October 23, 2009 5:46 pm at 5:46 pm #663758
mezonos maven- I will indeed do that.
to truthsharer- i found the original letter (on a different website). It is not clear when he wrote this, It must be either May 1939 or 1940. Probably 1940, as he is talking about leaving for the US-and before the invasion of Poland, this was not yet a priority.
However, there is one aspect fo the letter not quoted and showing a different perspective. He continues and advises the addressee of the letter (not sure who it was) to contact R’Shlmo Heiman- then rosh yeshiva of Torah Vodaath about this. Clearly, R’Elchonon was not sure what to do and he left it up to the addresse to make other arrangements. I am not sure what to make of this, except to thunk that R’Elchonon himself was not sure what to do. he was conflicted about the impending dangers but was still torn between staying in Poland and leaving for the US.
What I learn from this is that no one is a “navih” not even a great Godol and that everyone can err, and the gedolim of that generation tragically erred.This is not to accuse them-chas vesholom-of anything just to observe that no one is infallible.October 23, 2009 5:55 pm at 5:55 pm #663759squeakParticipant
I also would stop short of saying that only a prophet knew. But hard as it may be to believe, the situation was not as obvious then as it is in hindsight. Yes – it was known that the Nazis were in power, but the worst that was expected was another ‘Great War’. ROB, you were not around to know what was going on in the minds of people living in Europe and America in the 40’s. Communication technology was not much to speak of, and while the war machine was running it was even less. War is always dangerous for civilians, but no one ever thought that civilians would be the target of the war. Even of those who did flee, most did it because they feared ‘collateral damage’, i.e. plundering and raiding or pogrom-like anti-semitism – not because they foresaw the Holocaust.
I doubt you will believe my word alone – so confirm it with anyone you please. Anyone who was around to remember. If you read ‘Night’ by Elie Weisel, he describes how the warnings of the Beadle who escaped from Poland to Transylvania were mocked and ignored by the Hungarian townspeople. The general populace simply did not believe there was a Holocaust going on, until it came to their town. I am sure there are other examples of similar denials that are documented. The Jews of Europe unfortunately found out how wrong their estimation was. The Jews of America found out only after the war, and were ridden with guilt and self-flaggelation for underestimating the level of horror.
Not one of you is in a position to judge. So if you feel like passing judgment, do so in the confines of your living room, where you and your children can discuss this ‘ancient history’ like all scholars do – i.e. second-hand, and with the benefit of hindsight. Not here, where your armchair politics can be seen by me. Judge the Nazis if you please.October 23, 2009 6:05 pm at 6:05 pm #663760truthsharerMember
squeak, the Germans never hid their intentions. They encouraged Jews to emigrate.
In addition, if nobody expected the Holocaust, why was “physical death better than spiritual death” even bandied about? Also, why were people escaping if they had the chance? Why were people seeking visas?
You don’t want to judge? That’s fine, but it works both ways.
And in hindsight, we clearly see that those who said to stay were mistaken.October 23, 2009 6:15 pm at 6:15 pm #663761
squeak- I agree with you totally. No-one realy knew what was going to happen and certainly , Hungarian jews did not believe the polish refugees who told them about the camps and the like,
This is why I say that you should not condemn anyone- not Gedolim ,who did not foresaw what would happen ,not zionist leaders who begged people to move to israel but also did not see the catastrophe coming and certainly not individual people (like Kasztner) who tried their best to protect whomever they could.
As you write- Judge the real ‘reshoyim”- the nazis and allow all the Kedoshim to rest in peace.October 23, 2009 6:21 pm at 6:21 pm #663762
mezonos maven- I ‘googled’ Kurt Becher. From the little information on that website, it seesm to me that Becher was indeed a real criminal-from his days in poland and russia- but when he came to hungary, he knew the end was near and he tried to feather his nest AND to protect himself.Many criminals do that all the time.
i have not seen the actual depostion of Kasztner but I think he thought he owed becher a debt of gratitude in facilitating the train that saved many jews. I think he was clearly mistaken in this matter . What is more problematic is why Becher was acquitted. It cannot be that the ONLY witness was Kasztner and if anyone knows the whole depostion, have him quote it.October 23, 2009 6:31 pm at 6:31 pm #663763Mezonos MavenMember
So with rob, squeak, etc. agreeing it was not “known” until death came knocking, it further demonstrates the crime when Kastner refused to publish the Vrba report to Hungarian Jewry. The Vrba report had a drawing of Auschwitz as well as details of the mass exterminations of the Jews being deported there. Instead of knowing this, the Jews went unto the transport trains to Auschwitz without attempting to flee or resist — something that may have been avoided in whatever numbers had they known they are being transported to the their certain deaths.October 23, 2009 6:44 pm at 6:44 pm #663764
mezonos maven- what you are writing is preposterous and stands the truth on its head. There were PLENTY of reports about camps and killing fields. Polish refugess went through Hungary by the hundreds, maybe thousands. Prominent rebbes (belz, Bobov) came from the ghettos and passed through Hungary in 1944. Everyone knew that they were killing jews and many heard of the camps. A nice drawing oh Auschwitz would not have made an iota of difference.
Two things happened; the jews of hungary, by and large, just could not believe in the horror and two- there was precious few places to flee.
It is preposterous to say that,had they seen the Vrba report, they suddenly would have left their towns en masse or they would have grabbed guns and resisted. This is a stupid argument. (I also point out that the only few jews tht resisted ith arsm were the secular ones)it is made of total fabrication.
You have fallen prey to the post-war chareidi(mainly satmar) myth that the Zionists were all-powerful and that everything was their fault. Kasztner became the convenient poster boy for this historical invention.
The truth is totally different, because every person made mistakes and the real culprits are the damned NAZIS-JEMACH SHEMOM.October 23, 2009 6:51 pm at 6:51 pm #663765squeakParticipant
You people are unbelievable. Just stop already. You can do your pithy analysis once the last survivor is gone. Maybe then will you be able to feign authority. I dare any one of you to speak this to my face – one of us would not survive the encounter.
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