Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna • John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland


Jim Allen's Perdition and the life of Rudolf Kasztner
Seán Mac Mathúna

Rudolf Kasztner

THE KASTNER TRIAL - shown at the Jewish Film Festival in 1997

Czech film about Rabbi Weissmandel: Among Blind Fools

The Nizkor Project: Dedicated to the millions of Holocaust victims who suffered and died

Simon Wiesenthal Centre

Shamash: The Jewish Internet Consortium: Holocaust Home Page

The Confession of Adolph Eichmann

Revolt of Warsaw's Jews

 Jews of Hungary website

Hannah Szenes: famous Jewish partisan betrayed by Kastner

Israeli treatment of a Nazi collaborator

Jews not Zionists website

Purchase Pefidy by Ben Hecht

 The Holocaust/O Porrajmos

Roma and the Holocaust

The Action of the Holy See for the Jews of Europe: Hungary

Perdition surpressed in Britain

Perdition surpressed in Ireland

The life of Rudolf Kasztner

The playwright Jim Allen, who died in 1999

Read an Interview conducted with Jim Allen conducted in 1995 and a Obituary on World Socialist Web Site.

Perdition surpressed in Britain

The first attempts to show Jim Allen's play Perdition in Britain and Ireland resulted in it being banned. It was first surpressed in London during 1987, after fierce protests from Zionists forced the Royal Court in London, England to pull the play 48 hours before it's preview. It has since been described as "the most controversial play of the 1980s" (1).

Allen, a longtime creative partner of the British film maker Ken Loach, wrote the award winning films Hidden Agenda, Raining Stones and Land and Freedom. Loach was also to have directed Perdition at the Royal Court. After Jim Allen died in June 1999, Loach said in his obituary in The Guardian (27th June 1999) that "One of the pleasures of his last days was its current successful revival at the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill". Loach summed up the story behind the play: it was how "some Zionists" in Hungary in 1944 had done a deal with the Nazi's:

"In which a certain number of Jews would be allowed to escape to Palestine in return for silence about the destination of those bound for the concentration camps".

Loach also observed how previous attacks on Allen and the play:

"Were as nothing compared to the Zionist fury unleashed when the play was being rehearsed. To Jim's disgust, and to the shame of the Royal Court, the play was withdrawn. Crude charges of anti-Semitism were discounted by critics when the play was heard in public at the Edinburgh Festival".

In a 1995 interview, immediately following the release of Land and Freedom, Barbara Slaughter and Vicky Short interviewed Allen who recounted the problems he had putting on the play. The full text of the interview can be seen on the World Socialist Web Site.

World Socialist Web Site: Could you tell us about the problems you had with Perdition, your play about Zionist collaboration with Hitler's Nazis?

Perdition was a very bad experience. I got my bank statement the other day and my overdraft, the lowest it's been, is now £3,000 despite the fact that I've written about four films in six years. We were £20,000 out of pocket for the libel action and that's a killer. A publisher was involved and he paid a lot. But it's very time consuming. I've followed this for six years.

I got an apology from the Telegraph and £5,000, which didn't cover anything.

We never got it on the stage except a shortened version at the Edinburgh film festival, where it appeared for one night. The bloke who put it on said, "I've never ever known such pressure, I'm a nervous wreck. The phone never stopped ringing, from all over the world." One Zionist leader in London said to Ken Loach, "I've got six friends who are very powerful, and we'll stop it going out."

A big producer in the West End did agreed to stage it. Within 24 hours he phoned back and said to Ken, "I'm sorry, forget it, I've had phone calls telling me if I put Perdition on, I will never open again on Broadway. I'm sorry."

The campaign they orchestrated with the press was incredible. It was attacked in America. I was sent a 20,000 word article printed in the New Republic. I replied in 1,000 words to make sure I got it in. Three months later I got a letter back saying, "You will be given the same liberty as any other writer in our magazine" - 100 words or something, in our letter column.

Arising out of that came the libel action. For two years I think my earnings were about £10 a week, plus I was going through a bad time personally because of my wife's illness-phone calls, abuse. You've got no idea what it was like.

A group of us put it on for a week in London, in some secular society. We showed the shortened version. It was packed, mainly by Jewish people, because this was a chapter of their history they didn't know, like Land and Freedom for the Spanish people. I am not exaggerating, there were some people crying, old people, because of the facts that came out in the play about the Zionists doing everything they could to disorganise the Jews, in Hungary, etc. I said to Ken, "If ever I win the lottery the first thing I'll do is hire a theatre and put it on." Apart from that there is no chance.  

