Cleveland, OH – Jewish Woman Talks About Kasztner Who Saved Her Life


    Nearly 1,700 Hungarian Jews rode Kasztner’s train to safety in Switzerland, where a group of them posed for this photo. PHOTO/COURTESY IRENE GROSSMANCleavland, OH – Among those survivors who credit Rezso Kasztner with saving her life is Cleveland Heights resident Anna Halberstam Rubin.

    Born and raised in Slovakia, not Hungary, the site of Kasztner’s most famous rescue, Rubin counts herself lucky to have found passage aboard a truck to Switzerland. Kasztner arranged that transport, and for parts of the journey, he accompanied his fellow Jews.

    At the time of World War II, Slovakia separated itself from the Czechoslovak Republic and created its own fascist state, says Rubin. “Slovaks did the dirty work for the Nazis. Jews were stripped of property, their livelihood, their homes and their lives.”

    In March 1942, to avoid the round-up of Jewish teens for deportation, Rubin’s parents sent her to a different community where they had relatives. Not registered in this other town, Rubin was thought to be safe from deportation.

    After a short time, Rubin tried to return home but ended up in another community where her grandparents lived. There, she learned her parents had already been deported. So Rubin and her grandparents crossed the border illegally into Hungary, living in hiding between 1942 and 1944.
    When the German army invaded Budapest, Rubin returned to Slovakia with a group of other people, thinking deportations had by then ended. For a while she was hidden by a Christian seamstress in Bratislava (now the capital of the Slovak Republic).

    In April 1945, her grandfather (her grandmother had already been caught during a raid on the synagogue during Yom Kippur services) got word to her to join him in an orchard in Bratislava, where he was hiding.

    The Christian farmer who owned the property protected the Jews, allowing them to stay in a little structure with a room and kitchen. At night they went into an underground bunker, dug beneath the small house. Dogs outside would alert them to any danger.

    “Jews were reading the Megillah (Book of Esther) in that bunker,” Rubin recalls. “I had thought I was the only Jew left in the world.”

    Read more at Cleavland Jewish News

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    1. no matter what you say, at the end of the day kasztner was responsible for saving the lives of almost 2000 jews from near certain death. (including the late rabbi yoel aka the satre-mare rabbi).
      the talmud tells us that whoever saves one life is as if he saved an entire world.

      • And if someone takes away a life it would then follow that it’s as if he destroyed an entire world. So why is that not important to you?

      • And he allowed hundreds of thousands of more to be sent to the Nazis. In order to save a few people, it is OSSUR to sacrifice thousands.

      • Right, and the continuation of that line is “and one causes a single soul to be lost is as if he destroyed and entire world. Kastner squelched the Rudy Vrber report because he didn’t want the Hungarians to panic and riot and defend themselves. He went to Eichmann and asked “Are they really killing people in Auschwitz?” “Ridiculous!” said Eichmann and he sped up the Hungarian deportations because he knew it was only a matter of time before the word got out. 438,000 Jews were deported from Hungary in 56 days thanks to Rudolph Kastner. Yes, he saved 1700 rich Jews that paid a ransom, his relatives (whom Eichmann later did not release from Bergen Belsen), prominent Zionist leaders, (and a few Rabbanim including the Satmar Roov zt”l) While he handed over 438,000 to Jews to Eichmann. Sorry, he’s not gonna get a pat on the back from me. Read the book Perfidy or Rudy Vrber’s “Escape from Auschwitz”

        • You make it sound like nobody knew about Vrba’s report. The Allies knew about it, yet they refused to bomb the rail lnes to Auschwitz. The Vrba protocols were a pain in the neck to the Allies because they , first and foremost , wanted to win the war on the field. Auschwitz could wait. Kasztnet had nothing to do with this.

        • Hungarian Jews to defend themselves? How? How were unarmed Jews who were spread out in the Hungarian provinces to defend themselves against a Nazi machine that overran France , Holland ,Belgium , Slovakia ,Norway and finally Hungary itself without firing a single shot?

