Cleveland Jewish News | 24Jul2009 | Marilyn Karfeld
Survivors approved as plaintiffs
in Demjanjuk trial
Eight plaintiffs whose relatives were killed at Sobibor death camp in
spring 1943 have been approved to participate in the
accessory-to-murder trial of John Demjanjuk, the news magazine Der
Spiegel reported last week. The trial in Munich district court is
expected to begin in mid-October, the magazine said.
To counter the likely defense argument that Demjanjuk was a Nazi
prisoner-of-war and forced to follow orders, the prosecution will rely
on the testimony of 22 witnesses, Der Spiegel said. In the 86-page
indictment, the prosecution maintains the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk
could have escaped from the death camp, as did other foreigners
conscripted as Nazi guards.
Demjanjuk, 89, a retired Seven Hills autoworker, has been indicted on
27,900 counts of accessory-to-murder. He was deported to Germany in May
to face charges he helped herd Jews to the gas chamber at Sobibor while
serving as a guard there between April and October 1943.
The eight approved plaintiffs, represented by five attorneys, are from
the Netherlands, the U.S. and Germany, Der Spiegel reported. One of
them, Thomas Blatt, escaped from Sobibor during a prisoner revolt; both
his parents and younger brother were killed there upon the family’s
arrival in April 1943.
Blatt, 82, has said he cannot identify Demjanjuk. Now a resident of
Santa Barbara, Calif., Blatt has written two books about Sobibor, which
he described as a killing factory.