New York Times | 01Nov1994 | Craig R. Whitney
Poles Review Postwar Treatment of
30Jun2009: This story indicates that the case against
sadist-torturer-murderer Solomon Morel has been well known for many
years. Israel refuses to extradite him. What is more puzzling is why
the German authorities have never publicized nor protested the ethnic
cleansing following WWII of millions of ethnic Germans from areas
where they had lived for centuries. Neither have they publicized nor
protested the genocide of a million or so ethnic Germans from the
Volga German Republic and colonies in southern Ukraine and Russia
during the Holodomor of 1932-33.
German authorities are eager to pursue John Demjanjuk on behalf of the
Holocaust Industry, but they are unwilling to say a prayer or shed a
tear for the millions of German victims of ethnic cleansing and
For nearly 50 years, the fate of the millions of ethnic Germans rounded
up and expelled by the victorious Communists from the eastern provinces
of the Reich and western Poland at the end of World War II has been
passed over in silence by most of the rest of the world.
Little distinction was drawn between members of Hitler's armed SS
legions and ordinary Germans whose families had lived for centuries in
places like Silesia, West Prussia and Pomerania that were wrested from
German control by the wartime Allies in 1945.
About seven million fled Communist retribution or were shipped out in
cattle cars, and an estimated two million perished.
Until the fall of Communism in Poland, attempts by the survivors and
their descendants to seek justice for the brutal crimes they say were
committed against Germans in 1945 and 1946 were dismissed as
But now they have begun to hope for a fair hearing. Some of the most
serious charges concern Communist concentration camps in which German
civilians were interned in Poland after the war.
In the most widely publicized case to come to light, the Polish
authorities are investigating murder charges against Solomon Morel, a
former secret police officer who served in the Communist resistance
during the war. In the spring of 1945 he was put in charge of what had
been a Nazi concentration camp at Swietochlowice, near Katowice.
Mr. Morel, who is Jewish, lost both parents and his two brothers during
the war. Witnesses at the camp he commanded after the war have charged
that he had hundreds of German civilians tortured and beaten to death,
and killed some himself.
The camp was dissolved in late 1945 after outbreaks of typhus.
After the end of Communist rule in Poland, Mr. Morel appeared at a
hearing of the Commission on Crimes Against the Polish Nation in
Katowice, where he denied the accusations of murder and torture and
blamed typhus for the deaths at the camp. But he fled to Israel in 1993
and now lives in Tel Aviv with his daughter.
One of his accusers is Gerhard Gruschka, 64, a retired schoolteacher
who lives in northern Germany and to this day says he does not
understand why the Polish authorities arrested him on April 3, 1945,
when he was not yet 15.
"Morel was 25 to 30 years old in 1945, of quite powerful build and, as
I recall, driven by burning hatred," Mr. Gruschka said in a deposition.
"When he picked out a prisoner for individual treatment, it usually
amounted to a death warrant.
"His 'specialty' was to take the heavy stools left over from the German
concentration camp equipment by the feet and beat the prisoners as hard
as he could with the thick seats. Again and again after such raids,
badly wounded prisoners had to be taken to the camp hospital, and some,
with their heads smashed in, to the mortuary."
Dorota Boreczek, a Polish woman imprisoned in Swietochlowice in
February 1945 with her German mother, said, "I was only 13 years old,
and I saw people dying like animals there."
She now lives in Germany and is trying to raise money for a monument to
the camp's victims.
Annelies van Calsteren, whose Dutch husband, Eric, survived a brutal
beating (not at Mr. Morel's hands) in the camp when he was 15, said her
husband had apparently been arrested because he had blond hair and blue
eyes and spoke German. He gave a deposition to the German authorities
before he died last year in The Hague, but it was returned to his widow
because the Germans said they did not know where Mr. Morel was.
"I don't want him to be in jail, but I feel I cannot lay down what my
husband started," Mrs. van Calsteren said.
Some of these victims feel uneasy about accusing a Jew of seeking
revenge for what Germans had done.
"Only a few people even knew he was Jewish," said Joseph Jendryschik,
who has been gathering information on the Swietochlowice camp since his
father died there 49 years ago. "It doesn't matter if he was Christian
or Muslim -- what matters is that he be brought to justice."
For Sigmund Karski, a journalist working for the powerful Silesian
exile lobby in Bonn, the fact that Mr. Morel and other secret police
officers recruited by the Communists after the war may have been Jews
"It's only an alibi for Poles or Germans who want to try to excuse what
they did during the war by saying the Jews were no better than they
were," he said. "It's absurd to make the claim that most of the Polish
Communist secret police were Jews. There weren't that many Jews left in
Poland after the war."
John Sack, an American journalist, interviewed Mr. Morel and 23 other
high-ranking Jewish members of the Office of State Security, the Polish
Communist organization that kept some of the former Nazi concentration
camps going under Soviet supervision after the war.
Mr. Sack asserted in his book "An Eye for an Eye" (Basic Books, 1993)
that Stalin deliberately put Jews in charge of secret police activities
in the formerly German territories.
But, Mr. Sack wrote, most of the Jewish officers in the organization,
known by its Polish initials as U.B., left in disgust or were soon
discharged. Mr. Morel, however, stayed in prison administration for 24
years, he said, before being purged by the Communists in 1968.
American critics have attacked Mr. Sack's book as sensational and its
charges inadequately attributed to sources, but the writer said in a
telephone interview that his extensive research left little doubt that
Jews ran the Swietochlowice camp "from the bottom to the top."
"It pains me as a Jew to report this," he said.
Mr. Gruschka said he had written to Mr. Morel in Israel, urging him to
take responsibility for the crimes at the camp. "It would be terrible
for me if he, too, like so many of the Nazis, showed no repentance,"
Mr. Gruschka said.
Dr. Stanislaw Kaniewski, the senior prosecutor currently investigating
Mr. Morel in Katowice, said in a telephone interview, "We suspect that
he won't come back to Poland."
"No formal charges have yet been raised against him," Dr. Kaniewski
said, "but the investigation is still active, and a large number of
witnesses have testified." But he added that Poland had no extradition
treaty with Israel and could not force Mr. Morel to return against his
Those who have seen him recently say he is now 75 and not in good
health. His daughter, reached in Tel Aviv, relayed to him a request for
an interview but said her father had refused.
Like the other Germans interviewed for this article, Mr. Gruschka
denied that he was motivated by any desire to mitigate the seriousness
of German war crimes.
"I have never been interested in 'tit for tat,' Mr. Gruschka said. "I
know that the crimes committed by Germans came first, and were far
worse. But I could never understand why the postwar concentration camps
in Poland have always been swept under the carpet here, until now."
Photos: Gerhard Gruschka, shown in his garden in Balve, Germany, was
imprisoned in a Communist concentration camp from 1945 to 1946. He is
one of those accusing Solomon Morel of torturing and killing German
civilians. (Karin Hill for The New York Times); Solomon Morel in 1945,
when he commanded a former Nazi concentration camp near Katowice. Map
of Poland showing location of Swietochlowice.