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Postwar Justice


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Verdict in the Case of Aleksander Eintracht

Sentencing of Aleksander Eintracht 1948
Courtesy of the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw

Jewish resistance groups exacted vengeance during the Holocaust by assassinating Nazis and their collaborators. After liberation, the pursuit of justice turned to existing national court systems and Jewish tribunals (also called "honor courts") created specifically to try those Jews accused of persecuting other Jews.1

One such court was established in autumn 1946 by the Central Committee of Jews in Poland.2 The court's proclaimed purpose was to cleanse Jewish society of people who collaborated with the Nazis with the aim of preventing them from assuming positions of influence in a reconstructed Jewish society. Behind these courts lay the principle that only a Jew could pronounce judgement upon fellow Jews; their proceedings aroused considerable attention in postwar Jewish communities and DP camps.

Members of the Judenrat and the Jewish Police, prime targets for vigilante justice at the hands of the Jewish resistance, were not universally condemned by the Jewish honor court in Poland. Instead, jurists conducted meticulous investigations and considered each case individually. As one historian wrote of the court, "its actual deliberations entailed exactly what a court should do: stand apart from popular sentiments and reach decisions on the basis of legal principles, sound reasoning, and notions of public policy (in this case, public policy meant forging a more harmonious future of Jewish unity)."3 With only scant written documentation available to them, the court relied above all on the testimony of direct witnesses and statements provided by experts.

The featured document is the court's 1949 verdict against a former member of the Jewish Police named Aleksander Eintracht. An anonymous denunciation accused Eintracht of several crimes and revealed his current address and the names of witnesses who could testify against him. The accuser described Eintracht as "one of those who helped German murderers kill our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters." Acting on the denunciation, the court collected testimony on Eintracht's behavior during the war. Former prisoners of the Płaszów camp, where he had served between 1942 and 1944, portrayed him as a cruel and violent functionary.

Eintracht's sentence—exclusion from the Jewish community—was the most severe handed down by the court; that the defendant had lost two of his own children during the Holocaust did not warrant leniency. On the contrary, the court opined that his own personal suffering should have induced greater compassion toward fellow prisoners. Moreover, it was Eintracht's identity as a Jew that necessitated harsh punishment: "the accused is a Jew who abused his Jewish inmates during the most tragic time for the nation, and that the blow of being a Jew abused by a Jew was a more painful blow than from a German."

See the item Notice on the Execution of Jakub Lejkin for more on the assassination of Jews perceived as collaborators. For more on Jewish honor courts, see the items A Verdict from "Our Camp-Tribunal" and Report on an Incident at Neu Freimann DP Camp. See also Laura Jockusch and Gabriel N. Finder, eds., Jewish Honor Courts: Revenge, Retribution, and Reconciliation in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2015).

Through its Central Jewish Historical Commission, the Committee coordinated research into the Holocaust on Poland. See also A Call for Information on War Criminals in this collection for more information.

Gabriel N. Finder, "Judenrat on Trial: Postwar Polish Jewry Sits in Judgement of Its Wartime Leadership" in Jewish Honor Courts: Revenge, Retribution, and Reconciliation in Europe and Israel after the Holocaust, eds. L. Jockusch, G. Finder (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2015), 102.

Auxiliary police force organized by Jewish Councils within the ghettos, overseen by the German occupiers. Further denoted as "J.P." in this text.

Wilek Chilowicz, the head of the Jewish Police in Płaszów Concentration Camp.

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VERDICT.

 

The Community Court of the Central Committee of Jews in Poland, in extraordinary session in Kraków on June 24, 1949, composed of:
                President: Mag. Samuel Scharf
                Judges: Mag. Edward Stulbach
                            Edward Guter
                            Joseph Rumpler
                            Adolf Berliński

with the participation of prosecuting attorneys: Marian Lasota and Leon Gewurz, secretary Alicja Marciniszyn and defense attorney Leopold Lisocki, having reviewed the case of
           Aleksander Eintracht, b. March 2, 1906 in Kraków, son of Henryk and the former Lola Goldwasser, resident in Częstochowa at Aleja Najświętszej Maryi Panny 8, charged with behavior unbefitting a Jewish citizen during the period of German occupation, as a uniformed officer of the Jewish Police,1 and in the ghetto, and later, in the Płaszów Concentration Camp, from February 1942 to October '44, acting to the detriment of the Jewish community by, among other things, administering floggings and beating Jews

             Has resolved:

To find the defendant Aleksander Eintracht guilty of serving as a member of the Jewish Police in the period of March 1943 to October 1944, and in that capacity acting to the detriment of society by regularly beating and performing floggings willingly and with particular fervor; additionally, as a barrack warden, persecuting and debasing the dignity of his fellow-prisoners, and for these actions to sentence him in accordance with Article 7 of the Court regulations to the penalty of exclusion from the Jewish community.
The court has resolved to announce this verdict in the press and to the Jewish Committee in Kraków.

