French Jews Freed from German Jail After Arrests for Protesting Nazis

The three French Jews who were arrested and jailed in the German city of Rostock last week following a violent demonstration were released Wednesday and returned to Paris.

The release of the three, who were not identified, followed interventions by the European Jewish Congress to the authorities in Rostock as well as to the German Embassy in Paris.

But Serge Cwajgenbaum, EJC secretary-general, said the three will probably have to be tried by a French court.

The president of the EJC, Jean Kahn, refusing to either support or condemn the group’s actions in Rostock, said that the idea of having three young French Jews imprisoned in Germany was “Unbearable.”

The three were among a group of 46 French Jews, led by Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld and his wife, Beate, who clashed with police on Oct. 19 while protesting Germany’s failure to stem right-wing violence against foreigners, and its intention to deport Romanian Gypsies.

The group had included former members of the Resistance and deportees among its ranks, but was mainly composed of youths belonging to the Betar Zionist group. They became involved in violent clashes with the Rostock police.

The three arrested were indicted for brutal assault on police officers.

The Jewish group’s actions did not necessarily meet with the approval of the Jewish community. Jean Pierre-Bloch, 87, the outgoing president of the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism, firmly condemned the expedition to Rostock.

“The democratic leadership of Rostock has nothing to do with fascism. Violence is something I have always condemned. Clubs and teargas are not weapons to be used in an ideological confrontation,” he said, referring to the helmets and tear gas the activists used in their struggle against the police.

Meanwhile, Bloch, a veteran Jewish community leader, has been replaced as president of the International League by Pierre Aidenbaum, 52.

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