Jew Doomed to Death for Slaying That Set off Polish Disorders
Menu JTA Search

Jew Doomed to Death for Slaying That Set off Polish Disorders

Download PDF for this date

After a brief trial, a court today sentenced Judah Leib Chatzkelewioz, a Jewish laborer, to death for the murder of a Polish sergeant in June, 1936, which led to serious anti-Jewish disorders in the nearby city of Minsk-Mazowiec.

Disregarding an insanity defense, the court ruled Chatzkelewicz had been influenced by “a certain section of Jewish society and the Jewish press.”

The court explained the death sentence was necessary to show that “the blood of a Polish soldier is not cheap.” The defense announced it would appeal the sentence. The trial opened last Wednesday, with the prosecution demanding the maximum penalty on the ground the defendant was at least partially responsible for his actions.

Considerable testimony was adduced that the slayer was a madman and had once threatened to kill an uncle. Defense counsel offered in support of their insanity plea the statements of sixteen psychiatrists who agreed the defendant was mentally deficient.

On the stand yesterday, Chatzkelowicz told incoherently of the slain sergeant’s having tried to drown him.

Prosecution summations, supported by addresses of anti-Semitic Nationalist attorneys, called the slaying a “crime inspired by the Jews.” The Nationalists charged the crime was part of a plot against the Polish army.

Following the killing, disorders broke out in the city and lasted several hours until police from Warsaw were rushed in to suppress them. More than a score of Jews were wounded and virtually all Jewish property in the city suffered damage.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund