Kyiv Post | 21Jan2010 | Associated Press
Survivor describes Nazi camp at
MUNICH (AP) — Jewish prisoners had to unload decomposed corpses at the
Nazi death camp at Sobibor and were forbidden to warn new prisoners
that they would be gassed within the hour, a survivor testified
Thursday at the trial of John Demjanjuk.
The Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, an 89-year-old retired Ohio autoworker,
is accused of serving as a low-level guard at the Nazi camp in occupied
Poland and is charged with accessory to murder in 27,900 deaths.
Demjanjuk rejects the charges, saying he never served in Sobibor or any
other Nazi camp.
Sobibor survivor Philip Bialowitz told the Munich state court that Jews
being brought from western Europe largely believed the Nazi ruse that
they were being resettled and arrived at the camp relieved that their
long journey was over.
The 84-year-old testified that he and other Jewish prisoners helped
unload the trains, under the watch of German SS and Ukrainian guards.
Music was played over loudspeakers to keep the atmosphere calm.
"When I helped the Jewish passengers with their bags, some of them
offered me a tip," said Bialowitz, who was born in Poland and now lives
in New York. "My heart was bleeding because I knew that they would be
dead in less than an hour and I couldn't warn them."
Bialowitz clearly indicates that it was his Jewish work crew who
greeted and helped the people on the train disembark. These Jewish Nazi
collaborators then guided these people through the rest of their stay
Bialowitz was the second Sobibor survivor to testify this week. Though
neither he nor the other witness remember Demjanjuk from the camp,
their testimony aims to give the court a general idea about how the
Bialowitz, who was in Sobibor for six months before escaping amid a
prisoner revolt in October 1943, told the court that one train arrived
with most aboard dead or deranged with hunger.
He testified that German officers and Ukrainian guards shot some of
those prisoners who were barely alive after they came off the train,
while he and other Jewish prisoners had to unload partially decomposed
"I tried to pull a dead woman from the train but her skin came away in
my hands," Bialowitz testified. He then saw another dead woman on the
train, clutching a dead child, and testified that he collapsed to the
ground, unable to take any more.
[W.Z. This is simply not believeable -- it is a fabrication.]
Immediately an SS man started whipping him and told him to get back up
and work, then saw the dead woman and child himself.
"He said 'what beautiful scenery,' and snapped a photo before walking
away," Bialowitz testified.
[W.Z. It is highly unlikely that an SS man would be carrying a camera in these circumstances.]
As in previous sessions, Demjanjuk showed no reaction to the testimony,
lying on a bed with a baseball cap pulled down over his eyes. Demjanjuk
-- who suffers from several medical problems -- has been declared fit
face trial, so long as court sessions are limited to two 90-minute
sessions per day.
The trial's afternoon session was cut short after 10 minutes of
testimony, when the court doctor said Demjanjuk was not well enough to
continue. He did not elaborate.
Afterward, Bialowitz spoke to The Associated Press.
"Demjanjuk to me is a symbol," Bialowitz said. "He didn't come to
Sobibor for vacation — he came to help in the destruction of the Jewish
"(The trial) gives a message to the world that genocide will be
punished," he added.
Hopefully so. Especially with regards to the Armenian genocide, the
Holodomor genocide and the Palestinian continuing genocide.]
Demjanjuk claims to be a victim of mistaken identity -- a Red Army
draftee from Ukraine captured in 1942.
He maintains he was himself held prisoner until joining the so-called
Vlasov Army of anti-communist Soviet POWs and others, formed to fight
with the Germans against the encroaching Soviets in the final months of
His trial in Germany comes after 30 years of legal action against
Demjanjuk on three continents.
Demjanjuk had his U.S. citizenship revoked in 1981 after the Justice
Department alleged he hid his past as the notorious Treblinka guard
"Ivan the Terrible." He was extradited to Israel, where he was found
guilty and sentenced to death in 1988, only to have the conviction
overturned five years later as a case of mistaken identity.
authors at Associated Press neglect to inform the reader that the Sixth
Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that the Office of Special Investigations
(OSI) perpetrated fraud on the court to obtain the 1981
denaturalization and 1986 extradition of John Demjanjuk to Israel.]
If convicted, Demjanjuk faces a possible 15-year sentence. The trial
resumes Feb. 2, 2010.