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Rudolf Vrba

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Rudolf Vrba
Rudolf Vrba, 1997.jpg
Dr. Vrba in 1997
Born Walter Rosenberg
November 11, 1924(1924-11-11)
Topoľčany, Czechoslovakia
Died March 27, 2006 (aged 81)
British Columbia, Canada
Cause of death Cancer
Ethnicity Jewish
Education Dr. Tech. Sc. in chemistry and biology
Alma mater Prague Technical University
Occupation Associate professor of pharmacology
Employer University of British Columbia
Known for His escape from Auschwitz, and co-authorship of the Vrba-Wetzler report
Spouse(s) Gerta Vrbová, Robin Vrba (1975 until his death)
Children Dr. Helena Vrbová, Zuza Vrbová Jackson
Parents Elias Rosenberg, Helena Grunfeldova

Rudolf "Rudi" Vrba, born Walter Rosenberg (September 11, 1924 – March 27, 2006) was a Slovak-Canadian professor of pharmacology at the University of British Columbia. He came to public attention in 1944 when, in April that year, he and a friend, Alfréd Wetzler, escaped from the Auschwitz concentration camp and passed information to the Allies about the mass murder that was taking place there.[1] The 32 pages of information the men dictated to horrified Jewish officials in Slovakia became known as the Vrba-Wetzler report. It was the first detailed information about the camp to reach the Allies that they accepted as credible.[2]

Details from the report were broadcast on June 15, 1944 by the BBC, and on June 20 by The New York Times, prompting world leaders to appeal to Hungarian regent Miklós Horthy to halt the deportation of Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz, which had been proceeding at a rate of 12,000 a day. After 475,000 had already been deported, the mass deportations were stopped on July 9, 1944, saving up to 200,000 from the gas chambers.[3][4]

The timing of the report's distribution remains a source of controversy. It was made available to officials in Hungary and elsewhere before the deportations to Auschwitz had begun, but was not disseminated further until weeks later.[3] Vrba believed that more lives could have been saved if it had been publicized sooner, reasoning that, had Hungary's Jews known they were to be killed in the gas chambers—and not resettled, as the Nazis were telling them—they might have chosen to run or fight rather than board the trains.[5][6] He alleged that the report had been withheld deliberately by the Jewish-Hungarian Aid and Rescue Committee in order not to jeopardize complex, and ultimately futile, negotiations between the committee and Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer in charge of the deportations, to exchange Jewish lives for money, trucks, and other goods—the so-called "blood for goods" proposals.[5]

Early life and arrest

Rudolf Vrba, 4th child from the left, bottom row, school, 1935-1936

Rudolf Vrba in his Gymnasium photograph, 1935–1936, fourth from the left on the bottom row. He was excluded from the school at the age of 15 because he was a Jew.

Vrba was born Walter Rosenberg in Topoľčany, Czechoslovakia, to Elias and Helena (née Grunfeldova) Rosenberg, who owned a steam sawmill in Jaklovce, near Margecany. Because he was a Jew, he was excluded at the age of 15 from the Gymnasium (high school) of Bratislava under the Slovakian version of the Nazi's Nuremberg Laws,[7] which placed heavy restrictions on Jews' civil rights. He went instead to work as a labourer in Trnava, and continued his studies at home, learning English and Russian. According to The Daily Telegraph, his mother found his interest in English eccentric, but his interest in Russian so alarming that she took him to a doctor.[8]

In March 1942, at the age of 17, wanting to rebel against his country's antisemitism, Vrba decided to flee to England to join the Czechoslovak Army in Britain.[8] He removed the yellow Star of David Jews were required to wear, and took a taxi from Topoľčany to Hungary, with the equivalent of £10. Though he managed to reach Hungary, as a Slovak Jew with no legal status he found the country too hostile and concluded it would be dangerous to continue on to Britain.[9]

He decided to return to Slovakia, but was caught by Hungarian border guards while crossing the border. They turned him over to the Slovakian authorities, who sent him to the Nováky transition camp in Slovakia.[9] He escaped from Nováky with another prisoner, Josef Knapp, but was caught by a Slovakian policeman who became suspicious when he saw Vrba wearing two pairs of socks, and he was sent back to the camp.[8]


Auschwitz I


On June 14, 1942, Vrba was deported to the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland, where he briefly found one of his brothers.[10] He volunteered for farm work, and on June 30 was sent to Auschwitz I, the main camp of the Auschwitz complex and the administrative center for the satellite camps. Rather than the promised "farm work," Vrba's job entailed digging up the bodies of over 100,000 Jews, so they could be incinerated.[8][11]

He eventually befriended a Viennese prisoner who was trusted by the SS, and who arranged for him to work in the Aufräumungskommando, called "Canada" in camp slang.[8] This was a work detail of up to 2,000 men and women who worked on the Judenrampe ("Jewish ramp") between Auschwitz I and II that the new arrivals were unloaded onto, and who sorted out the possessions taken from them, and disposed of the dead bodies among them.[12] The Germans made sure that any valuables, including gold, were repackaged and sent to Germany, and the gold melted into ingots for the Reichsbank.[13] The kommando and its storage facilities, which occupied several dozen barracks in the BIIg sector of Auschwitz II-Birkenau, were nicknamed "Canada I" and "Canada II"—officially, Effektenlager I and II—because they contained clothing, shoes, medicines, blankets, and other provisions, which meant it was viewed as paradise by the Polish prisoners, or Canada, the land of plenty.[14] Because he now had access to food, soap, and warm clothes, Vrba was able to stay healthy. He eventually became part of the pilfering hierarchy of the camp guards, though at one point he was beaten for smuggling goods to friends.[8] On January 15, 1943, he was transferred again, along with the rest of the Aufräumungskommando, to Birkenau, the extermination camp, 2½ miles (4 km.) from the main camp.[15]

Auschwitz II (Birkenau)

Selection Birkenau ramp

"Selection" on the Judenrampe, May/June 1944. To be sent to the right meant assignment to a work detail; to the left, the gas chambers. Vrba worked on this ramp as part of the Aufräumungskommando, who sorted through the new arrivals' belongings.

