dinsdag 16 december 2008

Rudolph Kastner redder en/of verrader van de Joden tijdens de Holocaust

Rudolf Kastner, een Roemeense Jood die een deal sloot met Adolph Eichmann waarmee hij duizenden van de kampen redde, wordt door anti-zionisten vaker aangehaald als voorbeeld voor de zogenaamde collaboratie van de Zionisten met de Nazi's. Maar ook in Joodse en Zionistische kringen waren zijn daden omstreden.

Kastner libel not dead: Zionist hero who saved Jews in World War II was murdered because of revisionist slander campaign

Rudolf Kastner of Kluj Rumania was in an impossible position. As a Jew under Nazi rule, he had to cooperate with the Nazis in extermination of Jews if he was to survive. As a Jew, he had to try to save as many Jews as he could from the claws of Adolph Eichmann. Kastner did succeed in saving large numbers of Jews. Had he refused to cooperate with the Nazis, he would have been replaced by someone else.
But Kastner evoked the enmity of some, and the Revisionist Zionist movement used that enmity to conduct a smear campaign against Kastner and the Zionist movement, that resulted in Kastner's murder. Additionally, the irresponsible and malicious inventions of the revisionists were retailed to an American author, Ben Hecht, who wrote a book called Perfidy. The tale told by Hecht is that the (Labor Zionist controlled) Jewish Agency conspired with Kastner to murder European Jews. This absurdity was eagerly accepted by "true believer" revisionists, and has long since been propagated to anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic journals, pamphlets and Web sites.
Ami Isseroff
By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz Correspondent

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."

Tzahor met Kastner in 1945 in the Jewish hospital in Vienna, a few weeks before the Russian occupation. Tzahor (then Weiss), then 20, was hiding with a friend from the Gestapo in the hospital cellar.

Kastner gave him a box of candy and said "in two weeks I'll be here with transportation and take you to Switzerland, out of the Nazi occupation zone." It was the end of March 1945, and the two, who already heard the Soviet army's guns, decided to pass. They were released two weeks later when the Russians marched into the city. Tzahor's family perished in Auschwitz, but he never forgot Kastner.

They met again 10 years later in Kfar Sava. Kastner was then a Mapai functionary who came to campaign for the elections. Tzahor was branch chairman for the Ahdut Ha'avoda (Labor Unity) party, which later joined Mapai to form the Labor party.

This time Kastner was the one in trouble. In 1953 he was accused in a pamphlet published by Malchiel Gruenwald, a journalist from Hungary, of collaborating with the Nazis.

The Israeli government sued Gruenwald for libel on Kastner's behalf, but the trial became a diatribe against Kastner for his activities during the Holocaust. "The press said he only saved rich, connected people. I knew this was not true. He wanted to save me, and didn't ask if I had money," Tzahor related.

Readers' letters to Haaretz repeated the old accusations that Kastner had deceived Hungary's Jews by failing to warn others that the "resettlement" promised by the Nazis was in fact deportation to Auschwitz. He was accused of facilitating the Germans' liquidation of Hungarian Jewry.

"Kastner did not keep quiet," says Tzahor."He sent emissaries to all the communities to tell the Jews not to get on the trains."

"This affair is not dead," says history Professor Yechiam Weitz from the University of Haifa, author of "The man who was murdered twice - the life, trial and death of Dr. Israel Kastner."

"The issue is so loaded that it won't let some people go," says Weitz, who wrote that "with his own two hands Kastner saved more Jews than any Jew before him or since."

Tzahor did not testify on Kastner's behalf in court due to the rivalry between his party and Mapai, Kastner's party. Yisrael Galili, one of Ahdut Ha'avoda's leaders, forbade him to testify. "He said the community needs heroes, not people who collaborated with the Germans," says Tzahor.

Moshe Vartash, 81, of Ramat Hasharon also defended Kastner in a letter to Haaretz. "I think he was a hero," he says. "He could have escaped right when the Germans entered Hungary, but he didn't. My mother, who was in the Budapest ghetto, received a Swiss sponsorship thanks to him. Many Budapest Jews were saved because Kastner's negotiations delayed their deportation," he says.

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