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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

How 2 Men Escaped Auschwitz, Exposed the Holocaust to the World, and Saved Hundreds of Thousands of Hungarian Jews

00:00 38:02
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Europe’s Jewish population suffered during every stage of the Holocaust, but by the time the Third Reich occupied Hungary and targeted its Jews for deportation and extermination, the concentration camps had reached their most efficient form. Historian Geralt Reitlinger said the Hungarian Holocaust was “the most concentrated and methodical deportation and massacre program of the war, a slaughter machine that functioned, perfectly oiled, for forty-six days on end.” Every day, 12,000 arrived at Auschwitz and either were forced into hard labor or met their ends in gas chambers. But if it were not for the bravery of two prisoners who broke out of the camps and broke the story to the world, hundreds of thousands more could have died.

After nearly suffocating in an underground bunker, Auschwitz prisoners Ceslav Mordowicz and Arnost Rosin escaped and informed Jewish leaders about what they had seen. Their testimony in early June, 1944, corroborated earlier hard-to-believe reports of mass killing in Auschwitz by lethal gas and provided eyewitness accounts of arrivals of Hungarian Jews meeting the same fate. It was the spark needed to stir a call for action to pressure Hungary’s premier to defy Hitler—just hours before more than 200,000 Budapest Jews were to be deported.
Todays guest is Fred Bleakly, author of The Auschwitz Protocols: Ceslav Mordowicsz and the Race to Save Hungary's Jews. We discuss how the courage of only a few people can do incredible good, even in the absolute worst of circumstances.
August 18, 2022
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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