Dr. Joseph Ragaz was one of Vrba’s closest confidantes. He has long been a Medical Oncologist, Breast Cancer Specialist and Clinical Professor at the School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) at the University of British Columbia.

In this excerpt, Joseph Ragaz endorses the importance of this website. He also speaks frankly about Vrba’s bitterness at the suppression of knowledge concern the contents of the Vrba-Wetzler Report and the subsequent suppression of knowledge concerning his role by Israeli historians, notably Yehuda Bauer. Vrba repeated said he wanted “Nothing but the truth” and “It’s all in the book!”.


Dr. Ragaz discusses why it is important to read Vrba’s book more than once. He then discusses Vrba’s wit, apparent in the book , and how his humour sometimes puzzled or even offended some people.


Dr. Ragaz say that beyond an action-packed story, Vrba’s ability to discern the psychological reasons behind people’s actions and words, as well as his photographic memory for both logistics and word-for-word conversations, makes his memoir different from other Holocaust memoirs.


Dr. Ragaz disagrees with the recent movie about Vrba and Wetzler’s escape, which shows Wetzler as the undisputed leader and hero. In his considered opinion, from both his discussions with Vrba and from reading his book more than once, he is convinced they were interdependent. He believes that neither of them could have done alone what they accomplished together.


In this video, Dr. Ragaz talks about his first meeting with Vrba as well as his impressions of Wetzler.


Dr. Ragaz describes Rudolf Vrba as a man who saw things in black and white. Vrba therefore felt that Rudolf Kasztner was a villain for his dealings with Eichmann to arrange for the escape of 1,684 Jews on a train to Switzerland at the expense of other Hungarian Jews. Vrba was similarly critical of Israeli politicians Ben Gurion and Chaim Weizmann.


As someone who knows Robin Vrba, Dr. Ragaz expresses his opinion that she was an excellent match for him because she was easy-going and also very smart.


Dr. Ragaz talks about a “Pyramid Syndrome” wherein they would discuss the broad issues of the Holocaust or his escape and gradually work up to the peak of a pyramid.


Their friendship was based not so much on the fact that they were both scientists, but that Dr. Ragaz was very well-informed about the Holocaust


Dr. Ragaz speaks about Vrba’s first family, his first wife and their two daughters.


In discussing the Vrba-Wetzler Memorial Trek, in which Dr. Ragaz participated, he recalls that Vrba and Wetzler took eleven days on the route; hikers took six days. The latter did not have to go into hiding en route and they trekked with modern amenities in summer.


Dr. Ragaz describes meeting Robin Vrba’s brother and sister as well as Rudolf’s first wife, Gerta Vrbova, while he participated in the Trek.


Dr. Ragaz describes how Gerta escaped from behind the Iron Curtain by taking her children up a ski lift, pretending they were on a picnic outing, and hiking through the mountains to the border where her friend was waiting for her. He speaks about how the Holocaust must have changed Vrba, that he suffered from PTSD all his life. Gerta had no regrets about leaving her marriage with Vrba and she was happy that Rudi found happiness with Robin.


Dr. Ragaz discusses Rudolf’s two wives, Gerta and Robin, and their influence on him.