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


The 1955 Kasztner libel case
The verdict of Judge Moshe Silberg

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 Adolf Eichmann

Revolt of Warsaw's Jews

 Jews of Hungary website

Hannah Szenes: famous Jewish partisan betrayed by Kastner

Jews not Zionists website

Purchase Pefidy by Ben Hecht

 The Holocaust/O Porrajmos

Roma and the Holocaust

Here is the minority judgement of Supreme Court Judge Moshe Silberg in 1957:

I do not say that he was the only man who possessed information among the leaders. It is quite possible that somebody else as well does not have a clear conscience with regards to this concealment. But we are dealing here with the guilt of Kastner and we do not have to make judgements on the guilt of others . . . The declaration of the learned Attorney General therefore shrinks into an opinion . . . 'Kastner was convinced and believed that there was no ray of hope for the Jews of Hungary, almost for none of them, and as he, as a result of his personal despair, did not disclose the secret of the extermination in order not to endanger or frustrate the rescue of the few - therefore he acted in good faith and should not be accused of collaborating with the Nazis in expediting the extermination of the Jews, even though, in fact, he brought about its result.'

I am compelled to state that it is very difficult for me to conceive such an intention. Is this good faith? Can a single man, even in cooperation with some of his friends, yield to despair on behalf and without the knowledge of 800,000 other people? This is, in my opinion, the decisive consideration in the problem facing us.

The charge emanating from the testimony of the witnesses against Kastner is that had they known of the Auschwitz secret, then thousands or tens of thousands would have been able to save their lives by local, partial, specific or indirect rescue operations like local revolts, resistance, escapes, hidings, concealment of children with Gentiles, forging of documents, ransom money, bribery, etc. - and when this is the case and when one deals with many hundreds of thousands, how does a human being, a mortal, reject with complete certainty and with an extreme 'no' the efficiency of all the many and varied rescue ways? How can he examine the tens of thousands of possibilities? Does he decide instead of God? Indeed, he who can act with such a usurpation of the last hope of hundreds of thousands is not entitled to claim good faith as his defense. The penetrating question quo warrento is a good answer to a claim of such good faith . . .

If the superintendent of a big hospital lets thousands of sick people die so that he may devote himself to the sure rescue of one soul, he will come out guilty, at least morally, even if it is proven that he as an individual erroneously thought that there was no hope of saving the other patients. He is a collaborator with the angel of death. Either a complete atrophy of the soul or a blind involvement with complete loss of senses and proportion in his small but personal rescue operation could bring a man to such a gigantic, hazardous play.

And if all this is not enough to annul the claim of good faith which was put before us on behalf of Kastner by the Attorney General, then Kastner himself comes and annuls it altogether. Not only did he never make this claim, but his own words prove the contrary. He writes in his report to the Jewish Agency that the Committee sent emissaries to many ghettos in the countryside and pleaded with them to organize escapes and to refuse to board the trains. And though the story of these pleadings is untrue, and the silence of Kastner in Kluj is proven, the very uttering of these statements entirely contradicts the claim that Kastner had concealed the news about the fate of the ghetto inmates in good faith and only as a result of his complete despairing of the chances of escaping or resisting the Germans. You can not claim at the same time helplessness and activity. Anyway, such a claim is not convincing . . .

We can sum up with three facts:

A. That the Nazis didn't want to have a great revolt - 'Second Warsaw' - nor small revolts, and their passion was to have the extermination machine working smoothly without resistance. This fact was known to Kastner from the best source - from Eichmann himself - And he had additional proofs of that when he witnessed all the illusionary and misleading tactics which were being taken by the Nazis from the first moment of occupation.

B. That the most efficient means to paralyze the resistance with - or the escape of a victim is to conceal from him the plot of the coming murder. This fact is known to every man and one does not need any proof of evidence for this.

C. That he, Kastner, in order to carry out the rescue plan for the few prominents, fulfilled knowingly and without good faith the said desire of the Nazis, thus expediting the work of exterminating the masses.

And also the rescue of Becher by Kastner . . . He who is capable of rescuing this Becher from hanging proves that the atrocities of this great war criminal were not so horrifying or despicable in his eyes . . . I couldn't base the main guilt of Kastner on this fact had it been alone, but when it is attached even from afar to the whole scene of events it throws retroactive light on the whole affair and serves as a dozen proofs of our conclusion."