Kasztner’s Crime

Kasztner’s Crime

Jewish Studies

List Price: $99.95


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ISBN: 978-1-4128-6340-7
Pages: 335
Binding: Hardcover
Publication Date: 08-30-2016
Also available as:
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This book reexamines one of the most intense controversies of the Holocaust: the role of Rezső Kasztner in facilitating the murder of most of Nazi-occupied Hungary’s Jews in 1944. Because he was acting head of the Jewish rescue operation in Hungary, some have hailed him as a savior. Others have charged that he collaborated with the Nazis in the deportations to Auschwitz. What is indisputable is that Adolf Eichmann agreed to spare a special group of 1,684 Jews, who included some of Kasztner’s relatives and friends, while nearly 500,000 Hungarian Jews were sent to their deaths. Why were so many lives lost?

After World War II, many Holocaust survivors condemned Kasztner for complicity in the deportation of Hungarian Jews. It was alleged that, as a condition of saving a small number of Jewish leaders and select others, he deceived ordinary Jews into boarding the trains to Auschwitz. The ultimate question is whether Kastztner was a Nazi collaborator, as branded by Ben Hecht in his 1961 book Perfidy, or a hero, as Anna Porter argued in her 2009 book Kasztner’s Train. Opinion remains divided.

Paul Bogdanor makes an original, compelling case that Kasztner helped the Nazis keep order in Hungary’s ghettos before the Jews were sent to Auschwitz, and sent Nazi disinformation to his Jewish contacts in the free world. Drawing on unpublished documents, and making extensive use of the transcripts of the Kasztner and Eichmann trials in Israel, Kasztner’s Crime is a chilling account of one man’s descent into evil during the genocide of his own people.

Editorial Reviews

“[A] well-researched book on the contentious Kasztner affair – a controversy that commenced in wartime Hungary and has continued until the present day. . . . Bogdanor demonstrates that Kasztner’s story after 1945 constantly changed, peppered by omissions and contradictions . . . at the back of the reader’s mind, there will still lurk the question of what he or she would have done in Kasztner’s position. A course of action which resides in the grayness of immoral choice – the difference between bad and worse. Bogdanor’s book provides uncomfortable food for thought in this personal arena as well.”

—Colin Shindler, The Jerusalem Post

“[S]ets out the case against [Kasztner] in damning detail. Even the most devoted defender might have second thoughts after reading his book.”

—Jenny Frazer, The Times of Israel

"Paul Bogdanor studied the image of Kasztner and published his conclusions from the evidence given by Holocaust survivors about the controversial man. In his new book the author shatters the positive myth created around Kasztner, whereby he was a hero who saved many Jews from the clutches of the Nazis."

—NRG, Israeli news site “Mr Bogdanor, who spent ten painstaking years researching Kasztner's connection with the Nazis, uncovered the terrible truth after examining a number of unequivocal - and until now overlooked - testimonies of Holocaust survivors. He also delved into Kasztner's own post-war report and other documented evidence, much of which has never been translated into English before.”

—Jennifer Newton, The Daily Mail

“Rumours and unsubstantiated charges that Kasztner sacrificed the lives of Jews are not new. The claims led to a controversial libel trial in Israel in the 1950s. But it is the first time that he can be shown 'beyond all doubt' to have played a role in the genocide and to have knowingly betrayed his people.”

—Kirstie McCrum, The Mirror

“[A]n incredible work of investigative writing that merits full attention . . . In writing Kasztner’s Crime, Bogdanor aims to right a great injustice to the memories of the Holocaust victims by exposing Kasztner for what he was. The intelligent and well-supported case he puts forward is certainly damning, and tallies with the verdict of the Israeli court in 1955, which concluded that Kasztner had ‘sold his soul to the Devil.’"

—Lovereading.co.uk book review

“I am deeply troubled, almost traumatized by the well-researched answers which Bogdanor gives . . . a must read”

—Joseph Olmert, Adjunct Professor, University of South Carolina

"[Paul Bogdanor] gives us a more compelling and convincing overall assessment of Kasztner... well-researched... Bogdanor[’s] book is a must read." – Dr Josef Olmert, Department of Political Science, University of South Carolina

“[T]he majority of Hungary’s Jews were never warned about their imminent fate [in Nazi death camps], but believed they were being resettled for forced labor ‘in the east.’ . . . [Paul Bogdanor’s] well-researched and incisive indictment. . . is both graphic and convincing. It will undoubtedly cause renewed shockwaves among the descendants of survivors worldwide.”

—John S. Conway, Professor Emeritus of History, University of British Columbia


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Table of Contents

1     The Underground 
2     Negotiating with Nazis 
3     Salvation or Extermination? 
4     Two Days in May 
5     Co-opting the Rescuers 
6     The Brand Mission 
7     The Kenyérmező Deception
8     Sabotaging Rescue in the Ghettos 
9     The Strasshof Deal 
10    Deceiving the Outside World 
11     The Strasshof Operation 
12     Gestapo Informer 
13     Sabotaging Rescue in Budapest 
14     Pseudo-Rescuer 
15     A Guest of the SS 
16     Nuremberg 
17     Kasztner in Court 
18     The Verdicts 
Source Abbreviations 
Important Names