"Kasztner" Makes an Impact Once Again

This brilliant documentary seeks to establish the hero status of Rudolf Kasztner. Kasztner successfully bargained with Adolf Eichmann to save the lives of approximately 1,600 Jews, who were transported out of Hungary to Switzerland, and an additional 19,000 Jews who were sent to work camps instead of death camps. Shortly before the end of World War II, Eichmann masterminded the killing of near 600,000 Hungarian Jews.

Kasztner ends up in living in Palestine under the British mandate, and eventually becomes a member of the Ben-Gurion government in the new state of Israel. Another Israeli calls him a Holocaust collaborator, who is then sued by the Israeli government for libel. The judge overseeing the case believes Kasztner lied about certain documents and acquits Kasztner's alleged slanderer. Ultimately the Israeli Supreme Court reverses the judgment, but Kasztner's reputation is never fully restored.

The documentary spectacularly sets forth what occurred and establishes, to my satisfaction, that Kasztner was a hero. Kasztner is killed shortly after the first trial finding him to be a collaborator. His assassin, who is presented in the film, comes to the conclusion that he was wrong. He now believes that Kasztner was a hero bargaining with the Nazis to release Jews in exchange for money - $1000 for each Jew.

The movie contains a number of enthralling vignettes. One of those is about the Satmar's founding rabbi, Joseph Teitelbaum, who was saved by Kasztner by being placed on the train to Switzerland. When asked to appear at the Israeli Court on behalf of Kasztner, he refused, saying that Kasztner did not save him, God did. The Satmar, one of the largest Hasidic groups in New York City, is centered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

"Killing Kasztner" will cause you to weep, even without displaying heartrending concentration camps scenes where six million Jews died.  As far as the world is concerned, the Holocaust appears to be slipping into ancient history, like the days of Rome and Athens.

I urge everyone, Jew and Gentile, to see this film and meet the surviving family members of Rudolf Kasztner, particularly his wife and daughter. It is playing at the Cinema Village on East 12th Street, between Fifth Avenue and University Place.  The theater was near full when I went, and the audience appeared to consist of elderly Jews, some of whom may have been survivors.

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Ed Koch was mayor of NYC from 1978 to 1989. He's credited with restoring fiscal stability to the city and creating affordable housing. He's also a film buff. More

Mayor Koch saved New York City from bankruptcy and restored the pride of New Yorkers during his three terms as mayor from 1978-1989. He restored fiscal stability by placing the city on a GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practices) balanced budget. He created a housing program that provided more than 150,000 units of affordable housing and created New York City's first merit judicial selection system. Prior to being mayor, Mr. Koch served for nine years as a congressman and two years as a member of the New York City Council. He attended City College of New York from 1941 to 1943. He was drafted into the Army his last year of college and served with the 104th Infantry Division. He received two battle stars and was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1946. He received his LL.B. degree from the New York University School of Law in 1948 and began to practice law immediately thereafter. He is currently a partner in the law firm of Bryan Cave LLP and hosts a call-in radio program on Bloomberg AM 1130 (WBBR). Mr. Koch appears weekly on NY1 television and is the author of ten autobiographical books.

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