Sixteen Hasidic Jewish men, including an American group from New York traveling to Vienna, were detained at a German airport, without charges, for over 10 hours according to the Jewish advocacy group Americans Against Antisemitism.
On March 7, five of the men were stopped by customs agents at the airport in Frankfurt. Meanwhile other Hasidim were "rounded up" and brought to the holding area. Former state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, founder of Americans Against Antisemitism told The Post Millennial that "One of the men was sixty five years old. All of them (The group travelling to Vienna) are children of Holocaust survivors."
According to Hikind, the men were forced to use bathrooms in "cells" which were most likely for border patrol detaining people on immigration or other violations. Hikind wondered why the men were not allowed to use the other restrooms in the airport.
Hikind added that some of the men were pulled away and "harshly interrogated." The group travelling to Vienna was on their way for a day of meetings at a Jewish cemetery before returning home. Because of the detainment, they not only missed their flights, but also their appointments and the whole point of the trip.
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."
Americans Against Antisemitism released a video of interviews with the group. When the group landed in Frankfurt for a one-hour layover before their flight to Vienna on Lufthansa, "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 then the officer directed them to step aside.
"Two more people who are on our flight arrive there," the man added. "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," the man continued. "Looked at the document, 'Next.' Seven Jews, Hasidic Jews, were told to stand aside."
The men had all their proper documentation for the trip including paperwork proving they had negative COVID tests. They would not have had enough time, nor were they planning to leave the airport before their next flight.
The men were detained in what they described as "cells" with only metal benches for over 10 hours with no food or drink. Their passports and other documentation was confiscated. The men told Hikind that the heavily armed guards walked back and forth in front of the group to intimidate them. Hikind said it reminded the men of stories told by their Holocaust survivor parents.
Eventually, one of the men was able to contact the US Consulate and were told that the Germans were investigating the group’s paperwork and claimed it might be fraudulent. After discovering that one of the men had contacted the consulate, the guards became angry but eventually allowed the men to leave but only after being told to sign disclaimers clearing German authorities of any wrongdoing.
Hikind is demanding an investigation into the incident and asked The Post Millennial, "If they did something wrong why were they allowed to fly after being detained?" He called on the German government "to investigate this appalling treatment of innocent people immediately."