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Hitler's Pawn: The Boy Assassin and the Holocaust

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A remarkable story of a forgotten seventeen-year-old Jew who was blamed by the Nazis for the anti-Semitic violence and terror known as the Kristallnacht, the pogrom still seen as an initiating event of the Holocaust After learning about Nazi persecution of his family, Herschel Grynszpan, (pronounced "Greenspan"), an impoverished seventeen-year-old Jew living in Paris, bough A remarkable story of a forgotten seventeen-year-old Jew who was blamed by the Nazis for the anti-Semitic violence and terror known as the Kristallnacht, the pogrom still seen as an initiating event of the Holocaust After learning about Nazi persecution of his family, Herschel Grynszpan, (pronounced "Greenspan"), an impoverished seventeen-year-old Jew living in Paris, bought a small handgun and on November 7, 1938, went to the German Embassy and shot the first German diplomat he saw. When the man died two days later, Hitler and Goebbels made the shooting their pretext for the great state-sponsored wave of anti-Semitic terror known as the Kristallnacht, still seen by many as an initiating event of the Holocaust. Overnight, Grynszpan, a bright but naive teenager―and a perfect political nobody―was front-page news and a pawn in global power. When France fell, after a wild chase the Nazis captured Herschel and flew him to Berlin. The boy became a privileged prisoner of the Gestapo while Hitler and Goebbels plotted a massive show-trial to blame "the Jews" for starting the Second World War. A prisoner and alone, Herschel grasped Hitler’s intentions, and waged a battle of wits to sabotage the trial, knowing that even if he succeeded, he would certainly be murdered. The battle of wits was close, but Herschel finally won it. Based on the newest research, Hitler's Pawn is the richest telling of Grynszpan’s story to date.

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A remarkable story of a forgotten seventeen-year-old Jew who was blamed by the Nazis for the anti-Semitic violence and terror known as the Kristallnacht, the pogrom still seen as an initiating event of the Holocaust After learning about Nazi persecution of his family, Herschel Grynszpan, (pronounced "Greenspan"), an impoverished seventeen-year-old Jew living in Paris, bough A remarkable story of a forgotten seventeen-year-old Jew who was blamed by the Nazis for the anti-Semitic violence and terror known as the Kristallnacht, the pogrom still seen as an initiating event of the Holocaust After learning about Nazi persecution of his family, Herschel Grynszpan, (pronounced "Greenspan"), an impoverished seventeen-year-old Jew living in Paris, bought a small handgun and on November 7, 1938, went to the German Embassy and shot the first German diplomat he saw. When the man died two days later, Hitler and Goebbels made the shooting their pretext for the great state-sponsored wave of anti-Semitic terror known as the Kristallnacht, still seen by many as an initiating event of the Holocaust. Overnight, Grynszpan, a bright but naive teenager―and a perfect political nobody―was front-page news and a pawn in global power. When France fell, after a wild chase the Nazis captured Herschel and flew him to Berlin. The boy became a privileged prisoner of the Gestapo while Hitler and Goebbels plotted a massive show-trial to blame "the Jews" for starting the Second World War. A prisoner and alone, Herschel grasped Hitler’s intentions, and waged a battle of wits to sabotage the trial, knowing that even if he succeeded, he would certainly be murdered. The battle of wits was close, but Herschel finally won it. Based on the newest research, Hitler's Pawn is the richest telling of Grynszpan’s story to date.

