Herschel Grynszpan: Kristallnacht  and the Boy Assassin with Dr. Finn Ballard - Context Travel

Herschel Grynszpan: Kristallnacht and the Boy Assassin with Dr. Finn Ballard


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On November 7th, 1938, a 17-year-old Polish Jew named Herschel Grynszpan walked into the German Embassy in Paris and shot the diplomat Ernst vom Rath. The assassination emboldened the Nazis to begin the pogrom remembered by the dreadful title 'Kristallnacht': the beginning of the Holocaust. In this seminar, we will examine the lonely, short life of the assassin Herschel Grynszpan, maligned even by Hannah Arendt as a psychopath and a pawn of the Gestapo.

We will ask why he has not been lauded as a hero of the Jewish resistance against the Nazi dictatorship, and what this has to do with his legal team's instrumentalization of his supposed homosexuality. We will follow him through his multiple incarcerations until he is finally lost to history after arriving at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp - though some adamantly believe he did survive the Third Reich.

We will look at how Grynszpan's actions, to his horror, emboldened the Nazis to embark upon the pogrom of November 9th,1938: and the devastating effect it had. We will examine the culture of memory surrounding 'Kristallnacht', and discover why the Germans no longer use that infamous term. And we will try to answer the much-debated question: what on earth happened to Herschel Grynszpan?

Led by an expert on twentieth-century German history, Dr. Finn Ballard, this interactive seminar will hone your understanding of one of the most striking instances of Jewish resistance; and one of the worst anti-Semitic pogroms in world history. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of this solitary, unique, and oft-overlooked instance of rebellion against the Nazi dictatorship.

Led by an expert on German social history, Dr. Finn Ballard, this interactive seminar will open participants’ eyes to a lesser-known collective phenomenon of the Modern era. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased awareness of the psychological pressures experienced by medieval Europeans - which might not be so very different from our own today.

Finn grew up in Northern Ireland before moving to England to study and later teach in the department of Film and Literature at the University of Warwick. He completed his doctoral study on German folklore and popular cinema in 2012, and has published extensively in the fields of Film Studies and Gender Studies. Since 2008, he has been living and guiding in Berlin. He now works as a historical advisor for television and film productions set in Berlin, particularly during the Weimar era or Third Reich. He is a journalist for the 'Siegessauele', Europe's foremost Queer magazine, and organises events at Berlin's English-language bookstore 'Another Country'.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

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C.F.
Outstanding program!

Dr. Ballard is a real gem. He's fascinating, enormously knowledgable, so enthusiastic about discussing his subject and so receptive to answering all manner of questions! I've signed up for 4 of his classes and will look forward to others he may offer!

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
100%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
C
C.F.
Outstanding program!

Dr. Ballard is a real gem. He's fascinating, enormously knowledgable, so enthusiastic about discussing his subject and so receptive to answering all manner of questions! I've signed up for 4 of his classes and will look forward to others he may offer!