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Burned Jew effigy represented Soros, Polish court hears

Defendant on trial for torching mock-up of Hasidic man says he wasn’t sure what the Jewish philanthropist looked like

An effigy of an Orthodox Jew is torched at an anti-Islam rally in Poland in November 2015 (YouTube screenshot)
An effigy of an Orthodox Jew is torched at an anti-Islam rally in Poland in November 2015 (YouTube screenshot)

WARSAW, Poland – The defendant on trial in Poland for burning an effigy of an ultra-Orthodox Jew said it was supposed to represent Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

Piotr Ryba testified Monday in a Wroclaw municipal court about the effigy burned in the central market of the city in November 2015 at the end of a demonstration against taking in Muslim refugees.

Ryba is accused of “public incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion and nationality to an unspecified group of Jews by burning an effigy.”

Soros, an Israeli-American Jewish billionaire, is not an Orthodox Jew.

“The effigy was prepared by the National Radical Camp,” Ryba told the court, according to reports. “It was to be an effigy of George Soros. I have not seen him. I did not know how Soros looks. I feel manipulated by the whole situation. I was, and I am, a patriot.”

The trial has been ongoing for several weeks.

George Soros speaks at the Festival of Economics in Trento, Italy in 2012. (Wikimedia Commons, Niccolò Caranti, CC BY-SA 3.0)
George Soros speaks at the Festival of Economics in Trento, Italy in 2012. (Wikimedia Commons, Niccolò Caranti, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Aleksander Gleichgewicht, chairman of the Jewish community in Wroclaw, was at the protest as a counterdemonstrator and also testified Monday, the last day of witness testimony. He said he was shocked to discover that the effigy was a stereotypical image of a Hasidic Jew with a black hat, beard, side curls and black clothing, just as Jews were portrayed in Nazi Germany propaganda in the 1930s.

He recalled the situation in Nazi Germany.

“First they burned buildings and effigies, then living people,” Gleichgewicht said.

The next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21, when a verdict is expected to be delivered.

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