On arrival at Birkenau, Vrba was "selected" to go to the right rather than the left, which meant he had been chosen to work rather than be sent to the gas chambers.[16] He was tattooed as prisoner no. 44070.[13]

He was described by those who knew him as possessing a photographic memory,[12] and during his time at Auschwitz I and II, he tried to commit to memory the numbers of Jews arriving and the place of origin of each transport. Because his job involved being present when most of the Jewish deportees arrived, and sorting out the belongings of the ones who were gassed, he was able to calculate how many had been sent to Auschwitz, and how many were killed. He noticed that many of them had packed as though for the long term. He saw clothes for different seasons and utensils for a variety of uses, which convinced him that the Jews believed the Nazis' stories about resettlement in the East.[17] This strengthened his conviction that he had to escape. For two years he had thought about it, but now, he wrote, "It was no longer a question of reporting a crime, but of preventing one; of warning the Hungarians, of rousing them, of raising an army one million strong, an army that would fight rather than die."[18]

In the summer of 1943, he was given the job of registrar (Blockschreiber) in the quarantine section for men, Birkenau sector BIIa. From his barracks, he could see the lorries driving towards the gas chambers.[16] This allowed him to estimate the number of Jews arriving daily, and the percentage gassed. His estimate was that only 10 percent of each transport was selected to go to the right, and the rest were killed.[19] By April 1944, he had calculated that 1,750,000 Jews had already been killed, a figure significantly higher than those now accepted by mainstream historians,[16] but which even decades later he insisted was accurate.[20]

"Hungarian salami"

At the beginning of 1944, Vrba noticed that preparations were underway for a new railway line, which would allow inmates to be taken directly to the gas chambers. He wrote this was confirmed on January 15, 1944 by one of the builders, a German kapo.[19] He also said he overheard SS guards discuss how they would soon have Hungarian salami by the ton.[9] He wrote: "When a series of transports of Jews from the Netherlands arrived, cheeses enriched the war-time rations. It was sardines when ... French Jews arrived, halva and olives when transports of Jews from Greece reached the camp, and now the SS were talking of 'Hungarian salami'..."[19] Although Vrba is clear in his autobiography that he overheard this conversation, there is no mention of it in the Vrba-Wetzler report,[21] leading Czech historian Miroslav Kárný to dispute Vrba's recollection (see below).[22]


When he arrived in Birkenau, Vrba discovered that Alfréd Wetzler, an older man he had known from his home town, was already there, registered as prisoner no. 29162. Wetzler was working in the Birkenau mortuary, where he recorded the number of prisoners who died other than by gassing, and the amount of gold extracted from their teeth.[13]

The men decided to try to escape together. With the help of the camp underground, at 2 p.m. on Friday, April 7, 1944—the eve of Passover—the two men climbed inside a hollowed-out hiding place in a wood pile that was being stored to build the "Mexico" section for the new arrivals. It was outside Birkenau's barbed-wire inner perimeter, but inside an external perimeter the guards kept erected during the day. The other prisoners placed boards around the hollowed-out area to hide the men, then sprinkled the area with pungent Russian tobacco soaked in gasoline to fool the guards' dogs, a trick they had learned from Russian POWs,[16][23] particularly Dmitry Volkov, who had escaped Auschwitz but was recaptured. Volkov advised them to travel lightly, with no money, and only at night, and to trust no-one with their plans.[24]

At 20:33 that evening, the commander of Auschwitz II, SS-Sturmbannführer Fritz Hartjenstein, was informed by teleprinter that two Jews had escaped.[11] The men knew from previous escape attempts by other prisoners that, once their absence was noticed during the evening appell, or roll call, the guards would continue to search for them for three days. They therefore remained in hiding until the fourth night, almost getting caught at one point when a searching guard stood on top of the wood pile, right above them. On April 10, wearing Dutch suits, overcoats, and boots they had taken from "Canada," they made their way south, walking parallel to the Soła river, heading for the Polish border with Slovakia 80 miles (133 km.) away,[18] guiding themselves using a page from a child's atlas that Vrba had found in the warehouse. He wrote:

At the moment of our escape, all connections with whatever friends and social contacts we had in Auschwitz were severed, and we had absolutely no connection waiting for us outside the death camp ... We were de facto written off by the world from the moment we were loaded into a deportation train in the spring of 1942 ... The only administrative evidence of our existence was an international warrant about us, issued telegraphically and distributed to all stations of the Gestapo."[25]

The warrant was also telegraphed to the Kripo (criminal police), the Sicherheitsdienst (security police) and the Grenzpolizei (border guards). Although Vrba has told the story of his escape as one of himself and Wetzler alone in the world, Ruth Linn writes that Polish historiography argues that the escape was only possible because of the Polish underground operating inside the camp, and because of help from local people outside.[25]

The Vrba-Wetzler report


One of the maps from the Vrba-Wetzler Report

Eleven days after escaping, Vrba and Wetzler crossed the Polish-Slovakian border.[10] They met a farmer who put them in touch with a Jewish doctor, Dr. Pollack, who had a contact, Adre Steiner, in the Slovak Judenrat (Jewish Council) in Žilina. The Judenrat now called itself the Working Group, and regarded itself as an underground movement.[23][26][27] Vrba left Dr. Pollack's office with a bandage on his foot to counter any suspicion, leaving behind an emotionally wounded physician, who until then had hoped his family was still alive in the new "resettlement" area they had been sent to.[28]

Vrba and Wetzler spent the night in Čadca in the home of Mrs Beck, a relative of the well-known rabbi Leo Baeck,[29] and met the Working Group the next day, April 24, 1944.[28] The head of the Working Group, Dr. Oskar Neumann, a German-speaking lawyer, placed the men in different rooms in a former Jewish old people's home (used by the Judenrat since the old people were "resettled"), and interviewed them separately over three days.

Vrba writes that he began by drawing the inner layout of Auschwitz I and II, and the position of the ramp in relation to the two camps. He described the internal organization of the camps; how Jews were being used as slave labor for Krupp, Siemens, IG Farben, and D.A.W.; and the mass murder in gas chambers of those who had been chosen for Sonderbehandlung, or "special treatment".[30]

The report was written and re-written several times. Wetzler wrote the first part, Vrba the third, and the two wrote the second part together. They then worked on the report together, re-writing it six times.[31] As they were writing it, Dr. Neumann's aide, Oscar Krasniansky, an engineer and stenographer, who later took the name Oskar Isaiah Karmiel,[32] translated it from Slovak into German with the help of Gisela Steiner,[31] producing a 32-page report in German, which was completed by Thursday, April 27, 1944.[33] Vrba wrote that the report was also hastily translated into Hungarian.

