Holocaust survivors oppose Michaeli's invitation to Yad Vashem's program

Michaeli's grandfather was Rezső Kasztner, also known as Rudolf Israel Kastner.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
May 1, 2019 16:10
3 minute read.
Merav Michaeli.

MK Merav Michaeli.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Association of Hungarian Jews, survivors of the Auschwitz death camp and the families of those who perished, issued a letter last year protesting Yad Vashem's decision to invite Merav Michaeli to speak at a seminar on Jewish women who saved Jews.

"[Former] MK Merav Michaeli - Israel Kastner's granddaughter - was invited by Yad Vashem to deliver opening remarks at this seminar," the letter read. "Not only because of her blood ties to Kastner, but because it serves her explicit and active agenda, which she promotes from the Knesset podium and on many other occasions, to try to portray him as a 'hero' and not a collaborator With Adolf Eichmann in the extermination of Hungarian Jewry."

The letter to Yad Vashem was written with the aid of attorney David Shor, yet Yad Vashem decided to decline the request, Srugim reported.

Yad Vashem responded by saying that "Yad Vashem believes that it is not right to judge the behavior of Jews during the Holocaust, but rather to deal with the various aspects, phenomena and issues that occurred during the Holocaust."

In response to Yad Vashem's response, attorney Shor answered that "apart from the dubious attribution of [former] MK Merav Michaeli (Kastner's granddaughter!), she has nothing to contribute to the subject at Yad Vashem. This seminar deals with the Jewish women who saved Jews In the Holocaust. Kastner was not "a Jewish woman" and his granddaughter is not even a member of the Committee for the Advancement of Women and Gender Equality."

Michaeli's grandfather was Rezső Kasztner, also known as Rudolf Israel Kastner, a journalist and lawyer from the town of Kolozsvar in then Hungary, today’s Cluj in Romania, who cut a deal with Eichmann to free about 1,700 Hungarian and Romanian Jews from certain death, and be sent to Switzerland for safety. They were transported in two separate trains, both known as the “Kastner trains."

Israel Kastner, along with other Jewish officials, allegedly negotiated with and bribed the Nazis to allow the train out, although Eichmann at first directed the train to Bergen-Belsen, where these Jews spent several months before being allowed to continue to Switzerland.

Hundreds of orphans were aboard, as were many prominent scientists and intellectuals. The train was part of a larger plan to try to save the nearly 1 million Hungarian Jews by trading war supplies to the Germans, in particular 10,000 trucks.

Kastner was one of several Jewish officials involved in these negotiations. Another result of these negotiations was that thousands more Jews were saved by being kept in work camps rather than death camps.

Many claim that what Kastner should have done, according to his critics, was to refuse any deals with the Nazis and warn all Hungarian Jews of the certain death that was in store for most of them. Approximately two-thirds of Hungarian Jews did not survive the war.

Kastner was put on trial and Judge Binyamin Halevi ruled that Kastner was more of a collaborator than a hero. "He had sold his soul to the German Satan" to negotiate with Eichmann, the judge said.

Eventually, in 1958 the Supreme Court overturned most of the verdict, saying that Kastner's sole motivation was to save Hungarian Jews, stating in a 4–1 decision that the lower court had "erred seriously."

Judge Shimon Agranat wrote in his ruling that "Kastner will be judged by history and not the court."

Kastner was assassinated by 22-year-old Ze'ev Eckstein. Eckstein shot him outside his home in Tel Aviv in 1957.

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