Toronto Sun | 30Mar2009 | Peter Worthington
Germany targets Demjanjuk
Once again, they're going after John Demjanjuk.
This time it's Germany, with an assist from the U.S. Justice
Department, both showing what's been described as "amazing hypocrisy"
blended with awesome cynicism.
Germany, which refuses to allow its own citizens to be extradited for
Nazi war crimes in other countries, is extraditing Demjanjuk from the
U.S. to face charges of "accessory to murder" 29,000 Jews at Sobibor
death camp in the Second World War.
Born in Ukraine, Demjanjuk, now 89 and in frail health, came to the
U.S. around 1952. He settled in Ohio where he raised his family while
working as a mechanic at Cleveland's Ford auto plant.
His story is like many others -- yet like no other.
In 1977 the Justice Department sought to have Demjanjuk's citizenship
revoked when Holocaust survivors identified his photo as being the
sadistic "Ivan the Terrible" at Treblinka death camp. The same photos
were used to identify a man named Federenko as a Treblinka guard.
Demjanjuk denied charges and said he'd been conscripted into the Red
Army in 1940 and was captured by the Germans in 1942. He co-operated
with the Germans and subsequently worked as a perimeter guard at
Sobibor, with no direct contact with prisoners.
[W.Z. To my knowledge, John Demjanjuk has always denied ever being in Sobibor.]
The courts ruled he had lied on entry papers to the U.S., and that he'd
served as an SS guard at Treblinka. In 1983 , he was extradited to
Israel, and in 1986  was put on trial as a war criminal.
[W.Z. Subsequently, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that the
Office of Special Investigations (OSI) had perpetrated fraud on the
court in facilitating his extradition to Israel, since they had in
their possession documented proof that Mr. Demjanjuk had never been in
Throughout this ordeal his American son-in-law, Ed Nishnik,
relentlessly sought to prove Demjanjuk's innocence. The Soviet Union
provided evidence against him. Demjanjuk's Israeli lawyer became so
uneasy about the veracity of the evidence that he committed suicide.
Still, the Israeli court found Demjanjuk guilty of all charges, and in
1988 sentenced him to be hanged.
[W.Z. This probably refers to Dov Eitan, who joined the Demjanjuk
defense to prepare the appeal of the death sentence and who was
defenestrated from a fifteen story window on 29Nov1988.]
Nishnik went to Ukraine, dug up new material, and appealed to Israel's
supreme court. In 1993, in light of new evidence, five supreme court
judges overturned the guilty verdict, ruling that they had convicted
the wrong man as "Ivan the Terrible" at Treblinka -- courageous, honest
and an everlasting tribute to Israeli justice.
Ivan the Terrible was in reality one Ivan Marchenko, who had since
died, but who had operated the Treblinka gas chambers. Acknowledging
the "mistaken identity," the Israeli Supreme Court acquitted Demjanjuk
"of the terrible charges" alleged against him.
The court refused to allow other charges because it would constitute
double jeopardy, and because new charges were mild compared to the
Treblinka ones. Demjanjuk was freed.
In 1998 a U.S. federal court restored his U.S. citizenship.
[W.Z. ... after ruling that the OSI had perpetrated fraud on the court to revoke his citizenship.]
Then the Justice Department issued a new complaint, ignoring their
error of Treblinka, and said Demjanjuk was a guard at Sobibor and
Majdanek. The judge ruled Demjanjuk hadn't produced proof of his
whereabouts in the war and he was again stripped of citizenship.
In 2005 he was ordered extradited to Ukraine, and the U.S. Supreme
Court refused to hear his appeal. But Ukraine didn't want him. So
Demjanjuk remained stateless in the U.S. -- until Germany's Holocaust
crimes prosecutor filed for extradition. This March he was charged with
29,000 counts of accessory to murder Jews at Sobibor death camp.
European specialist John Rosenthal notes hypocrisy and cynicism in that
the Bundestag has allowed the statue of limitation to expire on crimes
attributed to German concentration camp personnel, and that it
"prevents its homegrown and genuine Nazis from facing war crimes
In other words, by charging Demjanjuk, Germany depicts itself as
"thorough and vigilant" about prosecuting Nazi war crimes.
Toronto Sun | 30Mar2009 | Orest Slepokura
Re: "Germany targets Demjanjuk," Peter Worthington, The Toronto Sun,
The original trial of John Demjanjuk was staged in a movie-theatre, as
befits political show trials. The accused was saddled with the moniker
Terrible"of Treblinka and often had to endure raucous catcalls from the
hecklers in the
audience. When the
trial ended with a guilty verdict, audience members chimed in with
rhythmic chants of "Death! Death!" while others sang and danced in the
aisles to show
their delight. All in all, an indecorous end to an ultimately
self-defeating process that
left Nazi hunters with egg on their face.
Against this hoary backdrop, a nonagenarian Demjanjuk again in the
prisoner's dock will likely garner considerable sympathy going in --
and more so should this new case against him also prove to be weak and
deficient or, even
Holocaust survivors, their families, and friends will, once more, be
emotionally torn for no good reason.