By Howard Freedman
Off the Shelf
September 3rd, 2015
Composed entirely of letters written to his appointed attorney as he inhabits several prisons, the novel paints a vivid picture of conditions for the thousands of East European Jews living in Germany and France in the 1930s.
Among the notable elements are Grynszpan’s allusions to possible sexual involvement with vom Rath, which has been suggested elsewhere. It is impossible to know whether there is any truth to these assertions or whether it was simply an ingenious bargaining chip to buy time, with fear of embarrassing revelations preventing Germany from going forward with the show trial that Joseph Goebbels was planning for Grynszpan. Indeed, the irony is that, although we have little definitive knowledge of Grynszpan’s ultimate fate, he appears to have spent most of the war in prison before being killed, outliving most of Europe’s Jews.