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Zionist Collaboration with the Nazism & Ha'avara
This is a reprint of a long article that Lenni Brenner, the foremost historian of Zionist attitudes to Fascism, including National Socialism, has written. I don't always agree with Lenni on all his conclusions but his work and his books are invaluable sources of information. His courage and determination, despite being 70+ are themselves a wonder! As is his ideological combativeness.
Whilst Zionist historians like Martin Gilbert and Yehuda Bauer agonise and deliberate, and whilst they excuse inaction and the behaviour of the Jewish and Zionist elites, Lenni shows how almost everywhere Zionist organisations believed in passivity and inactivity. Worse, outside Nazi-occupied Europe they played down the holocaust, refused to publicise what was happening, kept information to themselves, doubted that own information publicly and whenever any proposal for saving Jews was made they counterposed the building of a Jewish State to rescue in the here and now.
Lenni's first article is on Ha'avara, an economic agreement between the Zionist Organisation and Nazi Germany. Lenni slates Edwin Black for his conclusions but I think he's too hard on him. The information Black has dug up, not least concerning the anti-Nazi Boycott that Ha'avara undermined, is in itself worthy of the closest attention. Of course, being a Zionist, Black has to tailor his conclusions to fit his ideology rather than his facts. Just as Benny Morris, in respect to the Palestinian Nakba came upon evidence of massacre after massacre which belied his conclusions that there was no overall plan of expulsion.
Lenni's second article is in respect of the events in Hungary where, under the leadership of Rudolf Kasztner, Hungarian Zionism agreed a deal with Eichmann which boiled down to a Train of the Prominents, which carried approximately 1,680 Jews to first Belsen and then Switzerland, in exchange not merely for silence but active collaboration in the round up of Jews to the brickyards pending deportation to Auschwitz.
Unsurprisingly the Zionist movement was not happy about the Kasztner episode, which had been the subject of a major trial in Israel from 1954-8, being aired again. Unfortunately they decided to have it censored as the Royal Court Theatre cancelled its production. The result was far more publicity than it would otherwise have garnered for the Zionist betrayal during the Holocaust.
The Transfer Agreement - Ha'avara
Educated folks are fond of the cynical saying that 'the only thing we learn from history is that people don't learn from history.' Unfortunately some of the worst offenders are professional historians and film documentarians, who cook up singular interpretations of events and serve them up again and again to their followers.
Two such mock scholars are Edwin Black, author of "The Transfer Agreement," which deals with the 1933 Ha'avara (Hebrew for transfer) Nazi-Zionist trade agreement, and Gaylen Ross, director of"Killing Kasztner: The Jew Who Dealt With The Nazis." As republished books don't get reviews, Black had to announce, in the 9/23/09 Jerusalem Post, that he put out a new edition, while Ross is more fortunate, with the 10/24 New York Times giving her new documentary a favorable review. Now, Black hopes, a new generation of gullible Zionists will rush out and buy it, unaware of the across- the-political-spectrum critical disdain for his 1983 original, while Ross relies on the ignorance of present reviewers as to how serious critics dealt with previous attempts to defend Rezso Kasztner’s collaboration with Adolf Eichmann,
THE TRANSFER AGREEMENT
Black's father was a pre-WW II member of the Betar Zionist-Revisionist youth movement in Poland, when Menachem Begin was its Warsaw leader, and in 1983 Black was himself a member of the American branch of Herut, then the party of Prime Ministers Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, now subsumed in Bibi Netanyahu's Revisionist Likud. Nevertheless, his 1983 edition Zionist critics were either extremely wary of the book, or intensely hostile.
When he first heard of the Ha'avara pact with the archenemy of his people, it was a nightmare:"The possibility of a Zionist-Nazi arrangement for the sake of Israel was inconceivable."
