The Kasztner Controversy

If Reszo Kasztner saved Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust, why was he put on trial and assassinated?

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Decades later, the dispute continues to linger in Israel's consciousness. Was Kasztner a hero or a villain? For most of Kasztner's survivors and their descendants, thousands of individuals, the answer seems obvious. The controversy has been the subject of several books, and most recently a documentary film called Killing Kasztner (2008), which attempts to demonstrate that Kasztner acted heroically during the war. By and large, historians seem to agree with that conclusion.

But others believe that Kasztner should never have negotiated directly with the Nazis, and that by selecting family, friends, and members of Hungary’s elite for rescue, he had gone too far in determining who would live, and who would die.

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Shoshana Olidort

Shoshana Olidort is a freelance writer based in New York. Her work has appeared in the Forward, Ha'aretz, Pleiades and The American Book Review, among other publications.