Jewish hands helped the mass murder

Jewish hands helped the mass murder

Postby admin » Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:43 pm

Jewish Hands Helped the Mass Murder, Excerpt from Perfidy
by Ben Hecht


There is a likeness between Justice of the Jerusalem District Court, Benjamin Halevi, and the girl, Hanna Senesh. They serve different causes -- Hanna, the cause of human love; Judge Halevi, the cause of human justice -- but they serve them in the same way -- with their entire souls.

The enemy Halevi had to face and vanquish is sometimes a tougher foe than the one Hanna met in Budapest. It is the enemy of a man's own perspectives and prejudices. Halevi has to sit in judgment objectively not only on Greenwald and Kastner, but on his own complex humanity, which includes his life's dedication to Jewry and to the State of Israel.

Two men were never more apart as Jews and patriots than Tamir and Halevi at the start of the trial. Tamir was a child of revolt. He loved his country completely. But Tamir's country did not consist only of the righteous few who ran it. To the contrary, these men had offended his patriotism and embarrassed his soul since childhood. Tamir considered most of the government men in power as unproud and unworthy Jews who had come into their power through the courage and vision of others -- a courage and vision they had usurped after it was safe and profitable to echo them.

Not so, Halevi. To Halevi, most of the factotums who took over the running of the new land of Israel were, often, friends, and men and women of upright character.

With 90 percent of the world's Jewry, Halevi believed in these new rulers as he believed in the great kings and prophets of ancient Judea. They, the new ones, were anointed by the long travail of the Jews. The long Jewish dream was a halo over their heads. [131]

It takes Halevi nine months to write his verdict. He does it in the loneliness of his study. He reads and re-reads the protocol of the trial. Halevi is not a slow-witted man. His mind has been long aware of the lies and villainies in the case. Then why so long at his chore? Were there doubts he must resolve? Was it clarity and logic on which he labored? Perhaps. But there was more than fastidiousness that slowed down the writing of his verdict.

I did not interview Judge Halevi in his study any more. than I did Hanna Senesh in her cell. And neither of them made report on what went on in their dolorous days. Their deeds, only, speak for them.

Judge Halevi's deed is under his arm as he enters his Jerusalem court room after the nine months. It is a thick manuscript. His verdict is in it.

The court room is filled, and the land of Israel holds its breath. In the court room old Malchiel Greenwald sits staring grimly. He has been well-behaved throughout the trial, contenting himself with derogatory grunts and salty mutterings. Tamir sits beside him.

Kastner is not present. Also missing is Attorney General Chaim Cohen.

Judge Halevi reads his verdict in a low voice that is almost a whisper. But under his quiet tone, a storm is audible. Pale, burning-eyed, and half whispering, Judge Halevi reads for fourteen hours.

Said Tamir, "A nation raises its eyes to the high seat of justice and awaits the sound of truth from it."

The nation hears that sound now. I quote only the vital fragments of Judge Halevi's verdict:

The masses of Jews from Hungary's ghettos obediently boarded the deportation trains without knowing their fate. They were full of confidence in the false information that they were being transferred to Kenyermeze.

The Nazis could not have misled the masses of Jews so conclusively had they not spread their false information through Jewish channels.

The Jews of the ghettos would not have trusted the Nazi or Hungarian rulers. But they had trust in their Jewish leaders. Eichmann and others used this known fact as part of their calculated plan to mislead the Jews. They were able to deport the Jews to their extermination by the help of Jewish leaders.

The false information was spread by the Jewish leaders. The local leaders of the Jews of Kluj and Nodvarod knew that other leaders were spreading such false information and did not protest.

Those of the Jews who tried to warn their friends of the truth were persecuted by the Jewish leaders in charge of the local "rescue work."

The trust of the Jews in the misleading information and their lack of knowledge that their wives, children and themselves were about to be deported to the gas chambers of Auschwitz led the victims to remain quiescent in their ghettos. It seduced them into not resisting or hampering the deportation orders.

Dozens of thousands of Jews were guarded in their ghettos by a few dozen police. Yet even vigorous young Jews made no attempt to overpower these few guards and escape to nearby Rumania. No resistance activities to the deportations were organized in these ghettos.

And the Jewish leaders did everything in their power to soothe the Jews in the ghettos and to prevent such resistance activities.

The same Jews who spread in Kluj and Nodvarod the false rumor of Kenyermeze, or confirmed it, the same public leaders who did not warn their own people against the misleading statements, the same Jewish leaders who did not organize any resistance or any sabotage of deportations, . . . these same leaders did not join the people of their community in their ride to Auschwitz, but were all included in the Rescue train.

