal of you know.

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Alan E. Steinweis: i'm very.

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Alan E. Steinweis: meticulous archival research by a number of scholars working in the field it's not something that I myself have worked on, although i've read this material, there are, and I teach it.

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Alan E. Steinweis: There are differences of opinion, usually they all converge all the various opinions all converge on the year 1941.

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Alan E. Steinweis: But some will place it earlier in 1941 like on the eve of the invasion of the Soviet Union, when the iron sights group and we're being formed to go in behind the very often start shooting Jews in the Soviet Union others.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Have posited a kind of a two step final solution decision.

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Alan E. Steinweis: in which an initial decision was made to murder, the Jews, of the Soviet Union, and then a second decision was made in the in the late summer of 1941 to expand that policy to the rest of the Jews of Europe.

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Alan E. Steinweis: With respect to Germany, in particular the.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Even though the beginning of the more Jews emigrated from Germany.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In 1939 than any other year and, of course, you know that is very much a consequence of the of the crystal now when you look at German Jewish immigration statistics during the 1930s.

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Alan E. Steinweis: it's actually surprising to many people that fewer than half of the German Jews had actually left by November 1938.

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Alan E. Steinweis: There were some who were many who were planning to leave but hadn't gotten around to it, yet they haven't organized it, you know sold their property and organize.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Their affairs and so forth, but for a lot of German Jews, and you know even in during much of the year 1938 they could still imagine staying, you know as bad as things had gotten.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Also, considering, you know how difficult it is to pick up and move your live somewhere else, and also considering how difficult it was by that time.

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Alan E. Steinweis: To go somewhere that you wanted to go it was hard to go to the United States, it was hard to go to Britain, it was hard to go to Palestine and.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know if you're old and you've lived your whole life in the country, and so forth, you know the language Okay, you know German you know the Germans have made this terrible mistake but i'll i'll stay.

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Alan E. Steinweis: So you know, a continuation of Jewish life was really imaginable in Germany until November 1938 and afterwards the handwriting was on the wall.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And, and so there was massive Jewish immigration from the country in 1939 and even continued into 1940, that is to say, Jewish immigration from Germany was still allowed.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Even as the war was underway and the official you know.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In the sense of the kind of the consensus.

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Alan E. Steinweis: motivation behind the anti Jewish policy of the regime, continue to be to push the Jews out and not to kill them.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In 1941 that at some point that changes and the.

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Alan E. Steinweis: The government.

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Alan E. Steinweis: orders, an end to Jewish immigration and then the actual systematic deportation of German Jews begins in October 1941.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And they're deported to you know places in Eastern Europe and in many cases like you know, the ones who were deported to the to countless you know, to the Baltic their their shot by ions OPS group, and you know.

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Alan E. Steinweis: immediately, so you know.

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Alan E. Steinweis: I think the short answer to your question, Jonathan is 1941.

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Alan E. Steinweis: But if you want to.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Go ahead.

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Jonathan Kirsch: It feel it's any feel for permit me, I saw a question come up what happened to the 12,000.

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Actually.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The answer is very important instructed very instructive eventually they were granted permission to come into Poland, they were, after all, Polish Jews, they were Polish citizens.

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Jonathan Kirsch: They were kept in a refugee camp for a while and then they eventually released and remarkably although herschel died at the hands of the Nazis his father.

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Jonathan Kirsch: and his brother survived the war, because they reach the part of Poland that was handed over to the Soviet Union, when Hitler and Stalin reached.

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Jonathan Kirsch: An agreement, shortly before the beginning of World War Two so they were actually in Soviet territory, when the Nazis invaded Poland.

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Jonathan Kirsch: mortify want to one of his oldest his older brother actually served in the Red Army and to me, this is a very intriguing contrast that the young man who took up arms against the Nazis died, the.

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Jonathan Kirsch: His brother who also took up arms against the Nazis in the Red Army survived and the the capper is that APP the I am in trial zoom window grinch on.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Her herschel's father was called as a witness and Hannah aren't when she describes this event refers to, and she puts it in quotation marks she refers to resemble.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The windows last name as the famous name it's famous in quotation marks but it's another measure of how famous indeed the grinch found name was at that time.

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Alan E. Steinweis: i'm sorry, can I ask a question of Jonathan or we're running out of time.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): um well just sort of along the same theme, if I could just ask a quick question we've had a lot of questions also about what happened to herschel's family in Paris, the the aunt and uncle that he was staying with.

