Kasztner's Train: The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust by Anna Porter
The heroic story of the "Hungarian Oscar Schindler" who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis, only to be accused of collaboration and assassinated in Israel twelve years after WWII ended.
Oscar Schindler's and Raoul Wallenberg's efforts to save people from Nazi extinction are legendary; Rezso Kasztner, by contrast, is practically unknown, even though he may have been the greatest rescuer of Jews during World War II. He was also the most controversial, and that, along with the relative lack of focus on events in Hungary toward the end of the war, has no doubt led to his anonymity. Now, with the publication of Anna Porter's remarkable chronicle, Kasztner's achievements are in full view.
When the German army invaded its ally Hungary in March 1944, followed soon after by Adolf Eichmann and his SS, Rezso Kasztner and a small group of Zionist activists stood in the way of mass deportations. They had met the well-informed Schindler, providing him with funds for food and clothing, and had been involved in previous efforts to rescue Jews from Slovakia and Poland. Now, in meeting after meeting with Eichmann and other SS officers, Kasztner negotiated for freedom, exploiting the Nazi weaknesses of greed and need"blood for goods," as the Nazis called itorganizing a train out of Hungary for almost 2,000 while several thousand more were protected in work camps in Austria. Inevitably he saved some and not others. After testifying at the Nuremberg trials, Kasztner emigrated to Israel where, in 1956, he was stunningly convicted of collaborating with the Nazis more than a decade before. As he awaited the appeal that would ultimately exonerate him, he was assassinated by right-wing activists in Tel Aviv on March 4, 1957.
Based on interviews with those who were on the train and with family members of those denied a place on it, as well as documents and correspondence not previously published, Anna Porter tells the dramatic full story of one of the heroes of the twentieth century.
Anna Porter was born in Hungary and personally experienced the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. A celebrated former publisher in Canada, she is the author of five previous books, including The Storyteller, a memoir of her family through seven centuries of Hungarian history. She lives in Toronto.
Table of Contents
Part 1 The Jewish Question
1 Desperately Seeking Palestine 9
2 The Gathering Storm 30
3 A Question of Honor, Law, and Justice 46
4 The Politics of Genocide 62
5 Budapest: The Beginning of the End 74
Part 2 The Kingdom of the Night
6 The Occupation 83
7 Obersturmbannfuhrer Adolf Eichmann 93
8 In the Anteroom of Hell 106
9 Bargaining with the Devil 119
10 The Auschwitz Protocols 126
11 The Reichsfuhrer's Most Obedient Servant 130
12 Mission to Istanbul 142
13 A Million Jews for Sale 152
14 A Game of Roulette for Human Lives 166
15 Rolling the Dice 174
16 Blessings from Heaven 185
17 Strasshof: The Jews on Ice 190
18 The Memories of Peter Munk and Erwin Schaeffer 194
Part 3 The Highway of Death
19 The Journey 203
20 The End of the Great Plan 210
21 Still Trading in Lives 217
22 The Bridge at Saint Margarethen 232
23 The End of Summer 239
24 The Dying Days of Budapest 248
25 In the Shadow of the Third Reich's Final Days 261
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