Herschel Grynszpan and David Rome: My letter of transmittal to Joe Matthews

David Rome

David Rome

Dear Joe:

Herewith, two documents I’ve had on my bookshelves for more than 30 years – and it’s time for them to have a new home:  they, a typescript copy of Joan Redmont’s English translation of Dr. Alain Cuenot’s L’AFFAIRE GRYNSZPAN – vom RATH, and a bound copy of David Rome’s edited version of Redmont’s translation, now titled The Herschel Grynszpan Case

I received both directly from David Rome in the early 1980s.

It was a great honor and pleasure to meet with him at his Beverly Hills home early in the course of my research on Herschel Grynszpan.  I also visited with David again in October of 1991, a few months after receiving my belated, mid-life doctorate from Berkeley.  On that occasion David presented me with a wonderful graduation gift, a very handsome photocopier machine.  (Incidentally, returning home I was delayed well south of the Bay Area by a very long traffic jam caused by the Oakland-Berkeley Hills fire.  Later, crossing the Bay Bridge toward Berkeley, it was horrifying to see the hills glowing red like a blast furnace.)  Then, in October, 1996, I made the long drive down to L.A. once again — this time accompanied by Ben Brand — to attend David’s funeral.  Ben was a great traveling partner.  We talked about details of the Grynszpan case for mile after mile — an entirely fitting way to honor David Rome and the solemn occasion we were traveling to attend.

Herschel Grynszpan being arrested after the vom Rath shooting

Herschel Grynszpan being arrested after the vom Rath shooting

David first summoned me to his Southern California home after I’d discovered somehow – I don’t any longer recall how – that he may have had possession of the Cuenot manuscript on the Grynszpan case and may have even had it translated it into English.  When I telephoned David from my home in Berkeley, however, he was not particularly inclined to share this document with a stranger.  He wanted to meet me face-to-face and get a sense of my motives.  He was in the L.A. area and I was in the Bay Area, of course, so making the trip, by itself, measured my commitment to the Grynszpan story.  (You, Joe, reminded me only yesterday that I put you through much the same sort of grilling when you first approached me for information about Herschel.  I suppose David’s cautiousness and sense of the potential for this history’s misuse was catching!)  As I remember it now, it didn’t take more than ten minutes into our first meeting for David to decide I was an okay sort of a fellow.  And from that point on our meeting became a genial and rich conversation about a boy and historical events we both had more than a little interest in.

David Rome was as fine a man as I’ve ever had the privilege to know and call my friend.  His memory lives on in me as a model of manful modesty and warmth that I try to follow as best I can.  You’re receiving these documents, in a way, more from him than from me.

I’ll try to get them out to you today.

I’m sending these volumes to you, Joe, with best wishes and also with warmest congratulations for the upcoming publication of your Grynszpan-story-based novel!

I know you’ll take good care of them.




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