[back] Swietochlowice camp  Salomon Morel


"It didn't happen," said the Executive Director of the World Jewish Congress on 60 Minutes in November 1993.  

But already 60 Minutes had found corroborating evidence for An Eye for an Eye. "We went to Poland," said Correspondent Steve Kroft, "to conduct our own interviews with former prisoners at Swietochlowice, sixteen in all, including eight we found independently of John Sack or the German Federal Archives. And we heard the same stories over and over again."

And that wasn't all.  According to Kroft, 

There's evidence...beginning with this report of the British Foreign Office, written in 1945, which says, "Prisoners at Swietochlowice who do not die of starvation or aren't beaten to death are made to stand up to their necks, night after night until they die, in cold water."  A similar report can be found in the U.S. Congressional Record from 1946.  

In the attic of the town hall of Swietochlowice, we found 1,580 death certificates for prisoners at the camp, many of them signed by Commandant Solomon Morel. And a Polish prosecutor...told us he's gathered enough information to charge Morel with beatings, physical and moral persecution, and driving prisoners to commit suicide...

We found out later that Morel...talked to the former Director of Archives at Yad Vashem, the pre-eminent Holocaust archive in Israel. According to Dr. Shmuel Krakowski, Morel called and wanted to be interviewed by Yad Vashem, saying that he was the commandant of a prison camp after the war and that he killed Nazis for revenge.

Since then, the revelations in An Eye for an Eye have been corroborated by The New York Times, by newspapers and newsmagazines in Germany, by scholars in the United States and the United Kingdom, by the archives of the Soviet secret police, in Moscow, and by the Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation. 

In November 1994, the former foreign editor of The New York Times wrote in a full-page story in the Times,

Polish authorities are investigating murder charges against Solomon Morel, a former secret police officer who served in the Communist resistance during the war.  In the spring of 1945 he was put in charge of what had been a Nazi concentration camp at Swietochlowice, near Katowice.

Mr. Morel, who is Jewish, lost both parents and his two brothers during the war.  Witnesses at the camp he commanded after the war have charged that he had hundreds of German civilians tortured and beaten to death, and killed some with his own hands...

He fled to Israel in 1993 and now lives in Tel Aviv.

The Times carried interviews with two Swietochlowice survivors, with the widow of a third survivor, and with John Sack. 

In the spring of 1995, when An Eye for an Eye became a best-seller in Germany, German newspapers and newsmagazines hired historians to go to the German Federal Archives, in Koblenz, to double-check it.  The book is "watertight," wrote the historian for Sueddeutsche Zeitung.  "The facts stand," wrote the historian for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.  

The scenes and dialog are at times outspokenly brutal.  Nevertheless they are true.  Most of the scenes, as I myself was able to establish in Koblenz, are cited word-for-word from the eyewitness reports in Koblenz. 

"The dialog is not invented, as critics conjecture," wrote the historian for the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, who also double-checked in the Federal Archives. 

For six years, scholars in the United States have backed up An Eye for an Eye. In November 1993, Antony Polonsky, Professor of East European Jewish History at Brandeis, wrote,

I read this extremely gripping and compelling account of the appalling events which accompanied the end of the war and the expulsion of the Germans...in one go.  It was impossible to put down...

In my view, only two questions need to be raised.  The first concerns the motivation of the author, and here I am convinced that Mr. Sack has tried, as he himself writes, to tell "something more than the story of Jewish revenge: the story of Jewish redemption."

The second is whether the story is true and what it is based on.  Here, too, I am satisfied that the author is a serious researcher...The book is in fact a major contribution to our understanding. 

In February 1997, three days after John Sack was "disinvited" to speak at the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Istvan Deak, Distinguished Professor of History at Columbia, spoke at a conference at UCLA, a conference co-sponsored by UCLA's Center for Jewish Studies.  Deak called the Office of State Security in Poland "a bastion of Jewish communists" and said,

There were many Jews among the new leaders.  [They] controlled the Ministry of Interior and the dreaded Ministry of State Security, as well as nearly all department[s] in this and other organs of state security...