30 review for Hitler's Pawn: The Boy Assassin and the Holocaust

  1. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    Received this ARC book thru Goodreads.com The author really gets into the nitty-gritty stuff on this non-fiction story. Herschel Grynszpan (pronounced "Greenspan") is a 17-year-old Jew living in Paris. His family already sent to concentration camps has Herschel on an angry spin. He's had enough and wanted to make the world know what's happening to the Jews in the real world. Buys a gun - shoots a German diplomat and the story begins. Kristallnacht is born from this event. Hitler now has an excuse Received this ARC book thru Goodreads.com The author really gets into the nitty-gritty stuff on this non-fiction story. Herschel Grynszpan (pronounced "Greenspan") is a 17-year-old Jew living in Paris. His family already sent to concentration camps has Herschel on an angry spin. He's had enough and wanted to make the world know what's happening to the Jews in the real world. Buys a gun - shoots a German diplomat and the story begins. Kristallnacht is born from this event. Hitler now has an excuse to vent his temper and claim the Jews were the problem for this event and the beginning of the full-blown continuation of WW11. The book is very wordy and a bit of a flow challenge.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    As a historian, it's always refreshing to read a book that teaches me something new--especially about a topic I've studied quite a bit. Koch's work recounts the tale of a Jewish male teenager living in exile in Paris, who decided to revenge the deportation of his family and 12,000 other Polish Jews from legal residence in Germany in October 1938. He shot a low-level German diplomat to bring light to Nazi atrocities, and Hitler and his minions seized on the action to justify Kristallnacht and, ul As a historian, it's always refreshing to read a book that teaches me something new--especially about a topic I've studied quite a bit. Koch's work recounts the tale of a Jewish male teenager living in exile in Paris, who decided to revenge the deportation of his family and 12,000 other Polish Jews from legal residence in Germany in October 1938. He shot a low-level German diplomat to bring light to Nazi atrocities, and Hitler and his minions seized on the action to justify Kristallnacht and, ultimately, the extermination of millions of Jews. The work is a history, but it's also a spotlight on today's scapegoating of minority groups and anti-immigration rhetoric plaguing many nations. It is both a lesson from the past and a warning for the modern world. I received an early copy for honest review from Book of the Month Club.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alex Sullivan

    This is a tighly written examination of the life a relatively minor figure who casted a large shadow on the politics surrounding the Second World War. It is well researched and written in an easy to read style, with plenty of background information for those who are not intimently familiar with the time period. A good read for anyone interested in the events leading up to the Second World War and the Holocaust. Received advanced reader copy.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Naina

    Hitler's Pawn is a well-researched, non-fiction account of Hershel Grynszpan's impact as one of the catalysts of World War 2 and the Holocaust. Hershel Grynszpan was a seventeen-year-old Jewish boy seeking refuge in France from Germany. The rest of his family was still in Germany and had been subjected to horrible treatment by the Germans--they were rounded up with other Jewish families and deported to Poland without any notice or any of their belongings. Hearing of this, Hershel concocts a plan Hitler's Pawn is a well-researched, non-fiction account of Hershel Grynszpan's impact as one of the catalysts of World War 2 and the Holocaust. Hershel Grynszpan was a seventeen-year-old Jewish boy seeking refuge in France from Germany. The rest of his family was still in Germany and had been subjected to horrible treatment by the Germans--they were rounded up with other Jewish families and deported to Poland without any notice or any of their belongings. Hearing of this, Hershel concocts a plan to shoot a German officer in France and eventually does so, ironically taking the life of Ernst vom Roth, a German diplomat not sympathetic to the Nazi regime. Hitler and other Nazis use this assassination to blame "old world Jewry" and use it as a reason for their poor treatment of Jews. I had never heard of Hershel or the role he played in history, and I found this book fascinating and enlightening. If I learn something from a historical non-fiction book, that is a win for me. Thank you to Book of the Month for my advanced readers copy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    I received this as an ARC for my honest opinion. A story of an unknown Jew boy named, Hershel Grynszpan. He left Germany and went to France to live with his Aunt and Uncle. He got upset about Germany's treatment of Jews and decided to take a stand. He did not realize that by taking this stand, he would start a great state-sponsored wave of anti-Semitic terror known as Kristallnacht. Many believe that this event initiated the Holocaust. Overnight, Grynszpan became front page news and a pawn in a gl I received this as an ARC for my honest opinion. A story of an unknown Jew boy named, Hershel Grynszpan. He left Germany and went to France to live with his Aunt and Uncle. He got upset about Germany's treatment of Jews and decided to take a stand. He did not realize that by taking this stand, he would start a great state-sponsored wave of anti-Semitic terror known as Kristallnacht. Many believe that this event initiated the Holocaust. Overnight, Grynszpan became front page news and a pawn in a global power struggle. He became a privileged German prisoner and was lost to history. When he died or how is still in question. Happy Reading ☺