The original Slovak version of the report was not preserved, according to Kárný.[31] The German version contained a precise description of the geography of the camps, their construction, the organization of the management and security, how the prisoners were numbered and categorized, their diet, the selections, gassings, shootings, injections, and deaths from the living conditions themselves.[7][27] The report also contained sketches and information about the interior layouts and operations of the gas chambers, based on information Vrba and Wetzler had received from the Sonderkommando who worked there, which led to some inaccuracies.[34]

Jean-Claude Pressac, a French specialist on the mechanics of the mass murder, examined the report and concluded that, while "somewhat unreliable and even quite wrong on some points, [it] has the merit of describing exactly the gassing process in type II/III Krematorien as from mid-March 1943. It made the mistake of generalizing internal and external descriptions and the operating method to Krematorien IV and V. Far from invalidating it, the discrepancies confirm its authenticity, as the descriptions are clearly based on what the witnesses could actually have seen and heard."[35] Auschwitz scholar Robert Jan van Pelt concurs: "The description of the crematoria in the War Refugee Board report contains errors, but given the conditions under which information was obtained, the lack of architectural training of Vrba and Wetzlar, and the situation in which the report was compiled, one would become suspicious if it did not contain errors."[36] Kárný writes that the report is an invaluable historical document because it provides details that were known only to prisoners, most of whom died—including, for example, that discharge forms were filled out for prisoners who were gassed, indicating that death rates in the camp were actively falsified.[27]

How the report was distributed

Template:Blood for goods According to Kárný, the report was written and translated by April 28, 1944 at the latest,[3] although Vrba says it was completed by April 27. Oscar Krasniansky had heard that Rudolf Kastner, a Jewish lawyer and journalist, and de facto head of the Zionist Aid and Rescue Committee (Va'adat Ezrah Vehatzalah) in Budapest, was about to visit Bratislava,[37] as he did regularly. According to one of Krasniansky's postwar statements, he personally handed a copy of the report to Kastner at the end of April.[37] According to British writer Laurence Rees, Kastner received a copy during his visit to Bratislava on April 28.[38][39]

The dates on which the report was handed over to Kastner and others are important, because Vrba and other Holocaust survivors and writers have alleged that the report was not distributed quickly enough. Vrba claimed in his book that Kastner showed the report to Eichmann and asked if it was true. Eichmann denied it, but seeing that the contents of the report were not as yet public knowledge, he speeded up the Hungarian deportations. He also put a hefty price on Vrba's head because of it. Kastner chose not to publicize its contents, and although the reasons for that decision are complex and unclear, Vrba believed until the end of his life that Kastner withheld it in order not to jeopardize ongoing negotiations between the Aid and Rescue Committee and Adolf Eichmann,[38] the SS officer in charge of the transport of Jews out of Hungary, to secure the release of a number of Jews in exchange for money, 10,000 trucks, and other goods—the so-called "blood for goods" proposals. (See the controversy section below, Joel Brand, and Kastner train.)

Although Kastner did not make the report public, he did pass it on. Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer writes that Kastner gave a copy to Geza Soos, a Hungarian Foreign Ministry official who ran a resistance group, almost as soon as he received it on or around April 28.[40] Soos gave it to Joszef Elias, head of the Good Shepherd Mission, a Protestant missionary organization, and his secretary, Maria Szekely, translated it into Hungarian and prepared six copies (though Vrba said it had already been translated into Hungarian by Krasniansky). These copies made their way to various Hungarian officials. On June 20, Vrba met Vatican legate Monsignor Mario Martilotti at the Svaty Jur monastery. Martilotti had been previously given a copy of the report and questioned Vrba for six hours straight on every detail in the report.[3] Seeing that it was credible, he sent it to the Vatican via Switzerland. A few days later, Vrba was taken to meet Rabbi Chaim Michael Dov Weissmandl, who was regarded as the leader of the Orthodox community in Slovakia, at his Yeshiva in Bratislava. Vrba wrote that it was clear during the meeting that Weissmandl was already familiar with the contents of the report.[41] He wrote of Weissmandl: "The visibility of Yeshiva life in the center of Bratislava, less than 150 miles [250 km.] south of Auschwitz, was in my eyes a typical piece of Goebbels-inspired activity and brazen Nazi humor. There—before the eyes of the world—the pupils of Rabbi Weissmandel could study the rules of Jewish ethics while their own sisters and mothers were being murdered and burned in Birkenau. At that time, only two months and 150 miles away from an Auschwitz working at highest capacity, this Yeshiva struck me as merely a circus with Rabbi Weissmandel as its main, albeit tragicomic, clown."[42]

Deportations to Auschwitz continue

Arnost Rosin, Josef Weiss, Rudolf Vrba

Bratislava, June-July 1944. Vrba on the right, and on the left, Arnost Rosin, who escaped from Auschwitz on May 24, 1944. The man in the middle is Josef Weiss, who worked for the Bratislava Ministry of Health. He secretly made copies of the Vrba-Wetzler report, which the escapees kept hidden behind a picture of the Virgin Mary in an apartment they were renting.[43]

On June 6, 1944, the day of the Normandy landing or D-Day, Arnost Rosin (prisoner no. 29858) and Czesław Mordowicz (prisoner no. 84216) arrived in Slovakia, having escaped from Auschwitz on May 27. Hearing about the Battle of Normandy, and believing the war was over, they got drunk to celebrate, using dollars they'd smuggled out of Auschwitz. They were promptly arrested for violating the currency laws, and spent eight days in prison, before the Jewish Council paid their fines.

Rosin and Mordowicz already knew Vrba and Wetzler. Vrba wrote in his memoir that any inmate who managed to survive more than a year in Auschwitz was regarded as a senior member of what he called the "old hands Mafia," and all were known to each other.[44] On June 15, the men were interviewed by Oscar Krasniansky, the engineer who had translated the Vrba-Wetzler report into German.[45] They told Krasniansky that, between May 15 and May 27, 100,000 Hungarian Jews had arrived at Birkenau, and that most of them were killed on arrival, apparently with no knowledge of what was about to happen to them.[16] The men reported that Jews were being killed at an unprecedented rate, with human fat being used to accelerate the burning.[10]

John Conway, professor emeritus of history at the University of British Columbia, and a friend of Vrba, has written that, because Rosin and Mordowicz were saying Hungarian Jews arriving at Auschwitz still had no idea what awaited them, Vrba and Wetzler concluded that their information had been suppressed. According to Conway, Vrba remained convinced until the end of his life that "if the intended victims had been warned, they would have resisted or hid or fled."[12] In his memoir, Vrba wrote: "I only learned after the war that more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews were brought to Auschwitz after our escape and died a terrible death there up to mid-July, 1944 without ever having been warned by the Hungarian Jewish Council about the true nature of 'resettlement'."[46]

Broadcast of the report and the end of deportations


Hungarian regent Miklós Horthy stopped the deportations on July 9, 1944.

