Name: Oswald Rufeisen. Born: Poland, 1922.

Jewish parents; traditional Jewish education.

Joined Akiva Zionist movement with his two brothers. They fled to Vilna (Lithuania) and from there to Kibbutz Akiva in Mandate Palestine after the outbreak of World War II. Oswald also joined the Vilna hachshara programme but did not have the opportunity to leave.

The German invasion of USSR, June 1941 (Operation Barbarossa) meant that Poland, including the Soviet zone, was totally overrun, including Mir. Much of Mir's Jewish population was executed and the remainder segregated first in the ghetto, then in the old fortress. (The connection between Vilna and Mir is that the famous Mir Yeshiva in Poland was transferred to Vilna in 1939 because Lithuania was still independent and remained so until 1941.) Rufeisen was captured by the Gestapo and escaped; he acquired a document certifying him as a German Catholic and worked as translator and secretary for the German Police, having already become active in the armed Jewish resistance. In August 1942, he learnt of a German plan to liquidate the Mir Jewish population on August 13th, so he informed the community. About 200 of the 850 still alive escaped to the forests and joined the Russian partisans - the rest were slaughtered.

Rufeisen, denounced to the Germans, was captured and escaped again, taking refuge in a Catholic convent where he converted to Christianity. He left, joined the partisans and was almost executed by them as a German spy, but was reprieved when a Jew from Mir in the resistance recognised him. After the war, he was decorated by the Russians for his partisan activities.

1945: Rufeisen enters the Carmelite order as Brother Daniel, intending to move to a convent in Eretz Yisrael eventually. He requests permission from the Church to apply for an exit visa from Poland in order to move, but the visa is not granted after numerous applications. He feels very attached to the Jewish people and to Poland, but eventually has to renounce his Polish citizenship in order to receive exit papers of the type given to Jews leaving for Israel.

His subsequent application in Israel for an immigrant certificate as an oleh is refused, although the then Minister of the Interior sympathises. He applies to the Supreme Court for an order nisi to compel the Minister to justify this refusal or grant the status as requested under the terms of paragraph 3(a) of the Law of Return. The case comes to court in 1962, 4 years after his immigration.

Rufeisen has come to court to be treated on an equal footing with other immigrants and because he has never renounced the Jewish people as his own and wishes to join them in their national destiny.

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15 Aug 2005 / 10 Av 5765 0