Rudolf Vrba

Rudolf Vrba (born Walter Rosenberg; 11 September 1924 – 27 March 2006) was a Slovak-Jewish biochemist who, as a teenager in 1942, was deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland. He escaped from the camp in April 1944, at the height of the Holocaust, and co-wrote the Vrba-Wetzler report, a detailed report about the mass murder taking place there. The report, distributed by George Mantello in Switzerland, is credited with having halted the mass deportation of Hungary's Jews to Auschwitz in July 1944, saving more than 200,000 lives. After the war, Vrba trained as a biochemist, working mostly in England and Canada.

Vrba and his fellow escapee Alfréd Wetzler fled Auschwitz three weeks after German forces invaded Hungary and shortly before the SS began mass deportations of Hungary's Jewish population to the camp. The information the men dictated to Jewish officials when they arrived in Slovakia on 24 April 1944, which included that new arrivals in Auschwitz were being gassed and not "resettled" as the Germans maintained, became known as the Vrba–Wetzler report. When the War Refugee Board published it with considerable delay in November 1944, the ''New York Herald Tribune'' described it as "the most shocking document ever issued by a United States government agency". While it confirmed material in earlier reports from Polish and other escapees, Several prisoners had escaped from Auschwitz before Vrba and Wetzler. Three or four, including Kazimierz Piechowski, another Pole, escaped on 20 June 1942 and reported what was happening inside the camp. Kazimierz Halori, also from Poland, escaped on 2 November 1942. A report entitled ''Obóz śmierci'' ("Death camp") was published in Warsaw in December 1942 by Natalia Zarembina, a member of the Polish underground who had escaped. On 10 December 1942 Edward Raczyński, Foreign Affairs Minister for the Polish government-in-exile, delivered an address, ''The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland'', to the fledgling United Nations. It estimated that, out of a pre-war population of 3,130,000 Jews in Poland, one in three were already dead. According to Raul Hilberg, a two-part report on Auschwitz was prepared in August or December 1943 by a female Polish agent. It concluded: "History knows no parallel of such destruction of human life." The report included details about the gas chambers, "selection", and the sterilization experiments. It stated that there were 137,000 inmates, three crematoria in Birkenau able to burn 10,000 people daily, and that 468,000 Jews had been gassed by September 1942; 30,000 people had been gassed in one day. It estimated that just two percent of those who arrived between September 1942 and early June 1943 had survived. The report was sent to the Office of Strategic Services in London and, on 17 March 1944, to US War Department Military Intelligence.}} the historian Miroslav Kárný wrote that it was unique in its "unflinching detail".

There was a delay of several weeks before the report was distributed widely enough to gain the attention of governments. Mass transports of Hungary's Jews to Auschwitz began on 15 May 1944 at a rate of 12,000 people a day. Most went straight to the gas chambers. Vrba argued until the end of his life that the deportees might have refused to board the trains, or at least that their panic would have disrupted the transports, had the report been distributed sooner and more widely.

From late June and into July 1944, material from the Vrba–Wetzler report appeared in newspapers and radio broadcasts in the United States and Europe, particularly in Switzerland, prompting world leaders to appeal to Hungarian regent Miklós Horthy to halt the deportations. On 2 July, American and British forces bombed Budapest, and on 6 July, in an effort to exert his sovereignty, Horthy ordered that the deportations should end. By then, over 434,000 Jews had been deported in 147 trains—almost the entire Jewish population of the Hungarian countryside—but another 200,000 in Budapest were saved. Braham (2011): "[F]rom May 15 through July 9 [1944], close to 440,000 of the Jews of Hungary were deported to Auschwitz–Birkenau, where most of them were murdered soon after their arrival. By July 9, when Horthy's decision to halt the deportations took effect and Raoul Wallenberg arrived on his rescue mission, all of Hungary (with the notable exception of Budapest) had become ''judenrein''."}} Provided by Wikipedia
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