Rudolf Vrba was sent to Auschwitz at the age of seventeen, and, because he was young and in good health, he was not killed immediately but put to labor in the camp. Vrba (originally named Walter Rosenberg) quickly discovered that the scale of the killing was greater than anyone on the outside knew or could imagine, and Jewish communities were being deported without understanding their fate. Jonathan Freedland chronicles Vrba’s story in his new book, “The Escape Artist.” The young Vrba had a “crucial realization, which is [that] the only way this machine is going to be stopped—this death machine—is if somebody gets the word out,” Freedland told David Remnick. Freedland recounts how, against terrible odds, Vrba managed to escape the camp, and provided direct testimony of the Holocaust that reached Allied governments.
This interview was recorded at a live event at the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.