NEW YORK (Jan. 15)
Syrian authorities on Friday forced Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld to leave their country, where he had been trying to focus attention on the case of Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, the World Jewish Congress reported.
Syrian police came to Klarsfeld’s hotel room Friday and escorted him to the airport, where they put him on a plane for Vienna, his wife, Beate, said in a telephone conversation from Paris with Elan Steinberg, WJC executive director.
Klarsfeld arrived home in Paris on Friday night. He was not physically harmed, his wife reported.
Serge Klarsfeld had been in Damascus since Jan. 9, having obtained a business visa to Syria as president of the Sons and Daughters of Deported Jews of France.
He had unsuccessfully attempted to rent a hall in Damascus, with the intention of holding a hearing on Brunner, who is believed to have lived in the country for more than 30 years.
Beate Klarsfeld said her husband had obtained help in arranging a hearing from the Syrian Bar Association. She its intervention may have prompted her husband’s expulsion.
Serge Klarsfeld was refused entry to the presidential palace Wednesday, his wife reported.
She told Steinberg that her husband was prevented from meeting with representatives of the French Embassy in Syria. Syrian authorities also disconnected telephone service to his hotel room, where he was confined.
PROTECTED BY ASSAD’S BODYGUARDS
Beate Klarsfeld said her husband had learned that Brunner is being protected by the personal bodyguards of President Hafez Assad. Her husband was carrying a letter describing Brunner’s exact whereabouts, she said.
Brunner, who was considered a right-hand man to Adolf Eichmann, was in charge of rounding up and deporting Jews from Vienna, Paris, Slovakia and Greece. It is believed he is responsible for the deaths of some 100,000 Jews.
France and West Germany have asked for Brunner’s extradition, but have been told that Brunner is not in Syria.
Serge Klarsfeld wrote a letter to Assad, saying, “I have come to Damascus as a Jew, as a survivor of the Nazi genocide, to seek justice in the Brunner affair. The argument that (Syrian authorities) know nothing about Brunner’s presence on Syrian territory has convinced no one.”