    2. Rudolf Kastner was a Nazi collaborator. He knowingly sold the lives of HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of Hungarian Yidden for a few hundred on a train. Read Perfidy by Ben Hecht. The book is based upon actual Jerusalem Municipal Court proceedings that found Kastner’s libel suit against an old Jew, false. Meaning, that Kastner was, in fact, a Nazi collaborator. May his name forever be cursed, and may we never forget! Regardless of this “story.”

      • Ben Hecht’s book Perfidy , which is popular in ultar-right wing circles has been discredited by scholars. The prosecutor was an ambitious exaggerator who pulled events out of context to dramatize . Subsequently , he became ajudge or some such political gigure in israel. Kasztner saved many .many lives.

        • an exageration? his book directly follows the trial. kastner was convicted in first one court and then again on appeal i believe in supreme court. kinda hard to argue the facts people. he was a proven nazi collaberator. at least the nazis were born goyim, born to hate us. the same cannot be said for the jewish nazi kastner. his hell will be far worse then theirs. and his pitiful attempt at salvaging his reputation in the end cannot silence the cries of the one million he helped kill, including his wifes entire family and all twenty thousand people of kluj. traiter to his family, to his people, to his faith, and to god. may he burn on all accounts.

          • You make a wild accusation without having any facts. You believe your poison because that’s what you wish to believe.You have not made ONE factual statement in your otherwise mean-spirited tirade. Not mone.

          • A sourced note , as you might know , can be taken out of context, which is what perfidy is all about. It’s actually about an Israeli prosecutor setting out to make a name for himself in a high profile trial.

          • Well, I’ve made it my business to read other books about Kasztner’s role. I don’t believe you read anything else but Perfidy, which proves NOTHING . It seems that Perfidy is the Toras Moshe of the anti-Zionists .For example , read Anna porter’s book , Kasztner’s Train. He was not a very likeable fellow , perhaps even arrogant , but this does not mean collaboration. He did the very best under very trying circumstances and he save as many lives as he possibly could.
            Ben Hecht , who wrote Perfidy ,was a right-wing Jabotisky nationalist Zionist and hated the Socialist-Zionists such as B. Gurion , Sharett , etc.
            It is ironic , that the same people who hate Kasztner because of Perfidy , forget or ffuse to acknowledge that he save the life of the Satmar Rebbe. In Ann Porter’s book , in the footnotes , she says that she has a notarized letter from the daughter of a Jew who wanted to warn other Jews about the death camps. The Satmar Rebbe threatened to put him in cheirim if he opened his mouth.
            So you see, there’s more to the story than just Perfidy.

            • Very interesting
              I would like more information on that footnote and its general context.
              If true, why would the Satmar Rebbe threten him with cheirim?

            • For the full story , you can read ” Kasztner’s Train “by Anna Porter.
              “Perfidy ” by the Zionist playwrite Ben Hecht is not the whole truth and sheds more heat than light on this painful subject.

            • Yes, Hecht was a Jabotinsky follower. Is there something wrong with that? Does that make his word unreliable? Yes, he hated socialist leaders. Should he not have? What decent person does NOT hate socialism and those who impose it on people?

          • Hecht had an axe to grind. He was a Jabotinsky militant Zionist . His man died prematurely and never forgave the Mapai for being in power.

      • Nevertheless, those whom he DID save as well as Satmar owe him hakoros hatov. On the other hand, there are many who lost relatives because of his greed who indeed should curse his memory.

    3. he was also convicted in a israeli court of colaberating with nazis as wel as testifying on behalf of a nazi war criminal in nuremberg. he himself said that it was his testimony that exonarated the nazi colonel who was later proven to have been responsible for killing the jews of hungry. instrumental in saving a couple thousand jews? no doubt. instrumental in in the deaths of 900 000 others? absolutely. proven in two diff courts of law. two thousand rights does not justify a million wrongs. yemach shemo vzichro. read Perfidy for details

    4. Robert: The number was somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000. Kasztner talked Eichman into sending at least 15,000 to labor camps instead of Auschwitz. In Auschwitz, 90% of them would have died within one hour of arrival, and most of rest within months. 75% of the “Jews on Ice” survived the labor camps and the war.

