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Adolf Eichmann's offer


Israel Kastner's train to freedom
Uri Avnery Social activist
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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. After all, the Jews had official institutions in Hungary. Institutions composed of wealthy and respectable Jews. Eichmann did not want to deal with them.

תמיר התחיל את המשפט כאמור עם כלום. כלום ביד. במשפטי דיבה בדרך כלל מתחילים בזה שהתובע, המושמץ, התובע את עלבונו, מציב את עצמו ראשון על דוכן העדים, כאילו אומר: "בבקשה, תחקרו אותי”. וכך היה. וקסטנר עלה על דוכן העדים והוא חקר אותו יום ועוד יום ועוד יום. בינתיים כל מיני יהודים הונגריים באו לתמיר. יהודי הונגריה חלק העריצו את קסטנר וחלק שנאו אותו. למה? מפני שקסטנר השיג בהתחלה מאייכמן  שאייכמן ייתן לו להוציא 420 יהודים מהונגריה  לשווייץ ברכבת דרך גרמניה. והיהודים שעלו על הרכבת העריצו אותו, היהודים שלא עלו על הרכבת האשימו אותו למה הם לא. אז כל מיני אנשים ששנאו אותו הביאו כל מיני דברים, קטעי מידע וכאלה מין דברים. בחקירה התגלה דבר מדהים: שאייכמן קרא לקסטנר. קסטנר הקים במלחמה, למרות שלא היה לו שום מעמד רשמי, הקים ועדת הצלה ציונית של יהודי הונגריה, ובשמה הוא באמת בא במגע עם אייכמן וכו'. לימים אמר אייכמן שהוא בז ליהודים, חוץ מאשר לציונים, מפני שבציונים היה יסוד ביולוגי עדיף. אז הוא רק רצה לדבר עם ציונים, עם המוסדות היהודים הרשמיים. הרי ליהודים היו מוסדות רשמיים בהונגריה. מוסדות של יהודים מכובדים ועשירים, איתם אייכמן לא רצה להתעסק.‏


Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Israel Kastner, Schmuel Tamir, Adolf Eichmann

Duration: 2 minutes, 50 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017