The Nazi organizers of extermination and the perpetrators of extermination permitted Rudolf Kastner and the members of the Jewish Council in Budapest to save themselves, their relatives, and friends. The Nazis did this as a means of making the local Jewish leaders, whom they favored, dependent on the Nazi regime, dependent on its good will during the time of its fatal deportation schedule. In short, the Nazis succeeded in bringing the Jewish leaders into collaboration with the Nazis at the time of the catastrophe.

The Nazi chiefs knew that the Zionists were a most vital element in Jewry and the most trusted by the Jews.

The Nazis drew a lesson from the Warsaw ghetto and other belligerent ghettos. They learned that Jews were able to sell their lives very expensively if honorably guided.

Eichmann did not want a second Warsaw. For this reason, the Nazis exerted themselves to mislead and bribe the Jewish leaders.

The personality of Rudolph Kastner made him a convenient catspaw for Eichmann and his clique, to draw into collaboration and make their task easier.

The question here is not, as stated by the Attorney General in his summation, whether members of the Jewish Rescue Committee were or were not capable of fulfilling their duty without the patronage of the S.S. chiefs. It is obvious that without such S.S. Nazi patronage the Jewish Rescue Committee could not have existed, and could have acted only as an underground.

The question is, as put by the lawyer for the defense, why were the Nazis interested in the existence of the Rescue Committee? Why did the S.S. chiefs make every effort to encourage the existence of the Jewish Rescue Committee? Did the exterminators turn into rescuers?

The same question rises concerning the rescue of prominent Jews by these German killers of Jews. Was the rescue of such Jews a part of the extermination plan of the killers?

The support given by the extermination leaders to Kastner's Rescue Committee proves that indeed there was a place for Kastner and his friends in their Final Solution for the Jews of Hungary -- their total annihilation.

The Nazi's patronage of Kastner, and their agreement to let him save six hundred prominent Jews, were part of the plan to exterminate the Jews. Kastner was given a chance to add a few more to that number. The bait attracted him. The opportunity of rescuing prominent people appealed to him greatly. He considered the rescue of the most important Jews as a great personal success and a success for Zionism. It was a success that would also justify his conduct -- his political negotiation with Nazis and the Nazi patronage of his committee.

When Kastner received this present from the Nazis, Kastner sold his soul to the German Satan.

The sacrifice of the vital interests of the majority of the Jews, in order to rescue the prominents, was the basic element in the agreement between Kastner and the Nazis. This agreement fixed the division of the nation into two unequal camps; a small fragment of prominents, whom the Nazis promised Kastner to save, on the one hand, and the great majority of Hungarian Jews whom the Nazis designated for death, on the other hand. An imperative condition for the rescue of the first camp by the Nazis was that Kastner will not interfere in the action of the Nazis against the other camp and will not hamper them in its extermination. Kastner fulfilled this condition. He concentrated his efforts in the rescue of the prominents and treated the camp of the doomed as if they had already been wiped out from the book of the living.

One cannot estimate the damage caused by Kastner's collaboration and put down the number of victims which it cost Hungarian Jews. These are not only the thousands of Jews in Kluj alone, but also the thousands of Jews in Nodvarod or any other community in the border area; Jews who could escape through the border, had the chief of the rescue committee fulfilled his duty toward them.
All of Kastner's answers in his final testimony were a constant effort to evade this truth.

Kastner has tried to escape through every crack he could find in the wall of evidence. When one crack was sealed in his face, he darted quickly to another.

Judge Halevi reverts to the meeting of Kastner, Becher, and Rudolf Hoess, at the time when the "new line" of rescuing Jews was revealed by Hoess. He says:

From this gathering in Budapest, it is obvious that the. "new line" stretched from Himmler to Hoess, from Jutner [132] to Becher and Krumey.

According to Kastner, however, these Nazis were all active in rescuing Jews.

This meeting of these important German guests in Budapest exposes the "rescue" work of Becher in its true light. It reveals also the extent of Kastner's involvement in the inner circle of the chief German war criminals.

Just as the Nazi war criminals knew they needed an alibi and hoped to achieve it by the rescue of a few Jews at the eleventh hour, so Kastner also needed an alibi for himself. Collaboration between the Jewish Agency Rescue Committee and the Exterminators of the Jews was solidified in Budapest and Vienna. Kastner's duties were part and parcel of the general duties of the S.S.

In addition to its Extermination Department and Looting Department, the Nazi S.S. opened a Rescue Department headed by Kastner.

All these extermination, robbery and rescue activities of the S.S. were coordinated under the management of Heinrich Himmler.

Judge Halevi continues:

Kastner perjured himself knowingly in his testimony before this court when he denied he had interceded in Becher's behalf. Moreover, he concealed the important fact that he interceded for Becher in the name of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish World Congress. [133]

As to the contents of Kastner's affidavit, it was enough for the defense to prove Becher was a war criminal. It was up to the prosecution to remove Becher from this status, if they wished to negate the affidavit.