Thus, we see the reason for the plays controversy: it shows how some of the leaders of the Zionist movement in occupied Europe collaborated with the Nazi's in the Final Solution of the Jewish people of Hungary. The play is based on an infamous libel trial in Israel during the 1950s, and centres on the head of the Zionist Rescue Committee, Rudolf Kasztner. He sued a pamphleteer for claiming that he help the Nazi's exterminate 500,000 of his own people after admitting to negotiating with the the SS war criminal Adolph Eichmann for the safe passage out of Hungary of just 2000 Jews - many of whom were Zionists from his home town in Hungary.

When the play has been shown again in London, the controversy was reawakened. Elliot Levey, the Jewish actor who directed the new production, said: "It is not historically inaccurate". However, Zionists again attempted to apply maximum pressure to have the play stopped. In a letter to The Guardian (April 26th 1999), David Menton of the Union of Jewish Students suggested that the play was both "Holocaust revisionism" and therefore "one of the most vicious forms of anti-Semitism". He also cites the author David Cesarani as condemning the play for its "revisionism".

Neville Nagler, the director general of the Board of Deputies of British Jews claimed in a letter to The Guardian (April 26th 1999), that Perdition was a "travesty of reality" and "grossly distorts historical fact". But does it ? The main argument of the critics, is that Perdition should be banned because they claim that the basis of which the play is based is historically inaccurate, and therefore is "holocaust revisionism".

But l would argue that if the allegations of the play are true - and there is much evidence to support this - then it is the Union of Jewish Students and the Board of Deputies of British Jews who are revising the history of the Holocaust - by claiming that this shameful collaboration with the Nazi's never happened. Thus, it is vital in the interest of free speech that people can see Perdition and make their own minds up. Are we to believe that Ken Loach, a respected left-wing film maker would associate himself in any way with a play which was based on events in the holocaust which are untrue or anti-Semitic ? There is a story here which the Zionists do not want you to know and l believe they are making allegations - which they cannot back up with evidence - to stop a free and open debate about the role of the Zionist movement in the war and its collaboration with the Nazi regime.

Fighting Back - Jewish partisans in Eastern Europe played a vital in campaign of sabotage and resistance behind enemy lines on the Eastern Front during the war

By making these allegations l am not attempting to give the impression that that the Jews collaborated with Hitler in the Holocaust. What happened in Hungary in 1944 was an isolated incident of collaboration not by the Jewish people of Hungary but by their Zionist leadership who trusted them and who never believed that they would be betrayed in such a way by Kasztner and his associates. The facts speak for themselves: while Kasztner sipped brandy and smoked cigars with the Nazi mass-murderer Adolph Eichmann, 12,000 Jews a day were going to the gas chambers of Auschwitz - as pointed out by Rabbi Weissmandel: Out of some 700,000 Jews then in Hungary, some 476,000 would perish. Only 1600 Jews were saved by Kasztner - mainly his friends, family from his home town of Cluj. The central question here - and one of the main reasons why we are publishing this on our website - is about resistance or collaboration: Would have many Jews have died in Hungary if there had been a mass uprising ? Remember what happened in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 - the heroic struggle by it's defenders - almost exclusively Bundists, Communists, Agudists, kept the Nazi's at bay for over a month - longer than it took them to conquer France in 1940. Imagine if such resistance had been organised in Hungary in 1944 - the Red Army was at the Hungarian border, Nazi Germany was on it's knees as a result of the Allied bombing campaign, and everywhere Germany was in retreat. Not only would the Jews of Hungary have resisted if they knew their fate, many more could have fled to Romania or taken to the hills. Thus, there were more factors in favour of a successful revolt in Hungary in 1944 that in Poland the previous year. Instead, as shown in Perdition, Kasztner and his associates choose, for example, to have postcards distributed amongst the Hungarian Jews written by their brethren under duress in Auschwitz, saying effectively: don't worry, it's just a labour camp, everything will be all right.

Thus we arrive at the central allegation of Jim Allen's play Perdition - that the Zionist leadership of Hungary bought their freedom in a shameful deal with Eichmann, whilst the Jews of Hungary were led to the gas chambers. As Rudlof Vrba pointed out:

Passive and active resistance by a million people would create panic and havoc in Hungary. Panic in Hungary would have been better than panic which came to the victims in front of burning pits in Birkenau. Eichmann knew it; that is why he smoked cigars with the Kasztners', "negotiated", exempted the "real great rabbis", and meanwhile without panic among the deportees, planned to "resettle" hundreds of thousands in orderly fashion . . .

Finally, l am not attempting either to revise the history of the Holocaust or deny the fact that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazi's during the last war. The purpose of Flame's coverage of this case is to examine the evidence of this controversial case so that you can make up your mind and decide whether it is true or not.

