Paul Bogdanor, a pro-Israel British researcher, was tired of hearing people use the story of Rezső Kasztner to denigrate Israel and decided to vindicate his memory. But ten years of research led him to the opposite conclusion which is convincingly presented in his latest book, Katsztner’s Crime, printed by Transaction Publishers.
According to the publisher, “This book reexamines one of the most intense controversies of the Holocaust: the role of Rezső Kasztner in facilitating the murder of most of Nazi-occupied Hungary’s Jews in 1944. Because he was acting head of the Jewish rescue operation in Hungary, some have hailed him as a savior. Others have charged that he collaborated with the Nazis in the deportations to Auschwitz. What is indisputable is that Adolf Eichmann agreed to spare a special group of 1,684 Jews, who included some of Kasztner’s relatives and friends, while nearly 500,000 Hungarian Jews were sent to their deaths. Why were so many lives lost?”
The publisher notes that after World War II, many Holocaust survivors condemned Kastner for complicity in the deportation of Hungarian Jews. They alleged that as a condition for saving a small number of Jewish leaders he had deceived ordinary Jews into boarding the trains to Auschwitz. Was he a Nazi collaborator, as branded by Ben Hecht in his 1961 book, Perfidy, or a hero, as Anna Porter argued in her 2009 book, Kasztner’s Train?
Drawing on unpublished documents and making extensive use of transcripts of the Kastner and Eichmann trials in Israel, Paul Bogdanor argues convincingly that Kastner helped the Nazis keep order in Hungary’s ghettos before the Jews were sent to Auschwitz and sent Nazi disinformation to his Jewish contacts in the free world, the blurb concludes.
Bogdanor notes in the introduction to his book that it exposes for the first time “the conveyor belt of deception from Budapest that enabled the Nazis to manipulate Jewish leaders in ghettos throughout Hungary. Readers will learn why hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews boarded the death trains either in total ignorance of where the trains were taking them or in the belief that they were being resettled for labor.”
Bogdanor maintains that Katstner started out helping Jews but turned into a collaborator after he began negotiating with the Nazis.