Sixteen Chassidim, including a group of five from New York en route to Vienna, were detained in the airport in Frankfurt on their way to Vienna last week for no apparent reason and were held for over 10 hours.
The incident was publicized by the Jewish rights group Americans Against Antisemitism (AAA), founded by former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind.
“As soon as I gave my papers over to the officer, he looks at me, he says to me, ‘Are you all five together?’” one of the detained men said. “And I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘You need to step aside.’”
“Two more people who are on our flight arrive there,” he said. “They went over with their papers and immediately were told to stand next to us as well. So, we immediately saw that this is a Jewish thing.
“Nobody [else] was stopped for more than a minute,” he said. “Looked at the document, ‘Next.’ Seven Jews, Chasidic Jews, were told to stand aside.”
The Chassidim were offered no explanation on why they were detained. Their passports were confiscated and they were subjected to interrogation.
One of the men eventually called the U.S. Embassy and was told that the German authorities were investigating their paperwork as it may be fraudulent.
Calling the embassy seems to have done the trick and after over ten hours of harassment, the Chassidim were allowed to continue on their travels without any explanation for their detention. However, they were first forced to first sign disclaimers clearing the German authorities of any wrongdoing. Some of the Chassidim refused to do but were nevertheless eventually let go.
“Some of the Chassidim were pulled aside and harshly interrogated,” Hikind said in a statement.
“It’s unconscionable for something like this to happen to innocent people anywhere, but even more so to identifiable Jews in Germany, of all places.”
“They reached out to share their story with me,” he continued. “I can tell you the trauma and pain they suffered is scarring and traumatic, so we are calling on the German government to investigate this appalling treatment of [these] innocent people immediately.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)