Summary of The Kastner Affair:  When We Say ‘Never Again’ and ‘Never Forget’ – It Includes This Too

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[Summary taken from chapter 9 of To Cross The Line With A Bridge, Rabeinu Publications, 2015

and is OF (and citations refer to) Ben Hecht’s book Perfidy]

On May 5, 1953, the Attorney General of Israel presented Malchiel Greenwald a criminal complaint for libel against Dr. Israel (Rudolf) Kastner.  On January 1, 1954, Greenwald was read the indictment, but pleaded not guilty.  Greenwald, a Hungarian Jew, was in his early seventies at the time of the trial.  One day in 1938 on a street in Vienna, some Christian patriot thugs decided to have fun with the Jews, and Greenwald was one of the victims. Every one of his teeth were knocked out, his tongue slashed, his arms and legs broken and head bashed in, until he was left for dead among the murdered others.  But, amazingly, he survived and eventually managed to get to the Jewish homeland, the Land of Israel (then called Palestine).

The trial began a couple weeks after Greenwald was served, and Shmuel Tamir was Greenwald’s Defense Attorney.  On February 24, 1954, Tamir began his cross-examination of Kastner (then represented by attorney Amnon Tell).

The initial information that unmasked Kastner, which Greenwald exposed in his writings, in Pamphlet no. 51, was that Kastner not only saved SS Colonel Kurt Becher from the International Court in Nuremberg by Kastner’s going there to become a witness for the defense of Becher, but Kastner also gave a sworn affidavit to the de-Nazification court of the Germans, saving Becher from both courts’ punishment.  In fact, the bottom line of an affidavit signed by Walter H. Rapp, head of the Evidence Division of the Chief of Counsel of War Crimes at Nuremberg, Germany, said that Becher’s release was solely the result of Kastner’s pleadings and was the main, if not sole, reason the court decided to free him.

Once this Becher info hit the fan, the Attorney General of Israel himself took over as PA.  Exhibit 22 was a letter dated July 26, 1948, and sent by Kastner to Jewish Agency official Eleazer Kaplan.  It is a long letter full of facts and figures about the money deals between Kastner, Kurt Becher and Adolf Eichmann – detailed meticulously where the Jewish rescue money went.

While the war was still on in 1945, a Jewish mission of survivors from Poland came to the annual meeting of the World Jewish Congress, accusing the leaders of having neglected practical possibilities of rescue and help. The leaders’ answer was that this omission was the result of a deliberate decision: The opinion of the executive board was that it was inadvisable because of our diplomatic ties with these governments [of the Free World].

The Nazis had only minimal personnel in Hungary.  ‘The only possible way of getting Hungary’s Jews to Auschwitz on schedule was to keep them ignorant of their fate. An important psychological element was deluding the Jews about the real intention of the Germans. Thus the SS launched their Delusion offensive at a first get-together with Hungary’s Leaders of Jewry. This tactic Eichmann also referred to as psychological warfare, camouflage orders and anesthesia.

Kastner was the solution to the Germans’ need for a highly-connected Jewish authority who could keep up the mask of the German delusion, anesthetic, so the 800,000 would go smoothly to Auschwitz, because as a rep of the controlling Mapai Party of Palestine, this party “has already showed that it kept its mouth shut about the slaughter of Jews in Europe – in deference to the British, who wanted no hullabaloo endangering their closed Palestine ports.”

Kastner acted on Weismann’s ‘Elite policy’ and was satisfied with a selected group of 688 Zionists to rescue: 300 from Budapest and 388 from his native town of Kluj.

From “Eichmann Confessions,” published in Life magazine in the November 28 and December 5, 1960 issues, Eichmann revealed that Kastner agreed to help keep the Jews from resisting deportation – and even keep order in the collection camps. Dr. Kastner’s main concern was to make it possible for a select group of Hungarian Jews to immigrate to Israel … “You can have the others, but let me have this group here …  That was the ‘gentleman’s agreement’ I had with Kastner,” Eichmann said.