He was correct to be shocked. In 1933, any German, Jew or gentile, who wanted to take money out of the country lost about 25% as it went out the door. But under the Ha'avara, a Jew turned over his money to a German bank and Germany shipped goods, steel pipes, etc. to Palestine, where they were sold by the World Zionist Organization. Later the WZO extended sales of these Nazi goods to the rest of the Middle East. The Nazis still deducted money from the transaction, and the WZO did likewise, but the cuts were less than the percentage a Jew had to pay to send money elsewhere.
Even after he collected his wits, and decided to write about it, Black understood that he was walking straight into a political minefield:
"My greatest worry is that the revelations of the book might be used by enemies of the Jewish people. For those who seek to besmirch the Zionist movement as racist and Nazi-like, this agreement might seem to be perfect ammunition."
Black's Zionist reviewers were almost all hostile to him because he brazenly cheered the fact that the WZO didn't fight Hitler. Arnost Lustig, writing in the 5/84 issue of the B'nai B'rith organ, The Jewish Monthly, said that "sometimes he gets into dangerous, carefree formulations that the critics will return to him like a boomerang." A. J. Sherman reviewed Black's book for the NY Times. He was out of sorts with Black for asking, rhetorically,
"whether the Jewish architects of the agreement were men of madness or of genius. They were of course neither... they left to others the self-indulgence of ringing denunciations and posturings for the press, delivered in. the heady atmosphere of a crowded Madison Square Garden."
Henry Feingold told us in the 9/84 issue of the American Jewish Congress journal, Congress Monthly, that "both Nazis and Zionists had something in common. Neither believed that Jewish life in the Diaspora was desirable. They were both dissimilationists. It was that shared belief which made the Transfer Agreement possible.... For a propagandist who seeks to strike at the very core of Jewish sensibility, awareness of the Transfer Agreement is like a dream come true." Black's book "plays into the hands of those who seek to destroy the state of Israel."
Eric Breindel took on Black in the 2/18/85 New Republic: "Black cannot evade responsibility for the uses to which his book is now being put by simply asserting, in his text, that suggestions of Zionist complicity in the Holocaust are 'absurd.'"
Black responded to Breindel in the 4/29/85 New Republic:
"Breindel links me with the anti-Zionist efforts of Arab propagandists, Soviet anti-Semites, and the anti-Zionist work of Lenni Brenner. That is so far from the truth, it is laughable. Indeed, Jewish leaders have felt that my book provided the precise document-by-document rebuttal to Brenner’s distortions, and encouraged the distribution of my book overseas."I sent the NR a response to Black but, knowing they wouldn't run it, I also sent it to him via his publisher, with a challenge:
"If you... believe that my books... are in need of refutation, the best way to try to do that is in debate." By now it should come as no surprise that he didn't accept my offer.
One can imagine Black's dismay when he read a 6/84 speech by Louis Farrakhan:
this transfer agreement let 60,000 German Jews into Palestine and $100 million of their money into Palestine, where they began to take land away from the Palestinian people and little by little they gained strength and power and with the backing of the nations, they claimed that land to be theirs and they called it Israel. I say to the Jewish people and to the Government of the United States: the present state called Israel is an outlaw act.... and she will never have any peace, because there can be no peace structured on injustice, thievery, lying and deceit and using the name of God to shield your gutter religion under his holy name."
Black, his Zionist critics and Farrakhan were correct on one level or another. It is instinctual for post-civil rights movement Americans to suspect any group of oppressed who try to make a deal with their oppressor. Nevertheless, Black, well aware of what they did, tried to vindicate the Ha'avara:
"The Zionists believed that they should get a homeland for the Jews and maintain that homeland, but they wanted to fulfil the vision without fulfilling the preconditions. So Zionists made a deal with Adolf Hitler. These are the same people that condemn me for saying Hitler was a great man, but a wicked man.... So for me to say that Hitler was great, I've made no mistake at all. He was great, but wickedly great, and the Zionists made a deal with Adolf Hitler according to a book called The Transfer Agreement by Edwin Black, one of their own kind....