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Jonathan Kirsch: um they were arrested and deported and murdered.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The ones who survived were the ones who got into Soviet territory and they end eventually found refuge in Palestine pre-state would Palestine after the war and live lives in Israel yeah.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Go ahead.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Sure, so Jonathan you mentioned Dorothy Thompson.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Just as an aside, I want to point out that Dorothy Thompson lived in Vermont.

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Jonathan Kirsch: hahaha so.

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Alan E. Steinweis: yeah she was Sinclair lewis's partner yeah but so she was one of the two world famous people who.

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Alan E. Steinweis: champion groomsmen the other, which I kind of stumbled across as I was researching my subject I wasn't researching the greenish bomb case so much, but you but.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know, writing it up for context of my study of the crystal nah but I was very surprised to learn, as I was doing that that the other one will champion who respond was Leon Trotsky.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Indeed.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And I was wondering if you could say something about.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Absolutely, first of all I think that's a measure of how grinch bond and the grinch bond case entered the public conversation, it was so prominent in media that a world historical figure like Trotsky.

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Jonathan Kirsch: felt moved to comment upon it, he did write about it, and he declared what he called his open moral solidarity.

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Jonathan Kirsch: With grinch bond, and I have made a note here, he described that assassination as a convulsive act of despair and vengeance, he says what's astonishing is that there has only been one grin span.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Now as Alan knows, in fact.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Two years earlier, there had been another assassination of another Nazi actually in Davos Switzerland by another Jewish avenger named David Frankfurter.

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Jonathan Kirsch: And during the build up the propaganda to build up against grin spawn the Nazis tried to make a case that the similarities in there to assassinations to Jewish assassins killing Nazi victims that the parallels between these two cases suggest that it was coordinated by the same.

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Jonathan Kirsch: international conspiracy but, notably, and this is a quotation as well.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Trotsky was a revolutionary socialist or communist he was he believed in revolution, and he wrote the case, not the lone avenger.

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Jonathan Kirsch: But only a great revolutionary mass movement can free the oppressed now that's his unique point of view and, of course.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Ironically, he was a victim of an assassination as well, but I think that captures something about this case that there's something less heroic about a 17 year old boy who goes into a.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Bureaucrats office and shoots him and someone who is part of a movement part of a gorilla army or a uniformed army and takes up the fight in the collective as opposed to me as an individual.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): So Jonathan I like to an Alan I think you can also sort of chime in on this um.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): You mentioned some reasons why personal has been forgotten by history, and I wonder if there's any other ones that you'd like to ask him sort of from the both of you, how do you think we should remember him now that's funny.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Well i'm gonna just say briefly the whole point of writing the book that I wrote was that I felt it was a mistake and it's even a tragedy that this.

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Jonathan Kirsch: compelling and important and unsettling figure was so thoroughly ignored I don't think he was an unvarnished hero, I think he had a lot of.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Problems as an individual, and I think he poses a lot of problems for collective decision making in the Jewish world is the model that we really want to embrace, but I think he's a hero of Jewish resistance and that's why I wrote my book.

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Alan E. Steinweis: I think you can admire his uh his spirit.

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Alan E. Steinweis: his determination to not passively accept the victimization of his people and his family, while at the same time kind of questioning his strategic judgment.

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Alan E. Steinweis: That is to say that you know at the particular moment that he committed his act It may very well not have been in the interest of the Jewish people to do that, or at least.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know, certainly the the Jewish population in France as Jonathan suggested earlier, the Jewish population and France, you know didn't want to have anything.

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Alan E. Steinweis: To do with them.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know I don't blame him for the crystal loss, I saw one of the questions earlier in the chat about you know, had had this assassination not happen.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Would there have been some other kind of pretext that upon which the Nazi regime would have seized to launch something like the Crystal and often.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know that's a counterfactual question.

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Alan E. Steinweis: it's hard to answer you know for certain.

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Alan E. Steinweis: it's definitely the case that in the fall of 1938.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Hitler and the other top leadership of the Nazi regime felt very frustrated.

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Alan E. Steinweis: about the slowness with which Jews were leaving Germany, and they were they wanted and that frustration had been recently kind of underscored by the failure.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Of the.

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Alan E. Steinweis: conference.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In the in the June I can't remember every unconference.

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Alan E. Steinweis: yeah back in.