      • i understand the emotion and controversy over his wartime actions.
        i do not judge..
        still he did save close to 2000 jews
        i am aware of the kastzner affair in israel and the civil libel suits involved

        again i do not jusge, but there were many secular and religious jewish leaders who
        did not save any jews… be it for political ideological or religious reasons..
        many jewish leaders were caught in impossible circumstances as leaders of the nazi mandated jedenrat..and sadly were not able to save lives

        it says in the mishna al tadin et chavercha ad shtagiah lmekomo

        i personally would like to see individual jews today all over the world train and maintain firearms.. overcourse legally.. and follow the torah imerative of saving ones own life..

    5. Kastner was a Zionist. On the day the Satmar Rebbe was saved they make a Yom Tov. Yet when the Zionists saved Jews in Entebbe they objected.

      It depends whom you know.

    6. There is a hero who nobody knowsexcept like myself know and few others.. His name is Aron Menczer A’H son of Chasidim exactly Visznicer chasidim in Vienna. He belonged to the Gordonia. He was the last head of the Sochnuth and dealt with Eichmann, yes with Eichmann. Accompanied a Youth Aliyah transport of children to Palestine and Eichmann issued him a Sichtvermerk which was a return Visa to the Ostmark. He accompanied a second transport of children from in May 1939 met his father and brother in Trieste and again returned to Vienna. He was deported to Theresienstadt/Terezin. A transport from Baranowicz of children arrived in Theresienstadt. He continued his work children and eventually volunteered to accompany the children to Auschwitz were he was gassed

    7. He took MONEY from my grandfather ( A tzaddik ) in Cluj, and surrounded himself and family with Rebbes to protect them from a riot. My grandparents both died in Auschwitz, along with their two sons.

      Are we to judge who is worth saving, but he is still a lowlife collaborator

    8. “He knowingly sold the lives of HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of Hungarian Yidden for a few hundred on a train.”

      You’ve got some of the details wrong. The general facts you have, but you have incorrectly identified the era and the individual involved. It wasn’t the Holocaust, it was the Churban. It wasn’t Kastner, it was Yochanan Ben Zakkai. In your words, “He knowingly sold the lives of HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of Yidden for a few scholars in Yavne.” Did he collaborate with the Romans? He wasn’t sure himself….

      Oh, by the way, Rav Michel Ber Weissmandl was a supporter of Kastner.

        • With all due respect to Rabbi Weissmandl, he did not have all the facts.
          He believed that Wicliceny, the Nazi with whom he dealt would stop deportations. he believed this lie. Wicliceny was pulled from Slovakia and worked in Greece for a while deporting Jews.He took R’ Weismandl’s money and ran.. By the way , Gizi Fleischman with whom R’ Weissmandl worked was a Zionist woman and his cousin.

        • For your information , read “Jews for Sale” by Bauer and you’ll get a different perspective on the R’ Weissmandel story. Unfortunately , R’ Weissmandel desperately wanted to believe the Nazis when it came to money. The facts , as they came out after the war, were different. I suggest you read this book.

            • Well, Ben Hecht was a right wing hack and had his own axe to grind. One thing I’ll say about Hecht , he was a playwright and gifted writer and knew how to propagandize with words.

      • Shut your mouth! R Yochanan ben Zakai didn’t give anyone to the Romans; he didn’t endanger anyone’s life. He didn’t make it easier for them to conquer the city, ch”v. Not a single person died as the result of his action. All he did was escape, and get a concession from Vespasian. Kastner sold Jews to the Nazis; thousands died as the result of his telling them that they were just being evacuated to a place where they would have a decent life.

        • How many believed it? They didn’t know that something terrible had happened to the Poilisher yiddin?

          If they had known the truth, what would they have done?

          • No, they didn’t know. Had they known, they would have tried to escape, and who knows how many would have succeeded? Because of his lies they went willingly and without the Nazis having to devote significant manpower to round them up.

    9. Kastner the kapo testified on behalf of kurt becher who murdered many of my family. You be the judge. Because of kastner this ss officer walked free…

    10. In 1978 (pre ArtScroll) Perfidy had been out of print for many years. But I was able to buy 2 copies. Where ?? In a seforim store in Williamsburg. It seems Ben Hecht’s tirade against the Zionist establishment overrode the fact he was also a Tzioni.