"It was one thing for the Zionists to subvert the anti-Nazi boycott.... but soon Zionist leaders understood that the success of the future Jewish Palestinian economy would be inextricably bound up with the survival of the Nazi economy.... If the Hitler economy fell both sides would be ruined."However, he is so fanatically committed to Israel that he was driven to deceive himself with a totally false after-the-fact explanation for the traitorous pact:
"As many Jews as possible had to be brought over from Germany as fast as possible - not to save their culture, not to save their wealth, but to save their lives.... The only way to continue the transfer and rescue was to bring over large groups of so-called capitalist emigrants."
In a subsequent article in the 5/84 Jewish Monthly, Black tried his own rescue operation - on the Ha'avara. Everyone knows that modern liberation movements are not supposed to be concerned only with saving capitalists, so he told us that the wealth of these German Jews "opened the gates to hundreds of thousands of working class Polish and Eastern European immigrants."
Black claims he hired 50 people to help him research the period. He is completely familiar with the standard Holocaust literature. Yet he knowingly omitted anything from other scholars which would contradict his rescue fable. In 1983 this writer discovered that Black was working on his book, and inasmuch as my own Zionism In The Age Of The Dictators was about to be published, I wrote his editor, who put me in contact with Black. He presented me with his rescue theory. I asked if he was familiar with Abraham Margaliot's article "The Problems Of The Rescue Of German Jewry During The Years 1933-1939: The Reasons For The Delay In Their Emigration From The Third Reich," found in Rescue Attempts During The Holocaust, a tome issued by the Yad Vashem Institute, Israel’s Holocaust study center. Of course he had read it, but he was quick to tell me that he was "the person who knows more about the transfer than any person alive."
Margaliot had described a 1935 speech by Chaim Weizmann, later Israel’s first President:
"He declared that the Zionist movement would have to choose between the immediate rescue of Jews and the establishment of a national project which would ensure lasting redemption for the Jewish people. Under the circumstances, the movement, according to Weizmann, must choose the later course."
Margaliot quoted Labor Zionist leader Berl Katznelson's 1933 statement that "we know that we are not able to transfer all of German Jewry and will have to choose on the basis of the cruel criterion of Zionism." Two-thirds of the German Jews who applied to the World Zionist Organization for immigration certificates in 1933-35 were rejected while no less than 6,307 Zionist cadre were brought to Palestine from Britain, South Africa, Turkey and the Western Hemisphere.
Rescue was never the WZO's priority. Black knew of a 12/7/38 speech by David Ben-Gurion, quoted by Yoav Gelber in Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XII. In the wake of the dreadful Kristalnacht pogrom, the British, hoping to ease pressure on them to admit more immigrants to Palestine, offered to take in thousands of Jewish children directly into Britain, But Ben-Gurion, later Israel's first Prime Minister, solemnly declared that
"If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the people of Israel."
Black wouldn't debate me in the 1980s, but I'm going to challenge him again, via his publisher, Dialog Press: If Black thinks that the WZO did the right thing re Hitler in the 1930s and that I falsely accused them of collaborating with Nazism, lets debate it now, in 2009, over the internet and let the world public decide!
KILLING KASZTNER: THE JEW WHO DEALT WITH THE NAZIS
Gaylen Ross's film is three documentaries rolled into one. Labor Zionist Rezso Kasztner negotiated with Adolf Eichmann in Hungary in 1944. In 1953, Israel prosecuted pamphleteer Malchiel Gruenwald for libeling Kasztner as a collaborator.
On 4/25/44, Eichmann summoned Laborite Joel Brand, and sent him to negotiate with the WZO and the Allies. The SS would allow a million Jews to leave for Spain in exchange for 10,000 trucks, soap, coffee and other supplies. The trucks were to be used exclusively on the eastern front. As a token of good faith, Eichmann authorized Kasztner to organise a preliminary convoy of 600 Jews to Palestine. Brand never thought that the Western Allies would accept the proposition. He believed that worried SS officers wanted to invest in their futures. Live Jews were negotiable currency. Brand hoped to decoy the Nazis into thinking a deal could be made. Possibly extermination would slow down or stop while an accord was worked out. But Britain notified Stalin and publicly denounced the offer as a trick to divide the Allies.