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Alan E. Steinweis: May or June and I can't remember exactly when.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And you know after the Munich uh you know Hitler new by late 1938 that Germany was going to go to war, because he knew that the European powers would not acquiesce.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In what he wanted to do in Europe, so he knew there was going to be a war and Hitler subscribed to the anti Semitic stab in the back theory.

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Alan E. Steinweis: about why Germany had lost the First World War, because it had been betrayed by Jews and Communism so forth domestically and therefore he thought that it was a kind of.

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Alan E. Steinweis: A national security issue for Germany before the next war started to have all of as many of the Jews as possible out of Germany, so this became a very the the accelerating the departure of germany's Jews became a very urgent.

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Alan E. Steinweis: issue for for Hitler so they were looking they were thinking about ways to to do that.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And then you know from their point of view, they were kind of handed fortuitously they were handed this opportunity.

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Alan E. Steinweis: By the assassination which happened two days before the 15th anniversary of the miracle push and so November 9 is actually kind of like it's kind of like.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Good Friday on the Nazi party is religious calendar, where they commemorate the martyrdom of the Nazis who died in the beer hall in Munich in 1923, and so the this kind of.

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Alan E. Steinweis: pump this this propaganda campaign demonizing gruen spawn and demonizing world jury as the the puppet masters behind the assassination this called this and then farm wrath actually dying on November 9.

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Alan E. Steinweis: You know this this culminates in this outburst of violence Hitler.

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Alan E. Steinweis: authorized it and one reason to get back to something Jonathan mentioned earlier, there had been that.

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Alan E. Steinweis: assassination.

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Alan E. Steinweis: In Switzerland in 1936 still homeless law by David Frankfurter so one needs to ask why wasn't there a pogrom in 1936 when a very similar assassination.

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Alan E. Steinweis: had occurred, and the answer was well, the situation in 1936 was very different than 1938 and the assassination in 1936 happened two days before the opening of the Winter Olympics in Bavaria.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And, with all the foreigners come in for the Olympics, they didn't want to have a pogrom right.

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Alan E. Steinweis: But by November 1938 the whole foreign policy situation, the situation with respect to the Jewish immigration, everything has changed in the meantime.

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Alan E. Steinweis: So that explains why in in November 1938 hit with decides to launch a poll grown, whereas in 1936 the government after the assassination actually.

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Alan E. Steinweis: gave very strict instructions that there should be no.

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Alan E. Steinweis: retaliation against the Jewish community in Germany for that act.

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Jonathan Kirsch: Now there's another little echo of the ghost slop assassination in 36 a collective punishment was decreed on the Jewish population of Germany, I find.

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Jonathan Kirsch: That that would have to be paid as attacks by Jews as a as a punishment for the assassination of goo slough it was not actually collected.

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Jonathan Kirsch: But after crystal knock where there was so much damage done in the streets gehring decided he does that off and impose it now, so the Gustaf fine was actually paid by Jews after the the bomb brought assassination.

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Alan E. Steinweis: And the logic behind that.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Also, I mean it was supposed to humiliate the Jews and further impoverished them, but it was also designed to reimburse the German insurance industry, which had to basically pay to repair all of those damage shop windows and damaged businesses and that kind of thing.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Because the leaders of the German insurance industry after the crystal North decided they did a lot of international business and they decided that it would be very bad for their credibility if they didn't honor their their policies, and you know.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Credibility you know the the confidence among your customers that the company will actually.

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Alan E. Steinweis: follow through on its places when there's damage, you know, is a very, very important issue for the insurance industry so Gary has the idea well we'll just we'll just use the money to basically reimburse the insurance industry for all of that loss.

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Jonathan Kirsch: I also think it helps to explain why the Holocaust took place where it did.

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Jonathan Kirsch: The Germans did not want to murder millions of people and deal with all of that.

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Jonathan Kirsch: problem in their own country, they wanted to do it son somewhere else, and they chose Poland to do it.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Right hey to cut this off, but we are a little bit over time, I could listen to this conversation forever and we'll definitely have to have a sequel one day.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): But I want to thank you both so much for being here today, this has been so interesting to listen to and i've certainly learned so much, and I want to thank you all.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): For tuning in with us today, everything we do at the museum is made possible through donor support.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): To those of you watching we hope you'll consider making a donation to support the museum or becoming a member and joining us for our upcoming programs, which you can check out at the link and see that have a great afternoon, and thank you all again so much for joining us how.

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Alan E. Steinweis: Do you take care.

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Sydney Yaeger (she/her): Thank you.

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