Killing Kasztner

by Gaylen Ross

Feature documentary film about Israel Kasztner, a Hungarian Jew who negotiated for lives with Adolf Eichman.
Killing Kasztner film poster
Killing Kasztner film poster

Synopsis

Israel's most inflammatory political trial and assassination of the 1950s, of Rezso Kasztner, including the first chilling interview with his murderer...

Such was the case of Kasztner, a Hungarian Jew who tried to rescue the last million Jews of Europe by negotiating face to face with Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann. Some people considered Kasztner a hero for his eventual heart stopping rescue of almost 1700 Jews on a train to safety in Switzerland, in what became known as "Kasztner's train." Yet later this extraordinary act was cast as an act of betrayal.

After Kasztner moved to Israel, many of his new countrymen accused him of collaborating with the enemy. He fought a vicious libel battle in a trial that portrayed him as "the Man who Sold his Soul to the Devil," and was ultimately assassinated in Tel Aviv in 1957. His only daughter Zsuzsi grew up after her father's murder, a child isolated and despised for his alleged crimes.

The film follows Kasztner's family and survivors; plagued by a legacy they are determined to change. And after 50 years the assassin Ze'ev Eckstein breaks his silence, revealing step by step the events and passions that transformed a young man into an agent of politics and revenge.

Part real time investigation, part historical journey the filmmaker unearths the Kasztner story and its ramifications for the survivors, his family, and his country, exploring the very nature of history itself: who writes it, how it is remembered, and what is at stake for the future.

Credits/Bios

Gaylen Ross, Director/Producer

Ross has produced, directed and written award-winning documentary films for over 25 years, premiering in national and international film festivals. Among her films, Killing Kasztner: The Jew Who Dealt With Nazis, was an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, broadcast on BBC Storyville, shown in 11 countries and has enjoyed an unprecedented theatrical release in the US, Israel and France. It was named by the LA Times as one of the best documentary films of 2010. She produced and wrote the Emmy award-winning Blood Money: Switzerland's Nazi Gold — feature-length doc on the Swiss Banks and the Holocaust accounts. Her documentary on diamond dealers Dealers Among Dealers which aired on PBS's POV was the official selection of the Berlin Film Festival, Haifa International Film Festival, awarded a Gold Plaque from the Chicago Film Festival. Her latest film Caris' Peace about an actress who lost her memory premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival, won first place Athens Film Festival, Ohio; and presented as the featured film for the Rubin Museum of Art's Brainwave series in New York.

Anne Feinsilber, Producer

Noam Shalev, Producer

4th Gen Holocaust survivors Otto and Marta Hammer rescued on truck convoy organized by Kasztner
4th Gen Holocaust survivors Otto and Marta Hammer rescued on truck convoy organized by Kasztner