The official little known WWII story of a desperate attempt to save Hungary's Jewish population
When Nazi troops invaded in March 1944, Hungary contained the largest intact Jewish population in Europe. Until then, stories of Auschwitz and other "resettlement camps" were still treated as unconfirmed rumors inside Hungary and among the Allied powers. With the arrival of Adolf Eichmann-and reports from the first escapees from Auschwitz confirming the most horrifying rumors about the camps-the 850,000 Jews of Hungary faced annihilation.
Emissary of the Doomed is the riveting and heartbreaking account of the heroic attempt to save Hungary's Jewish population. Learning that Eichmann and Himmler were willing to bargain for the lives of as many as one million Jews, Joel Brand and the Jewish rescue committee in Budapest took up the German offer and embarked on a desperate race across Europe and the Middle East to persuade the reluctant Allies to trade funds and matériel for Jewish lives. Against the backdrop of the Normandy invasion, the Soviet advance across Eastern Europe, and the American advances up the Italian peninsula, Brand and his colleagues tried to stop the final push of the Nazis to destroy the Jews of Europe. This untold chapter will appeal to all readers of World War II literature.
In a taut, detailed narrative, historian Florence (A Blood Libel) relates Joel Brand's efforts to save Hungary's Jews from the Holocaust. In April 1944, Brand, a disheveled Jewish businessman was living in Budapest, working with fellow Zionists on a secret rescue committee. He met with notorious SS officer Adolf Eichmann (responsible for shipping Eastern European Jews to the death camps), who offered to sell Brand the freedom of almost a million Hungarian Jews for 10,000 heavy-duty military trucks. With this offer, Brand contacted the Allies and the Jewish Agency in Palestine. The Jewish Agency's Moshe Shertok, though incredulous, presented the proposal to the British high commissioner in Palestine, who asserted Eichmann's proposal was another Nazi intrigue and Brand a Nazi agent. Brand was eventually jailed in Cairo by the British. Some questioned Brand's competence, but Brand himself always believed his mission had been betrayed by Jewish Agency officials who couldn't grasp the reality of the Final Solution. Although Brand's story is known particularly through his testimony in two postwar trials (including Eichmann's in 1961), Florence (Lawrence and Aaronsohn) paints a colorful but dispiriting tale of mankind's gross inhumanity.