While historians complain about how the WZO and Britain handled the Brand affair, the central issue is Kasztner’s role in Hungary. Eichmann allowed him to organise the convoy, ultimately a train to Switzerland, and place family and friends on it. Gruenwald denounced Kasztner for silence re German lies that Hungary’s Jews were only being resettled at Kenyermezo, then part of Hungary, now in Rumania.
The Labor Party got more than it bargained for. Shmuel Tamir, a brilliant cross-examiner, appeared for Gruenwald. On 6/21/55, Judge Benyamin Halevi found there had been no libel, apart from the fact that Kasztner hadn’t been motivated by monetary gain. His collaboration crucially aided the Nazis in murdering 450,000 Jews and, after the war, he compounded his offence by going to the defence of SS murderer Kurt Becher.
On 3/3/57 Kasztner was assassinated. Zeev Eckstein confessed to killing him, claiming that he was a government agent who had infiltrated a right-wing Zionist terrorist group. However, on 1/17/58 the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Kasztner-Gruenwald case. It ruled, 5 to 0, that Kasztner perjured himself on behalf of Becher. It then concluded, 3 to 2, that what he did during the war couldn’t be legally considered collaboration. Judge Shlomo Chesin argued that
“He didn’t warn Hungarian Jewry of the danger facing it because he didn’t think it would be useful, and because he thought that any deeds resulting from information given them would damage more than help .... The question is not whether a man is allowed to kill many in order to save a few, or vice-versa. The question is altogether in another sphere and should be defined as follows: a man is aware that a whole community is awaiting its doom. He is allowed to make efforts to save a few, although part of his efforts involve concealment of truth from the many; or should he disclose the truth to many though it is his best opinion that this way everybody will perish. I think the answer is clear. What good will the blood of the few bring if everyone is to perish?”Ross filmed Eckstein apologizing to Kasztner’s daughter, Zsuzsi, who defends her father’s deeds. Killing Kasztner is at its worst dealing with the collaborator, but the parts about the assassin and the daughter are new and automatically interesting, regardless of what they think.
Many Israelis refused to accept the verdict. Had Kasztner lived, Labor would have been in difficulty. Between the trial and the Supreme Court decision, Tamir uncovered evidence that Kasztner also intervened for SS Colonel Hermann Krumey. He sent the court at Nuremberg an affidavit: “Krumey performed his duties in a laudable spirit of good will, at a time when the life and death of many depended on him.”
During Eichmann’s 1961 trial, Brand’s cousin, André Biss, who worked with Kasztner and supported his policy, offered to testify. He had more contact with Eichmann than any other witness. An appearance was set, but Prosecutor Gideon Hausner discovered that Biss would defend Kasztner’s activities. He knew that there would be immense outcry. He also knew that Eichmann, in Argentina, followed the libel trial and described his relationship with Kasztner in interviews taped by a Dutch Nazi in 1955. Parts were later published in the 11/28 and 12/5/60 issues of Life magazine after his capture in 1960. The tapes showed how Eichmann might implicate Kasztner. And Halevi was one of the trial judges.
Israel gained prestige from Eichmann’s capture. The Labor government didn’t want the focus of the trial to shift away from him to a re-examination of Labor’s Holocaust record. According to Biss’s book, A Million Jews to Save, Hausner asked him “to omit from my evidence any mention of our action in Budapest, and especially to pass over in silence what was then in Israel called the ‘Kasztner affair’.” Biss refused and was dropped as a witness.
