Poland hunts Jew, 86, over 'revenge' killing of Nazis|
BY Inigo Gilmore in Jerusalem and Michael Leidig
Poland is demanding the extradition from Israel of an elderly Jewish man accused of the deaths of hundreds of Germans in a post-war detention camp.
Kremlin killer Shlomo (Solomon) Morel
Solomon Morel, 86, faces charges of "crimes against humanity" in relation to more than 1,500 inmates at a camp in southern Poland, many of whom perished in "barbaric" circumstances.
The investigation is the first in Poland into a Jew accused of retaliating against the Germans, and poses potentially awkward questions for Israel about its attitude towards those allegedly involved in revenge killings. Israeli officials turned down a previous extradition request six years ago when there were suspicions that the case was politically motivated.
Mr Morel, who fled to Israel from Poland in 1994 and lives in hiding in Tel Aviv, was held in Auschwitz as a young man. More than 30 members of his family were wiped out by the Nazis.
In November 1945, after the Soviet occupation of Poland began, he was one of many Jews appointed by Stalin to supervise the brutal "de-Nazification" camps, where up to 80,000 ethnic Germans are believed to have died as a result of torture, starvation and typhus.
Stalin deliberately picked Jews as camp commandants in the knowledge that they would show little mercy to the inmates.
According to John Sack, the late author of An Eye for An Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Against Germans in 1945, Morel made his desire for revenge clear from the first day the camp at Swietochlowice opened.
In a television interview before his death earlier this year, Mr Sack said: "On the first night at Swietochlowice, when the first contingent of Germans arrived, at about 10 o'clock at night he walked into one of the barracks and he said to the Germans, 'My name is Morel. I am a Jew. My mother and father, my family, I think they're all dead, and I swore that if I got out alive, I was going to get back at you Nazis. And now you're going to pay for what you did.' "
In his book, Mr Sack, himself a Jew, describes in detail the alleged atrocities committed at the camp: "The guards put the Germans into a doghouse, beating them if they didn't say `bow-wow'. They got the Germans to beat each other; to jump on each other's spines and to punch each other's noses, and hit the Germans so hard that they once knocked a German's glass eye out."
Guards also raped German women and trained dogs to bite off German men's genitals on command, he said.
Mr Morel is thought to have changed his name, although his whereabouts are understood to be known to the Israeli authorities.
A request for his extradition by Poland in 1998 was rejected by Israel on the grounds that the statute of limitations on the charges had run out.
Prosecutors claim to have built up a stronger case, based on fresh testimony from survivors in Poland and Germany, and have upgraded the charges to crimes against humanity, on which there is no time limit.
The Polish public prosecutor leading the case, Eva Kok, insisted that even though Mr Morel was a frail, elderly man, the claims could not be "swept under the carpet". She added: "The Israelis are extremely efficient in pursuing people they have accused of such crimes — and they must accept that other nations want to do the same."
Ms Kok insisted that suggestions that the case was politically motivated were an insult. "The prosecutors are not motivated by politics and operate in the interests of the law regardless of who is in power," she said.
The Israeli Justice Ministry said it was "in the process of examining" the extradition request.
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