Salomon Morel

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Salomon Morel
Born (1919-11-15)November 15, 1919
Garbów Poland
Died February 14, 2007(2007-02-14) (aged 87)
Tel Aviv, Israel
Citizenship Polish, later Israeli
Occupation Colonel at State Security Services (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa)
Known for Commander of Zgoda labour camp

Salomon Morel (November 15, 1919 – February 14, 2007) was a Polish-Jewish born Stalinist official, NKVD officer, concentration camp commander and an accused war criminal, who later fled from Poland to Israel and acquired Israeli citizenship.[1][2] Immediately after the end of World War II, he became the chief commander of the Soviet NKVD Zgoda concentration camp in Świętochłowice, Soviet-occupied Poland.[3] Morel was accused of personally torturing and executing dozens of detainees, and of causing the death of more than 1,500 people imprisoned there through the systematic mistreatment.[4][5] During the rise of the Polish United Workers' Party, Morel acquired the rank of colonel in the political police, or MBP, and commanded a prison in Katowice. Morel spent the entire rest of his career working as a prison commander for the political police during the Soviet occupation of Poland, until he was dismissed in 1968 for disciplinary reasons.

In 1994, soon after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Morel was investigated by Poland's Institute of National Remembrance for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the "revenge killings"[6] of more than 1,500 prisoners from Upper Silesia, most of them local population, i.e. Polish and German Silesians, but also including some other nationalities.[7] After his case was publicized by the Polish, German, British, and American media, Morel fled to Israel and was granted citizenship under the Law of Return. Poland twice requested his extradition, once in 1998 and once in 2005, but Israel refused to comply and rejected the more serious charges as being false and again rejected extradition on the grounds that the statute of limitations against Morel had run out, and that Morel was in poor health; Israel also cited Morel's Jewish background as a specific reason not to extradite him.[8] Polish authorities responded by accusing Israel of applying a double standard, and the controversy over Morel's extradition continued until his death.[9] From 2004 Morel was also charged with communist crimes against the population, a specific crime under Polish criminal law, in addition to the existing charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.[10]

Youth[edit]

Salomon Morel was born on November 15, 1919 in the village of Garbów near Lublin, Poland, the son of a Jewish baker.[10] During the Great Depression, the family business began to falter. Therefore, Morel moved to Łódź where he worked as a sales clerk, but returned to Garbów following the outbreak of war in September 1939.[10]

World War II[edit]

Morel's family went into hiding during World War II in order to avoid being placed in the ghetto.[10] According to his own story of courage in the face of German occupation – that was told by Solomon Morel himself while in Israel ("mandolin with him... In his other fist was his Mauser) – Morel's mother, father and one brother were killed by Blue Police during Christmas of 1942.[11] Solomon Morel and his brother Izaak survived the Holocaust hidden by Józef Tkaczyk, a Polish Catholic. In 1983, Józef Tkaczyk was designated as one of the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem for saving the Morel brothers.[10]

The official Polish accounts of Morel's wartime activities however, differ substantially from his own story. According to the Institute of National Remembrance, at the beginning of 1942 Salomon Morel and his brother Izaak organised a criminal band to commit robberies in the surrounding villages.[10] Their criminal activity ended when during one of their robberies they were captured by members of the Polish People's Army.[10] To avoid punishment Morel placed the blame on his brother, and then joined the Soviet partisans in the Parczew area (see also Parczew partisans), where he worked as a janitor and a guide through the forests.[10] His two brothers died during the war, one in 1943, another in 1945.[10]

The Israeli mass media and government presented yet a different version of his life.[12] The Israeli letter rejecting extradition states that Morel joined the partisans of the Red Army in 1942, and was in the forests when his parents, sister-in-law, and one brother were allegedly killed by Polish Blue Police.[12][13] According to a number of media sources,[14] Morel claimed that he was at one point an inmate in Auschwitz and over thirty of his relatives were killed in the Holocaust.[12]

As the Eastern Front advanced, Morel and other communist partisans came out of hiding. In the summer of 1944, Morel organized the Citizen Militia in Lublin.[10] Later, he became a prison commander at the Lublin Castle, where many soldiers of the anti-communist Armia Krajowa (Home Army) were imprisoned and tortured.[10]

Zgoda labour camp[edit]

On March 15, 1945, Morel became commander of the infamous Zgoda camp in Świętochłowice.[10] The Zgoda camp was set up by the Soviet political police, or NKVD, after the Soviet Army entered southern Poland. In February 1945 the camp was handed over to the Communist Polish secret service, the notorious Urząd Bezpieczeństwa. Most prisoners in the camp were Silesians and German citizens, while a small number were from "central Poland", and about 38 foreigners.

