Trading in Lives?

Operations of the Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee in Budapest, 1944–1945
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Publication date: 
240 pages + photos (16 pages)

Set in the tumultuous moments of 1944–45 Budapest, this work discusses the operations of the Budapest Relief and Rescue Committee. Drawing out the contradictions and complexities of the mass deportations of Hungarian Jews during the final phase of World War II, Szita suggests that in the Hungarian context, a commerce in lives ensued, where prominent Zionists like Dr. Rezso Kasztner negotiated with the higher echelons of the SS, trying to garner the freedom of Hungarian Jews. Szita's portrait of the controversial Kasztner is a more sympathetic rendition of a powerful Zionist leader who was later assassinated in Israel for his dealings with Nazi leaders. Szita reveals a story of interweaving personalities and conflicts during arguably the most tragic moment in European history. The author's extensive research is a tremendous contribution to a field of study that has been much ignored by scholarship-the Hungarian holocaust and the trade in human lives.

1. Operations of the Budapest Relief and Rescue Committee from 1941 to 1944

2. The German Occupation of Hungary, March 19 1944
a. The Special Units Strike Immediately

3. The Sonderkommando and the Ungarnaktion
a. Eichmann on the Move Again
b. The Organizations of Terror Settle In
c. Deportation of the First Captives
d. The Ungarnaktion in Full Swing
e. The Hungarian Prisoners of the Vienna Gestapo
f. In the Buda Prison of the Gestapo

4. The Deportation of Hungarian Jews in the Eyes of the World
a. Indifference
b. Protests
c. Another German Cover-up Game

5. The SS Trading in Human Lives
a. The First Meetings of the Rescue Committee
b. The Columbus Street Camp
c. The SS Buyout Proposal Mediated by Joel Brand
d. Zionist Youths
e. The Ordeals of the “Emissary of the Dead”
f. Some Conclusions

6. The “Sample Train”
a. Departure
b. The Swiss Reception

7. Another Chapter in Human Trade; Forced Labor for the SS
a. Provincial Jews Sheltered in Strasshof
b. Camp Life in Greater Vienna
c. Jews from the Great Hungarian Plain in the Region of Gau Niederdonau

8. More Looting—Daylight Robbery on a Different Plain
a. The Biggest Catch: Ferenc Chorin and the Families of Financiers and Industrial Magnates
b. Blackmail and “Buyout” Continue
c. Hopes and Doubts—the Prospects of the Negotiations
d. Summer Months in Columbus Street
e. More Kidnappings and Arrests

9. An Extraordinary Hostage: János Mauthner and the Deputy Chief of the Gestapo in Vienna

10. In the Lion’s Maw
a. Those Left behind at the Bergen Camp
b. December 7; The Second Train to Switzerland
c. The Arrow Cross Terror and the Re-Filling of the Ungarnlager
d. Subsequent Negotiations in Switzerland
e. The Rescue Committee in Budapest, Winter 1944.

11. Spring 1945
a. Jewish “Family Camps,” Late April and Early May 1945
b. The Fate of the Rescue Committee’s Swiss Charges

12. The Bonds Survive
a. Kasztner, Becher and the Others
b. The Kasztner Report
c. Kurt Becher, Savior of the Jews
d. Kasztner’s Subsequent Activities, the Jerusalem Trial
e. Becher’s Single Interview