The Vrba-Wetzler Report is known to have reached the British and U.S. governments by mid-June 1944. Elizabeth Wiskemann of the British Legation in Bern sent it to Allen Dulles, the head of U.S. intelligence, who sent it to the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on June 16.[47] Details from it were broadcast by the BBC on June 15, and on June 20, The New York Times published the first of three stories about the existence of "gas chambers in the notorious German concentration camps at Birkenau and Oświęcim [Auschwitz]."[38]

Several world leaders, including Pope Pius XII, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the King of Sweden, appealed to Admiral Miklós Horthy to stop the deportations.[38] On June 26, Richard Lichtheim, a member of the Jewish Agency in Geneva, sent a telegram to England calling on the Allies to hold members of the Hungarian government personally responsible for the killings.[38] The cable was intercepted by Hungary and shown to Prime Minister Döme Sztójay, who passed it to Horthy. On July 7, he ordered that the deportations end, which they did two days later.[38] Historian T.L. Sakmyster has written that fear of being tried for war crimes was not the only reason Horthy halted the deportations; rather, before he read the Vrba-Wetzler report, Horthy had allegedly dismissed the rumors about Auschwitz as "Jewish exaggeration."[48]

Horthy himself was in a quandary: while he was a Hungarian nationalist and an antisemite, he never endorsed genocide for the Jews and was embarrassed by the news of Vrba-Wetzler report.[49] Horthy now realised that Germany would lose the war and drag Hungary down with it unless he acted; he therefore summoned Edmund Veesenmayer, the Nazi's Hungarian representative, to the royal palace to order a reduction in Eichmann's staff in Hungary and protested that Germany had violated Hungary's sovereignty.[49] Veesenmayer, who was later convicted as a Nazi war criminal, wrote in a diplomatic telegram to Berlin that Horthy stated that "he was in a very difficult position feeling like a puppet, not a master of his own country" and that "in connection with the Jewish question" Horthy "mentioned that telegrams were pouring in on him by the day from home and abroad."[50] Horthy resisted Hitler's threats, and Budapest's over 200,000 Jews were spared from being deported to Auschwitz while Horthy was in power.

Jews continued to be deported, although in smaller numbers, after the overthrow of Horthy's government and its replacement on October 15, 1944 by the pro-German fascist Arrow Cross Party. In November, Eichmann arranged for tens of thousands of Budapest Jews to walk the 120 miles (200 km.) from Budapest to Vienna, marching without food in the rain and snow. Eventually, protests from neutral countries, and reportedly from other SS officers, forced Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS, to instruct Eichmann to halt the marches.[51] By this time, however, the diplomatic involvement of the Swedish, Swiss, Spanish, Portuguese embassies at Budapest as well as that of the Vatican's papal nuncio protected tens of thousands of the city's Jews from being deported.[52] The Swedish delegation under Raoul Wallenberg saved 70,000 Jews until the arrival of the Red Army in Budapest in January 1945.[53]

After the report

Resistance activities


After handing his information over to the Slovakian Jewish Council, Vrba was assured by Krasniansky that the report was "in the right hands",[54] and so Vrba felt his job was over. He and Wetzler spent the next six weeks in Liptovský Mikuláš, and continued to make and distribute copies of their report whenever they could. The Slovak Judenrat gave Vrba papers in the name of Rudolf Vrba, showing that he was a "pure Aryan" going back three generations,[54] and supported him financially to the tune of 200 Slovak crowns per week, equivalent to an average worker's salary, and as Vrba wrote, "sufficient to sustain me in an illegal life in Bratislava."[55]

On August 29, 1944, the Slovak Army revolted against the Nazis, and the reestablishment of Czechoslovakia was announced.[55] Vrba joined the Czechoslovak partisan units in September 1944, taking Rudolf Vrba as his nom de guerre,[7] and April 7, the day of his escape, as his birthday.[10] He fought as a machine-gunner[56] in a unit commanded by Milan Uher, and received the Czechoslovak Medal for Bravery, the Order of Slovak National Insurrection, and the Order of Meritorious Fighter. He legalized his new name after the liberation of Czechoslovakia.[7]

After the war

Vrba moved to Prague in 1945, attending and working at the Prague Technical University, where he received his doctorate in chemistry and biochemistry (Dr. Tech. Sc.) in 1951 for a thesis entitled "On the metabolism of butyric acid."[57] This was followed by post-doctoral research at the Czechoslovak Academy of Science, where he received his C. Sc. in 1956.[7] According to friends, Vrba was initially a staunch supporter of the Communist Party, which had helped him and Wetzler escape from Auschwitz, and for whom he had fought with the Czech partisans. However, "anti-semitic purges in Stalinist Czechoslovakia, culminating in the 1952 trial of Rudolph Slansky, the Czechoslovak Communist party secretary" drove him to want to emigrate.[56]

Rudolf Vrba,1960

Vrba in 1960.

In the summer of 1944 he had re-acquainted himself with a childhood friend Gerta, another Slovak Jew, who survived the war by moving from Slovakia to Hungary and back under assumed names, eventually escaping the Gestapo, and living as a refugee in Russian controlled Budapest. After the war she too moved to Prague and became a medical doctor; they married (she took the surname Vrbová, the female version of Vrba), and they had two daughters, one in 1952, and one in 1954.[58] Soon after that the marriage failed; Vrbová escaped with her daughters to Copenhagen via Poland in 1958, reaching England in 1959.[59]

In 1958, Vrba received an invitation to present at an international conference in Israel, and while there, he also defected,[8] working for the next two years at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.[60] He found he could not continue to live in Israel, because the same men who had, in his view, betrayed the Jewish community in Hungary were now in positions of power there,[8] so he decided to move to England in 1960, becoming a British citizen in 1966.[57] In England, he worked for two years in the Neuropsychiatric Research Unit in Carshalton, Surrey, and seven years for the British Medical Research Council.[61]

On May 11, 1960, SS Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann was captured by the Mossad in Buenos Aires and taken to Jerusalem to stand trial. Vrba wrote in his memoir that the British newspapers were suddenly full of stories about Auschwitz. He contacted Alan Bestic, a journalist with the British newspaper, the Daily Herald, to ask whether the newspaper would be interested in his story. They were, and it was published in five installments of 1,000 words each over one week in March 1961, on the eve of Eichmann's trial. Vrba also submitted a statement in evidence against Eichmann. With Bestic's help, he wrote up the rest of his story in August 1963 for his memoir, Escape from Auschwitz: I cannot forgive, which was published in English in 1963.[62]

He appeared as a witness at one of the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials in 1964, and testified at the seven-week trial for Holocaust denial of Ernst Zündel in Canada in 1985.[7][12]

Move to Canada

Rudolf and Robin Vrba at their wedding, 1975

Rudolf and Robin Vrba at their wedding in 1975.