      • Malarkey, Kastner was killed by a person whose parents paid for the transport and Kastner had overbooked and they were gassed. Have the decency and don’t lie

    11. Its very hard to judge anybody for their actions during the holocaust. We sit in our comfortable chairs and point fingers at jews who may have made terrible decisions. It is not a historic debate that Kastner could have saved more jews because of his relationship to nazi leaders. It isn’t a debate that he did save the satmar rav. It isn’t a debate that he focused on saving his family and friends. However we can’t judge him because we were not in his shoes. I’m sure a lot of posters on this website would have used their connections to get out of nazi occupied countries and not even look to help others. There are stories my bubby told me about inmates stealing bread from eachother to survive? Suffacating babies so their hiding spot won’t be discovered by soldiers. Can we judge these people? Can we even relate to these issues? Zichur nisht. Al tadin es chavero ad shetagia limikomo!

    12. Before I read the comments on VIN I never knew the truth: The Nazis wouldn’t have killed the Hungarian Jews if not for Kastner. He gave them the ‘OK’ to kill 800,000 Jews. Until he gave his haskamah the Nazis didn’t dare touch even one hair on the head of a single Jew.

    13. As a fortunate person who survived 7 years under Hitler I am astounded at the lies, gibberish and ignorant statements. The fact is nobody saved Jews or stam Yidden. The Agudah saved agudisten, the Mizrachi saved Mizrachisten and the Hashomeir saved Shomrakes and stam Yidden went to gas chambers. Just look at the Auschwitz album and you see little boys and girls waiting for the gala entry to the gas chambers , they waited until the prior transport was gassed. Yes Rebbes were saved because of rich chasidim and those could pay the price to Kastner were saved the rest went to chimney. As we were told on our arrival to Buchenwald Rein kommt ihr durch den Tor and raus geht ihr durch den Kamin. Maybe your lingusitic mavenim will give a translation. Milhouse this is one time I agree with you believe or not.

      • you give an honest and perhaps realistic account of the sad state of affairs that existed during times few of us can comprehend.. there were many levels of survival ( was that collaboration?) and many people and so called leaders were paralyzed with fear and impossible dilemmas.

        while i dont understand yiddish ( my family is hungarian i can get by in that language) i too am amazed at the knee jerk nonsense and hate posted here..

        i am not defending or condemning anyone in these posts.. ( i dont have the moral authority to do so)

        but the facts are kastzner bribed eichmann and saved about 1687 jews from near certain death.. mostly his friends family and a few VIPs .

        kastzner did not murder a single jew.. the nazis did that.
        could he have done more? i dont know God will judge.. but at least he did something. the beilskis did something.. there were jewish partisans too.

        he did save the satre mare rebbe on his train. ( at the libel trial the rebbe said he was saved by God not kastzner) so .. i guess God saved all the 1687 and God in his ways that i dont understand allowed about 6 million to slaughter..

        the lubavitcher rebbe was saved in warsaw in november 1939.

      • I feel bad to argue with a survivor , and what you write is correct. However , to say what you said about Kastner is untrue. He tried ,but Eichman did not allow more Jews to be saved.. Those are the facts. My parents were also survivors nad because of this , I try to learn the facts, not the hysteria from either side.

        • I am not the holder of the absolute truth because my sad journey was the Lodz Ghetto, Czenstochau and finally Buchenwald and there were many more camps and the gorel was different in every camp. However on more remark. A suburb of Lodz is Alexandrow and there was the Alexandrer Rebbe. He was offerered exit how I don’t know. His answer “vi meine chasidim gein werd ich gein” Yes he went to the gas chamber

    14. The Brooklyn Public Library has copies of Perfidy if you want to read it. Also see the documentary “Killing Kasztner” Two opposite points of view

    15. I’m flabbergasted that so people her blame Kastner, when it was Eichman with the help of the Hungarian gendarmerie who deported the Jews. This was done even while Kastner , Brand and Eichman were having conversations at the Majestic Hotel in Budapest. Tell me somebody, how was Kastnerto save 800, 000 Jews?