Kastner’s silence in his hometown Kluj was the death sentence for the 20,000 Jews there, including his father-inlaw, because there were only 21 guards for the 20,000 to overcome and the border to Romania, free at the time, was only three miles away.  So escape would have been easy for the 20,000. 

The Jewish Agency was established in 1923 by the British to assist in carrying out the mandate given them by the League of Nations and the US.  The Jewish Agency was the Jewish face for the British rule of Palestine then, and remained unwavering in its loyalty to the British policy.  When British policy required silence and inaction toward the extermination of Hungary’s Jews, the Jewish Agency upheld this policy.  Moreover, the chieftains of Jewry pledged allegiance to the British, helping the British to capture, torture, hand, and imprison hundreds of young Jews fighting in Palestine independent of the Haganah.

Not once did the Jewish Agency inform the world and the Jews of Palestine of the mass murder of a million Jews taking place in Hungary and Auschwitz.  Neither the headlines of Ben Gurion’s press nor his innumerable orations during this time made reference to the matter of the murder of Jews.

In February 1943, an offer was made by the Romanian Government to the American and British Governments to allow 70,000 Trans-Dniestria Jews to leave Romania at the cost of $50 each for transport to the border.  The offer was to be voided as soon as the Germans entered Romania, who were due to take over any week at that point.

The story came out in a Swiss paper – an offer that had been made through diplomatic channels but was filed away by the American State Department and the British.  Hecht ran an ad on the offer by the Romanian Government, and on the appearance of this advertisement, Reform Rabbi and Zionist chieftain in New York, Steven Wise, issued a response denying that such an offer had been made and thus rejecting any action to raise the funds to save the 70,000 Jews.

Though it is arguable, Hecht purports that nearly all the six million Jews could have been saved … had the powerful American Jewry alone united in a campaign to save them.

Shlomo Katz, in his bashing of Hecht’s book he called “Ben Hecht’s Kampf” (quite below the belt!), notes that American Jewry didn’t cry out and organize an anti-Nazi boycott. Moreover, the American Jewish radical youth and intelligentsia volunteered by the thousands and braved hardships to fight fascism in Spain, but remained indifferent to the war against Hitler.

On April 1, 1954, about halfway through the trial, Joel Brandt is called to testify. He was betrayed by the Jewish Agency to the British for a dozen reasons, all of them unspeakable from any human point of view.

In mid-April, 1944, Eichmann summoned Brandt, who was a member of the Budapest Rescue Committee of the Jewish Agency.  Eichmann offered a deal – “Blood for Cargo and Cargo for Blood.”  Ten thousand trucks, one thousand tons of tea, coffee and soap for the rescue of a million Jews.  Eichmann was willing to offer 100,000 Jews in advance, and on receiving the proportionate payment, he would release another ten percent. Remember that the “percent” refers to people: We’re talking here talk of the trade and exchange of  the lives of human beings.  Eichmann also promised to cease the deportations and extermination of the Jews while negotiations on the deal were being carried out.

“Eichmann received me on the 15th, for the last time, and told me, ‘You are to set out now.  Today we begin to deport 12,000 per day, but these shall not be exterminated during negotiations.  But you, Brandt, have to return in a week or two.”(Hecht p.221)

Brandt left Budapest for Istanbul on May 18th. From this point, the entire Jewish establishment kept playing with Brandt, putting up a smoke screen and blockade of bureaucracy, and stalling him to prevent him from returning to Hungary.

It was all settled shortly after Brandt’s doomed arrival in Istanbul.  He was to be kept from telling his story to the world, as he was to be kept from returning to Budapest with his precious document. 

Brandt gets to Istanbul, is arrested by the Turks and then released.  Then he tries to call on the US Ambassador Steinhardt in Ankara, but cannot get to Ankara, because the Jewish Agency didn’t get him the proper travel papers.  Instead they persuade him to stay in Istanbul and await Moshe Sharett’s arrival.  Oddly, he is told that the Turks won’t let Sharett come to Istanbul.  The record shows that Moshe Sharett was in Istanbul a few months before Brandt’s ill-fated arrival there.

