|"As soon as the verdict was announced there were screams of relief from the audience." — Ukrainian Archive Surprise Eyewitness|
February 18, 2000
Alan M. Dershowitz
Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law
520 Hauser Hall
Harvard Law School
1575 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
PLUS A SIXTH UKRAINIAN ARCHIVE SURPRISE EYEWITNESS
In my letter to you of 08Jul99 asking "Do you want to get caught?", I noted two contradictory accounts of the audience reaction to the sentencing of John Demjanjuk to death in Jerusalem in 1988. The account of Lord Denning and of Yoram Sheftel was that the audience erupted in an uncontrolled display of bloodthirstiness; however, your account was that the audience was subdued, and responded with singing and prayer only after the judges had left the courtroom. To resolve this contradiction, I consulted various newspaper accounts, and presented fourteen of them, every one of which indicated that the Lord Denning and Yoram Sheftel account was true, and yours was false.
Since writing that letter, I have come across additional published accounts, six of which I bring to your attention below. These accounts are not repetitions of newswire stories, but rather are written by independent observers present in Jerusalem, who may be assumed to have witnessed the audience reaction in question. I divide these six additional accounts into two sections below — the first section introducing five of the accounts, with the section after that reserved for the special account of the Ukrainian Archive Surprise Eyewitness.
In reading these fresh accounts, we of course keep in mind that today the accusation that John Demjanjuk had ever even set foot in Treblinka, let alone played the role of Ivan the Terrible there, has been entirely abandoned. And we of course keep in mind as well that the accusation that there had even existed the Treblinka that was portrayed by the prosecution is arousing growing incredulity.
Demands for silence were ignored
as spectators chanted "Death, death, death!"
Presiding Judge Dov Levin failed to restore order
after the sentence was announced.
Spectators climbed on to their seats,
clapping, and chanting "long live Israel."
The crowded cinema auditorium
exploded into joy, singing and tears.
Spectators packed into a cinema converted into a courtroom
applauded and whistled their approval.
As soon as the verdict was announced
there were screams of relief from the audience.
And who might the Ukrainian Archive Surprise Eyewitness be? By now, you must have recognized that it is you. You wrote the account immediately above, and you published it in the Washington Times. In doing so you confirmed that you were aware that the audience reaction coincided with the pronouncement of the death sentence, and was not delayed until after the judges had left the courtroom as you later claimed in your reply to Lord Denning; and in doing so you confirmed that you were aware that the audience reaction was intemperate and uncontrolled, and not confined to singing and prayer as you later claimed in your reply to Lord Denning.
Of course even the more truthful of your two accounts is still a misrepresentation: it leaves out the murmuring, hissing, shouting, jeering, and booing before the death sentence was read. And upon the reading of the death sentence, your more truthful account leaves out the thunder of applause, the wild cheering, the whistling, the cursing, the waving of fists, the stamping of feet, the dancing, the climbing up on seats, the rhythmic clapping to the chant of "Death! Death! Death!" It leaves out the inability of the judges to restore order — that is, to restore even the low degree of order that they had allowed to prevail from the first day of the trial. It leaves out the shouting of "Death to Ivan!", "Death to the defense attorney!", and "Death to all Ukrainians!" It leaves out the mob pouring into the street to intercept the prison van, their shouting that the death penalty was too mild, their waving the placard "Let the Ukrainian beast starve to death."
Unless you are able to offer some justification for your two accounts, you are in danger of leaving the impression that the more truthful of them is a misrepresentation, and the less truthful is a lie.