Eichmann had described “Kastner” [Life’s anglicised Kasztner] as
“a young man about my age, an ice-cold lawyer and a fanatical Zionist. He agreed to help keep the Jews from resisting deportation – and even keep order in the collection camps – if I would close my eyes and let a few hundred or a few thousand young Jews emigrate illegally to Palestine. It was a good bargain. For keeping order in the camps, the price of 15,000 or 20,000 Jews – in the end there may have been more – was not too high for me. Except perhaps for the first few sessions, Kastner never came to me fearful of the Gestapo strong man. We negotiated entirely as equals. People forget that. We were political opponents trying to arrive at a settlement, and we trusted each other perfectly. When he was with me, Kastner smoked cigarettes as though he were in a coffee-house. While we talked he would smoke one aromatic cigarette after another, taking them from a silver case and lighting them with a little silver lighter. With his great polish and reserve he would have made an ideal Gestapo officer himself.
Dr Kastner’s main concern was to make it possible for a select group of Hungarian Jews to emigrate to Israel.... As a matter of fact, there was a very strong similarity between our attitudes in the SS and the viewpoint of these immensely idealistic Zionist leaders who were fighting what might be their last battle. As I told Kastner: ‘We, too, are idealists and we, too, had to sacrifice our own blood before we came to power.’
I believe that Kastner would have sacrificed a thousand or a hundred thousand of his blood to achieve his political goal. He was not interested in old Jews or those who had become assimilated into Hungarian society. But he was incredibly persistent in trying to save biologically valuable Jewish blood – that is, human material that was capable of reproduction and hard work. ‘You can have the others’ he would say, ‘but let me have this group here.’ And because Kastner rendered us a great service by helping keep the deportation camps peaceful, I would let his groups escape. After all, I was not concerned with small groups of a thousand or so Jews.”
In 1961, Ben Hecht, a celebrity American Zionist journalist, wrote Perfidy, an expose of the Kasztner scandal, presenting pages of Tamir’s demolition of Kasztner’s defense.
Tamir - How do you account for the fact that more people were selected from Kluj [Kasztner’s home town] to be rescued than from any other Hungarian town? Kastner - That had nothing to do with me. Tamir - I put it to you that you specifically requested favoritism for your people in Kluj from Eichmann. Kastner - Yes, I asked for it specifically.
Kasztner made things up on the witness stand:
Kastner - All the local Rescue Committees were under my jurisdiction. Tamir - Committees! You speak in the plural. Kastner - Yes – wherever they existed. Tamir - Where else except in Kluj was there such a committee? Kastner - Well, I think the committee in Kluj was the only one in Hungary.
After Eichmann’s execution, Zionist-Nazi relations were debated in Israel but, excepting articles by East German Klaus Polkehn and Faris Glubb’s PLO pamphlet, Zionist Relations With Nazi Germany, the issue dropped out of international concern until the 1980s, with Zionism in the Age of the Dictators and Black’s book. My text was reviewed by London Time’s editor Edward Mortimer, who hailed it as “short, crisp and carefully documented.” This attracted the attention of Jim Allen, a leading British TV playwright, who wrote a 1987 stage play, Perdition, titled after Hecht’s Perfidy, based on my Hungarian Holocaust chapter. Two days before its opening, the Royal Court Upstairs cancelled it under Zionist pressure.
It turned into a Zionist disaster. Jim had no trouble getting nationwide prime time Diverse Reports to set up a debate. He, Marion Woolfson and I took on Zionist Martin Gilbert, the Churchill family’s appointed historian, Hungarian-born Stephen Roth, chair of the local Zionist Federation, who worked with Kasztner, and Holocaust surviver Rabbi Hugo Gryn.
Our side met with Perdition’s director, Ken Loach. He gave us our debate roles:
“Marion, you defend the public’s right to see the play and make up their own minds re Kasztner. Jim, you defend the additions and subtractions you were making in the run up to opening night. Lenni, you back him up with documents.”
I returned to the US the morning after the debate. I took the Underground to Heathrow, getting into a car via an end door. In little time I realized that many folks were looking at me. As others got on and saw people looking in one direction, they did likewise. A packed car arrived at the airport, looking at me with smiles on every face. Finally, one guy said “You won.” “I think we won. But I’d like to know why you think we won?” “We had the right to see the play and make up our own minds, Jim was making last minute changes, as playwrights do, and you backed him up with solid documentation.”