Vrba moved to Canada in 1967, serving on the Medical Research Council of Canada from 1967 to 1973, and becoming a Canadian citizen in 1972. He spent 1973–1975 as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School, where he met his second wife, Robin. They returned to Vancouver, where she became a real estate agent, and he became an associate professor of pharmacology at the University of British Columbia until the early 1990s, specializing in neurology. He became known internationally for more than 50 research papers on the chemistry of the brain, and for his work on diabetes and cancer.[63][64]

Impressed with Vrba's heroism, British historian Sir Martin Gilbert supported a campaign in 1992 to have him awarded the Order of Canada, and solicited letters from well-known Canadians on his behalf, but was unsuccessful. In 1998, at the instigation of Linn, he received the title of Doctor of Philosophy Honoris Causa from the University of Haifa.[6][65]

Vrba died of cancer on March 27, 2006 in Vancouver. He was survived by his first wife, Gerta, his second wife, Robin, his daughter, Zuza Vrbová Jackson, his granddaughter, Hannah, and his grandson, Jan. He was pre-deceased by his older daughter Dr. Helena Vrbová, who died doing malaria research in Papua-New Guinea in 1982. His fellow escapee, Wetzler, died in Slovakia in 1988.[8][63][66][67][68]

Awards and documentaries

The Czech "One World festival", in its "Right to Know" category, annually awards the "Rudolf Vrba Award" to original documentaries which "draw attention to an unknown or silenced theme concerning human rights."[69] The award was established in 2001 by Mary Robinson, then United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Václav Havel, then President of the Czech Republic.[61]

Several documentaries have told Vrba's story: Genocide, part of ITV's World at War series in 1973; Auschwitz and the Allies, directed by Rex Bloomstein and Martin Gilbert for the BBC in 1982; Shoah by Claude Lanzmann in 1985; Witness to Auschwitz by Robin Taylor for CBC's Man Alive series in 1990; Auschwitz - The Great Escape for Channel Five's Revealed series in 2007, and most recently, "Escape From Auschwitz" on PBS's Secrets of the Dead series in 2008.


Vrba's allegations

Vrba believed that many of the 437,000 Hungarian Jews sent to Auschwitz between May 15 and July 7, 1944—when 12,000 Jews were being dispatched by train every day—would have resisted or hidden had they known they were to be killed and not resettled.[6][70] He wrote: "It is my contention that a small group of informed people, by their silence, deprived others of the possibility or privilege of making their own decisions in the face of mortal danger."[5]

Vrba wrote in his memoirs that, as the Germans were preparing the mass deportations to Auschwitz, the Jewish communities in Slovakia and Hungary placed their trust either in the Zionist leadership, such as Rudolf Kastner of Aid and Rescue Committee, or in Orthodox Jewish leaders, such as Weissmandl and Philip von Freudiger. The Nazis were aware of this, which is why they lured precisely those members of the community into various negotiations, supposedly designed to lead to the release of some, or even most, of the Jews, but probably regarded by the Nazis as a way of placating the Jewish leadership into not spreading panic. Vrba wrote: "That the negotiators and their families were in fact pathetic, albeit voluntary, hostages in the hands of Nazi power was an important part of these 'deals'."[5]

When Vrba arrived in Slovakia from Auschwitz, Kastner was involved with other members of the Aid and Rescue Committee, particularly Joel Brand, in a series of complex negotiations with Eichmann, who was in charge of the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz, and who was offering to trade as many as one million Jews—who were supposedly to be allowed to settle anywhere but Palestine—in exchange for 10,000 trucks and other goods from the Western Allies.[71]

Rudolf Vrba, 1946

Rudolf Vrba in 1946

Kastner's first meeting with Eichmann took place on April 25, 1944, and three days later, on April 28—the same day the first trainload of Hungarian Jews left for Auschwitz, although not as part of the mass transports—Kastner is believed to have received a copy of the Vrba-Wetzler Report,[72] though possibly in German and not yet translated. Vrba alleged that Kastner failed to distribute it, in order not to jeopardize the negotiations with Eichmann, but instead acted on it privately by arranging for a trainload of 1,684 Hungarian Jews to escape to Switzerland.[16][73] According to historian John Conway, the escaping party consisted of "themselves, their relatives, a coterie of Zionists, some distinguished Jewish intellectuals, and a number of wealthy Jewish entrepreneurs."[6] According to Ladislaus Löb, however, the party included 285 children under 14 (many of them orphans), 126 Orthodox Jews (including 17 rabbis) and hundreds of ordinary people such as students, workmen, teachers and nurses.[74]

Bauer argues against this interpretation of Kastner's motives, writing that Kastner put his own family on the train only to prove to the other passengers that it was safe.[75] Vrba, in response, alleged that Bauer is one of the Israeli historians who have downplayed Vrba's role in Holocaust historiography, and who seeks to defend the Israeli and Zionist establishment. Vrba argued that Kastner's negotiations with the Nazis were far-fetched and foolish, and that they amounted to collaboration.[6] The allegations against Kastner were heard by the Supreme Court of Israel in 1957, after Malchiel Gruenwald, an Israeli amateur writer and stamp collector, accused Kastner in a self-published pamphlet of being a Nazi collaborator. Because Kastner was by then a senior Israeli civil servant, the Israeli government sued the writer for libel, and although Kastner was eventually exonerated, he was shot on March 3, 1957, as a result of the allegations, and died of his wounds ten days later.[76]

Most Holocaust historians disagree with Vrba's interpretation of the Slovakian and Hungarian Jewish leadership's actions. Bauer writes that, by the time the report was prepared, it was already too late for anything to alter the Nazis' deportation plans.[77] Bauer cautions about the need to distinguish between the receipt of information and its "internalization", where it's regarded as correct and worthy of action, arguing that this is a complicated process: "During the Holocaust, countless individuals received information and rejected it, suppressed it, or rationalized about it, were thrown into despair without any possibility of acting on it, or seemingly internalized it and then behaved as though it had never reached them."[78] Bauer has written that Vrba's "wild attacks on Kastner and on the Slovak underground are a-historical and simply wrong from the start ..."[79]

What Vrba knew: survivor versus expert discourse

Yehuda Bauer 1

Professor Yehuda Bauer calls Vrba one of the "Heroes of the Holocaust," but also says he is embittered, furious, and not credible.

