Non­fic­tion

Rez­so Kaszt­ner: The Dar­ing Res­cue of Hun­gar­i­an Jews: A Survivor’s Account

Ladis­laus Lob
  • Review
By – August 30, 2011
There are few top­ics that even half a cen­tu­ry lat­er still inspire anger and even rifts between friends in the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. One of these is the sto­ry of Rez­so Kaszt­ner.

Kaszt­ner led the Vaad Hatza­lah (The Res­cue Com­mit­tee to Save Jews) in Budapest. He took his role seri­ous­ly and nego­ti­at­ed with Adolph Eich­mann to save Jews in Hun­gary. The nego­ti­a­tion became known as the trucks for Jews trade.” Kaszt­ner saved 1,684 Jews from cer­tain death. He nev­er told the oth­er Jews, those who remained behind in Budapest, of their impend­ing fate. He nev­er told them that they were to be deport­ed to Auschwitz where they would almost cer­tain­ly be killed.

The ques­tion was: who would Kaszt­ner put on the list to save? Was Rez­so Kaszt­ner a hero or a villain?

After the war, Kaszt­ner moved to Israel and became a spokesman for the Min­istry of Trade and Indus­try under Moshe Shar­ret. When a pam­phlet was pub­lished describ­ing Kasztner’s actions, the Gov­ern­ment of Israel sued the writer for libel. The judge ruled that Kaszt­ner had sold his soul to the dev­il.” The issue was so explo­sive that it brought down Sharret’s gov­ern­ment. On March 3, 1957, Kaszt­ner was assas­si­nat­ed on a beach in Tel Aviv.

This book is part his­to­ry, part sur­vivor account. The author, Ladis­laus Lob, who is both a his­to­ri­an and a sur­vivor, allows for the oppos­ing view, but he sees Rez­so Kaszt­ner as a hero. Lob has writ­ten for him a pas­sion­ate defense.
Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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