Elie Wiesel Interviews Felix Kersten

Elie Wiesel,
Yediot Achronot,
September 4, 1959


At this point our extremely lengthy discussion essentially came to a close. At the end of this conversation I became very tired. Whenever I go back to those days and nights, I feel that part of myself remained there. I arose and extended my hand – and then I suddenly remembered a question:

“Did you hear the name Rudolf Kasztner?”

I was sure that he would answer negatively and was already prepared to explain to him everything behind this name, when to my total surprise he replied:

“I did.”

“When?” I asked. “Now – post-war?”

“Yes, also post-war. I heard he had problems in Israel.”

He doesn’t know – I thought – that Kasztner is dead.

“You said you also heard of him post-war. Should I conclude that you heard his name during the war?”

“Yes, I heard his name then as well.”

“From whom?” My curiosity kept growing.

“From General Walter Schellenberg and General Rudolf Brandt. The first was head of Himmler’s SD counter-intelligence and the second was the Reichsfuhrer’s secretary and adjutant.”

“What did they say about him?”

“Schellenberg said to me that Kasztner was one of his agents and that he did a good job in Budapest. He also told me that Kasztner asked him to release a few hundred Jews from the camp because he wanted to prepare an alibi for himself. In the espionage services it’s common practice to provide assistance to agents, because often one might require their services after the deluge.”

“Are you sure that Schellenberg told you about Dr. Kasztner? Rudolf Kasztner?”

“Yes, I’m absolutely sure.”

“And what did Rudolf Brandt tell you?”

“Once he told me, laughing, that in Budapest there’s a Jewish agent in the service of Nazi intelligence who has a name like mine: Kasztner – Kersten.”

“Did Himmler ever mention Kasztner?”

“I can’t remember. I assume that he didn’t. But when I complained about the brutal Nazi methods used against Jews, he told me that he had Jews working for him, for money, in Switzerland and other countries.”

I told him that Kasztner was murdered in Tel Aviv.

“Really?” Kersten opened his eyes.

Answer: “Really.”