Perdition surpressed in Ireland

When Perdition was surpressed in London, Allen and Loach attempted to get it shown at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin. Before, long however, the theatre pulled out, and Perdition joined the ranks of hundreds of plays and books that have banned or surpressed in Ireland. The Irish writer Eamonn McGann was one of few journalists in Ireland to condemn to banning of Perdition in Dublin in 1987. On 16th March 1989, he wrote the following article in the Irish magazine In Dublin:

We ought, I suppose, to feel some vague sense of satisfaction that so many Irish writers have publicly declared their solidarity with the beleaguered Salman Rushdie. But where, l wonder, were these doughty defenders of freedom of expression two years ago when Zionist pressure kept Jim Allen's play Perdition off the Dublin stage ?

Perdition was originally written for The Royal Court Theatre in London and was in the final stages of rehearsal - with, if it matters, Gabriel Byrne in the lead - when an outcry well-orchestrated by leading British Zionists unnerved the Royal Court's managament. The play was cancelled a few days before its scheduled first night.

Perdition's theme was the collusion between Zionist leaders and Nazis in Eastern Europe during World War Two, a collusion which might at first sight seem grotesquely unlikely but which was based on the fact that Zionism and Nazism share one key idea - that Jews are differant, to the extent that they cannot be, and should not seek to be, assimilated into non-Jewish society.

After the Royal Court management shamefully backed down and cancelled the play, Jim Allenand his director Ken Loach tried assiduously, but in vain, to find a London theatre willing to defy Zionist wrath. At last they came to Dublin and believed that they had reached agreement with the Olympia. But howls of protest from local censors persuaded the relevant authorities that staging the play would prove an unprofitable venture, and Perdition was dropped.

If mention of these events doesn't clang any loud bell it's because only a small fuss was raised at the time. Indeed l have recently read a number of articles and editorials in Irish publications about the Rushdie affair which, reasonably enough, have ranged over examples of censorship and abuse of writers in Ireland through the decades. The Playboy, the Plough, the Rose Tattoo etc: in none of them that l have seen has the supression of Perdition been mentioned.

It's as if Irish literary society has blotted the fact out of its collective memory.

(Reproduced from Dear God: The Price of Religion in Ireland. Eamonn McCann, Bookmarks, London, England, 1999).

The life of Rudolf Kasztner

"I accuse certain Jewish leaders of one of the most ghastly deeds of the war. This small group of quislings knew what was happening to their brethren in Hitler's gas chambers and bought their own lives with the price of silence"

Dr. Rudolf Vrba, Auschwitz survivor, 1961

One cow in Palestine is more important than all the European Jews

Yitzhak Greenbaum, Tel Aviv, Palestine, February 18th, 1943.


Who was the Nazi collaborator Rudolf (Rezso) Kasztner ? According to an entry in The Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, he was a Journalist, lawyer, and Zionist leader, born in Kolozsvár (Cluj), Hungary in 1906. A lifelong Zionist, he was a lawyer by training, and was editor of the Zionist Hungarian-Jewish newspaper Uj Kelet (New Middle East) from 1925 to 1940. In 1942 he was involved in attempts to rescue Jewish refugees from Slovakia and Poland. In December 1942, Kasztner met Oskar Schindler (of Schindler's List fame), when he traveled to Hungary. After the Nazi takeover of Hungary in March 1944, he was involved negotiations with the Nazis, notably, with Eichmann who had come to Hungary to effect a "final solution" to the Jewish "problem". With Kasztner, an agreement was reached to spare some Jewish lives and permit the emigration of Jews to Palestine and elsewhere in exchange for large quantities of war material to be purchased in neutral countries by Jewish organizations and delivered to the Germans.

Rudolf Vrba, one of the few people to escape Auschwitz

Kasztner was accused of dressing up in an SS uniform and being taken to Belsen to trace his Zionist friends and save them from the gas chambers. These allegations were made in Perfidy (2). In it, Dr. Rudolf Vrba, a Doctor of Science who worked later for the British Medical Research Council, and who was one of the few escapees from Auschwitz, accused Zionist leaders of "the most ghastly deeds of the war". In his memoirs, first published in the London Daily Herald in February, 1961, he wrote:

I am a Jew. In spite of that, indeed because of that, I accuse certain Jewish leaders of one of the most ghastly deeds of the war. This small group of quislings knew what was happening to their brethren in Hitler's gas chambers and bought their own lives with the price of silence. Among them was Dr. Kasztner, leader of the council which spoke for all Jews in Hungary. While I was prisoner number 44070 at Auschwitz - the number is still on my arm - I compiled careful statistics of the exterminations . . . I took these terrible statistics with me when I escaped in 1944 and I was able to give Hungarian Zionist leaders three weeks notice that Eichmann planned to send a million of their Jews to his gas chambers . . . Kasztner went to Eichmann and told him, 'I know of your plans; spare some Jews of my choice and I shall keep quiet.' Eichmann not only agreed, but dressed Kasztner up in S.S. uniform and took him to Belsen to trace some of his friends. Nor did the sordid bargaining end there. Kasztner paid Eichmann several thousand dollars. With this little fortune, Eichmann was able to buy his way to freedom when Germany collapsed, to set himself up in the Argentine . . .(3)