Readers understand my ego-boost as a historian and debater. But Ken was the star of that show. David Lan wrote up the debate in the 4/2/87 London Review of Books. He explained why those Brits looked at me:
“The High Court of Justice in London, 1967. Dr. Miklos Yaron, a Hungarian gynaecologist, is suing his former assistant Ruth Kaplan for libel. Kaplan has published a pamphlet accusing Yaron of collaboration with Nazi leaders in 1944....
Is there anyone in Britain interested in the theatre, in civil liberties or in Jews who can't identify this as a scene in Jim Allen's play Perdition? The successful lobbying by Jews in Britain to have its production cancelled has made it one of the most famous plays of the decade."
Zionist Holocaust historian David Cesarani, involved in the Royal Court purge, confessed, in London's 3 July 1987 Jewish Chronicle, that the public thought the theatre "had been bullied into censoring the play."
Fanatics don’t know when to quit. In 1943, Nathan Schwalb, Labor’s Swiss representative, had written a letter to party comrades in Slovakia:
“About the cries coming from your country, we should know that all the Allied nations are spilling much of their blood, and if we do not sacrifice any blood, by what right shall we merit coming before the bargaining table when they divide nations and lands at the war’s end? Therefore it is silly, even impudent, on our part to ask these nations who are spilling their blood to permit their money into enemy countries in order to protect our blood – for only with blood shall we get the land. But in respect to you, my friends, atem taylu, and for this purpose I am sending you money illegally with this messenger.”
Schwalb sued Allen, who found his letter in my book and put it in Perdition. Allen had to publish Perdition with blank space where a character quoted it. But there was a judicial day of reckoning. London’s 27/11/92 Jewish Chronicle lamented: “The collapse of a libel action has allowed... Perdition to be published in full.... The action... collapsed due to lack of evidence.”
Kasztner’s libel trial lies about his post-war efforts on Becher’s behalf, denounced even by the Supreme Court, were the bedrock of Israeli hatred of Kasztner:
Tamir - And how did it happen that Kurt Becher, a high-ranking SS leader and war criminal, was acquitted at Nuremberg as a result of your intervention and testimony?
Kasztner - That’s a lie! I never testified for him!
Zionist Holocaust scholar Walter Laqueur described the after effects in the 12/55 Commentary:
“With that, he had fallen into Tamir’s trap.... For Kastner had testified at Nuremberg, on August 4, 1947, asking that Becher’s services be accorded the ‘fullest possible consideration’.... worse was to follow... Kastner had stated that the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization had authorized him to give his testimony in Becher’s behalf.” Laqueur insisted that “this turned out not to be so,” but a 1997 article in The Journal of Israeli History by Shoshona Barri (Ishoni) documented that this was true.
She traced the evolution of Kasztner's statements re Eichman's crew:
"In September 1945, he made two statements before the American Committee for the Investigation of War Crimes.... The first described the destruction of the Jews... mentioning Krumey as the one who had headed the implementation of Eichmann's murderous program... The second statement described Becher and Wisliceny as war criminals whose only reason for benevolent activity during the final months of the war (including the preservation of Kastner's own life) had been to provide themselves with alibis; they sensed the impending defeat of the Nazis and the subsequent end of the war"
Eliahu Dobkin of the Jewish Agency, the WZO’s Palestine executive body, testified at the 1954 trial. Barri (Ishoni) tells us that
“when Dobkin was called to the witness stand, he denied ever having heard Becher’s name.... Kastner sent a letter to Justice Halevi in which he attempted to prove that....Dobkin had been scheduled during the war to meet Becher in Lisbon as part of the rescue attempts. He had also been party to the Jewish Agency’s rescue work and was therefore familiar with all reports issued on rescue activities, including Kastner’s own report (which had been written in 1946).... Kastner claimed that it was impossible that this man should not be familiar with Becher’s name. This claim of Kastner’s sounds quite plausible. Dobkin was indeed about to meet Becher during the war.... Becher’s name appeared innumerable times in Kastner’s own report.”
