Why are the activities of Rezso Kasztner in Hungary during and after World War II still a cause for contention?
On March 3, 1957 Rudolph (Rezso) Kasztner was murdered for what some would consider ‘playing God’. Like Oskar Schindler, Kasztner negotiated with the Nazis to save lives. However, unlike Schindler, Kasztner’s motives were questioned by Hungarian Holocaust survivors whose families were not included in the select group of Jews to be saved. In 1955, a libelous pamphlet led to a lawsuit which exploded into a public debate and Kasztner’s murder. Fifty years on, the moral dilemma remains: Was the saving of a selected number of Jews an act of righteousness or an act of collaboration?
Michael Ezra has a particular interest in political extremes, the activities of anti-Zionist organizations and the distortion of the history of the Holocaust for political purposes. He is currently writing a book detailing the history behind the Kasztner case and its subsequent portrayal by politically motivated writers.
Professor Ladislaus Lob spent five months in Bergen-Belsen in 1944, before being ransomed by Kasztner and taken to Switzerland. Lob’s new book Dealing with Satan. Rezso Kasztner’s Daring Rescue Mission, recounting Kasztner’s story combined with the experiences of the Kasztner group in Bergen-Belsen and his own childhood memories or antisemitism in Hungary, will be published on 14 February 2008
This Wednesday 5 Mar 08
With Michael Ezra and Professor Ladislaus Lob
Book tickets here.