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Meir Schwartz

July 2, 2023


The Jew who shot - A Rare anti-Semitic publication following the David Frankfurter trial


David Frankfurter, born in Croatia, was a young Jewish student who assassinated the founder of the branch of the Nazi movement in Switzerland, Wilhelm Gustloff. On February 4, 1936, he arrived at his home in the town of Kate Davos and shot him 5 shots at close range which caused his death. Gustloff, a Swiss citizen, was appointed to the position of the national leader - "Gaulleiter", after he succeeded in convincing over 5,000 Swiss citizens as loyal to the Third Reich, he was in favor of the idea that Switzerland should join Germany and was responsible for turning Davos to the center of Nazism in Switzerland.

After the murder, Frankfurter handed himself over to the local police and his trial began in December 1936. The prosecutor Dr. Friedrich Brieger was assisted by the Nazi lawyer Grimm - one of the men of Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels. The court sentenced Frankfurter to eighteen years in prison, deprivation of civil rights and permanent deportation from Switzerland after serving His punishment. The Nazis, who were seething with rage, did not respond to the murder in a pogrom against the jews, because of the proximity of the time to the opening of the Berlin Olympics (1936), and Hitler feared that it would be canceled If they resort to public violence.

In 1937 the anti-Semitic propagandist Wolfgang Diewerge published in Munich the book Ein Jude hat geschossen. Augenzeugenbericht vom Prozeß gegen David Frankfurter - "The Jew who shot" Eyewitnesses from the trial of David Frankfurter. The purpose of the book was to convey to the public what happened from the court in the Frankfurter trial, and to stir up waves of anti-Semitism against "international Jewry" against the background of the trial. The author of the book Wolfgang Diewerge was an expert in anti-Semitic propaganda and a great believer in Jewish conspiracies and had extensive experience in the field of propaganda communication. After the assassination of Frankfurter and his sentencing, Wolfgang published two books with the aim of inflaming the spirits in Germany against the Jews, of which this is the first. (The second was published about a year later in 1937).

In his book, Wolfgang presents Frankfurter as acting on the strength of international Jewry as a whole, and not as a lone murderer who acted on his own accord. And as he writes in the introduction: "The present material is intended to clarify the support of the murderer by his fellow members of the race and the attitude of world Jewry to the crime he committed to an extent never seen before." He presents letters of support from Jews that were sent to Frankfurter while he was in prison, articles written in the Jewish press and various Jewish publications supporting the act of murder, as well as publications of the 'International League Against Anti-Semitism' written to encourage the act. In the main part of the book, he describes in detail the discussions that took place in the court in a trending manner, while quoting the letter of the prosecution, the judges' responses, the judges' decisions, and what happened during the trial. For example, he describes with mockery and hatred the reactions of Frankfurter's body's reactions to what was said during the hearings, as well as the reactions of the audience and Frankfurter's lawyers in the various hearings, he describes the poor face of the murdered man's wife upon entering the hearing hall while creating empathy on the part of the reader for the side of the murdered man, Everything in an anti-Semitic tone that incites against the Jews wherever they are.

At the end of the book there are 23 photographs surrounding the trial, all described in an anti-Semitic tone. Among them: photographs of Frankfurter himself and the caption: "This is what the killer looks like", a photograph of Gustloff's room and the caption: "A view into the murder room. Wilhelm Gustloff was standing between the chair and the table when Frankfurter fired the shots from the chair... Frankfurter felt provoked by the pictures of Hitler and the dagger of honor." Also he show the photographers outside the courtroom, the judges, Jews near the courtroom and the caption: "Frankfurter fans on the way to negotiations", a rare photograph of David Frankfurter at the trial and the caption: "David Frankfurter attacks the prosecutor, suddenly he is "on fire", Frankfurter's lawyer and the caption: "At the edge of the photo with his hand over his mouth, his Jewish lawyer Hirschel from Bern, one of the murderer Frankfurter's confidants, a view of the Jewish representatives, a photograph in which Frankfurter was caught smiling and the anti-Semitic caption: "End of negotiations. David Frankfurter in a conversation with the representative of the World Jewish League... They laugh with joy, a sign that David's tears during the interrogation were only a show." A photograph of the murdered man's mother and wife with "Sieg Heil" hand on his grave, and the caption: "This is what the murderer did! The murdered man's wife and mother at the warrior's burial...". At the end of the book, the author published quotes from the German press in praise of his book.

Following his experience in creating anti-Semitic propaganda, Goebbels tasked on him managing the Nazi propaganda that also accompanied the Kristallnacht. There, too, he marketed the story of the Ernst vom Rath assassination as a global Jewish conspiracy in which Greenspan was employed as a soldier in order to undermine the state of peace between Germany and France, and even made prominent headlines in the newspapers in this vein. On the night of that bitter day, the seventh of November, the German News Agency (DNB) sent Diewerge's detailed instructions to the German media. Among other things, the media were instructed not to criticize the French authorities, and were even advised to use Diewerge's books as a source of effective propaganda material. To this day, he is considered one of the people directly responsible for the Kristallnacht pogrom due to his activity to start a literal fire among the German people against the entire Jewish people.

At the end of the war, on June 1, 1945, Frankfurter was pardoned and released from prison. He went to Mandatory Palestine on a Ma'apilim ship with a certificate from his friend, Dr. Faith Wheeler. He later worked as a clerk at the Jewish Agency and then at the Ministry of Defense. Prof. Meir Schwartz, director of the "Beit Ashkenaz" for the study of the Holocaust in Germany, speculates that this murder was the most important factors to the fact that Switzerland was not occupied by the Germans and there was no "Anschluss", like in Austria, and this is how approximately 20,000 of the Swiss Jews were probably saved from the massacre. He also speculates that the assassination of Gustloff and the lack of reaction that followed, inspired Herschel Greenspan, almost three years later, to carry out his assassination, an assassination that was the cause of the Kristallnacht pogrom. Frankfurter is one of the only Jews which killed a Nazi at such a high rank, survived the war, and remained alive. He died in 1982. A street in the city of Petach Tikva and a public park in Ramat Gan are named after him.

see dynasty auction no. 19, item 45.

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