Synopsis by Nathan Southern
To an even greater degree than Oskar Schindler, Dr. Israel Kasztner played a key role in saving the lives of well over 1,000 Jews from the Holocaust (1,600 in Kasztner's case; 1,200 in Schindler's), but a fascinating and deeply sad irony lay buried in the differences between the men's stories: Schindler was a Nazi party member who manipulated the Gestapo in such a way that it enabled him to save the said individuals, and he died a veritable hero; Kasztner was a Jew who bargained with Adolf Eichmann for the salvation of the 1,600 (whom he shuttled off to Switzerland on a train), and was not ultimately laurelled as a hero, but branded a traitor by his own people. This occurred largely because the notion of bargaining with the Nazis struck many as morally unacceptable (indeed, a greater moral infraction, in the eyes of some, than simple party membership). Kasztner's tale thus speaks volumes about the complex loyalties, conflicting allegiances, and deep-seated confusion at the heart of World War II, and those are the gray areas explored by director Gaylen Ross in this penetrative documentary account of Kasztner's life. The film ultimately poses key questions about the extent to which collaboration with the enemy is morally acceptable in a time of war; it reveals the extent to which Kasztner touched innumerable lives, and features deeply moving interviews with Kasztner's family (who are still attempting to restore his legacy), even as it also features conversations with Kasztner's political opponents and detractors.
allegiance, bargain, collaborator, Holocaust, Jewish, Nazi, salvation, train [locomotive]