Then he is told to go to Aleppo.  Suddenly, an hour out of Aleppo where Brandt was being lured, agent Ehud Avriel whispers that something may happen, that Brandt may be arrested by the British and separated from Avriel.  If this happens, Brandt must promise not to answer any British questions unless an official of the Jewish Agency is present.  Sure enough, once in Aleppo, he was arrested by the British.

From there Brandt was taken to a private prison in Cairo and was questioned every day for ten to twelve hours at a stretch.  On the tenth day, he went on a hunger strike insisting that he be released and allowed to return to Hungary, where the extermination had definitely resumed.

Present during one of these interrogations was Lord Moyne, who answered Brandt’s appeal with regard to Eichmann’s “offer” by saying, “What can I do with this million Jews?  Where can I put them?” Oh, but of course – it’s just that much easier to have them shipped off to Auschwitz…

Finally, after four and a half months, the British released Brandt.  He was compelled to go to Palestine and not allowed to return to Hungary.  Back in Palestine, he wrote to President Weizmann imploring him to help the Jews still alive in Hungary, and enclosed the full Eichmann offer.

In later statements and in a book which he published, Brandt described how he was terrorized by high government officials, including Ben-Gurion and Sharett’s direct aides, to falsify his testimony and perjure himself, and how later he was threatened with imprisonment in an insane asylum if he persisted in penning his memoirs (footnote 192).

After the Brandt revelation, more disturbing info was uncovered: Despite their policy at large for Jews, in the early 1940s, the British trained seventeen parachutists in Cairo to save the million Jews still alive at that point in Hungary and the Balkans before the Germans took over.  They were to be dropped near the Hungarian border and function as British underground.  Thus Hanna Senesh, Joel Palgi, and Peretz Goldstein parachuted out of a British plane to a landing in Yugoslavia, among the partisans.

Hanna impatiently set out alone at once.  She was captured with two Jewish partisans crossing into Hungary by the Hungarian Gendarmes.  The transmitter she tried to rid herself of was found and identified her as an enemy spy, plus revealed that there were other spies.  She was tortured, but Hanna refused to speak, even until she was tortured to unconsciousness.

Hanna’s mother, Mrs. Catherine Senesh visited her daughter in the cell and Hanna told her to get her a lawyer.  It was known that the one Jew who had the power to move the Nazis was Rudolf Kastner, and he was the only Jew allowed to see the imprisoned Jews whenever he wished, and to get food parcels to them.

Mrs. Senesh tried day after day, and then week after week to see Kastner and even begged his secretary to convey a food parcel to Hanna.  But Kastner turned his back on both mother and daughter and would not even convey the food.  Moreover, Hanna was a British officer and British POW.  British interests in Hungary were represented by the Swiss Consulate; yet Kastner did not even notify the Swiss Consulate that a British POW was being held by the Hungarians.

Kastner induced Joel Palgi to come out of hiding and surrender to the German Gestapo, and Peretz Goldstein to the Hungarian Gendarmerie.  He assured both that their gestures of surrender would mean clemency for them and that they then would join him in his rescue activities.  Incidentally, Kastner had been Palgi and Peretz’s leader in the Zionist Youth Movement of Kluj, so they trusted him all the more.  Also, Peretz Goldstein happened to be Karen Segal’s uncle – Karen was the wife of the novelist Erich Segal.  But after all, why would Kastner really want anybody to be able to peek in on his “rescue” work? Hint: he didn’t.

But once Palgi and Goldstein gave themselves up, they were both immediately turned over to be tortured; and then, after months of torture, sent off to a German death camp. Palgi managed to leap from the Jewish cattle car and escape, which is how he could testify in court on June 3, 1954.  Peretz wasn’t so lucky.  From the cattle car, he was never heard from again.

Hanna was executed by a Hungarian firing squad in November, 1944.

Hanna’s mother moved to Israel.  Before testifying, she was urged by Israeli government officials not to testify, saying that she would lose her job, etc.

Now, in Israel, the complaint of a single citizen against a suspect of Nazi collaboration was enough to detain him and start a police inquiry.  In the case of Kastner, despite the finding of the President of the District Court – which came after a trial lasting continuously for a full nine months with dozens of witnesses and hundreds of documents – neither the police nor the attorney general’s office was even willing to start an interrogation of Kastner.  An official complaint filed by Tamir on behalf of Greenwald and Judge Halevi’s verdict also remained without response (footnote 163).

