Despite the complete and total exoneration of Kastner by Supreme Court
Judge Agranat, hearing the appeal on January 1958, nine months after
Kastner’s assassination on March 1957 and two and one-half years after
Judge Halevi’s pronouncement that Kastner made a ‘….pact with the devil’
in June 1955, it took the army of detractors, the writers, the columnists,
the press and many historians decades to recant their statements and shed
their theories of Kastner’s culpability.
has is it, that both Tamir and Halevi recanted shortly before their death.
So did a very noisy Uri Avneri, editor of the Haolam-Haze weekly at the
time. Kastner’s granddaughter, the Israeli television personality Meirav
Michaeli was lobbying in vain for years for a venue to be named after
Kastner. It has not happened yet.
late Ephraim Kishon, an internationally acclaimed Israeli writer and
humorist of Hungarian origin, talking to an interviewer, told about an
uncle “….even uncle Edward himself did not hurry to emigrate to Palestine
and only by chance was he saved from extermination. He was on the train to
Bergen-Belsen, the one organized by Kastner, the one who sold his soul to
the Devil. Yes, so the idiot among the world’s judges called him.”
Misnomers such as calling the train, The Kastner Train, or the trial, The
Kastner Trial when neither was true. The train was obtained by Kastner
from Eichmann, but the organization of it, the space allocations, the
division of party entitlements, the payments both in Budapest and in
Kolozsvár were not Kastner’s doing. In the trial, the accused was Malkiel
Gruenwald, Kastner was the Plaintiff. Thus it clearly was the Gruenwald
trial. Tagging Kastner’s name to it sheds aspersions on the man who
accomplished unbelievable feats.
was never such an oppressive silence of the normally outspoken Israeli
press and the thousands who lived in Israel and around the world, whose
lives he saved and who were not heard from during the trial when it
counted. It remains a puzzle. Kastner was right on target when he
addressed the leadership and said that they would go all out to celebrate
dead heroes, something that is politically safe. However live heroes are
unpredictable, one does not know what kind of political beans they may
spill; they are uncomfortable and fickle and erratic. In Russia they kill
them. In a democratic society they assassinate their character. One, is an
instant death, the other is a slow death.
2007 Yad-Vashem in Jerusalem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum has embarked
on a rehabilitation process of Kastner. The late Josef Lapid, a noted
journalist, former Knesset member and Government Minister, chairman of
Yad-Vashem’s Board of Directors and a Hungarian survivor, declared:
“There was no man in the history of the Holocaust who saved more Jews and
was subjected to more injustice, than Israel Kastner.” Kastner’s daughter
Suzanne, at the unveiling of her father’s archives at Yad-Vashem, added
“…the State of Israel has finally retrieved its lost honor…”
Kastner detractors have not yet discarded their theories and will keep to
their distorted views that Kastner was a collaborator with his Nazi
cohorts against his own people. It will surely keep the controversy alive
for some time to come.
Back to the Cast