Killing Kasztner

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Killing Kasztner: The Jew who Dealt with the Nazis is a feature-length theatrical documentary about the controversial Rudolf Kastner. The film was directed by Gaylen Ross and features Ross and her search for the truth .

Ross first heard about Kasztner from a Hungarian woman while working on another documentary, Blood Money: Switzerland's Nazi Gold. Ross interviewed the woman who asserted that she had Kasztner to thank for her life. Ross spent eight years researching and filming the documentary on Kasztner. She interviewed survivors who had been rescued by Kasztner, some of Kasztner's living relatives, the son of the opposing lawyer in Kasztner's case, historians, journalists, and Kasztner's assassin, Ze'ev Eckstein.

The film premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and has been critically acclaimed in Israel, Hungary, and the UK. Its U.S. premiere was October 23, 2009.[1]


In June 2001, Ross was invited to film the only conference on Kasztner to occur in the United States. It took place at the new Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. What was supposed to be an academic forum exploded in bitter outrage. Accusations of Kasztner's collaboration with the Nazis were met with outrage by Kasztner survivors.

Kasztner's granddaughter, a young human rights lawyer, stood and faced the crowd. She wanted to know why her grandfather was still being blamed for the deaths of Jews he could not save? Ross wondered the same thing.


Kasztner's daughter and three granddaughters seek redemption for their family name. Some survivors of his transport want the shame erased from their rescue. Their lives, they have been told, were delivered at the expense of others. On the other side, a young and ineffective lawyer, whose father was responsible for Kasztner's legal defeat, wants to fulfill his father's wish: to keep the Kasztner name from joining the legion of Holocaust heroes.[2]

Ross details Kasztner's rescue efforts as well as the accusations against Kasztner and the trial. She tracks down the legacy of that murderous night and the man convicted for Kasztner's death: Ze'ev Eckstein.

In another mysterious twist to this already strange tale, Eckstein with the other conspirators spent only 7 years of their life sentence in jail after their sentences were commuted on the recommendation of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

Eckstein reveals step by step his transformation into a would be assassin. He tells Ross how he was 20 years old when he was first employed by Israel's fledgling secret service. He then turned double agent by right wing extremists and saw his chance to make his name. In Eckstein's eyes he was avenging the hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews whose deaths were blamed on Kasztner. Eckstein states that the first bullet he fired was a dud after which Kaszter ran into to the bushes in a dark garden in Tel Aviv. Eckstein said that he fired the two additional bullets in his pistol and then heard someone else fire a fourth bullet after which Kasztner cried out - apparently wounded. As the film unfolds, Eckstein and Ross eventually revisit the scene of the crime, the first time he had ever been back.[3] What he tells Ross, he says, he has told no one else.

Most predominantly, the film sets up an extraordinary meeting between Kasztner's daughter and her father's assassin.


  1. ^ "Killing Kasztner (2008) - Release dates". IMDb. Retrieved April 5, 2012. 
  2. ^ Gaylen, R.: Synopsis, page 2. GRFilms Inc, 2009.
  3. ^ Maltlin, S: "YNET NEWS", article. YNET NEWS, 2009

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