58. Two Trials that had shaped the Holocaust Narrative in Israel

(2 Sessions) Both these sessions require an LCD projector and sound


Between 1954 and 1961 Israel had struggled with two major Holocaust related trials: The Kasztner trial and the Eichmann trial. The latter is better known, yet both had a tremendous impact on the collective discourse and understanding of the Shoa. In these sessions we shall examine these two phases of the development of the way the Shoa is understood and commemorated in Israel.

  • "The Man Who had sold his Soul to the Devil"

After Hungary was occupied by the Nazis in 1944, Rudolf Kasztner, a member of the Budapest Jewish council, held negotiations with top Nazi officers, including Eichmann, in order to try and save as many Jews as possible. He had failed in some of his endeavors and succeeded in others. At least 1684 Jews were saved by his efforts but possibly many more. In 1953, he was accused in Israel for having collaborated with the Nazis for personal gain. The Kasztner trial became a milestone in the history of the complex relations between the young state of Israel and the survivors. Our session will take us through the trial, the first verdict, the appeal and the last verdict; trying to make meaning of these painful phases. We will read poetry by Nathan Alterman and Haim Gouri in order to hear two opposing views in the Israeli public of the time.

  • "Six Million Prosecutors"

On May 23rd 1960, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion had announced to the Knesset that the Israeli secret service had located and brought to Israel Adolf Eichmann, one of the top Nazi officers responsible for the systematic murder of European Jewry during the Holocaust. In the following months Israel was getting ready for the trial. Our session will look at this period through the lenses of the literary expression; capturing the early phases of a crucial change in the Holocaust narrative in the Israeli society  

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