Unlike the Judenrat, the Jewish Council which acted as an administrative
clearing house for the Germans, the Rescue committee actively opposed
German measures and tried to help as many as possible survive or escape.
It was originally organized in 1941 as a Zionist mutual assistance
organization, to aid and support refuges coming into Hungary from recently
German occupied lands in Poland and Slovakia. After the Germans entered
Hungary in 1944 its agenda evolved. The Committee collected funds from
neutral channels through Switzerland and Turkey, assisted and expedited
refugees and escapees from Hungary and elsewhere, supplied documents,
hiding place, food, medical care. Special emphasis was on children. Over
fifty children’s homes were run by the Committee, in addition to children
homes it supervised, coordinated and monitored run by the IRK and some
Protestant churches. Its young Chalutz section purchased and carried arms
for defense against the Arrow-Cross.
composition and make-up of the Committee reflected the Zionist party
affiliations and their strength in percentages. Distribution of documents,
passports, immigration certificates as well as the recent space allocation
on the Musterzug- strictly followed the jealously guarded party’s
members of the Rescue Committee were exempt from wearing the Yellow Star,
were allowed to live in private dwellings, could drive and use public
transport. They were free to move about the city, and had access to the SS
administration. The office of the Committee was originally in the Sip Utca
Number 12 Jewish Community building, which also housed the Judenrat.
Sometimes, as a result of adverse developing situations it was forced
into ad hoc meetings in private apartments, such as at the Brand factory,
the Biss office/apartment and the IRK house.
Komoly, a civil engineer, with contacts among the Hungarian political,
business and cultural elite as well as the ruling echelon, reaching all
the way to the Regent Horthy whom he knew personally was nominated
president. He was a centrist. Kastner, a socialist was nominated Vice
President., with Brand also a socialist running the field operations.
Hansi Brand took care of children services and assisted her husband in
early negotiations with Eichmann. Samu Springmann, a jeweler, a socialist
was in charge of the courier service, Shulem Offenbach from Poland handled
the finances, Zvi Szilágy, a Zionist-Marxist headed the illegal
immigration efforts until arrested and sent to Mauthausen concentration
camp, Eugen Frankel of the Orthodox Centrist party with Moshe Krausz of
the Orthodox Mizrachi party were in charge of immigration certificates.
Andreas Biss was a later member with extensive contacts with the Gestapo;
Peretz Révész of the leftist socialists was the head of the armed Chalutz
groups and field operatives.
affiliated with the Committee were Dov Weiss, Moshe Rosenberg, Siegfried
Roth, Uziel Lichtenberg, Joska Baumer and Fűlop von Freudiger, the Neolog
Rabbi of Budapest who fled overnight with his family, without notice, to
Romania. Moshe Schweiger, a lawyer from Yugoslavia, was the designated
Haganah representative on the Committee, arrested, sent to Mauthausen and
eventually freed by Becher as a favor to Kastner according to Becher.
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