dimanche 18 mai 2008

Did a gay affair provide a catalyst for Kristallnacht?

"[...] On November 7 1938, Herschel Grynszpan, a Jew, walked into the German embassy in Paris and shot Ernst vom Rath, a German diplomat, five times. Vom Rath died two days later. Nazi propagandists condemned the shooting as a terrorist attack to further the cause of the Jewish "world revolution", and the pogrom was launched. The attacks - called Kristallnacht [...] - led to the murder of 91 Jews, the arrests of 26,000 others and the destruction of 177 synagogues.

Until now, it was widely believed that Grynszpan had intended to shoot the ambassador, Count Johannes Welczek, in protest at the SS's expulsion of his parents to Poland. But according to Professor Döscher, who teaches modern history at Osnabrück University, Grynszpan's actions were a spontaneous expression of anger over the broken promises of his lover, Vom Rath, not a political gesture. [...] Prof Döscher claims that Vom Rath was nicknamed Mrs Ambassador and Notre Dame de Paris as a result of his homosexual antics. He and Grynszpan - a "boy with a beautiful penetrative gaze" - met in Le Boeuf sur le Toit bar, a popular haunt for gay men in the autumn of 1938 and became intimate. Grynszpan, who was in his late teens [he was born March 28, 1921], had been living illegally in Paris, and Prof Döscher states that 29-year-old Vom Rath agreed to use his influential position to secure official papers for his friend.

When Vom Rath went back on his word, Grynszpan reacted by storming into the German embassy on rue de Lille 78, demanding to see him, and opening fire on him with a revolver. Grynszpan was arrested and languished in jail in France until 1940, when he was handed over to the Nazis, who planned a show trial which would be used to justify the outbreak of the second world war. A combined report from the German foreign, justice and propaganda ministries in January 1942 declared : "The purpose of the trial should be to clarify to the German people and the world that the international community of Jews is to blame for the outbreak of this war."

According to Prof Döscher, when Grynszpan learned of this motivation for the trial in the early 40s, he revealed the real truth to his Nazi captors. Fearing embarrassment and humiliation, they then stripped Vom Rath of his martyrdom and scrapped their plans. Grynszpan was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp and then disappeared. [...] Prof Döscher gleaned his previously unpublished evidence from court archives, reports from the propaganda ministry, letters, diary extracts, and interviews with diplomats of the time. Most startling are the diaries of Gide, in which the writer expresses his amazement that the scandal failed to gain public attention.

Vom Rath, Gide wrote (a), "had an exceptionally intimate relationship with the little Jew, his murderer". Referring to the fact that Vom Rath was both gay and had an affair with a Jew, Gide later said: "The thought that a such highly-thought of representative of the Third Reich sinned twice according to the laws of his country is rather amusing." But that was not what amazed him most. "How is it that the press failed to bring this scandal into the open?" he asked."

(a) « On saurait de source certaine que l'attaché d'ambassade [Vom] Rath qui vient d'être assassiné avait les relations les plus intimes avec son petit Juif d'assassin. De quelle nature fut l'assassinat? Il n'importe. L'idée qu'un représentant du Reich, qui vient d'être glorifié, péchait doublement au regard des lois de son pays, est assez drôle, et les représailles atroces n'en paraissent que plus monstrueuses, plus simplement intéressées, utilitaires. Comment ce scandale n'est-il pas exploité par la presse ? »

source : http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4288453,00.html

mercredi 14 mai 2008

Karol Szymanowski et Aleksander Szymielewicz

Boris Kochno n'a pas été l'unique amour de Karol Szymanowski...
Plusieurs autres (jeunes) hommes sont passés par la petite chambre de l'Hôtel Bristol où il avait ses habitudes et ont été des invités de choix dans son chalet de Zakopane : le comédien Witold Conti (1908-1944), jeune premier par excellence du cinéma polonais des années 1930, le compositeur Zygmunt Mycielski (1907-1987) ou le musicographe Tadeusz Żakiej (1915-1994), etc.
Parmi les liaisons qu'on lui connaît (ou du moins qu'on lui prête), il en est une qui dure plusieurs années et revêt pour lui une importance certaine : Aleksander Szymielewicz apparaît en effet sur plusieurs clichés en compagnie de son amant et mentor. Devenu médecin, Szymielewicz disparaîtra tragiquement lors du soulèvement de Varsovie en août 1944.

sources :
http://members.lycos.co.uk/szymanowski/ (pour les photographies)