Shining a new light on Rudolf Vrba, the Canadian who escaped from Auschwitz

Rudolf Vrba
A new book about the late Vancouver Holocaust survivor, Rudolf Vrba, (right) calls him among the greatest Jewish heroes. He helped warn the world about Auschwitz.

When he was 19 years old, a Slovakian Jewish teenaged slave labourer named Walter Rosenberg (later he changed his name to Rudolf Vrba) did what only five Jews ever managed to do: successfully escape from Auschwitz. But his escape in April 1944 and subsequent testimony about the mass murder of Europes Jews at the Nazi death camp had an enormous impact: it reached the Allies, the Vatican and major press outlets.

Vrba is credited with saving the lives of 200,000 Hungarian Jews, who would have otherwise been deported to their deaths that summer. But the killing of more than a million victims at Auschwitz haunted him until his death in Vancouver in 2006.

A new book by British journalist Jonathan Freedland makes the case for Vrba being considered as one of the greatest, unknown Jewish Holocaust heroes of the time: right up there with Anne Frank, Elie Wiesel and Oskar Schindler.

Freedland joins The CJN Daily from London, England, to explore why that hasn’t happened, and why it should.

What we talked about:


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.