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Kasztner's Crime (Jewish Studies) Paperback – 30 Aug 2016
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[T]he majority of Hungary's Jews were never warned about their imminent fate [in Nazi death camps], but believed they were being resettled for forced labor 'in the east.' . . . [Paul Bogdanor's] well-researched and incisive indictment. . . is both graphic and convincing. It will undoubtedly cause renewed shockwaves among the descendants of survivors worldwide. --John S. Conway, Professor Emeritus of History, University of British Columbia
About the Author
Paul Bogdanor is an independent researcher in Britain. He previously co-edited The Jewish Divide Over Israel: Accusers and Defenders. He has also written for publications in the United States, Britain and Israel.
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The book provides evidence that Kasztner negotiated with the Nazi representatives in Budapest, headed by Adolf Eichman and struck a deal that 1800 Jews will be rescued if he helped to deceive the Jewish population in Hungary to peacefully board the trains to Auschwitz and by not distributing the knowledge he had about the fate that avaited them helped the Nazis in the annihilation of at least 400000 Jews.
The book is a harrowing account of the events in Hungary during the last few months of the second world war.
It is particularly tragic that at a time when the geopolitical situation in that part of Europe was changing : the Russian army was only a few miles from the Hungarian border, and Rumania was in the process in changing it's alliance from the fascists to joining the allies the Jewish people were not told what to expect and therefore have not tried to escape in large numbers.
As the book amply documents it is indeed a crime not to share knowledge that concerns the Jewish people with them and allow them to make their choice.
Paul Bogdanor shows a lot of courage to unveil in his research the role Kasztner played in helping Eichmmann and his group to destroy a large part of Hungarian Jews for this is still a very contraversial issue..
Prof. Gerta Vrbova , UCL. London
This thesis is unsustainable. Kasztner represented the Jewish Agency not only in Hungary during the war but in his travels to Nuremburg aftrr the war when he gave evidence on behalf of 7 leading Nazis, including Herman Krumey, EIchmann's deputy in Hungary and the man in charge of the nuts and bolts of the deporations. He did this on behalf of the Jewish Agency, which had been up till 1948 the Zionists' quasi government in Palestine. Indeed they had paid his expenses to exonerate these Nazis.
There is little new in this book that Ben Hecht, a dissident Zionist didn't write in Perfidy in 1961. Bogdanor bases his book on Hecht but avoids Hechts damnation of the Labour Zionist leadership of the JA which consciously refused to publicise the exterminations when they happened or campaign to relieve them. This book adds very little to what is already known.
I also have direct access to the diary of my uncle Otto Komoly who was chairman of the Jewish Aid and Rescue Committee and President of the Hungarian Zionist Federation.
I take issue with this one dimensional book on several counts :
1. Several facts are misrepresented, but more importantly it suffers from ‘confirmatory bias’. It tries to impress with unduly detailed painstaking quotations from the immediate aftermath of the tragic events, while ignoring several important publications, which subscribe to a view contrary to his.
2. The cornerstone of the book is that had Kasztner acted differently, or not at all, the fate of Hungarian Jewry would have altered for the better. It particularly centres on what he terms the suppression of the Auschwitz Protocol. What can be proved from the evidence he neglected is a) there was a wide distribution of it b) broader distribution was impossible and/or carried huge risks and c) The Hungarian Jewish population was not only incapable of responding to and acting on such news but they even refused to listen to it when available.
3. The author is either ignorant of, or intentionally not considering, the human condition and attitudes of Jews at the time in the country. They trusted the goodwill of society and government until the start of large scale deportations. By then they had been stripped of most men between the ages of 14-60 and women 16-50 and there was no appetite or possibility for resistance – which could only have led to a terrible massacre. Neither was there any likelihood of hiding among hugely anti-Semitic populations (who gained conservatively estimated $40 million from grabbing Jewish property), with huge numbers of gendarmerie and Arrow Cross fascists.
There was only one group of criminals in this story: the Germans and their Hungarian helpers. The accusations brought against Kasztner and others who worked to save Jewish lives, at enormous risk to themselves and their families, are therefore totally unacceptable.
You can read my very detailed response to Mr. Bogdanor's book a thet Times of Israel website blog.
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