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June 26, 1987 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-06-26

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Probing.
The Nether World
Of A Jew Accused
Of Nazi Crimes

The U.S Justice Department is trying to
deport Jacob Tannenbaum, who is charged
with being a concentration camp kapo.
But it's a murky area. How does a Jew
act in a society based on sheer survival?

ARTHUR J. MAGIDA

Special to The Jewish News

wice a day, Jacob Tannenbaum
faithfully walked the 20 minutes
from his home in Brooklyn's
Brighton Beach to the minyan at Ibmple
Beth El. In the morning around 6:30 a.m.
and again , just before sundown, Tannen-
baum would leave his small, beige
bungalow, shuffle down Lawn Court — the
unpaved, one-block long street he lived
on — reach the corner and head south
toward his temple.
The minyan counted on him. He was its
gabai, the congregant responsible for the
minyan. He unlocked the synagogue in the
morning and decided who would read the
Torah. He often opened the parochet, the
curtain at the ark that protected the Torah.
Three years ago, in fact, Tannenbaum had
presented that same curtain to the con-
gregation in honor of his parents, five
sisters, wife and six-month-old daughter

40

Friday, June 26, 1987

killed by the Nazis. When the temple's rab-
bi, Leonard Goldstein, was asked last year
to choose a few members of the congrega-
tion to light memorial candles at a
ceremony at nearby Holocaust Memorial
Mall, he immediately thought of Tannen-
baum.
Jacob Tannenbaum no longer attends
minyan at Beth El. Chances are he never
will. The U.S. Justice Department is try-
ing to deport Tannenbaum, charging that
his U.S. citizenship should be revoked
because he persecuted prisoners at
Goerlitz, a Nazi forced-labor camp 55 miles
east of Dresden. Survivors of Goerlitz
claim that as the camp's chief kapo, or
overseer, Tannenbaum killed, beat and
crippled many inmates, all of whom were
Jews. These actions, they say, invariably
occurred in the absence of Nazi SS guards,
whom most former kapos contend forced

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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