a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


My interview with Israel Kastner


Selling his soul to the devil
Uri Avnery Social activist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

מפנה שראו אותו, מפני שישב שם השופט בנימין הלוי, שבעצמו היה טיפוס מאוד-מאוד מוזר ותמהוני. בנימין הלוי, שבהתחלה התייחס לכל העניין, לתמיר, בזלזול. תמיר היה עורך דין קטן ולא חשוב. ואז אתה ראית ממש על הפנים שלו שהשתנו. מאותו רגע הלוי הפך לעבד של תמיר, כל חייו. לעבד ממש, משרת. ובסוף נתן את פסק הדין התמהוני הזה שקסטנר מכר את נשמתו לשטן. בסוף, אחרי שקסטנר כבר נרצח, בית המשפט העליון זיכה את קסטנר מכל הטענות נגדו. הוא הרי לא היה נאשם, לא היה מה לזכות, אבל מכל הטענות נגדו חוץ מאחת: העדות לקורט בֶּכֶר. למה קסטנר נתן עדות למען קורט בֶּכֶר? אז אפשר להגיד: הוא עשה אתו "דיל", הוא אדם הגון, בֶּכֶר עמד ב"דיל", קיים מה שהבטיח והוא גם קיים. אבל אני שמתי לב לפרט קטן מוזר: המסמך הזה, שבו דיווח קסטנר על העדות שלו לטובת בֶּכֶר, למי הייתה מכוונת? לא לשרת, לאליעזר קפלן. אליעזר קפלן היה הגזבר של הסוכנות היהודית, אחר כך היה שר האוצר במדינה. מה לעזאזל קסטנר מדווח על עדות במשפט של קצין אס.אס. לגזבר של הסוכנות היהודית? וההשערה שלי, אין לי הוכחה אבל אני משוכנע בה לחלוטין, הייתה שלבֶּכֶר היו אוצרות גדולים של רכוש של יהודי הונגריה והעדות של קסטנר למען בֶּכֶר בין השאר הייתה, לפי ההשערה שלי, אמצעי בשביל להעביר את הרכוש הזה לידי מישהו. לידי הסוכנות היהודית או לידי מפא"י, אולי לידי ה"הגנה", למישהו. ככה זה מסתדר בראש שלי.‏

This was the turning point because they saw it, because Judge Benjamin Halevi who was himself a very, very strange and eccentric individual was sitting there. Benjamin Halevi, who had initially treated the whole thing – and Tamir – dismissively. Tamir was a minor and unimportant lawyer. But then you could see that his face changed and from that moment Halevi became devoted to Tamir, forever. He was his slave, his servant. And finally he gave that strange verdict that Kastner had 'sold his soul to the devil'.  In the end, after Kastner had already been killed, the Supreme Court acquitted him of all the charges against him. He would not have been accused; there would have been no need for acquittal on all of the charges against him except for one:  his testimony on behalf of Kurt Becher. Why did Kastner testify on behalf of Kurt Becher? One can say that he made a deal with him, he was a decent man, Becher upheld his end of the deal, fulfilling his promises. But I noticed a strange detail:  this document, in which Kastner reported during his testimony in favour of Becher, for whom was it intended? Not for Sharett or Eliezer Kaplan. Eliezer Kaplan had been the Treasurer of the Jewish Agency and later was the Israeli Minister of Finance. Why on earth was Kastner reporting about his testimony at the trial of an SS officer to the Treasurer of the Jewish Agency? It is my conjecture, although I have no proof, but I am absolutely convinced that it was because Becher had amassed considerable treasures of Hungarian Jewish properties and Kastner's testimony on behalf of Becher, among other things, was, according to my theory, a means for transferring this property to someone. To the Jewish Agency or to Mapai, or perhaps to the Haganah, to anyone. This is how it seems to me.

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: Jewish Agency, Mapai, Haganah, Benjamin Halevi, Shmuel M Tamir, Rezső Kasztner, Rudolf Israel Kastner, Kurt Andreas Ernst Becher, Moshe Sharett, Eliezer Kaplan

Duration: 3 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017