Last night, the two competing Satmar rebbes held massive dinners, each hosting tens of thousands of hasidim, to thank God for saving Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum from the Nazis 68 years ago. But for these 68 years no Satmar hasid – not even Joel Teitelbaum – would thank the Zionist who actually planned and carried out the rescue. Here is the story…
I originally published the following post in 2010. But since last night's Williamsburg dinner was the site of a protest against Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum for calling an alleged child victim of sexual assault a prostitute, I thought it worthwhile to re-post:
From Lakewood's Voice:
Brooklyn, NY – On 21 Kislev 1944, the Satmar Rebbe, Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum zatzal, was rescued from the Bergen-Belson Nazi concentration camp along with 1368 other Jews. Since then, for the past 65 years, Satmar Hasidim have celebrated the day as a day of festivities which includes Divrei Torah, singing, and meals. The idea is based upon the notion of a personal Purim (See Chayei Odom Klal 41 for an elaboration).
(The above photo is Dec. 7, 1944 which was released by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum shows the Satmar rebbe, third from left, with George Mantello, second from left, in white coat, arguing for the entry of the rebbe into Switzerland)
The event is usually topped off with grooms and brides that got married within the past week coming to the respective Rebbes at the end of the event and receiving all seven of the Sheva Brachos from the Rebbe. Both groups engaged in this custom as well, last night [November 27].…
What really happened in Bergen Belsen? This:
[T]he Satmar Rebbe survived Bergen-Belsen because he and his entourage were passengers on Kasztner's Train (more here), the Zionist-organized rescue of almost 1800 Hungarian Jews negotiated with Adolph Eichmann, the Nazi in charge of the Final Solution.
The train was diverted to Bergen-Belsen by Adolph Eichmann and its passengers were held there as Eichmann waited to see if the Jewish Agency could come up with additional ransom meant to save other Jews.
The Kasztner hostages – who had marginally better conditions than other prisoners – were released on Eichmann's orders, 318 after about one month and the remainder after close to five months. All were taken to safety in Switzerland.
After the War, when Kaszter was libeled and the government of Israel sued in support of Kasztner, The Satmar Rebbe was asked to testify on Kaszter's behalf. The Satmar Rebbe allegedly replied, "I was saved by God, not by Zionists."
The Rebbe – who had ordered his hasidim to stay in Hungary and who steadfastly refused to believe the Nazis would harm Hungary's anti-Zionist Jews, fled Nazi-controlled Europe with the help of the Zionists he so vilified, leaving his followers to burn in Auschwitz.
Satmar (both factions) spent huge amounts of money to throw large events to commorate the rescue. But just like Yoel Teitelbaum, they won't thank the man who saved him, Rudolf Kasztner, or the Zionist movement he represented.
You can read more about Yoel Teitelbaum's behavior during the Holocaust and then during the Kaszter trial in the following posts:
[Hat Tip: Burich.]