Kasztner's Train: The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust

Anna Porter, Author . Walker $26.95 (431p) ISBN 978-0-8027-1596-8

Porter (The Storyteller ) seeks to rehabilitate the reputation of Rezso Kasztner. This Hungarian Jew was branded a Nazi collaborator by Academy Award–winning screenwriter Ben Hecht in his 1961 book, Perfidy. But more recently Kasztner has been exonerated by Israel's Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem. After 400,000 Hungarian Jews were deported to Auschwitz in 1944, Kasztner, a point man in a “goods-for-blood” deal with Nazi henchman Adolf Eichmann, arranged for a train to carry 1,684 Jews from Hungary to Switzerland, wealthy Jews paying $1,500 per person while the poor paid nothing. For $100 a head, Eichmann kept an additional 20,000 Jews alive in Austrian labor camps. After the war Kasztner relocated to Israel, where in 1952 he was accused of being a Nazi collaborator who saved a privileged few at the expense of thousands of others. Kasztner sued for malicious libel and lost on most counts; the trial made international headlines; and Kasztner was assassinated in 1957 by right-wing extremists. Although a well-researched counterbalance to Hecht's account, Porter's defense may swing too much in favor of Kasztner, given that most of the participants are deceased and much of the evidence is anecdotal. Readers, however, will welcome the opportunity to debate the ever-relevant moral issues of doing business with the enemy. Illus. 16 pages of b&w illus., 3 maps. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/28/2008
Release date: 03/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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Paperback - 431 pages - 978-0-8027-1741-2
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