A traitor in Budapest

February 16, 2017 15:38

Rudolf Kasztner was not a hero but an unscrupulous Nazi collaborator, insists British historian Paul Bogdanor in his new book.

Rudolf Kasztner

Rudolf Kasztner in a broadcasting booth at Kol Yisrael radio station. (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)

REZSŐ KASZTNER was a much-maligned hero of the Holocaust. Or he was a villainous Nazi collaborator. It depends who you ask and how you look at it. Over 70 years after the end of World War II and almost 60 years after his death, the Jewish-Hungarian Zionist leader remains a highly controversial figure.

To his defenders, like Israeli historian Shoshana Ishoni-Barri and Hungarian- born Canadian writer Anna Porter, the author of “Kasztner’s Train” (2007), Kasztner (who later changed his name to Rudolf Kastner) was a plucky and resourceful mensch who single-handedly saved a trainload of Jews, including his own relatives, during one of the Holocaust’s darkest days – the mass deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz in the spring and summer of 1944. To his detractors, like the late Jewish-American writer Ben Hecht, who condemned the Hungarian Jew in “Perfidy,” his 1961 book of reportage, Kasztner was a moser, a traitor, who betrayed his 800,000 fellow Hungarian Jews just so he could save his own skin.


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