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Kyiv Post | 05Apr2012 | Ulrich Busch
A eulogy for John Demjanjuk
Busch writes: Prosecutors and media tried to turn
Demjanjuk into Hitler and Stalin
I am not here to hold a lecture on the case of John Demjanjuk, or to
criticize once again the United States, Israel and Germany for the fact
that they caused more than 40 years of unspeakable suffering and
injustice for John, or to detail how Germany misused John and about 30
Jewish people from the Netherlands, who were victims of German cruelty
during the Nazi time, for an illegal political show trial.
I am simply here with the desire to say a last goodbye and farewell to
During the last three years of his life, while I was at his side, John
Demjanjuk was the focus of my professional life as a criminal defense
lawyer in Germany. But that was not all. There was so much more.
I will never forget our first meeting in the Stadelheim prison in
Munich. He was sitting in a wheelchair, pushed by an officer into the
visiting room of the prison, dressed in a sweater with holes and faded
We greeted each other for the first time and spoke in English. John
knew my wife, also a Pani (Mrs.) Vera like his wife, of Ukrainian
He asked me about my language skills in Ukrainian, an embarrassing
question for me because I was always too lazy -- despite nearly 40 years
of marriage -- to learn this difficult language. I had always followed
the principle, borsht tastes delicious but is too difficult to
Nevertheless, I passed John’s language test with an A. Namely, I could
readily sing and recite the prayers of the Ukrainian Catholic liturgy
since my childhood because my father loved the Eastern Church prayers
He took me very often on Sundays to Mass at a Ukrainian monastery near
I said to John, I can pray in Ukrainian but everything else “duzhe
malo” (very little). He answered, “Then let us pray together, Our
Father.” I said, OK fine. And so we prayed Our Father in Ukrainian.
That was the beginning of our time together.
We subordinated our future under the protection and will of our common
This was a wonderful way to start the legal battle because we knew it
would take all our efforts to survive and fight against the powerful
enemies, namely, revenge, retaliation, blind rage, forgery, fraud,
corruption and the perversion of justice.
By the way, after passing the first language test, John never asked me
The legal battle began. It lasted nearly two years and more than 90
days in a courtroom.
There was no doubt that John would be convicted as there was no doubt
that the verdict was already established before the trial had even
The media and prosecutors made John into Hitler and Stalin as one
He, not Germany, was suddenly responsible for the German murders of
hundreds of thousands of Jewish people and the destruction of European
Jewry. John was made into Nazi murderer and war beast in one.
In April of 2011, John had his 91st birthday. During this time, the
trial was held in the Munich Justice Palace to give the Jewish
co-plaintiffs an arena for their bizarre and hypocritical accusations
against John in a historic setting.
But, then something happened during a break in the hearing. John was
being moved down the hall and suddenly a voice was singing Mnohaya Lita
(many years) to John. It was my wife who was congratulating John on his
But the song was heard by the co-plaintiffs too who had just called
John a terrible henchman of Hitler a few moments ago. A storm of
indignation broke out. How could somebody dare to wish and sing that
the devil, the worst villain of all villains, should have a long and
happy life? Such a beast cannot have a birthday.
Such a villain should hang from the gallows and not earn health and
many years. The press reported the scandal with big headlines. The
president of the District Court warned me and announced that he would
ban my wife from the courthouse if she attempted to do such a thing
My wife had somehow taken care of John as much as was possible under
his circumstances of being incarcerated. With her natural and special
Ukrainian humor and laughter, she managed to sometimes turn him away
from his pain and grief. If Pani Vera spoke to him or held his hand,
you could see a smile in his eyes.
The birthday song and the furious reaction of the co-plaintiffs to this
simple gesture of humanity had an effect. For us, John was definitely
no longer just a client, he had become in some way part of our family.
We liked him and felt responsible for him.
When he was feeling alright, we felt alright. And when he became a free
man on May 12, 2011 upon his release from prison, we were simply happy.
Somehow he was always with us, even though he lived hundreds of miles
away in a nursing home.
I have said these words because they illustrate something very special.
John Demjanjuk was a wonderful person, a gentle man, a fine old
gentleman. The longer you knew him, you simply came to love him.
He made our time together rich and precious. John’s fate shows us that
the apocalypse of the Holocaust can happen easily again when hate,
revenge and retaliation are the motivating forces of human action.
Peace between people and nations can only be achieved through
affection, brotherhood, fairness, love and understanding.
John, you have enriched our lives. We will never forget you. Goodbye
John. May the Lord shine His eternal light upon John and give him
eternal rest in peace. Vichnaya Pamyat!
Ulrich Busch was defense
attorney in Germany for John Demjanjuk, who
died on March 17 while appealing his conviction for being an accessory
to the murder of 28,000 Jews as a camp guard in Sobibor, Poland, during
the Nazi occupation and Holocaust.
06Apr2012 at 17:05
The Nazi collaborator lived a much better and longer life than the poor
souls he ‘cared’ for. The great shame is he did not suffer a similar
The hate-mongers will continue demonizing Mr. Demjanjuk for the rest of
their lives until it is their turn to meet God. I agree with Dr. Ulrich
Busch's assessment of John Demjanjuk's gentle nature. Although I had
never met Mr. Demjanjuk in person, in all his correspondence with Lily
from Ayalon prison and in all media reports, I have never run across
any mean and hateful words or expressions of hatred.]
05Apr2012 at 21:11
God bless you, Ulrich and your kind and gracious wife.