This disgraceful collaboration allowed the is alleged to have allowed the Zionist leadership in Hungary to save 1,684 Jews, many of them from Kasztner's birthplace, who, having been taken to Bergen-Belsen, were eventually transferred to Switzerland. As the writer Dr Hannah Arendt pointed out, a grim fate awaited the majority of Hungary's Jews. Arendt stated that Kastner in Hungary had saved exactly 1,684 people with approximately 476,000 victims. Thus, the Zionist movement stands not only accused of colloboration with the Nazi's in their "final solution" but of effectively sacrificing the majority of the Jews in Hungary so as to save a thousand Jews to fufill the Zionist conquest of Palestine. Cleary, the Zionist movement regarded the establishment of the state of Israel as a higher priority than saving their brethren from the concentration camps.

In fact, according to Nazi-Zionist Colloboration (published by the British Anti-Zionist Organisation/Palestine Solidarity in 1981), the only known assistance from the international Zionist movement to Jewish resistance in Nazi Europe was when the British Royal Air Force parachuted some volunteers (including the famous Jewish partisan Hannah Szenes) from Palestine to make contact with partisan forces in Yugoslavia. They were escorted by Tito's partisans to Hungary, but were handed over to the Gestapo by their Zionist 'liaison' in Budapest - Rudolf Kasztner.

After the war, Kasztner settled in Israel, where he became a government employee. In 1953 the journalist Malkiel Grünwald published an article accusing Kasztner of collaboration with the Nazis and of activities leading to the destruction of Hungarian Jewry. He also alleged that Kasztner's testimony before an international court had helped free former SS officer Kurt Becher. Grünwald, a Hungarian stamp collector and journalist was publishing a newsletter called Letters to Friends in the Mizrahi. In August, 1952, Grünwald wrote:

"For three years I have waited for this moment. The smell of rotting carrion fills my nostrils. It will be a funeral of the very best kind! Dr. Rudolph Kasztner must be liquidated. I have waited for this moment to bring to justice this careerist, who benefits from Hitler's theft and murder." Letters to Friends in the Mizrahi, Issue No. 51, August, 1952

Kasztner decided to sue and it led to a trial which aroused heated public opinion in Israel and other countries. Kasztner accused Grünwald of slander, but the court decision of June, 1955, upheld most of Grünwald's allegations. The Supreme Court of Israel subsequently reversed the lower court's decision.

It was at the appeal hearings before the Supreme Court, that the Attorney General of Israel, Chaim Cohen, explained why the Government of Israel was defending Kastner so strongly:

The man Kasztner does not stand here as a private individual. He was a recognized representative, official or non-official of the Jewish National Institutes in Palestine and of the Zionist Executive; and I come here in this court to defend the representative of our national institutions." (Hecht, p. 268)

Thus it is clear from this statement that what is on trial is not Kasztner as an individual but the Zionist leadership of Israel. The libel case established that the Government of Israel continued to support Kasztner, a Nazi collaborator, after these facts had been conclusively established in an Israeli court. Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Israel unanimously found that Kasztner had, without justification, and in the name of the Jewish Agency, helped an SS officer named Becher to escape justice. On this point Grünwald was acquitted of libel. The Supreme Court also accepted the facts established in the lower court - that Kasztner deliberately concealed the truth about Auschwitz from the majority of Hungarian Jews in exchange for Nazi permission to take a thousand or so to Palestine.

On 3rd March 1957, Kasztner was shot dead by Zeev Eckstein, immediately after the appeal hearings were concluded, and before the judgment "rehabilitating" him was delivered. According to Ben Hecht, writing in Perfidy (p 208. Julian Messner, New York, 1961), Eckstein was a paid undercover Israeli MOSSAD agent. With Kasztner assassinated, Israel moved against the Nazi mass-murderer Adolph Eichmann. He was living in Argentina in 1960 when he was abducted by MOSSAD agents and taken back to Israel for trial. In 1962, he was executed and his ashes spread over the Mediterranean Sea. One if left wondering whether it is a conincidence that Israel had silenced two people who knew the most about the Nazi/Zionist colloboration in the Second World War.

Although a keen student of the history of the second world war, l knew very little about the life of Kasztner and controversy surrounding him. l did my own research, and concluded that the main thrust of Perdition is not only historically accurate, but that it is a damning indictment of those Zionists who collaborated with the fascists in the extermination of their own people.


1 The Guardian, 23rd April 1999
2 Perfidy, Ben Hecht, Julian Messner, New York, USA, 1961. Purchase the book
3 Ibid, pp261-2