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On November 7, 1938, a small, slight seventeen-year-old Polish-German Jew named Herschel Grynszpan entered the German embassy in Paris and shot dead a consular official. Three days later, in supposed response, Jews across Germany were beaten, imprisoned, and killed, their homes, shops, and synagogues smashed and burned – Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass.
Based on the historical record and told through his “letters” from German prisons, the novel begins in 1936, when fifteen-year-old Herschel flees Germany. Penniless and alone, he makes it to Paris where he lives hand-to-mouth, his shadow existence mixing him with the starving and the wealthy, with hustlers, radicals, and seamy sides of Paris nightlife.
In 1938, the French state rejects refugee status for Herschel and orders him out of the country. With nowhere to go, and now sought by the police, he slips underground in immigrant east Paris.
Soon after, the Nazis round up all Polish Jews in Germany – including Herschel’s family – and dump them on the Poland border. Herschel’s response is to shoot the German official, then wait calmly for the French police.
June 1940, Herschel is still in prison awaiting trial when the Nazi army nears Paris. He is evacuated south to another jail but escapes into the countryside amid the chaos of millions of French fleeing the invasion. After an incredible month alone on the road, Herschel seeks protection at a prison in the far south of France. Two weeks later the French state hands him to the Gestapo.
The Nazis plan a big show trial, inviting the world press to Berlin for the spectacle, to demonstrate through Herschel that Jews had provoked the war. Except that Herschel throws a last-minute wrench in the plans, bringing the Nazi propaganda machine to a grinding halt. Hitler himself postpones the trial and orders that no decision be made about Herschel’s fate until the Führer personally gives an order – one way or another.
by Kris Hermes * Foreword by Marina Sitrin * Afterword by Heidi Boghosian
Over the past fifteen years, people in the United States – and dissidents in particular – have witnessed a steady escalation of the National Security State, including invasive surveillance and infiltration, indiscriminate police violence, and unlawful arrests. These concerted efforts to spy on Americans and undermine meaningful social change are greatly enhanced by the coordination of numerous local, state, and federal agencies often operating at the behest of private corporations. Normally associated with the realities of a post-9/11 world,Crashing the Party shows how these developments were already being set in motion during the Republican National Convention (RNC) protests in 2000. It also documents how, in response, dissidents confronted new forms of political repression by pushing legal boundaries and establishing new models of collective resistance.
Crashing the Party explains how the events of 2000 acted as a testing ground in which Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney was able to develop repressive methods of policing that have been used extensively across the U.S. ever since. At the same time, these events also provided a laboratory for the radical, innovative, and confrontational forms of legal support carried out by R2K Legal, a defendant-led collective that raised unprecedented amounts of money for legal defense, used a unique form of court solidarity to overcome hundreds of serious charges, and implemented a PR campaign that turned the tide of public opinion in favor of dissidents. While much has been written about the global-justice era of struggle, little attention has been paid to the legal struggles of the period or the renewed use of solidarity tactics in jail and the courtroom that made them possible. By analyzing the successes and failures of these tactics, Crashing the Party offers rare insight into the mechanics and concrete effects of such resistance. In this way, it is an invaluable resource for those seeking to confront today’s renewed counterintelligence tactics.
All of the plays posted on "The Brainpan" are the original work of the blog's main author, Randy Ford, and may not be reproduced, in any form, without the author's permission. You may reach the author at email@example.com.