Chaim Cohen, the attorney general, said, “The man Kastner does not stand here as a private individual … [but] the representative of our national institutions”(footnote 159).   Kastner acted as did the others.

Look at another of that ilk:  Izaak Greenbaum was the head of the Jewish Agency Rescue Committee – that is, the man appointed by the Jewish Agency as chief of its Rescue Department.  He wrote in his book, “If I am asked, Could you give from the United Jewish Appeal moneys to rescue Jews, I say, No! And I say again, No!  In my opinion we have to resist this wave which puts the Zionist activities in a secondary line.”

The only exception to the do-nothing, say-nothing policy of official Zionism was religious Zionist Moshe Kraus, who left the Jewish-Agency-Zionist Party Line and its ranks of “rescuers,” and almost singlehandedly, with the support of the Swiss consul in Budapest, Charles Lutz, the Swedish Representative, Raoul Wallenberg, and representatives of several South American countries, saved 40,000 Jews.  Parenthetically, Moshe Krauss later filed a court case against the Jewish Agency in Palestine, then Israel, for not paying his salary and for throwing him out of his job without compensation.

“So Ruti, this is a long story. Do you see the Erev Rav here? Let me continue.”

Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandel, hiding in a cave on the bank of the Danube, made sorties out of his cave to pluck Jews from under the Nazi noses and ride them to freedom.  He sent long missives to the Jewish leaders in Turkey, Switzerland and Palestine, explaining in fine detail the process by which the Jews were being deported, murdered, burned, and their bones and ashes used to fertilize the German fields.  All this for naught!

Thus, Hecht rightly emphasizes that the Jewish Agency had the best and most exact informative source on the fate of the Jews of Hungary, down to the details of Auschwitz, and including the exact number of ovens there.  But the policy maintained was to suppress all mention and details, so as not to embarrass the British policy preventing entrance to Palestine.

Then, on October 15, 1944, a people’s court of all the survivors of Kluj, Hungary who came back, tried Kastner in absentia and pronounced him a war criminal.  Also, a trial was heard by the Zionist Congress of Basil in 1946 with an official complaint filed against Kastner.  The inquiry was stopped in the middle and Kastner was exonerated.  During the same session, Kastner was interrogated secretly by a special Haganah court, but no verdict was reached, publicly.

The point is that the whole cover-up of the truth by the “Establishment” of Kastner’s bad faith actions and collaboration with the Nazis, as well as his protection, were necessary because they feared he would reveal all the facts known to him about another collaboration – the latter being the Jewish Agency’s collaboration with the British – which sabotaged the rescue of Europe’s Jews and contributed to their annihilation.

Instead of demonstrating the superiority of truth and justice over all, instead of turning Kastner over for justice to be served, as Tamir explains in his summation of the trial, Kastner was “a man who knew everything – a man whose honor the State of Israel has stepped forth to vindicate – the man on whose behalf all the legal apparatus of Israel has been mobilized.”  And that:  “Rudolf Kastner was the biggest Jewish agent in the service of the Germans.”

The verdict, which took nine months for Judge Halevi to write and then 14 hours to read, declared Malchiel Greenwald correct in his accusations against Kastner in the first, second, and fourth of his statements, and found him generally innocent of libel against Kastner. 

He was, however, fined one Israeli pound, 50 cents, for the one unproved accusation that Kastner had actually collected money from his Nazi partners for his aid to their slaughter program.  The Government of Israel was ordered to pay Greenwald 200 pounds, as court costs.

In terms of the record, the verdict on appeal was split.  All five Supreme Court Judges upheld Judge Halevi’s verdict on the “criminal and perjurious manner” in which Kastner after the war had saved Nazi war criminal Becher.  Two of the judges further upheld the finding that Kastner had collaborated with the Nazis during the war.  Three did not.  This split decision on Kastner being a Nazi collaborator during the war and the unanimous decision that he rescued war criminal Becher after the war in a criminal and perjurious manner made it imperative that the Government put Kastner on trial.