Vrba was criticized in 2001 in a series of articles—Leadership under Duress: The Working Group in Slovakia, 1942–1944—edited by a group of leading Israeli historians with ties to the Slovak community, including Bauer, Hanna Yablonka, Gila Fatran, and Livia Rothkirchen. The introduction by Giora Amir refers to those who argue that the Slovakian Jewish Council may have collaborated with the Nazis, as "a bunch of mockers and pseudo-historians ..." Amir writes that the "baseless" accusation was lent credence when Haifa University awarded an honorary doctorate to the "head of these mockers, Peter [sic] Vrba." Amir continues: "The heroism of this person, who together with the late Alfréd Wetzler, was among the first to escape from Auschwitz, is beyond doubt. But the fact that, just because he was an Auschwitz prisoner endowed with personal heroism, he has crowned himself as knowledgeable to judge all those involved in the noble work of rescue, and accuse them falsely, deeply disturbs us, the Czech community."[80]

The tension between what Linn calls the "survivor discourse" and the "expert discourse" lies at the heart of this criticism of Vrba. Bauer has called Vrba's memoir "not a memoir in the usual sense", alleging that it "contains excerpts of conversations of which there is no chance that they are accurate and it has elements of a second-hand story that does not necessarily correspond with reality." When writing about himself and his personal experiences, Vrba's account is an important one, argues Bauer. "Everything he tells about himself and about his actions ... is not only the truth, but also [forms] a document of significant historical value." But he continues: "I admired Vrba, with true admiration—though mixed with resistance to his thoughts in historical matters in which he thinks he is an expert, though I am not sure he is justified in thinking so."[81] For his part, Vrba often dismissed the opinion of Holocaust historians; for example, regarding the number of people killed at Auschwitz, he said "Yehuda Bauer simply doesn't know what he's talking about, but with his impressive title, he thinks he can throw around figures without doing any research. Hilberg and Bauer don't know enough about the history of Auschwitz or the Einsatzgruppen."[82]

It has also been alleged that Vrba embellished what he said was his eyewitness account. Vrba wrote in his memoir, written in 1963, that he overheard SS officers in Auschwitz discuss how they would soon have "Hungarian salami ... by the ton", allegedly a reference to the imminent arrival of hundreds of thousands of deported Hungarian Jews. However, Vrba did not mention in the Vrba-Wetzler report, written in April 1944, that he had advance warning of the mass deportation of Hungary's Jews, which began in May 1944.[21] Kárný writes: "It is generally accepted that at the time Vrba and Wetzler were preparing their escape, it was known in Auschwitz that annihilation mechanisms were being perfected in order to kill hundreds of thousands of Hungary's Jews. It was this knowledge, according to Vrba, that became the main motive for their escape. ... But in fact, there is no mention in the Vrba and Wetzler report that preparations were under way for the annihilation of Hungary's Jews. ... If Vrba and Wetzler considered it necessary to record rumors about the expected arrival of Greece's Jewish transports, then why wouldn't they have recorded a rumor—had they known it—about the expected transports of hundreds of thousands of Hungary's Jews? ..."[83] Kárný argues that, although Vrba and Wetzler did not, in his view, have advance warning of the imminent Hungarian Endlösung, Vrba later—long after the war was over—wanted to testify about it out of a longing to force the world to face the magnitude of the Nazis' crimes. The suspicion is that Vrba's longing may have led to a degree of embellishment in his subsequent accounts, although not in the Vrba-Wetzler report itself, regarding how much he actually knew when he escaped from the camp.[83]

In a later edition of his memoirs, Vrba responded that he is certain the reference to the imminent Hungarian deportations was in the original, Slovakian version of Vrba-Wetzler report, some of which he wrote by hand. He wrote that he recalled Oscar Krasniansky of the Slovakian Jewish Council, who translated the report into German, arguing that only actual deaths should be recorded, and not speculation, in order to lend the report maximum credibility. Vrba speculates this was the reason Krasniansky omitted the references to Hungary from the German translation the latter prepared, which was the main version that was copied around the world. The original version in Slovak did not survive.[84]

Vrba's story allegedly suppressed

Vrba believed that successive Israeli historians have virtually erased his story from the Israeli Holocaust narrative[85] because of his controversial views about Rudolf Kastner and the Hungarian Judenrat, many of whom went on to hold prominent positions in Israel.[6]

Ruth Linn, dean of education at Haifa University in Israel, writes: "Ever since I saw the Lanzmann documentary, this question stayed in my mind: Am I the only crazy Israeli who fell asleep in class when we studied this in the Holocaust? Or maybe we never studied it ... In terms of literature, [Escape from Auschwitz: I cannot forgive] is in the class of Primo Levi, Elie Wiesel, first-class novelists of the Holocaust. But then I turned the book back and forth and I see on the cover, 'First published 1963.' And the year is 1994. I said to myself, 'Where has this book been for 31 years? I never read about it in Israel."[85]

Linn alleges that a "family of Israeli historians" have misnamed, misreported, miscredited, and misrepresented Vrba's story.[86] She writes that the story is misrepresented in Hebrew textbooks by omitting Vrba's and Wetzler's names or by minimizing their contribution. Standard histories of the Holocaust typically refer only to the escape by "two young Slovak Jews", "two chaps", or "two young people",[6] and represent Vrba and Wetzler as emissaries of the Polish underground in Auschwitz, as mere messengers.[87]

Linn cites the non-publication in Hebrew of Vrba's memoirs for 35 years after their publication in English,[88] and the failure to translate the Vrba-Wetzler report itself into Hebrew.[89] Yad Vashem holds one of the world's most extensive collections of Holocaust documentation, and yet, as of 2004, there was no English or Hebrew version of the Vrba-Wetzler report.[90] The Hungarian version, marked 015/9, is held in the archives in a file about Rudolf Kastner, and without the names of its authors. Linn quotes Yad Vashem's response to an inquiry in June 1997 from Yehoshua Ben Ami, the Hebrew translator of Vrba's memoirs, about having the report translated into Hebrew: "Indeed, it would have been important to translate the Vrba-Wetzler report, just as it is important to translate other significant documents ... Hopefully we will have the money one day."[91]

Uri Dromi of the Israel Democracy Institute writes that Vrba's story has in fact been told, citing at least four popular Israeli books on the Holocaust that mention Vrba and Wetzler's escape, and that Wetzler's testimony is recounted at length in Livia Rothkirchen's Hurban yahadut Slovakia (The Destruction of Slovakian Jewry), published by Yad Vashem in 1961. Yeshayahu Jelinek, a historian of Slovakia's Jewish community, credits Vrba's obscurity to the general obscurity of Slovakian Jews: "Who ever thinks about the Jews of Slovakia? A medium-size ghetto in Poland was larger than our whole community. Everyone knows about Hannah Szenes. How many people know about Haviva Raik?"[92]

