Photo by Arnold Becker.
David Katz: Claims Tannenbaum shipped him to death camp.
soul searching," according to a senior OSI
official, the Tannenbaum case became the
first of these to be filed.
According to other sources, the govern-
ment began gathering data on Tannen-
baum as early as 1979. Evidence came
from the Israeli government and from sur-
vivors of Goerlitz living in the U.S.
"This was the worst of the kapo cases,"
said Washington attorney Martin-
Mendelsohn, head of OSI from 1979 until
early 1980. "He was a nasty, nasty guy.
There were a lot of witnesses who
remembered him and his bestiality."
By 1980, the case was on the verge of be-
ing filed. Then it disappeared. Apparent-
ly, the dilemma of a Jew committing
atrocities against other Jews under the
Nazi aegis was too daunting. A senior
federal attorney in Brooklyn reportedly
told a friend in OSI that he could not bring
Friday, June 26, 1987
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
himself to try the case.
What Did Tannenbaum Really Do?
The case was revived about six weeks
ago when an OSI memo about Tannen-
baum was leaked to a daily New York law
journal. Some Jewish organizations have
speculated that the case was leaked by
some certain segments of the Ukrainian or
Baltic communities. Disturbed by recent
OSI prosecution of Estonian Karl Linnas
and 'Ukrainian John Demjanjuk, the memo
may have been leaked to "harm or
sabotage" the OSI and divide the Jewish
community, according to the head of one
"This was not fulfilled," said the ex-
ecutive. "The Jewish community is for the
prosecution of everyone who committed
crimes during the Holocaust, regardless of
their ethnic or religious origin. Just as
there is no collective guilt, there is no col-
Jacob Tannenbaum is now in hiding.
Death threats and press inquiries were too
much for this 75-year-old man whom
neighbors describe as a quiet, gentle grand-
father who fed stray cats.
"Everybody's surprised," said one
neighbor. "Nobody has anything against
In recent interviews with New York
newspapers, Tannenbaum called the
charges against him "absolute garbage."
But accounts of his wartime experiences
have been contradictory. One of Tannen-
baum's three children, Sonny, 34, recently
told the New York Times that his father
had told his immediate family and some
close friends that he had been a kapo at
Goerlitz. But Tannenbaum had previous-
ly told the New York Times that he had not
been a kapo, but a personal aide to the