As many as 16 Hasidic men, including a group from New York traveling to Vienna, were detained at a German airport for more than 10 hours without charges, according to a Jewish rights group.
Five of the men were first stopped by authorities in Frankfurt on March 7 and detained without food and water, while other Hasidim were “rounded up” and also held, former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, founder of Americans Against Antisemitism, said in a release Tuesday.
Some members of the group were pulled away and “harshly interrogated,” the release 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,” Hikind said in a statement.
“They reached out to share their story with me,” he said. “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.”
According to interviews with the men released by the group, the problems began when the five New Yorkers were stopped at border control at the Frankfurt airport.
“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 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, Hasidic Jews, were told to stand aside.”
According to the men, they reached out to the US Consulate while being held and were told that “they’re investigating my paperwork, that they might be fraudulent.”
Officials at the US Consulate in Frankfurt and the US Embassy in Berlin did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday.
The 16 detainees were eventually allowed to proceed to Vienna, but only after being told to sign disclaimers clearing German authorities of wrongdoing, the men said.