“Ruti, listen to this. It really is the crux to understanding the verdict.”

We need to remember that the initial trial and appeal were for a libel case that Kastner brought against Greenwald to try to clear his name. What gall Kastner had! – the same gall by which the sadistic, human-experimenting, antisemite doctor of Auschwitz, Dr. Wladislaw Dering sued Leon Uris (Dering sued Uris over claims made in his novel Exodus that he had been involved in medical experiments in Auschwitz. The court awarded him damages of one half penny. The whole story of this trial – (Dering v Uris (no. 2) [1964] 2 QB 669) – is told in Leon Uris’s novel QBVII). 

Over and over again, the judges – first District Court Judge Halevi and later the President of the Supreme Court Judge Isaac Olshin – expressed the opinion that a public Commission of Inquiry was needed, whereby Kastner would be a defendant, and would have to defend himself against criminal charges, and would not just be a witness as he was in the libel suit.

Israel’s law against Nazi criminals and their collaborators provides for use of the death penalty!  But the intended second trial of Kastner, which would have blown away the myth of the Government was not to be.  On March 3, 1957, Kastner was shot and killed before he could face justice.

Parenthetically and fortuitously, with serendipity at its best, just as this volume was headed for printing, YNetNews Magazine posted an article from “Israel News” on October 29, 2014 entitled “Kastner’s killer: I would never have shot him today.”  Today, eighty-one-year-old Ze’ev Eckstein definitively states, “I wouldn’t shoot.  There’s no doubt about it” – because, after all, by assassinating Kastner, the Zionist-Nazi accomplice escaped the proper, immediate exposure of his crime and its full extent, as he escaped facing true and full justice.

The major plan of Greenwald’s attorney, Shmuel Tamir, was to bring Rudolf Kastner to trial as a Nazi collaborator after the libel trial.  In preparation for this plan, Tamir flew to Washington, D.C. to get documents from the Pentagon.  One important document was from the Interrogation of Hermann Krumey kept in an official protocol by the American National Archives and Record Service.

With the new Krumey evidence, the story of the “Budapest Quartet” was complete in Tamir’s files.  The evidence is that the four, S.S. Lieutenant General Kurt Becher, S.S. Colonel Hermann Krumey, S.S. Commander Adolf Eichmann, and Jewish Agency chief Kastner, arranged their escape plot during the time of “Jew-killing.” 

S.S. Lieutenant General Kurt Becher was the Commissar of all German concentration camps and chief of the Gestapo Economy Department.  In case the meaning of this department eludes you, it involved the removal of gold fillings from the millions of teeth of the dead Jews, the cutting off of hair of the millions preparing for the gas chambers and shipping the hair to German mattress factories, the conversion of fat from the bodies killed into bath soap and bones for fertilizer, and establishment of strategy of the most effective methods of torture to induce the Jews awaiting death to reveal where their valuables were hidden.

S.S. Colonel Hermann Krumey, Eichmann’s deputy, directed the killing of Jews in Austria, Hungary and Poland.

S.S. Commander Adolf Eichmann, head of the Gestapo’s Jewish section and worked with Becher in the Economic Department. He carried out all the Jewish extermination in Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia.

Freed Kurt Becher became one of the great men of the new Western Germany, and one of its richest.  And let’s be honest, who was left to become the new Germany when, as Hans Fallada shows in his Alone in Berlin, the Nazis killed off everyone who wasn’t pro-Nazi.  Becher’s riches, for the most part, came from the loot extorted during torture from the myriads of Jews before their slaughter.  He became president of many corporations and was loaded down with honors.  Among the many enterprises he headed was the sale of wheat to the Government of Israel. – Some kind of schizophrenic-like thing whereby if you can’t beat ’em, feed ’em?

Becher’s firm, the Cologne-Handel-Gesellschaft, did fine business with Israel’s government after the war. – Who buys from Nazis?  Becher’s assets were estimated by reliable German newspapers to be thirty million dollars.