The misdeeds of the almost entirely Jewish-led Polish political police--torture, murder, the forging of electoral results, deportations, etcetera--were notorious.

Deak cited An Eye for an Eye and said of it,

Documents on the Jewish torture and murder of German civilians, including women and children, in Polish concentration camps make for horrendous reading. 

More corroboration came from Professor John Micgiel of Columbia and Professor Arno Mayer of Princeton, the author of Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?

The revelations in An Eye for an Eye became an accepted part of European history in May 1997, on the publication of Europe: a History by Professor Norman E. Davies of Oxford.  Davies wrote, 

Popular knowledge in [Poland] has always insisted that the notorious communist Security Office (UB) contained a disproportionate number of Jews (or rather ex-Jews), and that their crimes were heinous. But few hard facts were ever published, and the stories were dismissed with distaste. 

Recent disclosures, however, have broken the taboo. They are all the more convincing since they were made by a Jewish investigator on evidence supplied by Jewish participants, and in the spirit of Jewish redemption. 

The study...concludes that in 1945...three-quarters of the local agents of the UB were of Jewish origin; that ex-Nazi camps and prisons were refilled with totally innocent civilians, especially Germans; and that torture, starvation, sadistic beatings, and murder were routine. The number of deaths inflicted by the communist regime on the German population is estimated at 60,000 to 80,000. 

In this light, it is difficult to justify the widespread practice whereby the murderers, the victims, and the bystanders of wartime Poland are each neatly identified with specific ethnic groups.

In 1998, scholars reported finding in the Russian Federal Archives, in Moscow, a report from Lieutenant General Nikolai Sielivanovsky, the Russian secret police adviser to the Ministry of State Security, in Warsaw, to Lavrenti Beria, the chief of the Russian secret police, in Moscow. Sielivanovsky wrote, "In the Ministry of State Security, Jews hold fifty percent of the leadership positions."

Sielivanovsky didnít state if by "Ministry" he meant the Ministry in Warsaw or the Ministry in all of Poland or if by "leadership positions" he meant the top two leaders or the top two thousand leaders. In other contexts "leadership positions" meant the directors in Warsaw, the directors and their deputies in every department in Warsaw, and the directors and their deputies in all of Polandís provinces. That would be fewer than one hundred people and possibly fewer than fifty people.

John Sack wrote in An Eye for an Eye that most Jews in the Office of State Security listed themselves as Christians, not Jews.  He also wrote that Jews started leaving the Office "as early as June, 1945," that "hundreds of Jews escaped from the Office" by September, 1945, and that "all but a scattering of Jews returned to the Torah and Talmud and fled from the Office by December, 1945." Sielivanovsky's report was dated October 20, 1945.

In May, 1995, after a six-year investigation, the Provincial Commission (in Katowice) for the Investigation of Crimes Against the Polish Nation, reported on the concentration camp at Swietochlowice, first reported in An Eye for an Eye.  The Commission said,

The camp commander, Salomon Morel, was undoubtedly responsible for not preventing the mass deaths of at least 1,583 people. No matter what they were detained for, the use against them of methods resembling those used in the concentration camps by the Nazis isnít acceptable. These were extermination methods. For them, the full responsibility rests with Salomon Morel, who not only didnít prevent them but who personally used them.

The district attorney for Katowice indicted Morel for crimes against the Polish nation. He sent policemen to Shlomoís apartment, but Shlomo had fled to Tel Aviv. In December, 1998, the district attorney asked the Minister of Justice in Israel to extradite him, but the Minister replied that the statute of limitations for Shlomoís crimes had expired in November, 1965. Interpol issued an international warrant for Shlomo, and he must now be arrested if he travels anywhere outside of Israel.