Gestapo Tortures 200 Rabbis in Polish Concentration Camp

More than 200 Polish rabbis, including many of the “miracle rabbis,” are imprisoned in the Oswiecim concentration camp in Poland and are being subjected to the most humiliating and barbarous tortures, according to reliable information reaching Polish-Jewish leaders here today.

The rabbis, among whom are the spiritual leaders of the towns of Sechaczew, Pila, Zychlin, Sambor, Slonim and Jablona, are kept in a separate enclosure within the camp precincts which is supervised by hand-picked guards. Some of the rabbis have been imprisoned since the occupation of Poland in 1939, the report says.

The report cites the following instances as indicative of the treatment to which rabbis in Poland are subjected: Rabbi Silberstein of the Warsaw rabbinical court was forced to dance in the streets dressed in his prayer shawl and phylacteries. Rabbi Segal of Kodz was compelled to do likewise. Rabbi Mendel Morgenstern of Wengrow was made to walk on all fours and was shot when he fell to the ground exhausted.

The chief of the Cracow rabbinical court, Rabbi Kornicer, was forced to climb trees with German soldiers prodding him with bayonets and was shot when he eventually fell from a tree. The rabbi of Sanok was arrested, together with his two sons-in-law, while they were praying and were lined up against a wall until their entire family had been assembled to see them executed.

Synagogues and Jewish religious material have been desecrated in fiendish ways by the Nazis, the report states. Many synagogues have been burnt to the ground, and others have been converted into stables or lavatories. Almost invariably, the Germans force the Jews in a town to destroy the scrolls of the law in the local synagogue. In Plonsk, while the Jews were cutting up the scrolls, in accordance with Nazi orders, a German officer fired bullets into the Torah, shouting: “I am destroying the Jewish God.” Persons refusing to destroy the scrolls are shot. In Krasnik a Jewish butcher defied the Germans and shouted: “Kill me if you will.” He was shot.

Nazi newspapers gleefully report the destruction of prayer books and synagogues, the report adds. One paper published the following report by a German officer of the destruction of the famous Lublin Yeshiva, the largest in Poland: “We threw all the books into a pile and set them on fire. The fire lasted for 20 hours as the Jews gathered around and wept wildly. Their wailing grew so annoying that we called on a military band to drown out their cries.”

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