She explains that the WZO was trying to get its hands on the 'Becher deposit,' "money and valuables taken from the Jews of Hungary and later turned over by Becher to [Moshe] Schweiger acting on behalf of the Rescue Committee” run by Kasztner. “This treasure was then taken from Schweiger by the American forces.” Barri (Ishoni) discovered that
“there was a total of seven interventions by Kastner on behalf of Nazi war criminals.... Certainly the Jewish Agency knew of some of them.... archival sources suggest the probability that the Jewish Agency was aware of them all.”
She explained that
“Members of the Jewish Agency... were concerned that... the Jewish people. lacking a state, was not represented in the Nuremberg court.... Kastner, as one who was acquainted with top ranking Nazis, could testify as to their activities, and could at the same time report on the trials’ proceedings. These were the reasons for his employment at Nuremberg. It is therefore difficult to accept the picture painted during the 1954 trial and thereafter, that Kastner’s sojourn in Nuremberg was entirely on his own initiative.”
Ever since the 1954 trial, Israeli historians and dramatists have tried to explain Kasztner's Becher intervention. Barri (Ishoni) said that
"This article does support the view that Kastner underwent psychological processes that influenced his testimonies.... Psychologists use the term 'cognitive dissonance' to describe what happens to someone who has performed an act in the past that is difficult to live with."
Among Barri (Ishoni)'s major contributions to the discussion is detailing Jewish Agency use of Kasztner in their chase after the Becher deposit and adding that as a factor explaining his obviously morbid character development. Gaylen Ross certainly knows Barri (Ishoni)'s development of the JA's role, but the documentary focused on Kasztner, not the JA's role, which is not an artistic sin. Therefore this discussion follows her line of thought and doesn't develop the JA's involvement in this morbid tale. Readers interested in that should go directly to her excellent article.
New York's 10/23 Jewish Week says that "Ross became inspired several years ago when... she heard sociologist Egon Mayer, who was one of the "Kasztner Jews," say that the train represented 'the single largest successful rescue of Jews by Jews during the Holocaust.'" The NY Times review focuses on his mother, Hedy Mayer, "several months pregnant when she boarded Mr. Kasztner's train." As I edited 51 Documents: Zionist Collaboration With The Nazis, published in 2002, I discovered Mayer's website devoted to defending Kasztner. It quoted his 1946 German Bericht or Report, unpublished in English, so I went to him and asked for a copy:
"I want to read it because I don't want to be blindsided, unaware of evidence exonerating him. If I find any such, I'll run it."
I meant it, but I expected to get a big no, given my condemnation of Mayer's hero. When Egon realized that I was a serious scholar, he not only gave me the Bericht, he gave me a translation he had privately made for him. Ultimately I showed Egon the 33 pages of excerpts that I wanted to put in the book. "Was it fair to Kasztner?" "Run it." Total co-operation with someone who opposes your politics is otherworldly saintliness. Later yet, he told me that he was "a demographer, not a historian. What I don't understand is how Zionism evolved from a basically secular movement into one overrun with religious fanatics." I told him that I'd contact him and we would set a time for such a serious discussion. Days later he got sick, was hospitalized and died.
An obituary cited his open co-operative character. Indeed I've met people of many different politics including my own. But few of their deaths upset me as much as Egon's. In his memory, I donated a copy of the yet unpublished Report to the Jewish Room of New York's 42nd Street Public Library. And now memory of him makes me declare that Zsuzsi Kasztner may think her father was a hero and still be a nice person. He collaborated with Eichmann, not her. Defending her father is a very human mistake. But he was the collaborator that Hecht and Allen and I say he was.
Lenni Brenner is the author of Zionism in the Age of the Dictators. His writings presently on theInternet are listed at www.smithbowen.net/linfame/brenner He can be reached at email@example.com