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Israeli Opera Conductor Sentenced to Five Years for Aiding Nazis

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Hirsh Barenblatt, a conductor of the Israel National Opera, was found guilty today by the Tel Aviv district court of charges of collaborating with the Nazis and with handing over Jews to the Nazis for extermination as chief of the Jewish police in the Bendin Ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland. He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

He had been acquitted last July of a charge that he was a member of an organization “hostile to Jews.” The musician, who came to Israel in 1958, was arrested after a survivor of the ghetto, recognized him.

The court found that during the “selection” period in 1942 in the ghetto, one of Barun-blatt’s duties was to guard those chosen by the Nazis for death and to see to it that they did not escape or join the group chosen to remain alive. The court found further that by ordering such a guard Barenblatt actually participated in assisting the handing over of Jews to the Nazis for slaughter.

The court noted, in its judgment, that Barenblatt himself had testified during the lengthy trial that he could have resigned from that post had he wanted to and that by not resigning, he had done knowingly what he did and thus could not escape conviction. The musician had contended on his arrest that be had been tried on the charges in Europe and acquitted.

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