Orthodox Jews detained in ‘prison-like conditions’ in German airport for no reason, says advocacy group

“Here, there was no question from beginning to end, it was hatred, and pure intimidation,” one man said.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A group of 16 haredi Jewish men were detained for 10 hours in “prison-like” conditions while transiting through Germany’s Frankfurt Airport, then released without explanation, according to a statement from advocacy group Americans Against Antisemitism.

On March 8, five ultra-Orthodox Jewish men who were traveling from New York to Vienna via Frankfurt Germany were stopped at German border control. With no explanation, they were told to stand aside.

Other haredi men from the flight were also pulled out of the line. The German authorities continued isolating the visibly Jewish passengers from other flights until there were 16 men placed in holding cells.

All of the men’s passports were confiscated, and some had their phones taken away. Over the 10 hours they were held in the “prison-like” conditions, the men were not offered food or water.

“We begged for a cup of water…they brought us a few cups of water, literally holding the water so it doesn’t spill on the way out…the way you feed your dog,” one man recalled.

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Some of the men were interrogated by German authorities, but the group was never given an explanation as to why they were being held or for how long they would be detained.

After hours without communication or updates, one of the men said he “decided to get proactive” and called the U.S. Embassy in Frankfurt. After half an hour, a consular official called him back and said the German authorities were investigating his documents, suspecting they were fraudulent.

“The Germans were not happy about hearing from the American government,” said the man who called the Embassy. “They realized that there would be accountability from a higher power so they started making things up to cover themselves.”

Eventually, the men were released, with no apology or explanation. The German authorities allegedly attempted to force the men to sign forms indicating that they would not hold the German government liable for their ordeal, but some of the men refused to sign.

“Here, there was no question from beginning to end, it was hatred, and pure intimidation,” one man said.

“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!” said Dov Hikind, head of Americans Against Antisemitism, in a statement.

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“They reached out to share their story with me, 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 innocent people immediately!”