The Attorney General admitted in his summation that Becher was a war criminal.

The lies in the contents of Kastner's affidavit, the lies in his testimony concerning the document, and Kastner's knowing participation in the activities of Nazi war criminals, and his participation in the last minute fake rescue activities -- all these combine to show one overwhelming truth -- that this affidavit was not given in good faith. [134]

Kastner knew well, as he himself testified, that Becher had never stood up against the stream of Jewish extermination, as Kastner had declared in the affidavit.

The aims of Becher and his superior, Rimmler, were not to save Jews but to serve the Nazi regime with full compliance. There is no truth and no good faith in Kastner's testimony, "I never doubted for one moment the good intention of good Becher."

It is clear that the positive recommendation by Kastner, not only in his own name but also in the name of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish World Congress was of decisive importance for Becher. Kastner did not exaggerate when he said that Becher was released by the Allies because of his personal intervention. The lies in the affidavit of Kastner and the contradictions and various pretexts, which were proven to be lies, were sufficient to annul the value of his statements and to prove that there was no good faith in his testimony in favor of this German war criminal. Kastner's affidavit in favor of Becher was a willfully false affidavit given in favor of a war criminal to save him from trial and punishment in Nuremberg.

Therefore, the defendant, Malchiel Greenwald, was correct in his accusations against Rudolf Kastner in the first, second, and fourth of his statements. [135]

Judge Halevi's verdict found Malchiel Greenwald generally innocent of libel against Kastner, but fined him one Israeli pound (fifty cents) for the one unproven accusation -- that Kastner had actually collected money from his Nazi partners for his aide to their slaughter program. The judge also ordered the Government of Israel to pay Greenwald two hundred pounds (one hundred dollars) as court costs.


The trial had already cast a villain's shadow on the Ben-Gurion Kleagles. Halevi's verdict aggravated their problem -- how to rise and keep shining as the custodians of Jewish honor in the face of evidence to the contrary.

There was a way -- caution, patience, and faith in the political psychology of the mob. The new Israelites were like the people of any other nation -- eager to believe in the virtues of their masters, and quick to forget any proof that these virtues were non-existent.

Halevi's verdict was an emancipation proclamation for the soul of Israel. But a soul is harder to set free than Uncle Tom. The soul of a people is no eagle soaring toward the sun, but a ground hog blinking out at it.

The Ben-Gurionites know all the tricks -- how to bamboozle a people and keep the trumpets of righteousness pealing. They know also how to orchestrate the word "smear," and how to hide guilt in the strut of importance. But, chiefly, the leaders of Israel, like all leaders, know that moral indignation in the public is usually a brief passion. Usually a few headlines, a few editorials, a few denunciatory rallies and parades with hand-made posters, will suffice for its full expression. After which, the rebellion will subside to a cafe and parlor mutter. And, presently, to a repentance for ever having existed at all.

Thus will the Ben-Gurionites arise out of the almost-Revolution that almost filled the land. They will remain in their swivel chairs, with their names lettered on the doors of government.

Nevertheless, though no Israeli job holder except Prime Minister Sharett is booted out of office, in the hearts of Israel something has been overthrown. An illusion has collapsed. The face of the government of Israel will no longer be the face of Hebrew dreams, but the scandal-pocked winner's phiz of the politician. Not to all, but to many.

The government clique will continue, but its bloom will change, just as a love affair changes in the heart of a lover after glimpsing his Isolde between the sheets with another. Forgiveness and forgetfulness may ensue. Kissing may be resumed. But magic is out of the cuckold's bedroom.

Thus Tamir's court-room revolution does not overthrow a regime. It reveals it. And it sets the soul of Israel to brooding.

Israel's press erupted and kept erupting over the Halevi verdict as if His Honor had bombed Jerusalem.

Dr. Moshe Keren, one of the nation's leading political journalists, who had been considerably pro-Kastner, wrote in Haaretz -- the New York Times of Israel,

Kastner must be brought to trial as a Nazi collaborator. And at this trial, Kastner should defend himself as a private citizen, and not be defended by the Israeli government.

. . . The manner in which the Attorney General allowed Tamir to play with them [the government] and so completely dominate the case, can only be described as a shameful show. A government official is sometimes allowed to fail, like any other human being. But such a tremendous failure calls for consequences. [136]

(Item: The consequences for Chaim Cohen-promotion to Supreme Court Judge.)

Keren continues:

The echoes of the Kastner trial will keep on among us for years and years to come. They will continue to poison the air above us, like those famous historical trials after which old governments fell and new governments arose.

The State of Israel will never be after this verdict what it used to be before the verdict. [137]

After writing seven installments on the Kastner case, Dr. Keren flew to Germany. His intention was to interview Kurt Becher.

A few days after his arrival in Germany, journalist Keren was found dead in a German hotel. The diagnosis was "heart attack."

