Rezso Kasztner Imagine doing whatever you could to save Jewish people from the Nazis and be attacked for it and eventually be assassinated. That was exactly what happened to Rezso Kasztner when members of his family were being taken away to concentration camps. He was a part of a relief organization to help Jews in this time, this organization helped him to supply the money used for his negotiations. Rezso Kasztner tried some unusual methods to gain the freedom for many Jews in Hungary and faced criticism for his efforts. According to the Gale Encyclopedia of U. S. History, the Holocaust was a miserable vent in history.
Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi party during the 1930’s and 40’s was determined to get rid of the entire Jewish population. Europe had experienced anti- Semitism before in the past, which is the discrimination against the Jewish religion. The first Nazi riot that marked the beginning of the Holocaust was Kristallnacht, or “The Night of Broken Glass. ” The attack on the Jews that night included heavily damaging their synagogues, stores, and homes and killing or arresting many Jews. The Nazis also set up ghettos, where Jews would live in the most horrible conditions.
The Nazis developed “The Final Solution,” a plan to get rid of all the Jews. They decided the best way was to set up concentration camps or labor camps to slowly kill off their existence, so they would not pass on their traits and have the Nazis’ idea of the perfect race ruined. Though the Nazis did not carry out their goal, they managed to kill 5-6 million Jews in cruel ways. In the end all members involved in the killings were tried and many executed at the Nuremberg trials. Hitler however, committed suicide instead of being punished for his actions. “Holocaust”) Rezso Kasztner was raised in Kolozsvar, Hungary, in the late 1900’s (Porter 9). Kasztner grew up in a household with his mother, father, and his older brother. His father and his brother were both active Zionists and both planning to move to Palestine. Rezso’s brother had already gone to work in Palestine, and Rezso was planning on travelling there too, but his father suddenly died, and he had to take care of his mother. As Rezso grew older and World War II began, he started helping the Jewish refugees that were immigrating to Hungary.
He started the Relief and Rescue Committee to bring Jews in that were immigrating to Hungary. Kasztner could fix any problem, and people always came to him to do it (Porter 15). Then Hungary was taken over by Romania, which was under control of the Nazis, and all the Jews that had immigrated were being transported to concentration and labor camps. When the Jews of Hungary were being sent to concentration camps, Rezso decided that he was going to buy their way out of the camps. Rezso knew that if he was going to save so many lives that he had to negotiate with the Nazis.
He knew nat reoelllon or escaping Trom tne Nazls would Kill more people tnan ne would save (Fro]imovics and Weitz). The rescue took place under Nazi circumstances. Rezso met with top generals whenever they wanted to and wherever they wanted to. General Dieter von Wisliceny was the one that asked for $2 million from the Hungarians to stop sending the Jews to concentration camps (Fro]imovics and Weitz). Kasztner went into many negotiations, but they were not satisfied enough. He then made a deal to supply them with military items in exchange for Jews who were supposed to be deported Fro]imovics and Weitz).
These negotiations put Rezso at many personal risks, but he still sacrificed a lot to get the Jews safe. Even though Rezso had a chance to save himself, he still “put everything on the line-his life, his reputation, his family, and sometimes much more that would have been reasonable” (Szita 222). He took another risk by negotiating with some of the top Nazi officers, when they couldVe easily captured him. Kasztner traded money and other valuables with Adolf Eichmann, a close partner of Hitler’s, for 1 ,685 Jews to be brought to Switzerland nstead of Auschwitz (“Rudolf Kastner”).
Kasztner’s train, in the end, left the concentration camps in the summer of 1944 with 1,685 people on board (FroJimovics and Weitz). Also, over 20,00 Jews were transported to Strasshof instead of being placed in Auschwitz, they did not get to freedom but many survived to thank him for his efforts (Fro]imovics and Weitz). It is believed that Rezso managed to save over 100,000 Jews from concentration and labor camps. Rezso also risked meeting with other Jewish people to plan having them deported from the country.
Meeting with ther Jewish leaders was a risk because if any of the Nazis officers found out he was helping them get out of the country before they could be paid for they would stop negotiating with him. After the war many Nazi officers were being tried and convicted during the trials, and Rezso stood up for some of the officers he had negotiated with. Rezso defended Hermann Krumey and Dieter Wisliceny during their trials (“Rudolf Kastner”). These personal risks had many outcomes. After these trials, the Jewish people were mad when they heard that Kasztner spoke in favor of the Nazi officers (“Rudolf Kastner”).
Many years later, after he had moved to Israel, Rezso was put on trial for collaborating with the enemy. A Judge said that Rezso had “sold his soul to the devil” (Blumenthal), and many people were angry at him for negotiating with the Nazis (Blumenthal). Rezso became the “bad guy’ and was hated by the Jewish people. His actions and his trial created great controversy in Israel in 1955 (Blumenthal). Rezso was found not guilty of being the enemy, even though most of the Jewish population thought he should be executed for his actions.
After many ears Rezso was assassinated outside of his Tel Aviv home at the age of 57 (Blumenthal). Rezso Kasztner was a great negotiator who used money and his skills to help save many Jews. His negotiations for Jews was important because he saved many important people from the concentration camps, and many of those people became successTul Decause 0T nlm. Rezso rls ea K nls reputatlon ana nls IITe Tor people ne didn’t even know. Unfortunately, Rezso also faced criticism for he did what he did. People could learn something from him like there are more important things than reputation to worry about.