- POLAND is seeking the extradition
from Israel of an elderly Polish-born Jew on charges of genocide for the
deaths of German prisoners in a communist camp he commanded after the Second
- The suspect, Solomon Morel, 83, is accused of causing
the deaths of more than 1,500 inmates at the end of the war.
- Morel, who was held in Auschwitz and had more than 30
members of his family wiped out by Nazis and collaborators, was made the
commander of the Swietochlowice camp in November 1945.
- He is accused of keeping German prisoners and Nazi collaborators
in barbaric conditions, subjecting them to torture, beatings and starvation.
- An attempt to extradite him five years ago on charges
of torture failed, after Israel ruled that the statute of limitations on
the charges had run out.
- Polish special prosecutors have now upgraded the charges
to genocide, for which there is no statute of limitation.
- Andrzej Arseniuk, a spokesman for prosecutors at the
Institute of National Remembrance, which investigates Second World War
and communist-era crimes, said that the new charges are based on testimony
from former prisoners at the defunct camp, near the southern city of Katowice.
- "The testimony from former inmates living now in
Germany significantly enriched the evidence. It documented Morel's torture
of at least 13 inmates known by name," said Leon Kieres, the head
of the institute. "Now the charges say his intention was to exterminate
for national and political reasons."
- 'They told us: You are here, and you are here to die.'CAMP
- Mr Kieres said the extradition request, which will be
made by a regional court in Katowice in a few weeks, will be Poland's final
attempt to bring Morel to justice.
- The new charges accuse Morel of seeking to exterminate
German prisoners by starving them to death, depriving them of basic medical
care and carrying out and sanctioning torture by his subordinates - including
imprisoning prisoners in small cells filled with water, trampling them
or making them stand for long hours, singing Nazi songs.
- Morel was born in 1919 in the Polish village of Garbow.
He was 20 when Germany invaded Poland and the Nazis began to round up Polish
Jews. About 30 members of his family, including his mother and father,
both brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins, died in the Holocaust.
- In Christmas 1942, Nazi collaborators arrived at the
family home while Morel and one of his brothers were out. His mother was
forced to watch as her husband and son were shot dead before she was killed.
- Morel witnessed the murders with his other brother, Yitzhak,
from the top of a haystack in a field, before they fled and took refuge
with a local family. Within a few months, the two brothers had joined the
Polish Jewish partisans.
- Morel's brother was later ambushed and shot by Nazi collaborators
while driving a sleigh for the partisans. Morel was eventually imprisoned
in the Auschwitz death camp. He moved to Israel in 1994, to flee Polish
- Mr Kieres said Morel is believed responsible for at least
1,538 deaths at the camp.
- Speaking after Israel's rejection of the first extradition
request five years ago, Dorota Boriczek recalled the almost commonplace
brutality in the camp.
- "I knew Morel in the camp. He was a very brutal
man," she said. "He was young then. He would come in at night.
We could hear the cries of the men then. They would beat them and throw
the bodies out of the window.
- "I was taken there when I was 14, with my mother.
I still don't know why we were there, and I still want to know. They told
us when we arrived: 'You are here, and you are here to die, although nobody
will shoot you, because ammunition is too expensive'."
- Mrs Boriczek said conditions at the camp were barbaric.
"There was nothing to eat, a hunger that you cannot imagine. We were
lucky to have a piece of bread once a day, nothing else, and water,"
- "Both my mother and I had typhus. We were separated
and I didn't know she was alive. I had a high fever and when I opened my
eyes, I was sleeping next to a lady from Switzerland. I slept with her
under one blanket. I was happy that she was dead, because that meant I
could have her blanket."
- The investigation against Morel is the only one in Poland
against a Jew accused of retaliating against the Germans.
- Polish historians generally agree that the communist
government imprisoned 100,000 Germans, mostly civilians, who were deemed
threats to the state. At least 15,000 died due to ill-treatment and the
rest were freed by 1950.