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nissa

    If you are interested in WWII or the Holocaust, you will want to read this book. No, it is not an easy book to read but, it moves quickly and is well-written. I highly recommend it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Brehl

    I'm by no means a WWII/Holocaust scholar, but I've done some deep dives in research for writing and now in training to be an outreach educator for Holocaust History. Even so, this provided new-to-me valuable information about historic events and the intricacies of various players in the Third Reich echelons. The detailed research cites reliable sources, and the events and personalities unfold with surprising revelations. I confess to feeling that the author fell into a pattern of repeating inform I'm by no means a WWII/Holocaust scholar, but I've done some deep dives in research for writing and now in training to be an outreach educator for Holocaust History. Even so, this provided new-to-me valuable information about historic events and the intricacies of various players in the Third Reich echelons. The detailed research cites reliable sources, and the events and personalities unfold with surprising revelations. I confess to feeling that the author fell into a pattern of repeating information from earlier portions of the text a fair amount, usually to set up the subsequent developments. Perhaps it was intended to make the work more comprehensible when reading single chapters, but it became a bit tedious toward the end. Even so, I recommend this as a worthy read for curious and/or scholarly readers, and I'm grateful to have read it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lila Smith

    I usually read memoirs with their feelings. This was straight facts in paragraph form. That being said the book was great for what it was for!

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

    The author, Stephen Koch, presents a little-known footnote about the start of the Holocaust and WWII. Most people who read much about these topics know the sequence of Nazi Germany's takeovers of surrounding territory to "reunite" the German-speaking people to Germany. Persecutions and restrictions of Jews were already started and many Jews looked for ways to flee with their families to other countries. One of those families included Herschel Grynszpan, a teen who was successfully sent by his fa The author, Stephen Koch, presents a little-known footnote about the start of the Holocaust and WWII. Most people who read much about these topics know the sequence of Nazi Germany's takeovers of surrounding territory to "reunite" the German-speaking people to Germany. Persecutions and restrictions of Jews were already started and many Jews looked for ways to flee with their families to other countries. One of those families included Herschel Grynszpan, a teen who was successfully sent by his family to live with his uncle and aunt in Paris. He later learns about anti-semitic violence in Germany against his family and other Jews, he becomes determined to do something. At age seventeen, on November 7, 1938, he buys a gun and goes to the German embassy to shoot the first German diplomat he saw. When he entered the building, he walked past the Embassador who was on his way out and said he had an important message to be delivered in person. He was shown into the office of a minor diplomat and pulled out his gun and shot him. He then gave himself up. The diplomat lingered for a two days and then died. Hitler and his top people saw this as an opportunity to justify more violence against Jews and the result was the state-sponsored anti-semitic attacks known as Kristallnacht. Many people see this destructive event as the start of the Holocaust. Herschel became front page news and a pawn in the global power struggle between the Nazis and the much of the rest of Europe. Some of what happened to Herschel in Vichy French custody and then as a prisoner the the Nazi SS is documented and known. But eventually the trail went cold and it is not clear whether he survived the war (unlikely) or how and when he died! Fascinating read about a secondary story that was used to justify much of what led to the Holocaust.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    Hitler's Pawn: The Boy Assassin and the Holocaust by Stephen Koch is a mesmerizing and captivating read about a period much-forgotten history for many. The story of the boy who started the events which many believed led to the horrors experienced by the Jewish people is one which is not taught in schools today. His story appears to have been lost to our current generation and one which would like to be forgotten by past generations. Koch writes with great skill, compassion, and research. He leav Hitler's Pawn: The Boy Assassin and the Holocaust by Stephen Koch is a mesmerizing and captivating read about a period much-forgotten history for many. The story of the boy who started the events which many believed led to the horrors experienced by the Jewish people is one which is not taught in schools today. His story appears to have been lost to our current generation and one which would like to be forgotten by past generations. Koch writes with great skill, compassion, and research. He leaves few details out when discussing the youth described as the catalyst for Hitler's plan to remove the Jewish population. In my opinion, this book should be on the reading list in all high school history classes, colleges and in every home library. This book is important. This is a part of history which should not be forgotten. Thank you to Stephen Koch, the publishers, and Goodreads for sending me this book to review. I won this book after entering a giveaway on Goodreads. CH