Dr. Keren was clasping a book on the Jewish extermination in his dead hand.

The newspaper Herut editorialized:

"Israel is fortunate to have an independent judge." [138]

Hatzofe, a religious paper, pronounced:

"The decision will have deep echoes in our generation and generations to come." [139]

Lamerchav, the pro-government Kibbutz paper, stated:

"Nobody can shut his eyes to the tremendous educational value and great national importance this verdict will have." [140]

Haboker, the general Zionist pro-government paper, stated:

"The public wants to know the real facts about Kastner, and not about him alone. The only way to find out the truth is to put all the Rescue Committee people on trial and give them a chance to offer their defense." [141]

Maarev, Israel's largest evening paper, stated:

"This is one of the most terrible blows ever received by the Mapai -- coming as it does just before the elections." [142]

Yediat Achranot, an independent evening paper, stated:

"If Kastner is brought to trial the entire government faces a total political and national collapse -- as a result of what such a trial may disclose." [143]

Davar, the Ben-Gurion party paper, stated:

"Any attempt to decide in 1955 how rescue workers should have acted ten years ago is undertaking a tremendous human and historical responsibility.

"And it is astonishing how a single judge had the courage to take upon himself this responsibility." [144]

Kol-Haam -- Voice of the People -- a Communist paper, stated:

"All those whose relatives were butchered by the Germans in Hungary know now clearly that Jewish hands helped the mass murder." [145]

The Jerusalem Post -- English paper (pro-government) -- offered:

"The most you can wish for Dr. Kastner is that now, after having been found guilty of grave crimes, he will be brought to trial by normal procedure -- and will be prosecuted by the State prosecution and not by a lawyer with a political ax to grind." [146]

Mr. Argov, one of Ben-Gurion's closest friends, and chairman of the Defense and Security Committee in Parliament, stated:

"Only a ruthless judge could hand down such a verdict." [147]

Ben-Gurion, himself, was more coy in his comment. [148] He stated:

"Judge Halevi's verdict has aroused in me deep astonishment both in substance and style." [149]

Rudolf Kastner, in a radio interview, stated:

"I am a victim like Captain Dreyfus." [150]

(In the Dreyfus case a Judge was bribed and the trial proved to be a frame-up -- against Dreyfus.)

Dr. Karlebach, one of Israel's brightest journalists, wrote in Maariv:

What is going on here? The Attorney General has to mobilize all the government power, appear himself in court, to justify and defend collaboration with Himmler! And in order to defend a quisling, the government must drag through the streets one of the grimmest stories of our history!

At 11 P.M. the verdict was given. At 11 A.M. next morning the government announces the defense of Kastner will be renewed -- an appeal filed. What exemplary expediency! [151] Since when does this government possess such lawyer-genius who can weigh in one night the legal chances of an appeal on a detailed, complex verdict of three hundred pages? [152]

The whole question of the extermination of Europe's Jewry was revived by the trial and its verdict. It continued to sound throughout Israel despite Ben-Gurion's German handshaking policy.

There is one comic note in these morning-after shudders of Israel. It is sounded by Chaim Cohen -- who else?

After his all-out defeat by Tamir, and with the land full of cries of "Fire Cohen!", the Attorney General draws up a new law for Israel and submits it for adoption.

It is a new evidence law, especially tailored for Israel -- to prevent another Kastner case, and another government fiasco. It restrains an attorney from attacking a witness too severely, from bullying or insulting a witness, or from asking questions without advance proof of their answers. [153]

This is the same Chaim Cohen who had proposed a law allowing the use in court of a confession secured by the police by physical force.

Israel's parliament adopts Chaim Cohen's "please-don't-hurt-me-Mr. Tamir-law" -- with modifications. It leaves the matter and manner of wangling truth out of government officials up to the presiding judge. [154]

This is a setback for Chaim Cohen. But a Supreme Court judgeship for life will take the sting out of it.


After the war, S.S. General Walter Schellenberg, Chief of Himmler's Intelligence, stated in a special document, now in the custody of Mr. Hillel Storch of the World Jewish Congress in Stockholm, that Kastner had served throughout the war as an agent of the German S.S. among the Jews in Hungary.


During this trial, the Ben-Gurion group, aided by the Israeli Intelligence Service, published a special weekly called Rimon. Its main theme was a violent smear campaign against Tamir, who was described as, "the enemy of the people." The management of the weekly posted special notices on the walls of Tel Aviv for weeks with a picture of Tamir and derogatory captions. The weekly was financed by secret funds.


In later statements and in a book which he published, Brand described how he was terrorized by high government officials, including Ben-Gurion and Sharett's direct aides, to falsify his testimony and perjure himself, and how later he was threatened with imprisonment in a lunatic asylum if he persisted in penning his memoirs.
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