The True Story of Rezsö Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the HolocaustBook - 2007
The true, heart-wrenching tale of Hungary's own Oskar Schindler, a lawyer and journalist named Rezso Kasztner who rescued thousands of Hungarian Jews during the last chaotic days of World War II -- and the ultimate price he paid.
In summer 1944, Rezso Kasztner met with Adolf Eichmann, architect of the Holocaust, in Budapest. With the Final Solution at its terrible apex and tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews being sent to Auschwitz every month, the two men agreed to allow 1,684 Jews to leave for Switzerland by train. In other manoeuvrings, Kastzner may have saved another 40,000 Jews already in the camps. Kasztner was later judged for having "sold his soul to the devil." Prior to being exonerated, he was murdered in Israel in 1957.
Part political thriller, part love story and part legal drama, Porter's account explores the nature of Kasztner -- the hero, the cool politician, the proud Zionist, the romantic lover, the man who believed that promises, even to diehard Nazis, had to be kept. The deals he made raise questions about moral choices that continue to haunt the world today.
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On March 4, 1944 the German army invaded Hungary and established a puppet government. Over the next four months, under the authority of Lt-Col. Adolf Eichmann, 147 trains carried about 450,000 Hungarian Jews to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp where they were gassed to death and cremated. This meticulously reconstructed history of this tragedy presents the efforts, in Budapest, by Carl Lutz, a Swiss official, Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish official, and the lesser known Rezso Kasztner, a Hungarian lawyer and journalist to save the Jewish population of Hungary from destruction. Kasztner negotiated with Eichmann and his subordinates to obtain exit permits for Jews in exchange for materials the German war machine needed and the personal enrichment of the German officers. After a controversial trial in Israel in the early 50s, Kasztner was lambasted as a Nazi collaborator, and subsequently assassinated in Tel Aviv in March 1957. The author provides a concluding thumbnail biography of the survivors whom she interviewed; as well as photographs of the main characters; end notes with internet links, a lengthy bibliography, and an index.
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"Peretz Revesz, who had delivered many of the Slovak children to the [Red Cross safe] homes, was now assigned to guard a home with over a hundred small children. Most of them had been so traumatized by their experiences that they were silent. It was strange, he recalled, to be in a building filled with children, some only three or four years old, where there was no laughter and no sound of play." (p. 294)
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