And I say this with the same sense of frustration and disgust that Elie Wiesel writes,

“And now, scarcely ten years after Buchenwald … Ilse Koch, the notorious sadistic monster of Buchenwald, was allowed to have children and live happily ever after … War criminals stroll through the streets of Hamburg and Munich”(Night).

Once Perfidy was published, the best “manners” the British could muster in face of the truth – the truth of their actions and omissions – was to ban all of Hecht’s films in England.  And the truth was:

(1) The British “White Paper” of 1939 ordered the ports of Palestine closed and “warned any Jews who might try to evade extermination at Nazi hands by sneaking into the Holy Land, that they would be treated as enemies of the Crown.”

(2) On December 17, 1942, Mr. Eden got up in the House of Commons and gave the complete details of the Nazi plan, already in full operation, to massacre the entire Jewish population of Europe … There had been public meetings in England, protests, petitions, letters – the whole machinery of democratic expression had been set in motion to impress upon the British Government the need for action – and not a thing was done (Chaim Potok’s The Chosen, ch 12).

(3) Rabbi Weissmandel, who sent a message to the Allies, pleaded for them to blow up the bridges on the Auschwitz run.  The message fell into German hands, but they were convinced that by telling them which bridges to bomb, those bridges would become the safest.  It was only in September 1944, that the British Government responded via Richard Law, of the British Foreign Office. He said, “The matter received the most careful consideration of the Air Staff, but I am sorry to have to tell you that, in view of the very technical difficulties involved, we have no option but to refrain from pursuing the proposal in present circumstances…”

Of course, they never explained what were “the very great technical difficulties” involved in sending one or two bombers to bomb the very visible Auschwitz crematoria or the easy targets of the bridges leading to it.

Sir Arthur Harris, who served as the Chief Air Officer of the British Bomber Command from 1942 until 1945 stated in June 1, 1961, “I can’t recall that I ever heard of such a plea [to bomb Auschwitz].”

British Colonel Leonard Cheshire stated on June 2, 1961 that, “Had we known that the Jews requested to bomb [Auschwitz in 1944] there would have been no difficulty at all in mobilizing an air group to carry out this task.”

“Ruti, you can see that the British were really no different from the rest of the world, and the West in particular.”

In France, for instance, Vichy Chief of State Henri Philippe Petain rounded up the Jews even before the Germans asked.

And in the US, the “Bostoner Rebbe” tells how he participated in the “Rabbis’ March on Washington” in 1943 to petition the U.S. Government to stop the Holocaust. He said, “Once in Washington, we all waited outside the White House … and waited … and waited.  Rabbi Eliezer Silver, President of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, had gone inside with a few prominent rabbanim to try to see President Roosevelt … Later we found out that one of Roosevelt’s ‘Jewish’ advisers had told him not to bother listening to us.  ‘What do a few Orthodox Rabbis matter?’ ”(And The Angels Laughed, Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, 110).

“Ruti, Hecht asks in his preface to Perfidy, ‘What happens when Jews finally fashion a government of their own in Israel, when they became Jewish politicians … what happens when they lose a brotherly love that 2500 years of anti-Semitism were unable to disturb in the Jewish soul? He says that his book will try to answer the questions, but sums it up by quoting from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and hence the title of his book.’

I pray thee, mark me – that a brother should be so perfidious!

“Well, the real answer, Mr. Hecht, is that they are NOT our brothers at all – they are Erev Rav!

“That power and position corrupt even the just and good, which is basically Hecht’s line, may be a truism, but the issue at hand is a totally different ball game.  There is a karmic account involved since Adam – or rather, more literally and precisely, from Eve.

“There are five forms (or, literally “species“) of Erev Rav: Amalek, Nefilim, Giborim, Refaim, Anakim.  Of the five, two forms of Erev Rav, Refaim and Anakim, are intermingled among Israel and cause them to sin (Zohar, Genesis, “Five Forms of Erev Rav,” sections 224-231).

“On Refaim, the Zohar says: ‘If they see Israel at a time of trouble, they leave them and deploy from them.  And even if they have the power to save them, they do not want to save them, and they slack off from Torah and distance themselves from it and from all that deal with Torah, [in order to] do a favor for their idol-worshipping’ (ibid).

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