        • Kastner was able to get Eichman to agree that some 1600 jews were to be sent to Switzerland. This is a story in itself. The bottom line , however, was that Kastner , and 2-3 other leaders of the Vaada Hatzolah of Budapest , including the orthodox Freudiger provided the list. Freudiger put the Satmar Rebbe on this list , Kastner put others and so on. It was a heartrending decision. If you read Porter’s book and other books , you will see that Eichman kept putting Jews on the trains to Auschwitz non-stop , even though Brand and Kastner were negotiating with him. Eichman , except for this one instance , deported the Hungarian Jews en masse without pity. There was little the Jewish leadership could do. By the way , Freudiger himself , after the war and living in Israel, was demonstrated against by a number of orthodox people who thought that he did not do enough. So you see, it’s easy to criticize and distort the facts during this terrible period.

          • Fair enough I will take you at your word..
            I still do not understand why he the Satmar Rebbe would leave Hungary if he felt it to be safe as number 48 suggests?

            Am I misunderstanding something here?

            • The Satmar Rebbe lived in Transylvania which was at times Romania and other times Hungary. He was hiding in Budapest because the noose got tight in Transylvania and Jews even from Poland and Slovakia ran to Budapest because the Nazis did not yet deport Hungarian Jews that early in 1944. Better yet , the Germans first invaded Hungary on March 19 , 1944.

            • I hear you
              But as i asked before and nobody seems to know the answer or want to write an answer.. If as number 48 says he felt the Jews of Hungary were safe, why did he leave HUngary? I am not making a value judgement I am just riveted by this history.

    16. What about Brands testimonal in court?!

      How can you say that Hecht distorted the facts, if the Judge, I think that it was Judge Halevei, said that Kastner sold his sould to the satan?!

      And if the facts in hechts book were distorded, then why was an appeal necessary?

      Kastner, sdly addmited to have DIRECTLY worked together with Eichman and his gang. It is ALL documented, and NOT out of context.

      He might get credit for the people he DID save. But if it is true, (to what he admitted to) that he had a direct hand in the Murder of the remaining Hungarian Jews,(the border was three miles away, there weren’t enough forces to take the by force) then he is a grueling bad unhuman being.

      What about the wittness that Kastner read the letters of Jews already Murdered, saying that they were relocated to a beautiful place.. Out of context?!

      • Kasztner worked with Eichman. Each one had his own agenda and it was a game of chicken. Eichman called Kasztner ,not the other way around. The Prosecutor , Tamir was so persuasive that indeed the judge said the he sold his soul. But all this was wrong. Kasztner was subsequently exonerated by a second trial.
        Can you tell me how Kasztner collaberated to kill Jews? This is a wild statement. How did he do it? The only thing that’s true in the Perfidy book is that Kasztner did not notify the people. But how were they supposed to save themselves? Where were they to go? An armed resistance? How? Even the Satamar Rebbe threatened to put someone in cheirem if he spread the news that Transylvanian/Hungarian Jews were being sent to death camps. ( See Ann Porter’s book Kasztner’s Train in the footnotes)

      • Excuse me?! There weren’t enough forces to take them by force? You obviously don’t know a thing about Hungarian Jewry. My parents were Hungarian Jews.There were the Hungarian troops , Hungarian gendermarie , German troops alonside SS units. Maybe you should other books besides Perfidy.

      • Are you saying that there enough forces to deport Polish , Greek Ukranian , Lithuanian, Latvian , French , Dutch , Belgian Byellorussian Jews but not enough in Hungary? Oh ,Please.

    17. To anonymous poster no. 37: You write that ” in the footnotes , she says that she has a notarized letter from the daughter of a Jew who wanted to warn other Jews about the death camps. The Satmar Rebbe threatened to put him in cheirim if he opened his mouth.” I read Porter’s book and have no recollection of such a footnote. In fact, I believe the Satmar Rebbe is mentioned twice. Once, he is identified as having been on the train, and once, that he refused to go to the trial to testify for Kasztner. For what its worth, my read on the Satmar rebbe and the train is that Pinchos Freudiger, the head of the Orthodox Kehillah in Budapest, put up $200,000 of the $1 million Himmler wanted for the train, and he picked 200 Jews to go on it. The Satmar rebbe was one of them. And quite frankly, I think that Freudiger was one of the few Jews that could have convinced the Satmar Rebbe to go on the train. Freudiger was a adom godol. He could have gone on the train, but chose to remain in Budapest the help the cause of hatzoloh. Only when he heard that the Arrow Cross was coming for him did he flee to Romania.