Dr. Robert Rozett, head librarian at Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem, and author of the entry on the "Auschwitz Report" in Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, has said of the Vrba controversy: "There are people who come into the subject from a certain angle and think that they've uncovered the truth. A historian who deals seriously with the subject understands that the truth is complex and multifaceted."[92]

See also


  1. Dromi, Uri. "Deaf ears, blind eyes", Haaretz, January 1, 2005.
    • According to Ruth Linn, 76 Jews escaped overall, though only five managed to pass information about the camp to the Allies. (Linn (2004), p. 15.) Hundreds of Polish prisoners escaped from Auschwitz, but it was harder for Jewish inmates, according to Polish historian Henryk Świebocki, because many had no friends or relatives in Poland that they could rely on, spoke no Polish, and had limited contact with the Polish resistance inside the camp. (Świebocki (1998), p. 511.) Miroslav Kárný, citing Polish historian Tadeusz Iwaszko, writes that 667 prisoners are known to have tried to escape, 270 of whom were caught and killed. Very little documentation exists about the remaining 397. (Kárný (1994), p. 553.
  2. Gutman (1990). Also see "The Vrba Wetzler Report" The Holocaust History Project, retrieved April 2, 2006. A two-part report had been prepared by the Polish underground on August 10 and 12, 1943, based on information from Witold Pilecki, and was sent to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in London. The report included details about the gas chambers, about "selection," and about the sterilization experiments. It stated that there were three crematoria in Birkenau able to burn 10,000 people daily, and that 30,000 people had been gassed in one day. The author wrote: "History knows no parallel of such destruction of human life." Raul Hilberg writes that the report was filed away with a note that there was no indication as to the reliability of the source. (Hilberg (2003), p. 1212.)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Kárný (1994), p. 556. The BBC first broadcast information from the report on June 18, not June 15, according to Linn (2004), p. 28. Although information from the report was published in June 1944, the full report was first published on November 25, 1944 by the U.S. War Refugee Board, the same day that the last 13 prisoners, all women, were killed in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. The women were "unmittelbar getötet," leaving open whether they were gassed or otherwise disposed of. (Czech (1989), pp. 920 and 933, using information from a series called Hefte von Auschwitz, and cited in Kárný (1994), p. 564).
  4. Linn (2003).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Vrba (2002), pp. 419–420.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Conway, John. "Escaping Auschwitz: Sixty years later", Vierteljahrshefte fuer Zeitgeschichte, Vol. 53, no. 3, 2005, pp. 461–472.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "Rudolf Vrba: Curriculum Vitae", UBC Pharmacology & Therapeutics.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 8.8 Rudolf Vrba, The Daily Telegraph, April 12, 2006.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Vrba (2002), p. 207.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Linn, Ruth. "Rudolf Vrba", obituary in The Guardian, April 13, 2006.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Kárný (1994), p. 553.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Hume, Mark. "Auschwitz escapee who told the world dies in B.C.", The Globe and Mail, March 31, 2006.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Linn (2004), p. 17.
  14. Vrba (2002), p. 377.
  15. In his testimony at the 1985 Ernst Zündel trial, Vrba gave the date as January 15, 1943. Lungen (2005) gives June 1943 as the transfer date.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Lungen (2005).
  17. Linn (2004), p. 19.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Vrba (2006).
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Linn (2004), p. 18.
  20. In March 1990 Vrba stated "Hilberg's estimate of 1 million killed is a gross error bordering on ignorance... According to my observations there were 1,765,000 victims which I counted." (Nueman (1990)).
  21. 21.0 21.1 Gilbert 1994, p. 551.
  22. Kárný 1994, p. 560.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "April 7", Yad Vashem.
  24. Levine (2000), p. 220.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Linn (2004), p. 20.
  26. Fatran (1994), pp. 164–201.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Kárný (1994), p. 554.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Linn (2004), p. 21.
  29. Vrba (2002), p. 399.
  30. Vrba (2002), p. 400.
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 This description of how the report was written was recorded in the first post-war edition, issued in 1946, Oswiecim, hrobka štyroch miliónov ľudí, Bratislava, p. 74. Wetzler also confirmed it in a letter to Miroslav Kárný, dated April 14, 1982. Cited in Kárný (1994), p. 564, footnote 5.
  32. Vrba (2002), p. 402.
  33. Vrba (2002), p. 403.
  34. "It is clear that the account of the layout of the interior is based on second-hand information derived from the Sonderkommando. Indeed, in a sworn deposition Vrba made in 1961 and in his later book I Cannot Forgive (1963), Vrba stated that he and Wetzlar received all the specific information on the crematoria from Sonderkommando Filip Müller and his colleagues. In his autobiographical Eyewitness Auschwitz, Müller confirmed Vrba's story. "I had described to them in full detail the process of extermination so that they would be able to report to the outside world exactly how the victims had their last pitiful belongings taken away from them; how after the gassings their teeth were wrenched out and women's hair cut off; how the dead were searched for hidden valuables; how their spectacles, artificial limbs and dentures were collected; and everything else that took place." (Van Pelt (2002), p. 149).
  35. Pressac (1989), p. 464.
  36. Van Pelt (2002), p. 151.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Linn (2004), p. 27.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 38.4 38.5 Rees (2006), pp. 242–243.
  39. Ruth Linn writes that Oscar Krasniansky quickly translated the report into Hungarian for Kastner's arrival in Bratislava on April 28, but Yehuda Bauer writes that Kastner gave a copy of the report, untranslated, to Geza Soos, a Hungarian Foreign Ministry official, that Soos gave it to Joszef Elias, head of the Joe Pasztor Misszio, and that it was Elias's secretary, Maria Szekely, who translated the report into Hungarian. (Bauer (1994), p. 157).
  40. Bauer (1994), p. 157.
  41. Vrba (2002), p. 408.
  42. Vrba (2002), p. 410.
