Holocaust Center Receives Archives of Jew Honored, Vilified for Negotiating With Nazis

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Israel's official Holocaust memorial and museum has unveiled the private archives of one of the most contentious Jewish figures from the Holocaust era in an attempt to exonerate the man's tarnished legacy.

Yad Vashem officials said the material released Sunday should finally put an end to what it said was an unjustified smear campaign against Rudolf (Israel) Kasztner.

Kasztner was hailed by admirers as a Holocaust hero for saving thousands of Jews. But critics reviled him as a collaborator who "sold his soul." In 1957, after a campaign of vilification, he was assassinated by Jewish extremists.

Kasztner, a Zionist leader in Hungary during World War II, headed the Relief and Rescue Committee, a small Jewish group that negotiated with Nazi officials to rescue Hungarian Jews in exchange for money, goods and military equipment.

In June 1944, the "Kasztner Train," with 1,684 Jews on board, departed Budapest for the safety of neutral Switzerland. Kasztner's negotiations also saved 20,000 Hungarian Jews by diverting them to an Austrian labor camp instead of a planned transfer to extermination camps, according to Yad Vashem.

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