Sometimes children were sent to the camp along with parents.[15] Prisoners were not accused of any crime, but were sent by decision of Security Authorities. Authorities tried to convince society that prisoners were only ethnic Germans and former Nazi war criminals and collaborators.[15] It is estimated that close to 2,000 inmates died in the camp where torture and abuse of prisoners were chronic and rampant [13] and resulted in an average 100 inmate deaths a day. Solomon Morel's preferred method of torture was the ice water tank where prisoners would be put in with freezing water up to their necks until they died.[16] The camp was closed in November 1945.[13]

Post-1945 career[edit]

Morel continued his career in the prison services, reaching the rank of a colonel as the head of prison in Katowice in 1968.[10] In 1964 he defended his master's degree on "The prisoners' labor and its value" at Wrocław University's Law School.[10] Over the course of his career, the communist government awarded him the Cavalry Cross of the Polonia Restituta and the Golden Cross of Merit.[10] In 1990, after the fall of communism, the General Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against the Polish Nation, precursor to the Institute of National Remembrance, started investigating the abuses carried out at the Zgoda camp.[10] In 1992, Morel immigrated to Israel,[10] where he still received pension from Poland.

Extradition controversy[edit]

In 1998, Poland requested that Morel be extradited for trial, but Israel refused.[10] A reply sent to the Polish Justice Ministry from the Israeli government said that Israel would not extradite Mr. Morel as the statute of limitations had expired on war crimes.[10]

In April 2004, Poland filed another extradition request against Morel, this time with fresh evidence, upgrading the case to "communist crimes against the population."[10] The main charge against Salomon Morel was that, as commandant of the Zgoda camp at Świętochłowice, he created for the prisoners in this camp, out of ethnic and political considerations, conditions that jeopardised their lives, including starvation and torture.[10] The charges against Morel were based primarily on the evidence of over 100 witnesses, including 58 former inmates of the Zgoda camp.[10] In July 2005 this request was again formally refused by the Israeli government. The response rejected the more serious charges as being false, potentially part of an antisemitic conspiracy, and again rejected extradition on the grounds that the statute of limitations against Morel had run out, and that Morel was in poor health.[10] Ewa Koj, a prosecutor with the Polish Institute of National Remembrance, criticized the decision. “There should be one measure for judging war criminals, whether they are German, Israeli or of any other nationality,” Koj said, but the Polish Foreign Ministry decided not to press the matter further.[14] Morel died in Tel Aviv on February 14, 2007.[10][17]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Pawlowski, Teresa (2016-06-29). A Daughter’S Promise. AuthorHouse. ISBN 9781504955737. 
  2. ^ Applebaum, Anne (2012-10-30). Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 9780385536431. 
  3. ^ Gerhard Gruschka, Zgoda - miejsce grozy: obóz koncentracyjny w Świętochłowicach, Wokół Nas publishing, Gliwice 1998, ISBN 83-85338-74-8. (in Polish)
  4. ^ Piotrowski, Tadeusz (1998). Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918-1947. McFarland. ISBN 9780786403714. 
  5. ^ The Independent: Israel protects concentration camp boss
  6. ^ Sack, John (1995-04-20). An Eye For An Eye: The Untold Story Of Jewish Revenge Against Germans In 1945. Basic Books. ISBN 9780465022151. 
  7. ^ "War crime suspect stays in Israel". BBC. 7 July 2005. 
  8. ^ https://ipn.gov.pl/en/news/71,Response-by-the-State-of-Israel-to-the-application-for-the-extradition-of-Salomo.html
  9. ^ BBC: War crime suspect stays in Israel
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "Salomon Morel". Archived from the original on February 21, 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-21. , Institute of National Remembrance. Retrieved from the Internet Archive. September 05, 2011.
  11. ^ Remembrance, Institute of National. "IPN". Institute of National Remembrance. Retrieved 2018-02-20. 
  12. ^ a b c Response by the State of Israel to the application for the extradition of Salomon Morel and a report by Dr. Adam Dziurok and Prosecutor Andrzej Majcher on the subject of Salomon Morel and the history and operation of the camp at Świętochłowice-Zgoda. Archived 2007-10-13 at the Wayback Machine., Institute of National Remembrance, 2005
  13. ^ a b c "Świętochłowice - Zgoda Labor Camp". Archived from the original on February 28, 2006. Retrieved 2006-02-28. , Institute of National Remembrance, from Internet Archive.
  14. ^ a b Shoshana Olidort. Poland Gives Up Campaign To Extradite Israeli Citizen. The Forward. Jul 29, 2005.
  15. ^ a b Adam Dziurok, Obóz Pracy Świętochłowice-Zgoda. Archived 2011-06-11 at the Wayback Machine. Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, 2010
  16. ^ The Barnes Review. TBR Co. 1994. 
  17. ^ "Response by the State of Israel, to the application for the extradition of Salomon Morel". Israel. 21 July 2005. Archived from the original on 20 October 2014. 

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