  43. Conway, John S. "The first report about Auschwitz", Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Annual 1 Chapter 07, retrieved September 11, 2006.
  44. Vrba (2002), p. 406.
  45. The text of the Vrba-Wetzler report, under the title "German Extermination Camps—Auschwitz and Birkenau", was first published in full in an English translation on November 26, 1944 by the Executive Office of the U.S. War Refugee Board. It was this document that combined the testimony of Vrba and Wetzler with two other reports, and these came to be known jointly as the Auschwitz Protocols. (John Conway. "The Significance of the Vrba-Wetzler Report on Auschwitz-Birkenau", in Vrba (2002), Appendix I, pp. 292–293, footnote 3.) The protocols consisted of the Vrba-Wetzler report, and an earlier two-part report from August 10 and August 12, 1943 written by Witold Pilecki who was a member of the Polish underground in Auschwitz, and sent to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in London. The August 1943 Polish report included details about the gas chambers, about "selection", and about the sterilization experiments. It stated that there were three crematoria in Birkenau with the capacity to incinerate 10,000 bodies daily, and that 30,000 people had been gassed in one day. The author wrote: "History knows no parallel of such destruction of human life." Raul Hilberg writes that the report was filed away with a note that there was no indication as to the reliability of the source. (Hilberg (2003), p. 1212). The four-to-seven page report based on information from Arnost Rosin and Czesław Mordowicz, who escaped from Auschwitz on May 27, 1944, shortly after Vrba and Wetzler, was also attached. All three reports were submitted in evidence at the Nuremberg Trials and were assigned the document number 022-L. The full text is held in the archives of the War Refugee Board at the F.D. Roosevelt Library in New York. It is not known when the reports were first called the Auschwitz Protocols. R. Braham referred to them as the Auschwitz Protocols in The Politics of Genocide. The Holocaust in Hungary, volume 2, 1981, pp. 708–716. (John Conway. "The Significance of the Vrba-Wetzler Report on Auschwitz-Birkenau", in Vrba (2002), Appendix I, pp. 292–293, footnote 3).
  46. Vrba (2002), p. 407.
  47. Gutman (1990).
  48. Sakmyster (1994), cited in Linn (2004), p. 138, footnote 2.
  49. 49.0 49.1 Dwork & Van Pelt (2002), p. 314.
  50. Telegram, Veesenmayer to German Foreign Office, June 6, 1944, in Lévai, Jenö (ed) (1987), p. 121.
  51. Rees (2006), pp. 257–258.
  52. Dwork & Van Pelt (2002), p. 317.
  53. Dwork & Van Pelt (2002), p. 318.
  54. 54.0 54.1 Vrba (2002), p. 404.
  55. 55.0 55.1 Vrba (2002), p. 410–11.
  56. 56.0 56.1 Rose, Hilary and Steven. Letter: Rudolf Vrba, The Guardian, April 25, 2006.
  57. 57.0 57.1 Vrba, Rudolf. "Full curriculum vitae", University of British Columbia.
  58. Martin, Sandra (2006).
  59. "‘Trust and Deceit’ launched", no byline, UCL News, University College London, June 9, 2006, retrieved September 7, 2006.
  60. Barkat, Amiran. "Death camp escapee Vrba dies at 82", Haaretz, April 2, 2006.
  61. 61.0 61.1 Sanderson, David & Smith, Lewis. "Witness to Auschwitz horror dies at 82", The Times, April 01, 2006.
  62. It was also published in German (1964), French (1988), Dutch (1996), Czech (1998), and Hebrew (1998).
  63. 63.0 63.1 Martin, Douglas (2006).
  64. Proudfoot (2006).
  65. One of those who responded to Martin Gilbert's campaign was law professor (and later Minister of Justice and Attorney General) Irwin Cotler, who, in a handwritten letter to Gilbert said, "I fully concur with you that Vrba is a 'real hero'. Indeed, there are few more deserving of the Order of Canada than Vrba, and few, anywhere, who have exhibited his moral courage. Canada will honour itself—and redeem itself somewhat—by awarding him the order of Canada."
  66. "Sources of Funding for UK & EU Applicants", Helena Vrbová Scholarship. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, retrieved September 7, 2006.
  67. Medoff, Rafael. "In memoriam: the man who exposed Auschwitz"PDF (2.92 MiB), The Jewish Tribune, April 20, 2006, p. 4.
  68. "Auschwitz escapee, 82, dies in Canada", The Jerusalem Post, April 1, 2006.
  69. Rudolf Vrba, One World 2006 website, retrieved April 2, 2006.
  70. Linn argues "A small calculation suggests that, if only one percent of the 437,000 Hungarian Jewish victims had been persuaded of the truth of the report and had chosen not to board the boxcar trains to Auschwitz, almost three times 1,684 Jews [the number on the Kastner train] could probably have been saved". (Linn (2004), p. 47).
  71. April 25: "Blood for Trucks" Negotiations Start, Yad Vashem website. Accessed April 5, 2005. The "one million Jews", who would have to leave Hungary and emigrate anywhere but Palestine, were being offered for 25,000 trucks supplied by the Western Allies, which would be used for German civilian purposes, or on the Eastern Front.
  72. Bauer (1994), p. 156.
  73. "The greatest 'idealist' Eichmann ever encountered among the Jews was Dr. Rudolf Kastner, with whom he negotiated during the Jewish deportations from Hungary and with whom he came to an agreement that he, Eichmann, would permit the 'illegal' departure of a few thousand Jews to Palestine (the trains were in fact guarded by German police) in exchange for 'quiet and order' in the camps from which hundreds of thousands were shipped to Auschwitz. The few thousand saved by the agreement, prominent Jews and members of the Zionist youth organizations, were, in Eichmann's words, 'the best biological material.' Dr. Kastner, as Eichmann understood it, had sacrificed his fellow-Jews to his 'idea,' and this was as it should be." (Arendt (1994), p. 42).
  74. Löb (2008), pp. 115–17.
  75. Bauer (1994), p. 198.
  76. Hecht (1999), p. 207.
  77. Bauer (1997), pp. 297–307.
  78. Bauer (1994), p. 72.
  79. Yehuda Bauer in a letter to Ruth Linn, cited in Linn (2004), p. 111.
  80. Bauer, Y., Yablonka, H., Jelinek, Y., Akiva, N., Fatran, G., Frider, E., Conway, J., Rothkirchen, L., Spitzer, J. Leadership in Time of Distress: The Working Group in Slovakia, 1942–1944. Kibbutz Dalia:Maarecht, 2001, 11–12. Introduction by Giora Amir. Translation from Hebrew. Cited in Linn (2004), p. 109.
  81. Yehuda Bauer in a letter to Mr. Ben Ami, the Hebrew translator of Vrba's memoir, cited in Linn (2004), p. 111.
  82. Nueman (1990).
  83. 83.0 83.1 Kárný (1994), p. 559.
  84. Vrba (2002), p. 413.
  85. 85.0 85.1 Johnson, Pat. "Israeli narrative omits Vrba", Jewish Independent, April 21, 2006.
  86. Linn (2004), p. 55.
  87. Cohen (1996), pp. 360–382, cited in Linn (2004), p. 85.
  88. Linn (2004), p. 70.
  89. Linn (2004), p. 71.
  90. The German version of the Vrba-Wetzler report in the Yad Vashem archive is marked M-20/153.
  91. Linn (2004), p. 72.
  92. 92.0 92.1 Dromi, Uri. "Deaf ears, blind eyes", Haaretz, January 1, 2005.


Further reading

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