In regard to “No good deed goes unpunished” (Oct. 16), here are the words of those who were eyewitnesses to this history, quoted in Ben Hecht’s 1962 book “Perfidy.”
Adolf Eichmann: “I believe that Kasztner would have sacrificed a thousand or a hundred thousand of his blood to achieve his political goalâ€¦.You can have the others, he would say, ‘but let me have the group here.’ And because Kasztner rendered us a great service by helping keep the deportation camps peaceful, I would let this group escape. After all, I was not concerned with small groups of a thousand or so Jews.â€¦That was the gentleman’s agreement I had with Kasztner.”
Shmuel Tamir, defense attorney for Malchiel Greenwald: “We have never said Kasztner was a traitor who did what he did simply to receive money from the Nazis. He did not start with treason. He started with collaboration – which the Nazis preferred. The traitor is not the most efficient instrument for an enemy. A traitor hands over his regiment, his information, and his job is finished. The traitor’s way is one act of surrender. Collaboration is a more effective technique. You take an important figure from the other side, and you help him play the drama in which he stars as the leader of his people. You help him show successes and triumphs (little ones). But the cost of these successes to the people is their destruction. Kasztner the collaborator was worse than any Petain or Quisling because Kasztner’s collaboration didn’t sacrifice honor and freedom alone. It accomplished the complete extermination of the people themselves – after which nothing remains.”
Judge Halevi: “Kasztner did not exaggerate when he said that Becher was released by the allies because of his personal intervention. The lies in the affidavit of Kasztner and the contradictions and various pretexts, which were proven to be lies, were sufficient to annul the value of his statements and to prove that there was no good faith in his testimony in favor of this German war criminal. Kasztner’s affidavit in favor of Becher was a willfully false affidavit given in favor of a war criminal to save him from trial and punishment in Nuremberg.”
With six million murdered Jewish souls screaming from their graves, perhaps we owe it to ourselves to read Ben Hecht’s “Perfidy” before we indulge in any revisionist version of the story of Rudolph Kasztner.
The editor responds: A more recent book, “Kasztner’s Train,” by Anna Porter (Walker & Company, 2007), is subtitled “The True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust.” The author notes that the sociologist Egon Mayer, whose family was saved by Kasztner and who had “spent years studying what Kasztner had done, accumulating documents and translating key items from the archives,” called “Perfidy” “the most biased, least researched book he had ever read on the subject.” Worth a read.