Berlin (Nov. 8)
For the first time since promulgation of the Nuremberg laws the section devoted to “protection of German blood and German honor” was applied to a Jew of foreign citizenship when a court in the city of Altona yesterday sentenced Leo Smichow to nine months in prison for “attempted rassenschande.
Smichow, who was born in Poland in 1912, is a prominent merchant in Altona, city near Hamburg. He had been held in jail for one month awaiting trial.
The Polish Consul General at Hamburg, when asked by Smichow’s wife to intercede on his behalf, stated that the young merchant was not a Polish citizen but a “staatenlose” or man without a country. Before the trial, however, it was definitely established that Smichow was a citizen of Poland.
In announcing the verdict, the court declared that the Nuremberg laws are “intended not only for German Jews but for Jews of foreign citizenship.”
A demand by Smichow’s attorneys that the sentence be held up pending issuance of the expected details implementing the Nuremberg laws was rejected by the court.
The trial, which was called unexpectedly after the court had earlier in the week announced it had been indefinitely postponed, attracted widespread attention because of the international aspects the case involved.
Smichow was not accused of actual “Rassenschande” (race pollution) but of an attempt to induce an “Aryan” woman to enter into in-
timate relations with him. The young merchant vigorously denied the charges which he described as an attempt to blackmail him.
The defendant testified that while sitting in an Altona cafe the “Aryan” woman who was his accuser, accosted him and suggested that he drive her home in his car. En route, he declared, the woman suggested that they stop in a nearby hotel. When he refused, she demanded money, he testified. Upon his refusal to accede to her demand, Smichow said, the woman leaped from the car screaming that he had attempted to attack her. He was immediately arrested.
Appearing as the chief witness against Smichow, the woman denied that she had proposed to the defendant that they enter into sexual relations. The woman admitted that she is a member of the Nazi Woman’s Organization.
Counsel for the defense pointed out that although Jews are no longer citizens of the Reich, they are still legally entitled to protection against blackmailing. He argued that even if the woman’s testimony were true no act of “Rassenschande” had been committed and Smichow therefore couldn’t be accused of violating the Nuremberg laws.
In announcing their verdict, the judges admitted that no act of “Rassenschande” had been committed, but emphasized that the Nuremberg laws were applicable to all Jews regardless of citizenship. “The testimony has clearly shown,” the decision read, “that the accused had the intention of committing ‘Rassehschande’ although he knew of the Nuremberg laws. Thus he, as a Jew, has violated the hospitality which has been extended to him by the German nation and must therefore be punished accordingly.”
Since Smichow has already spent one month in jail he will have to serve eight months more unless intervention by the Polish authorities succeeds in securing his release before.
The Polish consulate at Hamburg was reluctant to state whether he intends to file a protest against the conviction of Smichow on the grounds that the Nuremberg race laws, under which he was sentenced, are inapplicable to Polish citizens.
The Polish consulate stated today that the verdict had been learned only this morning from the German press. “We shall see what can be done,” a consulate spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent.
The Polish Embassy in Berlin explained to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that steps would be taken to investigate the case and ascertain whether Smichow is really a Polish citizen.
In diplomatic circles here it was emphasized that the verdict against Smichow may serve as a precedent for application of the Nuremberg laws to Jews of America, British and other nationalities now residing in Germany.
An American diplomatic representative pointed out that such action would be a direct violation of existing commercial agreements with Germany because no country would permit application of Germany’s racial laws to nationals residing in Germany, since this would amount to official acknowledgment of the Nazi racial theory.
The American representative said that the application of the race laws to foreign Jews would not be permitted by many countries since this would be tantamount to conceding that their Jewish citizens in Germany could be placed in inferior categories.
In this connection he referred to the fact that the United States broke off diplomatic relations with Tzarist Russia when the Russian Government tried to apply its anti-Jewish discrimination to Jews of American citizenship.