Thursday, October 22, 2009

NY TIMES on "Killing Kasztner"

“Were you on the train?”

It was a train from Budapest that stopped for several months at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and finally made its way to Switzerland and salvation. The trip was arranged in 1944 during the darkest days of the Nazi genocide by Rezso Kasztner, also known as Rudolf or Israel Kastner, a Jew who was to rescue more Jews than Oskar Schindler.


He had done this by negotiating face to face with Adolf Eichmann, the administrator of Hitler’s Final Solution, and paying $1,000 a head while concealing, enemies later said, the full measure of the peril that was to claim an estimated 550,000 of Hungary’s 825,000 Jews, and vouching at the Nuremberg trials for an SS colonel, Kurt Becher. For this, Mr. Kasztner was shot to death in 1957 at age 51 in Tel Aviv.


For years his name was anathema. Reviled as a Nazi collaborator whom an Israeli judge said had “sold his soul to the devil,” Mr. Kasztner, a journalist and official in Israel’s ruling leftist workers party, Mapai, was denounced in court, demonized in print and spat upon on the street. Rage against him brought down the Israeli government in 1955 and all but ignited a civil war. His three right-wing killers were pardoned seven years into their life sentences. Israel’s Supreme Court later cleared him of all charges, but the stigma stuck. His name graced no memorial walls, even at Yad Vashem, Israel’s shrine to victims of the Shoah, although in 2007 it accepted some of his papers.


But on Tuesday, growing research by historians and a long campaign by his aggrieved family and the many he saved culminated in a joyous tribute at the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research at 15 West 16th Street, where a respectful new documentary about him was screened before its American movie house opening on Friday.


“There were some things I didn’t know; there was a lot of politics involved,” said Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, who listened to a discussion afterward with Ms. Ross, members of the Kasztner family and historians. (NY TIMES)


Click here to read the entire article. For further information and to view a list of those on the transport, click here.

4 comments:

  1. The transport of Jewish people during world war two is something that pains me greatly.

    My grandfather was a liberating British soldier at Bergen Belsen and the ancestory of the other side of my family is Polish/Jewish, I have travelled and prayed for those that perished in or travelling to the many detention camps when I Bergen Belsen.

    Never shall this be forgotten, let we forget.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Killing Kasztner is a really good film. It's amazing that someone who had such a large impact could be forgotten so quickly. The film does a great job of staying objective and unbiased about a very controversial figure. Go see the film and come to your own conclusions

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  3. I'm the only child of survivors-from Cluj- in fact I was born in Cluj, Romania after the war.
    Kasztner is a hated figure by the Cluj Jewish survivors-
    in fact, not $1,000 was paid per head, but, $40,000!!!!
    Those that could not pay, were left to rot in the brick factory, until they were lined up by force in cattle trains, 80 to a car for 4 stifling day to Auschwitz.
    My father and his entire first family, including a 4 years old daughter went that way to Poland!
    Kaztner refused to meet with Hanna Senesh and another paratrooper in Budapest, who tried to allert the Jews (having flown in from Palestine)
    Hannah Senesh was not shot!
    She was beaten by the Hungarian gendarmes in jail in front of her mother to death!
    Shame on the producer of this garbage called her movie, and all those righteous Jews who now come and try to make him into a hero, not knowing the truth, not having been even born to survivors from that town- two words: Shut Up!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm the only child of survivors-from Cluj- in fact I was born in Cluj, Romania after the war.
    Kasztner is a hated figure by the Cluj Jewish survivors-
    in fact, not $1,000 was paid per head, but, $40,000!!!!
    Those that could not pay, were left to rot in the brick factory, until they were lined up by force in cattle trains, 80 to a car for 4 stifling day to Auschwitz.
    My father and his entire first family, including a 4 years old daughter went that way to Poland!
    Kaztner refused to meet with Hanna Senesh and another paratrooper in Budapest, who tried to allert the Jews (having flown in from Palestine)
    Hannah Senesh was not shot!
    She was beaten by the Hungarian gendarmes in jail in front of her mother to death!
    Shame on the producer of this garbage called her movie, and all those righteous Jews who now come and try to make him into a hero, not knowing the truth, not having been even born to survivors from that town- two words: Shut Up!

    ReplyDelete

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