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From the Publisher“The saga author Anna Porter recounts is surely the stuff of novels. Consider this paradox: the man who saved more Jews than anyone in the Holocaust immigrates to Israel after the war and is convicted as a Nazi collaborator. How can this be? As Porter tells it, lawyer Rezso Kasztner, a leading member of the Hungarian Jewish Rescue Committee, "desperately negotiated" with the Nazis to buy the lives of 1,684 Jews, who would be packed onto "Kasztner's Train" and ridden to safety in Switzerland. Here's the hitch: most of the travelers had paid their patron $1,500 each for their tickets, thus establishing a threshold which might be called, "How much freedom can you afford?"
Kasztner appealed his conviction and was ultimately exonerated, but while awaiting appeal, he was assassinated in Tel Aviv on March 4, 1957. But not all Jews, by any means, felt Kasztner's actions were a simple Faustian bargain. Israel's Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem unveiled Kasztner's private archive on the 50th anniversary of his death, in a mission to restore his reputation.”—History Wire
“The remarkable achievement of Kasztner’s Train is to bring to life a tale of breathtaking chutzpah, the gravest personal risk, dark intrigue, human frailty, and devastating clashes of personality. Animated by her understanding of the Hungarian context, Anna Porter relays her story with, as was said of the Jewish revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, impeccable moral taste.” —Michael R. Marrus, professor emeritus of Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto “[Anna Porter] vividly brings to life those frenetic months in Budapest before the Nazi collapse. Although she shows Kasztner with all his weaknesses and flaws egotistical, vain, ambitious and unfaithful to his wife she concludes that he was indeed heroic in risking his own life daily and saving thousands of Jews. Yad Vashem, releasing the results of its study of Kasztner's voluminous documents, notes and correspondence, recently came to the same conclusion. There was no man in the history of the Holocaust who saved more Jews and was subjected to more injustice than Kasztner, said Yad Vashem chairman Joseph Lapid, himself a survivor from Hungary, in July 2007, releasing the conclusions of Yad Vashem's research on Kasztner's papers. This is an opportunity to do justice to a man who was misrepresented and was a victim of a vicious attack that led to his death, he added, calling Kasztner, one of the great heroes of the Holocaust.”—Adam Fuerstenberg, The Forward
“The unknown hero of the title is Rezso Kasztner, a member of the Jewish Rescue Committee in Hungary during World War II. He was able to negotiate a deal with the Nazis, which resulted in Kasztner’s Train—a train that transported 1,684 Hungarian Jews out of Nazi-controlled Hungary to safety in Switzerland in July 1944. The wealthy Jews of Budapest paid an average of $1,500 for each family member; the poor paid nothing. Kasztner also was able to save 20,000 Hungarian Jews by having them sent to an Austrian labor camp instead of extermination camps. Kasztner moved to Israel after the war, and in 1954 he was accused of being a Nazi collaborator. Kasztner claimed that his dealing with the Nazi officials, including Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Eichmann, were necessary to save lives. In 1957, he was assassinated by right-wing activists in Tel Aviv. Porter interviewed 75 people and had access to diaries, notes, taped interviews, memoirs, and courtroom testimonies; her book, with three maps and a 16-page black-and-white insert, offers the most complete, fully documented account of this Holocaust story.”—Booklist
“Glowing chronicle of an unheralded, Schindler-esque figure who saved Hungarian-Jewish lives during World War II…A compelling narrative that does great justice to Kasztner’s memory.”—Kirkus
“A tale of rescue as remarkable as Wallenberg or Schindler. Kudos to Anna Porter for recovering such an important piece of forgotten history, with, at its heart, a colorful and irresistible hero—and an ending that will break your heart.”—Kati Marton, author of The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World