Uri Avnery – Israel Kastner’s train to freedom (88/315)


As I said, Tamir began the trial with nothing. No evidence. In a case of libel usually the person who has been slandered, seeking to have his name restored, takes the witness stand first, as if to say, ‘Please, question me’. And so it was. Kastner took the stand and he was questioned day after day after day. Meanwhile, all kinds of Hungarian Jews came to Tamir. Some of the Hungarian Jews admired Kastner and some hated him. Why? Because Kastner had initially obtained from Eichmann permission to let him take 420 Jews out of Hungary to Switzerland, by train through Germany. The Jews who had boarded the train adored him, the Jews who did not get on the train blamed him. Why not them? So all kinds of people who hated him brought all sorts of things, snippets of information, and those kind of things. During the investigation an amazing thing was discovered: that Eichmann had called Kastner. During the war, although he had no official status, Kastner had established a Zionist Rescue Committee for the Hungarian Jews, and in the name of the organization he actually did come into contact with Eichmann. Later Eichmann said he despised the Jews, except the Zionists, because the Zionists had a ‘more desirable biological basis’. Then he just wanted to talk with the Zionists, with official Jewish institutions. the Jews had official institutions in Hungary. Institutions composed of wealthy and respectable Jews. Eichmann did not want to deal with them.

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