Rezső Kasztner, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Date of Death


Rezső Kasztner

Jewish-Hungarian lawyer and journalist

Date of Birth: 01-Jan-1906

Place of Birth: Cluj-Napoca, Cluj County

Date of Death: 15-Mar-1957

Profession: lawyer, politician, journalist

Nationality: Hungary, Israel

Zodiac Sign: Capricorn

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About Rezső Kasztner

  • Rezso Kasztner (1906 – 15 March 1957), also known as Rudolf Israel Kastner, was a Hungarian-Jewish journalist and lawyer who became known for having helped Jews escape from occupied Europe during the Holocaust.
  • He was assassinated in 1957 after an Israeli court accused him of having collaborated with the Nazis. Kasztner was one of the leaders of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee (Va'adat Ezrah Vehatzalah, or Vaada), which smuggled Jewish refugees into Hungary during World War II, then helped them escape from Hungary when in March 1944 the Nazis invaded that country too. Between May and July 1944, Hungary's Jews were deported to the gas chambers at Auschwitz at the rate of 12,000 people a day.
  • Kasztner negotiated with Adolf Eichmann, a senior SS officer, to allow 1,684 Jews to leave instead for Switzerland on what became known as the Kastner train, in exchange for money, gold and diamonds. Kasztner moved to Israel after the war, becoming a spokesman for the Ministry of Trade and Industry in 1952.
  • In 1953 he was accused of having been a Nazi collaborator in a pamphlet self-published by Malchiel Gruenwald, a freelance writer.
  • The allegation stemmed from his relationship with Eichmann and another SS officer, Kurt Becher, and from his having given positive character references after the war for Becher and two other SS officers, thus allowing Becher to escape prosecution for war crimes.
  • The Israeli government sued Gruenwald for libel on Kasztner's behalf, resulting in a trial that lasted 18 months, and a ruling in 1955 that Kasztner had, in the words of Judge Benjamin Halevy, "sold his soul to the devil".By saving the Jews on the "Kasztner train", while failing to warn others that their "resettlement" was in fact deportation to the gas chambers, Kasztner had sacrificed the mass of Jewry for a chosen few, the judge said.
  • The verdict triggered the fall of the Israeli Cabinet.Kasztner resigned his government position and became a virtual recluse, telling reporters he was living with a loneliness "blacker than night, darker than hell".
  • His wife fell into a depression that left her unable to get out of bed, while his daughter's schoolmates threw stones at her in the street.Kasztner was shot on March 3, 1957 by Zeev Eckstein, part of a three-man squad from a group of veterans from the pre-state militia Lehi led by Yosef Menkes and Yaakov Heruti, and died of his injuries twelve days later.
  • The Supreme Court of Israel overturned most of the judgment against Kasztner in January 1958, stating in a split decision that the lower court had "erred seriously".

Read more at Wikipedia