B’nai B’rith Appeals for Continued Moral Outcry Against Soviet Secret Trials

B’nai B’rith appealed today for a “continued moral outcry” against the Soviet Union’s policy of closed trials for Jews and other charged with “anti-state activity” and expressed concern for the fate of Lieutenant Wolf Zalmanson, the twelfth man in the case of the Leningrad 11. Dr. William A. Wexler, president of B’nai B’rith, said that “the failure of the Soviet Union to open the doors of its courtroom to public scrutiny of the trial and testimony is a self-indictment of Soviet justice. We can not help but fear for the life of Lt. Zalmanson in a secret court martial when we consider how a Soviet civilian court brutally imposed death sentences upon persons who, by the Soviet Union’s own testimony, had endangered no lives and had committed no violence.” The B’nai B’rith leader said that he had written to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin to express “our concern and distress” over the failure of the Soviet envoy to meet with Jewish community leaders “on a matter of life and death.” Dr. Wexler and Rabbi Herschel Schacter, chairman of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry, had requested the meeting during an emergency conference on Soviet Jewry held here last week. When the Soviet Embassy offered a meeting with a lower ranking official and the Jewish leaders refused, Dr. Wexler said that he had again requested a meeting with Ambassador Dobrynin “to hear our views on the secrecy of the court martial of Lt. Zalmanson, and the trials that are yet to come.”

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