Editor preamble: John Demjanjuk, (see article ) age 91, died on March 17, 2012.
As Dr. Uli Busch, Demjanjuk’s lawyer, explains, “John died unconvicted and as an innocent man according to European and German law. Art 6 European Convention of Human Rights states: Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law.
“According to law” means in Germany : the condition of guilt and conviction is the final verdict of the appeal instance.”
As reported in ABC News: “…attorney Yoram Sheftel, who defended Demjanjuk in the Israel trial, criticized the German conviction of Demjanjuk as a Sobibor “Wachmann” -- the lowest rank of the “Hilfswillige” prisoners who agreed to serve the Nazis and were subordinate to German SS men -- while higher-ranking Germans were acquitted in years past.
“I can only call it a prostitution of the Holocaust,” he said.”
To the very end, John Demjanjuk insisted that he was not a guard or Wachmann. He had survived the Holodomor. He had been drafted into the Red Army and was wounded in the battle for Kyiv. He was wounded again in Krym and was captured by the Germans, spending the next 18 months in a labor camp near Chelm, Poland.
This weekend, much of the press ran headlines that were carefully worded obfuscations or outright lies. Craftily constructed, headlines declared “Nazi death camp guard dies” meaning a guard of a Nazi death camp; but read by most as a Nazi guard of a death camp. Others screamed, “Convicted Nazi criminal dies”. At no point, in their wildest flights of fancy did the prosecution claim or provide evidence that John Demjanjuk joined the National Socialist Democratic Workers’ Party but then, headlines sell papers despite their absurdity.
The first headlines in Ukraine about John Demjanjuk were no different. On April 30, 1986, just 4 days after the Chornobyl disaster, and while residents of Kyiv prepared for next day’s parade unaware of the disaster and the fallout raining on them, the paper Molod’ Ukrayiny published an article headlined “The Vampire lived in Cleveland”.
It featured a photo of the infamous Demjanjuk Trawniki identification card with a very different face on it. That card, with the appropriate photo of course, was the beginning of 36 years of persecution that did not end until the day John died. (see Pat Buchanan’s article )
The following is a brief eulogy written by Askold Lozynskyj, the former head of the Ukrainian World Congress.
A Eulogy for John Demjanjuk
Askold S. Lozynskyj
(New York); March 19, 2012
The newspaper headline reads, “Nazi dies, avoiding jail time”. By any measure John Demjanjuk was not a Nazi. By his worst accusers he was a Prisoner of War forced to work in a Nazi concentration camp. The article concludes, “Demjanjuk was the first man in Germany to be convicted for serving as a guard at a death camp -- but without evidence of being involved in any specific murders.” How consistent! Over thirty six years -- there was never any evidence.
Following his German conviction and sentence, the German government placed him in a nursing home. The court lifted the warrant of arrest stating that further incarceration would be unlawful pending the appeal and that John would not be a flight risk because of age, illness and the lack of a passport. The Germans had no intention of re-interning him. They were simply waiting for him to die. In any event under German law, a defendant is not considered convicted until all avenues of appeal have been exhausted. John Demjanjuk died before his appeal was heard.
Yet another example of the facts not supporting the headlines! But then this was the nature of John Demjanjuk’s thirty six year ordeal. The facts never did fit the accusations either. John Demjanjuk was an enigma for his accusers. The accusations simply did not stick despite fraud, perjury, cover-up and the incessant pressure from the Holocaust drummers.
Over the summer my son who was entering high school was assigned to read “Night” by Eliezer Wiesel, an overwhelmingly moving memoir of Mr. Wiesel, a Jewish inmate at the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. Mr. Wiesel was brought to Auschwitz from Romania. He wrote of unspeakable horrors including one where a Jewish acquaintance who was deemed fit for work, was forced to work in the crematorium and pushed his own father into the oven.
Eliezer Wiesel suffered at German concentration camps from May 1944 until January 1945 at Auschwitz and then at another camp until early April 1945 when the Americans liberated him, a total of some eleven months. I knew about the notorious Auschwitz camp from my father who was a Ukrainian prisoner there from December 1941 until January 1945. My father suffered at German concentration camps for three and one half years.
John Demjanjuk was a Red Army soldier, essentially Stalin’s fodder at the battlefront, considered by his commander-in-chief less important than munitions. He was captured and endured life as a German Prisoner of War. The end of the war brought little respite since being from the USSR, John had to evade repatriation to the USSR [operation Keelhaul], a nefarious scheme of the Yalta conference where the Allies became complicit in Stalin’s crimes. Finally, he managed to emigrate to America and lived there generally peacefully until that peace was disturbed in 1976. What followed was thirty six years of persecution by new tormentors, the Jews and Americans, and old ones the Russians and the Germans.
I knew John Demjanjuk and his family. I met him several times. He always impressed me as being warm, good-natured and of remarkable hopefulness. I met him last in the Munich prison in November 2009 on the eve of his trial. Frankly, neither he, his son, his German attorney nor I fully understood the charges against him. I suspect that the entire legal world marveled when the verdict came down against him. Similar charges had not been leveled against any human being. In fact, ethnic Germans had been amnestied from similar prosecution by the German government in the 1960’s. Here was a case that flew in the face of basic tenets of jurisprudence -- selective prosecution, unequal treatment before the law, etc.
I am not suggesting that John Demjajnuk was a saint, after all he was a human being and, I am sure had many faults. I do consider him a martyr. He was a victim of German cruelty, Russian perjury, American irresponsibility at the very least, criminality possibly, and the immorality of the Jewish Holocaust industry. Certainly he has gone to a better place where the judge is not beholden to anyone, where therefore justice is evenhanded, and John should be rewarded for his egregious suffering. I am proud to have known him.