25 April 2009, 04:53 PM
Join Date: 18 February 2000
This is the relevant portion of the transcript (from the 20 December 1998 broadcast of 60 Minutes
KROFT: (Voiceover) To understand the complexities and contradictions in his personality, you have to go back to the very beginning: to Budapest, where George Soros was born 68 years ago to parents who were wealthy, well-educated and Jewish.
When the Nazis occupied Budapest in 1944, George Soros' father was a successful lawyer. He lived on an island in the Danube and liked to commute to work in a rowboat. But knowing there were problems ahead for the Jews, he decided to split his family up. He bought them forged papers and he bribed a government official to take 14-year-old George Soros in and swear that he was his Christian godson. But survival carried a heavy price tag. While hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews were being shipped off to the death camps, George Soros accompanied his phony godfather on his appointed rounds, confiscating property from the Jews.
(Vintage footage of Jews walking in line; man dragging little boy in line)
KROFT: (Voiceover) These are pictures from 1944 of what happened to George Soros' friends and neighbors.
(Vintage footage of women and men with bags over their shoulders walking; crowd by a train)
KROFT: (Voiceover) You're a Hungarian Jew...
Mr. SOROS: (Voiceover) Mm-hmm.
KROFT: (Voiceover) ...who escaped the Holocaust...
(Vintage footage of women walking by train)
Mr. SOROS: (Voiceover) Mm-hmm.
(Vintage footage of people getting on train)
KROFT: (Voiceover) ... by -- by posing as a Christian.
Mr. SOROS: (Voiceover) Right.
(Vintage footage of women helping each other get on train; train door closing with people in boxcar)
KROFT: (Voiceover) And you watched lots of people get shipped off to the death camps.
Mr. SOROS: Right. I was 14 years old. And I would say that that's when my character was made.
KROFT: In what way?
Mr. SOROS: That one should think ahead. One should understand and -- and anticipate events and when -- when one is threatened. It was a tremendous threat of evil. I mean, it was a -- a very personal experience of evil.
KROFT: My understanding is that you went out with this protector of yours who swore that you were his adopted godson.
Mr. SOROS: Yes. Yes.
KROFT: Went out, in fact, and helped in the confiscation of property from the Jews.
Mr. SOROS: Yes. That's right. Yes.
KROFT: I mean, that's -- that sounds like an experience that would send lots of people to the psychiatric couch for many, many years. Was it difficult?
Mr. SOROS: Not -- not at all. Not at all. Maybe as a child you don't -- you don't see the connection. But it was -- it created no -- no problem at all.
KROFT: No feeling of guilt?
Mr. SOROS: No.
KROFT: For example that, 'I'm Jewish and here I am, watching these people go. I could just as easily be there. I should be there.' None of that?
Mr. SOROS: Well, of course I c -- I could be on the other side or I could be the one from whom the thing is being taken away. But there was no sense that I shouldn't be there, because that was -- well, actually, in a funny way, it's just like in markets -- that if I weren't there -- of course, I wasn't doing it, but somebody else would -- would -- would be taking it away anyhow. And it was the -- whether I was there or not, I was only a spectator, the property was being taken away. So the -- I had no role in taking away that property. So I had no sense of guilt.