Earth Times | 21Apr2010 | dpa
Judge who jailed Sobibor
sub-commander says guards were powerless
Munich - A German judge who sentenced a Nazi sub-commander of Sobibor
death camp to life in jail told the court at the trial of John
Demjanjuk in Munich on Wednesday that non-German guards had been
powerless at the camp.
Prosecutors accuse former Red Army soldier Demjanjuk, 90, of being an
accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews in the Sobibor gas chambers
during 1943. The key evidence is a personnel card that allegedly shows
the Nazis trained him at Trawniki and deployed him to Sobibor.
Hans-Robert Richthof, who re-tried sub-commandant Karl Frenzel in the
1980s [date?], said that trial only touched glancingly on the auxiliary guards.
But Frenzel did mention during his trial testimony that there had been
a guard named Demjanjuk in a perimeter-security team, he said.
The retired judge specialized in trying Nazi war criminals.
Richthof said the Trawniki-trained guards had no authority to give
orders and were mostly employed to guard the outer confines of the
wooded site in occupied Poland where the Jews were killed, and would
not have played a key role in the "extermination."
The foreign guards were assigned to protecting the camp itself, though
they were occasionally ordered to perform executions.
Frenzel was re-tried in Hagen, Germany, re-convicted [date?] and given life
imprisonment after a 1966 conviction failed on a technicality.
Outside the courtroom, retired judge Richthof told a reporter he did
not consider the mere presence of an accused person at the scene of a
crime was enough to justify a conviction as an accessory.
"I don't know of any crime where simply being present amounts to
guilt," he said.
Demjanjuk, who was deported from his US home last year, has denied the
charges, but declined to testify. In a statement through his lawyers
last week, he said the Germans were to blame for actions they forced
their prisoners to perform.