Would appreciate any input of details.
From Ben Rappaport -
I do not remember all of the chevra that participated in the short takeover of what I believe was actually the German UN offices staff.
Following is the list of chevra that I do remember. Please add/or correct if I am wrong and please excuse me for the names of people I have forgotten.
I blame my loss of memory on my medications.
I do remember, Yitzhak Heimowitz was on standby to negotiate with the police.
1) Benny Rosen z”l
2) Butch Brody
3) Yonah Furman
4) Zisel Sansonowicz
5) Reuven Genn
6) David Sprung
Since I was in a minor confrontation with the police I had one sleeve of my Blazer almost ripped off. Was more worried of the confrontation I was going to have with my parents. As I walked into the apartment passing the kitchen I saw mom washing some dishes. Mom turned around, looked at me and just asked, “Betar”? I nodded my head and all she did was turn back to the sink and continued to wash dishes. I knew I was in deep…trouble.
From Eugene "Butch" Brody -
I vividly recall that as I started to make a prepared statement an NYC cop told me to "shut up" and then punched me in the stomach. At that point, BEN stepped between the cop
and me. He then took the physical abuse. I am forever in his debt. I finally made only about 25% of the prepared statement. I think that YONA made a statement also. It certainly was
a memorable afternoon............butch
Will give you my version of my memories and hope the all the names will be listed. The situation was such that each of us felt as Betarim and Jews we needed to respond and do something about German scientists helping the Egyptians build missiles that they could launch against the Jewish state.
I will not go into all the details.
I think the German UN offices were on the tenth floor. We first had to go into a small room and the outer door had to be closed before the inner door opened. In those days there were no security or surveillance cameras, just intercoms. All the chevra went into the room quickly and since I was a big guy and played HS football I was opposite the door so as soon as the door opened I would push the door open so we would not end up being locked in the small room. Our hearts were beating waiting for the door to open and I was ready as a tight spring to barrel forward. The door cracks open. I never had a chance. All the chevra shoved me through as if I was battering ram.
It was a woman that open the door and she ran to the back offices.
We all sat down and of course we not only locked the door but, and I believe it was Zisel Sansanowicz and myself, we put our backs to the door. Since we were in narrow corridor we put our feet against the wall to really make it difficult for someone to enter. Benny Rosen z”l got up and gave a excellent speech of the immorality that the German Government allowed German citizens go and help the Egyptians develop missiles to attack Jews. Benny was great and spoke for a few minutes. Don’t remember who got up next and then talked. In the meantime we heard police sirens on the streets below.
Now this was a thick metal door and had at least three hinges. We heard the police behind the door as they were huffing and puffing trying to get in. They tried using some type jack to open the door.
Two things scared me. I saw the thick metal hinges about the break and overheard someone said they should bring a certain rifle to shoot open the lock. My head was on the other side of that lock. We discussed what we should do and Butch said open the door. We all readied ourselves as I opened the door.
Well, that moment reminded me of a Keystone cops scene. The cops didn’t expect to door to open and three fell in together and for a second the three got stuck between door frames. The police began quickly dragging the chevra out. I was sitting and suddenly saw David Sprung (he was skinny then) being thrown and flying above my head. I realized the cops were each dragging out the smaller fellas first and suddenly I was sitting there by myself. This cop comes in to drag me out and to me he looked like the shortest cop on the NYC police force. He asked me to get up and walked out. It actually sounded like he was begging me. I told him since all my friends were dragged out I too had to be dragged out. He bopped me over the head with his nightstick and another cop came and helped him drag me out.
A couple of reporters had arrived. A news photographer was holding his large press camera told a cop to place one of us opposite the large emblem that depicted the German Eagle. The cop told me to stand there and I told him I wouldn’t pose with that Nazi emblem, He was a big cop and he suddenly grabbed me and threw me against the wall next to that emblem. Well, when I was a kid and played baseball I hardly ever did hit the ball. Much rarer did I make contact and hit a homeroom. It’s that moment when you hit the ball and that instant you knew you just sent the ball into outer space.
Well, without thinking I reacted at the officer that slammed me against the wall and I kicked the police officer. At that moment I knew I had a “Houston, we have lift off,” moment. That was the last thing I remember standing up. I don’t know how many cops were beating me with their nightsticks. Definitely two or more.
Now it gets funny!!! I am now in a fetal position trying to protect my head as I was being hit and suddenly Butch looks down at me and shouts “Ben control yourself.” I’m thinking, I am lying on the ground, what can I do to control myself? Butch got a nightstick painfully jammed into his stomach for trying to help me. As I am still lying there getting hit, I suddenly see that a cop has Yonah Furman in some hold with his nightstick and realize Yonah is slammed against the wall with his feet dangling off the ground. Yonah then shouts out “Gentlemen this is a peaceful demonstration.” Maybe because of these preposterous scenes it aggravated the cops because I was laughing as they were hitting me.
The rest is a blur to me and we were all let go after our names and addresses were taken. I would think we have Yitzhak Hemowitz to thank we were not arrested.
Did it have any affect? Maybe an iota, and probably less than that, but I am proud we did what we felt we had to do. It was the very least we could have done. Today we still smile and talk of the day we occupied the German UN Offices. That’s what I remember…..
Hope others will share their memories.
Of course wish Benny could have shared his view of that day’s events. He was a great writer. We all miss him.
From David Sprung
There were 8 of us. It was the German observer mission to the U. N. From what I remember. I think Jack Lichie may have been one and I just can’t remember who else. Actually Ben , you started the ruckus when you punched a cop that flew across the room after he wanted you to put your hands on the wall exactly opposite the German symbol on the wall and you refused. That’s when they started in on us with the Billie clubs!