      • Mr. Reisman….. I have the book in front of me. The footnote is on page 390 footnote#11. This is the chapter titled: The Reichsfuehrer’s Most Obedient Servant.”

      • The money came from the people themselves who were on the train AND from richer Jews who paid for the poorer people on the train. And yes , she does mention the Rebbe again . He not only refused to attend the trial but when asked if he could at least write a note in Kastner’s favor to be shown at trial , he refused.
        I am not condemning Freudiger , but just know that in Israel , after the war , there were Hungarian orthodox survivors who picketed his home because they felt that he did not help their families. Unfortunately , people blame everybody except the Nazis themselves.

        • “Unfortunately , people blame everybody except the Nazis themselves” How true! Also, to anonymous 72, the quote is there, just as you say. However, I don’t have the book in front of me, and I want to check the context. My understanding is that at the time, crossing the border into Romania was very dangerous, because the Romanians were worse to the Jews, and in any case, nobody believed in the existence of Auschwitz until after the war. It was just too enormous an evil. As one person quoted in Porter’s book stated given the choice between believing in Auschwitz and not believing in it, most chose not to believe in it. The Satmar rebbe was probably no different. I had cousins who survived in labor camps; they used to say that even after the war, it took them 3 years to accept the fact that Auschwitz did indeed exist, and that their parents had died there. It was just too enormous an evil for humans to comprehend in the abstract. Another place to see this kind of menality is Francois Steiner’s “Treblinka'” where he recounts the reaction of the Jews of Vilna to the mounting evidence of the massacres at Ponary.

      • If I can weigh in on the Hecht’s Perfidy. The point of his book was not even Kasztner , it was the Zionist establishment. In other words the Yishuv. He tries to say through the mouth of prosecutor Shamir that the Israeli Yishuv did nothing ,and even hurt. Actually , Hecht proves nothing in this book. Yes , there were inuendos to that effect. People forget that an Israel government did not yet exist , the British who mandated Palestine prohibited Jewish refugees and turn most back to be burned in the camps. The Jewish Agebcy which was the arm of the Yishuv DID send as much money as they possibly could to help Jews. But of course , Hecht who hated the Mapai and was a Jabotinsky follower , never mentions this fact.
        And before we condemn the Yishuv leadership , which in any case could do very little , let’es honestly look at the orthodox Jewish leaders in the shtetels and cities . Let’s look at their record. Speak to survivors…. They’ll tell you some things.

        • Read it again: he shows that the Jewish Agency handed Joel Brand over to the British. That is the perfidy of the title. Thousands of Jews could have been saved, and instead of helping him they betrayed him and the Jews died.

    18. Sadly what i glean from many of these posts is that some of us forget that it was the evil nazi movement and their nationalist cronies ( in hungary, croatia, ukraine, lithuania etc…) who murdered the jews..

      these were unprecidented times and the mitzvah to survive is a torah commandment.. the jewish leaders were generally helpless (and often clueless) as they and the masses refused to believe the horrible truth..
      As i wrote at the beginning i for one refuse to judge any of the jews caught up in this machinery of murder.. God will do/judge and we all need to go on..

      survival is a mitzvah as i understand it,, as i understand it kastzner did not send or authorize the death of one jew despite what is suggested here..sadly the hungarians and nazis did well without him.. he saved himself and his family and others.. well i believe at least he did something..

      looking for jewish scapegoats to explain auschwitz is an ill-advised adventure.
      it takes away from the holiness of the victims and denigrates those that did survive.. I thank God i have never (and i hope never will) wastested in the ways these jews secular and religious were tested.

    19. for all those interested in finding out more about the role of Kasztner, and many others involved with the Kasztner train, you can now find a wealth of documented information in a 700-plus page book entitled “Beyond Redemption?” and subtitled “The Nazi Colonel who saved Jews and plundered their wealth” by Harold Serebro, first published in 2007 in South Africa, and now available in the US, in selected Jewish bookstores such as Eichlers in Brooklyn.
      also included, as one of the appendix at the back of this book, is the only recorded list of all the passengers on the train according to their country of origin.


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