Kyiv Post | 16Mar2010 | Associated Press
Witness statement questioned at Demjanjuk trial
MUNICH (AP) — An expert witness called into question Tuesday the worth
of a statement being used against John Demjanjuk, testifying that it
came from a KGB interrogation in which the prisoner may have been
Demjanjuk, a retired Ohio auto worker who was born in Ukraine and was
once a Soviet Red Army soldier, is accused of agreeing to serve as a
guard for the SS and training at the Nazis' Trawniki camp following his
capture in 1942.
Demjanjuk, 89, is charged with 27,900 counts of accessory to murder for
his alleged activities as a guard at the Nazis' Sobibor death camp in
occupied Poland in 1943.
He denies having been at Sobibor or any other camp, but that has been
called into question by statements from Ignat Danilchenko, a
now-deceased Ukrainian who once served in the Soviet army and was
exiled to Siberia after World War II for helping the Nazis.
The "Danilchenko protocols", which exonerated Mr. Demjanjuk of
being in Treblinka, were criminally withheld from the defense and the
court during the 1981 denaturalization trial and the 1987-88 Jerusalem
In 1979, he told the Soviet KGB he served with Demjanjuk at Sobibor and
that Demjanjuk "like all guards in the camp, participated in the mass
killing of Jews."
In testimony Tuesday, Dieter Pohl, an expert at Munich's Ludwig
Maximilian University, told the Munich state court that people
considered collaborators by the KGB were routinely hit until they bled
"I can't exclude that the KGB considered him a collaborator," Pohl said
of Danilchenko when pressed by the defense.
The U.S. Office of Special Investigations has also questioned the
validity of Danilchenko's statements, saying they contained "numerous
Demjanjuk spent the proceedings lying on a bed and listening to an
interpreter, wearing dark sunglasses.
Though Demjanjuk maintains he was never at the Trawniki training camp,
the defense has questioned whether any of the ex-Red Army soldiers
there were truly volunteers, arguing that agreeing to serve the Germans
was the only way to escape likely death themselves.
Pohl testified that the conditions for Soviet POWs were horrific, and
that millions died of starvation and hunger while in captivity.
The defense has also argued that if Trawniki men tried to flee after
learning they would be death camp guards, they would have been killed.
Pohl said that some Trawniki men did successfully escape, but conceded
that if they had fled with their weapons and were recaptured, they
faced certain execution.
The trial continues Wednesday with more testimony from Pohl.