Friday, December 12, 2008

Kastner - unresolved controversy

Haaretz reports:

More than 50 years after the murder of Israel (Rudolf) Kastner, the de facto head of the Jewish Aid and Rescue Committee in Budapest, the controversy surrounding him is being rekindled.

Kastner, who made a deal with Adolph Eichmann in 1944 to allow between 1,600 and 1,700 Hungarian Jews to leave for Switzerland in exchange for money, gold and diamonds, was convicted in Israel in 1955 for collaboration with the Nazis. The court ruled that Kastner had indeed "sold his soul to the devil."

Two years later he was murdered outside his home in Tel Aviv.

The affair has spawned more than 10 books, a theater play and a television film. Now a storm has been raised again after the documentary "Killing Kastner" by the American director Gaylen Ross was screened at the Haifa International Film Festival two months ago.

Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz about the movie that it was time to beg for Kastner's forgiveness. Ten letters to the newspaper in response helped rekindle the 50-year-old controversy. Even today, five decades later, Baruch Tzahor refuses to forget the injustice that was caused to Kastner, who, as Levy wrote, saved more Jews by negotiations than the partisans, Warsaw ghetto rebels or other heroes. At the age of 83, Tzahor, who lives with his wife in moshav Zofit, is still troubled by the affair that shook the young Israeli state.

"All the accusations against Kastner were lies," he says. "I know because he tried to save me." [...]


  1. Its speaks volumes that the zionists are still finding it necessary to attempt to defend this serial killer.

  2. Joseph said...

    "Its speaks volumes that the zionists are still finding it necessary to attempt to defend this serial killer."

    Joseph, your statement speaks volumes on how you view people and their intentions. I am not quite sure how defending Kastner is important to Zionism today. Moreover it was the Zionists who allowed his name to be blackened in the first place. Most of it by left wing Zionist who felt that Kastner was more of a champion of the Bourgeois. There are people who have accused the American Joint Relief Committee of similar things. The man that they are accusing took another trip to German Occupied Hungary even after his relatives were safely out of there. He did this at considerable personal risk. Do you think that he did that just to help well connected people?

  3. What about what Ben Hecht wrote about him in Perfidy?

  4. Perfidy is a great read. He puts together a compelling case. However, unless you are an historion working with the primary source materials it is impossible to make an informed judgment. Ben Hecht was a Revisionist Zionist polemicist, and Perfidy is a polemic and not an historical study. It is extremely biased. He is a good writer, but that does not mean he is correct. Yehuda Bauer does not believe the allegations in Perfidy are justified, and it is not plausible in my opinion to accuse Bauer of being disingenuous or motivated to defend Labor Zionists. So, I think the answer is Teyku.


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