Killing Kasztner (2009)



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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. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi
Documentary , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for Killing Kasztner

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (9)

Did he truly sell his soul, or was he just, as a family member says in the film, the wrong kind of hero? The film fascinates even as the man himself remains elusive.

July 15, 2010
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Director Gaylen Ross assembles a fascinating look at this complex man and the still-smoldering argument about his legacy.

Full Review… | April 29, 2010
Top Critic

The very things that make Killing Kasztner maddening -- herky-jerky storytelling, heavy-handedness, doomy music, unearned moral certitude -- keep it moving right along.

Full Review… | April 22, 2010
Boston Globe
Top Critic

What emerges is less than an in-depth portrait of a man -- we learn little about him, aside from his intelligence, his charisma and his itch to be near power -- than a study of nationhood, history and the psychology of heroism.

Full Review… | February 12, 2010
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

As an examination of what happens when events on the ground collide with national myth and a look at how disinclined complex reality is to fit into tidy boxes, it can't be beat.

Full Review… | January 14, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The film leaves you with a sense that Kastner's name is a casualty of rhetorical crossfire.

October 23, 2009
New York Times
Top Critic

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