             Justification. 

Based on testimony from witnesses Friedlender, Grawecki, Grobler, Melcer, Bossak and Rand, as well as in part on defendant Eintracht's own explanations, the Court has accepted as confirmed and established that during the liquidation of the ghetto, as well as the construction of the camp in Płaszów, the defendant joined the J.P., in which he remained until the liquidation of the camp, and in this capacity performed with particular fervor all the activities attributed to him (he even says of himself that he was a good J.P.-man). It has been established beyond all doubt that the accused not only performed floggings (witnesses Friedlender, Grawecki, Grobler), without mercy, but also would entirely spontaneously catch people avoiding work and beat fellow-prisoners even when it was no longer allowed and that, when carrying riding crops had been forbidden, he made use of a reed cane, with which he beat Hungarians from his block. Moreover, he would not allow the aforementioned into their barrack, instead persecuting them mercilessly, even though they were extremely exhausted (witnesses Meltzer, Grawecki, Traubman, Rand).
           What is worse, these activities gave him special pleasure; demonstrating his sadism and total brutality. The defendant attempted to explain to the Court that had no choice but to carry out the orders given to him, because not doing so threatened vast consequences for him. Meanwhile, witnesses Meltzer and Bossak, whose testimony’s truth the Court does not doubt in the least, asserted that when once when someone else was performing floggings, defendant Eintracht addressed Hilowicz2 reproachfully: "Wilek, don't you trust me anymore?" Another time, when Officer Warteil was directly assigned to administer a beating, defendant Eintracht leapt up and cried in outrage, "Mr. Director! But it's me who does the beating!" and moreover when he lost count while beating a victim, he began his reprehensible procedure over again.
              The above facts stated clearly by the above witnesses are also indirectly confirmed in the testimony of witnesses Dr. Herman Katz and Henryk Handel, who in their testimony described the defendant as having a bad reputation, and even being regarded as one of the worst J.P.-men.
              The negative testimony of witnesses Cecylia Golberger, Celina Graj, Gusta Diner, Rachela Korn, and Marek Birnfeld cannot alter the state of affairs presented above, since these witnesses stated only that they know nothing about beatings by the defendant, which naturally does not rule out the clear facts of beating; besides which none of these witnesses, e.g. witness Diner, ruled out the facts of the beating in any way – while his individual reactions to persons familiar or close which may have taken place, and of which in the course of the entire case there was in fact only one (witness Korn), do not affect the general behavior of the defendant, which may only weakly be defined, perhaps, as inhuman. In any case, there were J.P.-men in the families of some witnesses (Goldberger and Korn)—therefore their testimony must perforce be "colored."
              In light of the circumstances described above, the defendant's guilt is unquestionable, while the defendant's explanations that he allegedly only pretended to beat, or gave the appearance of beating, contrary to the testimony of witnesses whose credibility is beyond discussion, the Court found not credible to and considered to be cynical.
              In determining the punishment, the Court, analyzing all behavior during the occupation as well as during the trial, did not find any mitigating circumstances, because the defendant's stupidity and dull-wittedness, which he and some witnesses cited, cannot be considered as such since the accused, despite his dull-wittedness, was certainly aware of his actions during the occupation and their consequences after the war.  On the contrary, his impudence from the time of the occupation has clearly been retained, since even at trial the defendant did not wish to admit to the actions of which he was accused, he clearly showed no remorse, on the contrary, he even accused witnesses of falsehood or error, even when meeting his victim face to face at the trial.  The court also took into account the circumstance that the accused is a Jew who abused his Jewish fellow-prisoners during the most tragic period for that nation, and that a blow given to an abused Jew by a Jew meant more than a blow from a German, because he also delivered a moral blow.
              In losing two children to the Germans, the defendant himself saw firsthand what they, as well as their adherents, are capable of, therefore he should instead have shown compassion to his fellow-prisoners and victims of the same fate. And if it was really out of fear for his own life or that of his wife—and despite the death of his children—that he did not resign from the Police Service and if he could not take advantage of his position to bring relief to his brethren, he should have at least done his best to remain indifferent—while in no case should he have volunteered to administer beatings, much less beat and mistreat his brethren without reason.
              An individual who at the most tragic time in the history of the Jewish people, at a time when it was condemned to total annihilation and when its best sons were fighting not for life but for a death worthy of a human being, commits treason against the nation and enters the service of the enemy and in this position maltreats his brethren, should find themselves outside the Jewish community.
             Therefore for all these reasons, the Court has ruled as in the sentence above.
                                          President:
                                          Samuel Scharf

 

 

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Courtesy of the Jewish Historical Institute, Warsaw
RG Number 15.189M
Accession Number 313/1
Date Created
June 24, 1949
Author / Creator
Jewish Historical Institute (ŻIH), Warsaw
Language(s)
Polish
Location
Kraków, Poland
Document Type Report
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