Warsaw (Aug. 27)
The Jewish press in Poland commemorates to-day the 11th. anniversary of the death of Rabbi Shapiro of Ploczk, who was shot by the Polish troops when they re-entered the town after driving out the Bolshevik army which had occupied it during the invasion of 1921, on the accusation that the Rabbi, in swaying backwards and forwards at his prayers, was signalling to the Bolsheviks the movements of the Polish troops.
Eleven years the ill-fated Rabbi Chaim Shapiro lies in his grave in Ploozk, the “Moment” writes. Eleven years his body riddled by the bullets of the firing party lies there wrapped in his Talith, and his voice still cries, “Earth, cover not my innocent blood”. Like once the blood of Zachariah, the blood of the martyr of Ploczk will not rest, and demands justice and rehabilitation, for over his grave still hovers the accusation that he was a traitor. The charge has never yet been repudiated by a court of law.
Our martyrs of old, the paper continues, did not care what the nations thought of their alleged crimes. Rabbi Akibah did not ask that the world should acquit him of the charge for which he was put to death. He died with the words “Hear, O Israel” on his lips, not “Hear, Oh nations”. But the martyr of Ploczk a few minutes before the firing party did their work, asked his relatives to see to it that there should be a revision of his trial, so that his innocence should be proclaimed. His last wish was that he should not be left in his grave with the infamy of treason besmirching his name. His brother, also a Rabbi, relates that years ago, long before the Bolshevist invasion of Poland, they were discussing martyrdom, and Rabbi Chaim Shapiro said: Believe me, brother, would that I were singled out to be a martyr innocently for His Holy Name. He had his wish. He heard the sentence calmly. He was not cast down in his soul. The accusation against him was that he had sold himself to the enemies of religion, to the Bolsheviks, and he was to be shot as a Bolshevist spy, but he was convinced that the truth would come out, and that it would be seen that he died innocently, a martyr for His Holy Name.
But to the present day his innocence has not yet been demonstrated, and the name of traitor still clings to his memory. When the tragedy of Ploczk occurred, there was an outcry from end to end of world Jewry. Jews were aroused. Nothing else was spoken of at that time. But people realised that it was a time of war and that the Rabbi had been sentenced by a court-martial, acting in haste and in rude, soldierly fashion. Nothing could be done then. But now, eleven years have passed. Poland is no longer in a state of war and yet the Rabbi’s name has not been cleared. So long as we do not have a declaration by a court of law that the Rabbi’s innocence has been legally demonstrated, his blood will not rest in the earth where it lies. Can Jewry allow this to go on? the paper asks. Jewish opinion must demand, it concludes, that the Polish law courts should reopen the case, should review the evidence, and should hand down the only possible decision, that the Rabbi was innocent and thus clear his name.