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On collaboration between Nazis and Zionists - Lauren Johnson - 04-09-2021

This is a clip from an article about Zionism in the Britain's Labour Party:

https://electronicintifada.net/content/how-owen-jones-justifies-labours-purge-socialists/33831

“Collaboration with the Nazis”
What was all the fuss about? In order to answer that, it is necessary to relate a well-documented, but little-known episode.

Perdition was based on the 1954 Gruenwald-Kasztner trial in Israel.
Malchiel Gruenwald – a refugee from Hungary who lost 50 relatives to the Nazi Holocaust – was sued for writing a pamphlet accusing Labor Zionist functionary Rezső Kasztner of “collaboration with the Nazis” back in their native country.
A press spokesperson for an Israeli ministry, Kasztner was a member of the ruling Mapai party, the forerunner of Israel’s present-day Labor Party.
Mapai leaders were hoping to get Kasztner into the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. He was a Mapai candidate for the first two Knesset elections, and initially for the third, before he was removed as an embarrassment.
[Image: rezso-kasztner-1950.jpg?itok=DjxlVfr5&ti...1630599354]
Rezső Kasztner speaking on Israeli state radio. Kasztner’s cooperation with Nazi war criminals in his native Hungary caused a national scandal after his actions came under the microscope during a 1954 libel trial in Israel. (Wikimedia Commons)

Party leaders had a degree of loyalty to Kasztner, as he had been their man in Hungary during the war. If Kasztner was a collaborator, so were they, they reasoned. Gruenwald’s accusations could not be allowed to stand.
According to a 1950 Israeli law, if Kasztner was a Nazi collaborator, he could even have faced the death penalty. The government resolved to sue Gruenwald for libel. They would come to regret it.
After months of hearings, the court found Gruenwald had not defamed Kasztner and decided that the Mapai man had indeed collaborated. Kasztner had “sold his soul to the devil,” the judge famously ruled.
Worse still for the Labor Zionists, the hearings became a trial of Kasztner in the court of public opinion – and by extension a trial of them. The affair still resonates in Israel decades later.
The trial exposed a gruesome history of Nazi-Zionist cooperation which Israeli leaders would have preferred remain buried.
[font="din next w01 medium", sans-serif]Deadly lies[/font]
After the March 1944 German invasion of Hungary, Kasztner, a local member of the Zionist leadership, worked directly with the Nazis.
He agreed to help maintain calm in the Hungarian Jewish community, particularly the 20,000 Jews of Kasztner’s native town of Kluj. The Nazis wanted to ensure there was no repeat of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in Poland the year prior.
The Jews of Kluj were concentrated in a ghetto prior to deportation, and were told a tale about “Kenyermeze,” a work camp in a German-occupied area where they would supposedly be sent and kept alive.
But this was a deadly lie: The trains were actually taking people to Auschwitz, the death camp in occupied Poland, where the Nazis murdered 12,000 Hungarian Jews per day.
Almost half a million Hungarian Jews were ultimately exterminated.
To ensure there was no rebellion, Kasztner’s men told the Jewish community that they would be safe. Fake postcards and letters from “Kenyermeze” were distributed or read by his group assuring the Jews in Kluj that all was well. Thinking they were being deported to labor camps, Jews in Hungary mostly did not resist.
As Ben Hecht writes in Perfidy, his 1961 book on the affair, the Jews of Kluj were guarded in their ghetto by fewer than two dozen Nazi and Hungarian guards. They could have easily overcome them and escaped to safety across the Romanian border, just three miles away, had Kasztner told them what fate he knew really awaited them.
But Kasztner had personally negotiated a deal with senior Hitler aide and Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann. Kasztner knew where the “resettlement” trains were actually headed, but remained silent.
[font="din next w01 medium", sans-serif]“A success for Zionism”[/font]
In exchange for deceiving his community, the Nazis agreed to let Kasztner select a group – mostly fellow Zionists, friends and family – who would be permitted to escape Hungary on a train to Switzerland. The idea was that the elite group would join the Zionist settler-colony in Palestine.
Zionists and Nazis both agreed on the goal of removing European Jews from Europe.
Eichmann was captured in Argentina in 1960 by Mossad agents and brought back to Israel, where he would be tried and executed in 1962.
Speaking to a pro-Nazi Dutch journalist, while still at large in 1955, Eichmann himself fondly recalled working with Kasztner. He described the Nazi-Zionist meeting of minds in chillingly frank terms.
According to Eichmann, Kasztner’s main concern was to make it possible for a select group of Hungarian Jews to go to Palestine.
“You can have the others,” Eichmann recalled Kasztner saying, “but let me have this group here.”
The Nazi also asserted that “there was a very strong similarity between our attitudes in the SS and the viewpoint of these immensely idealistic Zionist leaders.”