  11. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Wood

    HITLER’S PAWN is a well researched non-fiction account about Hershel Grynszpan, and the impact he had in the anti-semitic terror called Kristallnacht – which is still seen by many as an initiating event of the Holocaust. Hershel is a 17-year-old Jew who left Germany to seek refuge in Paris. He discovers that his family has been sent to concentration camps in Poland, and this puts him in a downward spiral. He concocts an idea to shoots a German diplomat, to make a statement. The diplomats dies …an HITLER’S PAWN is a well researched non-fiction account about Hershel Grynszpan, and the impact he had in the anti-semitic terror called Kristallnacht – which is still seen by many as an initiating event of the Holocaust. Hershel is a 17-year-old Jew who left Germany to seek refuge in Paris. He discovers that his family has been sent to concentration camps in Poland, and this puts him in a downward spiral. He concocts an idea to shoots a German diplomat, to make a statement. The diplomats dies …and that’s where the story of him becoming Hitler’s Pawn begins. HITLER’S PAWN might be a difficult read for some individuals, but if there is any consolation- it is fast paced. For full review - http://girlwithnoselfie.com/hitlers-p...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alley

    * I received a copy of this book in a giveaway in an exchange for review. That did not effect the outcome of the rating which was based on quality of content* I will admit that I would not have purchased a copy of this book to read. I'm a big military history fan, but avoid World War 2 often since it is often repetitive topics. This book on the other hand was very well written on an overlooked footnote in World War 2. I'm so glad I won a copy of this book because I would have never gain such a p * I received a copy of this book in a giveaway in an exchange for review. That did not effect the outcome of the rating which was based on quality of content* I will admit that I would not have purchased a copy of this book to read. I'm a big military history fan, but avoid World War 2 often since it is often repetitive topics. This book on the other hand was very well written on an overlooked footnote in World War 2. I'm so glad I won a copy of this book because I would have never gain such a perspective the lengths everything needed to be orchestrated.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    This is a part of the Second World War that I had never heard about before and it was more interesting than I had initially thought. It shows the desperation of Jews living during Nazi control and how far the Nazi party would warp facts to fit their own agenda. The excellent writing makes it easy to get through and keep things engaging.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Betty

    Thank You goodreads for another book. This one took me a lot longer to get through because of it's depressing content. Couldn't read too much at a stretch as I found the story and, the scary similarities to Trump and his administration quite upsetting. That being said - I found this history lesson quite informative.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Adarsh

    Picked this book up while strolling through the library. It definitely filled a gap ... we know Herschel Greenspan shot a German embassy employee in Paris and that was the Nazi’s excuse to launch Krisstalnacht and more atrocities against the Jews. This was well written and filled in a lot of details I didn’t know about.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Chuck

    I enjoyed reading this small, intimate narrative that was such a crucial event in the build up to World War II. I knew of Kristallnacht, but did not know how Herschel Grynspan was used as a catalyst for this event. A sad, captivating tale of being pushed to the limits.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    Wow! I had no prior knowledge of this chapter in WWII history. Fascinating story, very well-written. I'll be looking for other books by this author.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mary Nee

    If you enjoy historical non-fiction books about facts from WW II and the holocaust, then this book is for you! Well researched and you will learn something!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shari Gonzales

    A very compelling and interesting read. Definitely recommend.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  21. 5 out of 5

    PWRL

    SM

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kate Dobbins

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dan Tillinghast

  25. 5 out of 5

    Julie Funke

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lexi

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mike Smith

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marsha Jones

  29. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barb Shade

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