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Joel Brand

Hungarian Jew

Died when: 58 years 79 days (698 months)
Star Sign: Taurus


Joel Brand

Joel Brand (25 April 1906 – 13 July 1964) was a member of the Budapest Aid and Rescue Committee (Va'adat ha-Ezra ve-ha-Hatzala be-Budapest or Va'ada), an underground Zionist group in Budapest, Hungary, that smuggled Jews out of German-occupied Europe to the relative safety of Hungary, during the Holocaust.

When Germany invaded Hungary too in March 1944, Brand became known for his efforts to save the Jewish community from deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp in occupied Poland and the gas chamber.

In April 1944 Brand was approached by SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann, head of the German Reich Security Head Office department IV B4 (Jewish affairs), who had arrived in Budapest to organize the deportations.

Eichmann proposed that Brand broker a deal between the SS and the United States or Britain, in which the Nazis would exchange one million Jews for 10,000 trucks for the Eastern front and large quantities of tea and other goods.

It was the most ambitious of a series of proposals between the SS and Jewish leaders.Eichmann called it "Blut gegen Waren" ().

Nothing came of the idea, which The Times of London called one of the most loathsome stories of the war.

Historians have suggested that the SS, including its commander, Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, intended the negotiations as cover for peace talks with the Western Allies that would have excluded the Soviet Union and perhaps even Adolf Hitler.

Whatever its purpose, the proposal was thwarted by the British government.They arrested Brand in Aleppo (then under British control), where he had gone to propose Eichmann's offer to the Jewish Agency, and put an end to it by leaking details to the media.

The failure of the proposal, and the wider issue of why the Allies were unable to save the 437,000 Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz between May and July 1944, became the subject of bitter debate for many years.

In 1961 Life magazine called Brand "a man who lives in the shadows with a broken heart".He told an interviewer shortly before his death in 1964: "An accident of life placed the fate of one million human beings on my shoulders.

I eat and sleep and think only of them."

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