“I believe that Kasztner would have sacrificed a thousand or a hundred thousand of his blood to achieve his political goal,” Eichmann said. “He was not interested in old Jews or those who had become assimilated into Hungarian society. But he was incredibly persistent in trying to save biologically valuable Jewish blood – that is, human material that was capable of reproduction and hard work.”
“Because Kasztner rendered us a great service by helping keep the deportation camps peaceful, I would let his group escape,” Eichmann explained.
Judge Benjamin Halevy took nine months to write his ruling, concluding on 21 June 1955 that “the Nazis’ patronage of Kasztner, and their agreement to let him save six hundred prominent Jews, were part of the plan to exterminate the Jews.”
He said that Kasztner “considered the rescue of the most important Jews as a great personal success and a success for Zionism.”
[font="din next w01 medium", sans-serif]“How could the judge dare!”[/font]
The Israeli press extensively covered the story and the affair dominated the 1955 Knesset elections. The government immediately appealed to the high court. There were calls in the Knesset and press to have Kasztner tried under the Nazi collaborators law.
“A nightmare, a horror,” Prime Minister Moshe Sharett wrote in his diary. “How could the judge dare!”
Kasztner had become a liability. He was leaking inconvenient facts like a damaged bucket.
[Image: moshe-sharett.jpg?itok=svtYhbWP&timestamp=1630657095]
Israel’s second prime minister Moshe Sharett, who called the verdict “a nightmare.” (Wikimedia Commons)

If the appeal had not gone the government’s way, calls to try Kasztner as a Nazi collaborator would have been much harder to resist.
But before he could take the stand again, Kasztner was silenced forever.
In March 1957, he was assassinated outside his home. The three killers were already known to the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, and immediately arrested. One of them, Zeev Eckstein, confessed to having been a Shin Bet agent prior to the killing.
During and after the Gruenwald trial, Kasztner was given police protection. Shortly before his assassination, this was lifted. There were allegations that the Israeli security establishment had made a decision to murder Kasztner to shut him up.
The killers were sentenced to life in prison – yet only five years later they were released. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, had personally intervened to help secure their freedom.
The high court overturned most of the libel trial verdict. The judges did not dispute the facts that emerged in the trial about what Kasztner had done, but only Judge Halevy’s legal interpretation of what they amounted to. In some instances the judges even justified his actions.
What did Kasztner have left to tell? It’s likely that some secrets died with him.
Notably, his collaboration with Nazi war criminals did not end with the war.
After the Holocaust he traveled to Germany and testified at Nuremberg in defense of several Nazis involved in the extermination of Jews, such as SS officer Kurt Becher. As a result, Becher escaped the noose and eventually became one of West Germany’s richest industrialists.
Kasztner had originally been brought to Nuremberg to testify against Nazi war criminals, as detailed in Akiva Orr’s 1994 book Israel: Politics, Myths and Identity Crises.
But according to one American prosecutor, “Kasztner roamed the Nazi prison camp for Nazi officers searching for those he could help by testimony or intervention on their behalf. In the end we were very glad when he left.”
[font="din next w01 medium", sans-serif]Jones’ double game[/font]
While Kasztner’s behavior may have been particularly egregious, it came within the context of broader Zionist-Nazi cooperation, as both movements shared the goal of removing Jews from Europe.
Kasztner’s affidavit to the Nuremberg tribunal on behalf of the Nazi Kurt Becher stated that it was given “not only in my name, but also on behalf of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish World Congress” – two of the leading bodies of the Zionist movement at the time.
In the appeal of the Gruenwald verdict, Israel’s attorney general admitted as much.
“Kasztner did nothing more and nothing less than was done by us,” he stated. “It has always been our Zionist tradition to select the few out of the many in arranging the immigration to Palestine.”
What do we learn from all this?
Owen Jones is often referred to on the British left as a weather vane, because he changes his positions so often.
In 2015 when Jeremy Corbyn was popular, Jones supported his leadership.
But at the first test in 2016, when there was an attempted coup by Labour MPs and the Israel lobby, Jones turned against him, writing that he was in “despair” about Labour under Corbyn.
Soon before the June 2017 election, Jones went further and explicitly called for Corbyn to quit.
After Corbyn’s Labour came within a few thousand votes of winning that election, depriving the ruling Conservative Party of its majority and ultimately forcing Prime Minister Theresa May to step down, Jones flip-flopped once again, writing that he had made a mistake.
Unchastened, Jones has played a similar double game ever since. He has long fueled the Labour witch hunt over “anti-Semitism,” endorsing calls for socialists like Chris WilliamsonJackie Walker and this author to be suspended or expelled.
Now, with Loach expelled, Jones again wants it both ways. He wants to claim he doesn’t support expulsion, but at the same time he unjustly condemns Loach’s work as “incredibly distressing to Jewish people” – and thus implies there’s merit to the expulsion.
Owen Jones is no true friend to socialists or Palestinians.[font=Georgia, "times new roman", "dejavu serif", serif]
[b]Sources[/b][/font]



[*]Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (Atlanta: On Our Own Authority, 2014), pages 284-291

[*]Ben Hecht, Perfidy, (New York: Julian Messner, Inc., 1961)

[*]Akiva Orr, Israel: Politics, Myths and Identity Crises (London: Pluto Press, 1994), pages 81-116

[*]Tom Segev, The Seventh Million (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), pages 255-296, 305-310