American Free Press | 23Oct2009 | Peter Papaheraklis
Traficant speaks to AFP:
You’ve always been in the
forefront of fighting injustice. You made a lot of enemies -- including
both the Justice Department and AIPAC, among others -- when you came to
the defense of Ukraine-born Cleveland autoworker John Demjanjuk, a
naturalized citizen, who was falsely accused by the so-called
“Nazi-hunting” unit of the Justice Department of being a concentration
camp guard at Treblinka during World War II. Although the U.S.
government stripped Demjanjuk of his citizenship and deported him to
Israel where he was tried and convicted as a war criminal and sentenced
to death, it was your work that got him released. And now he’s facing
new charges, many years later, in Germany. Could you reflect on your
experiences in the Demjanjuk case?
It’s a travesty and I’m surprised no one has even lifted their voice.
Be advised that the original evidence that resulted in the Israeli
Supreme Court overturning Demjanjuk’s conviction came from me. It came
through a Freedom of Information Act request regarding a man named
Feodor Fedorenko, the only man ever tried for war crimes at the
Treblinka camp in Poland. He was acquitted.
He had been a naturalized American and when he went to Ukraine to visit
his family, he was picked up by the Soviet KGB and tried in the old
Soviet Union and was executed. There’s no doubt our government arranged
that, perpetrated that.
When the Demjanjuk case came up, I couldn’t get anywhere. So I tricked
the government. I did a Freedom of Information Act on Fedorenko, and
bingo. I was told that there were a hundred pages or so on him and in
those pages was the information that led to Demjanjuk being cleared of
the charges and the dropping of the death sentence against him.
And remember that 17 people testified in the Demjanjuk case and
identified him as the concentration camp guard known as “Ivan
theTerrible” -- IvanMarchenko -- a man who was taller than Demjanjuk,
had black hair, not blonde hair, was nine years older and had a scar on
Then when I went on the House floor and revealed that I had a photo of
the real Ivan, the Justice Department turned around and claimed that
there were two Ivans.
Well, let me tell you about the power of the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee (AIPAC). No one in Congress would accept the evidence
I had clearing Demjanjuk nor would they agree to hold a hearing
regarding the activities of the Justice Department in this case.
Demjanjuk had been stripped of his citizenship and he was scheduled to
be executed in Israel. No one in the government of the United States
would listen to the evidence.
I tried to put it before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in
Cincinatti and they would not accept the evidence. So Demjanjuk’s
attorney placed my evidence before the Israeli Supreme Court and they
asked me to go over.
I went over. I payed my own way. While I was there, Bryant Gumbel of
the Today show on NBC interviewed me and I said, “If they put this man
to death, Israel is going to lose $20-25 billion a year from the
He said, “What do you mean, Congressman? Israel only gets $3 billion a
year from the U.S.”
And I reminded him that $3 billion is $5,000 a year for every man,
woman and child who lives in Israel (although, of course, that money
goes to the Israeli government).
That’s from the foreign aid appropriations bill. However, when you look
at the loans to Israel that are converted to grants, economic
assistance, military assistance, trade pacts, Israel gets the
equivalent of $30-35,000 a year for every man, woman and child in
Israel. And my people in my district who are working 40 hours a week
aren’t making that much money in Youngstown, Ohio.”
Gumbel’s response was “Thank you, congressman. Thank you.”
That night I got a phone call. Demjanjuk was being released and was
going to be delivered to me to take him home from the Tel Aviv airport.
I have to give Israel credit. They accepted the evidence and our
government wouldn’t. Our congress wouldn’t and our courts wouldn’t, but
Israel did. They knew that our government perpetrated one of the
greatest crimes in history and as soon as I got Demjanjuk back to the
United States, the Sixth Circuit Court issued a statement saying that
this case was a tragic but honest mistake by the government.
No one in the Justice Department ever faced charges for this. They knew
that Demjanjuk wasn’t “Ivan the Terrible.” The documents I used to
convince the Israelis to free Demjanjuk came from the Justice
Now the Justice Department went after Demjajunk again but this time
Israel wouldn’t try him. Israel didn’t want someone like Jim Traficant
-- if such a person existed -- to start questioning the case. Well, now
Traficant is out of jail and he is questioning the new case.
So now Germany is trying Demjanjuk for being a guard at another
concentration camp, Sobibor. The truth of the matter is that if the
government was proven to be so reckless and criminal in a previous
action, how can they warrant any serious consideration in the current
case. They were embarrassed the first time so now they are determined
to hurt Demjanjuk and show the world that he was some kind of Nazi.
The truth is that Demjanjuk was taken prisoner by the Nazis and while
the Germans did put guns in the hands of some of their prisoners and
made to act as perimeter guards (under the threat of death) even if
that was the case, those men shouldn’t be charged.
Well, now that I am out of prison, they are concerned. [People who have
heard me on television speaking out] are starting to say, “Hey, wait a
minute. This guy Traficant is right. We are bankrupt. We are involved
in areas that are very questionable. Do they have this kind of control?”
Look at China. Look at Japan. China is taking $350 billion a year plus
out of our economy. They are buying tanks, attack aircraft, nuclear
submarines—building them with our money.
Look at our foreign aid. Forget about Israel. We gave $98 million last
year to North Korea to convince them to slow down their nuclear
development. What do you think they are using that $98 million for?
We gave $58 million to Russia so they would strive toward the word of
law. I’ve got to say, “Beam me up” here. Here in Youngstown we have the
Delphi workers, formerly Packard and General Motors. The salaried
workers lost all their pensions and the hourly workers have to pay for
their health insurance now. It’s a $160 million impact on our
community. And look at the ripple effect and the other losses of jobs
that will subsequently come, it will be a $250 million loss every year.
But we can’t get a bit of help for our own people.