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Alan Dershowitz   Letter 6   18Feb00   A Ukrainian Archive Surprise Eyewitness
"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
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA   02138
USA

Alan Dershowitz:



FIVE MORE INDEPENDENT EYEWITNESSES,
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.

FIVE ADDITIONAL
INDEPENDENT EYEWITNESSES


(1) Daily Express  (London)

Demands for silence were ignored
as spectators chanted "Death, death, death!"


NAZI IVAN FACES THE HANGMAN

From ROBIN ADAMS in Jerusalem

Nazi mass murderer Ivan the Terrible was dragged struggling to a cell last night to await a date with the hangman.

Cheers and singing ran out for 15 minutes in a packed Jerusalem court when John Ivan Demjanjuk was sentenced to death for war crimes.

[...]

Celebrations erupted among survivors and relatives in the courtroom as sentence was passed yesterday.

Demands for silence were ignored as spectators chanted "Death, death, death" and sang the folk song The People of Israel Lives.
Daily Express (London), 26Apr88, p. 1.


(2) Daily Mail  (London)

Presiding Judge Dov Levin failed to restore order
after the sentence was announced.


ISRAEL'S VERDICT ON IVAN THE TERRIBLE, MONSTER OF TREBLINKA

A chief hangman who with his own hands killed tens of thousands.  There is no forgiveness in the law or the heart.  We sentence him to death

From DAVID ARIEL in Jerusalem

IVAN the Terrible Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk was sentenced to die by an Israeli court yesterday for killing hundreds of thousands of Jews during World War Two.

Applause, cheering and whistling erupted in the courtroom in a converted cinema here as the special court ordered him to hang after identifying him as the sadistic guard who operated at Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

[...]

As the verdict was announced, many of the spectators, including survivors of Nazi death camps, clapped each other on the back, and some took up the chant 'Death, death, death' and sang 'The people of Israel live.'

[...]

Presiding Judge Dov Levin failed to restore order after the sentence was announced.  Spectators cheered and yelled for several minutes.

Abuse was shouted at Demjanjuk's Israeli defence attorney, Yoram Sheftel, as police escorted him from the courtroom.
Daily Mail (London), 26Apr88, p. 1.


(3) Daily Telegraph  (London)

Spectators climbed on to their seats,
clapping, and chanting "long live Israel."


Songs as 'Ivan' is condemned to die

By Patrick Bishop in Jerusalem

TO THE SOUND of shouting, weeping and joyful singing, John Demjanjuk was led from a Jerusalem court yesterday after being condemned to death for his crimes in the Treblinka extermination camp.

Loud applause broke out as the three judges passed the sentence.  Spectators climbed on to their seats, clapping, and chanting "long live Israel".  Several called for Demjanjuk's immediate execution.

Outside the court a crowd sang Ani Ma'amin, the song affirming Jewish faith in the coming of the Messiah which was chanted by death camp victims as they shuffled into the gas chambers.
Daily Telegraph (London), 26Apr88, p. 1


(4) Guardian  (Manchester)

The crowded cinema auditorium
exploded into joy, singing and tears.


Demjanjuk is sentenced to hang

Ian Black in Jerusalem

Israelis cheered, sang and applauded in a Jerusalem courtroom yesterday afternoon as John Ivan Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian-born former American convicted last week of Nazi crimes against humanity and the Jewish people, was sentenced to death.

[...]

The defendant, confined to a wheelchair because of back problems, was taken quickly out of the court as the crowded cinema auditorium in Jerusalem's Binyanei HaUmma convention centre exploded into joy, singing and tears.
Guardian (London), 26Apr88, p. 1.


(5) Sun  (London)

Spectators packed into a cinema converted into a courtroom
applauded and whistled their approval.


HANG HIM!

Death sentence on Nazi camp fiend Ivan the Terrible

From JIM LEDERMAN in Jerusalem

JEWS cheered and wept yesterday as the man convicted of being Nazi monster Ivan the Terrible was condemned to die on the gallows.

Survivors of the Holocaust chanted "Death, death, death" as white-faced John Demjanjuk, 68, protested his innocence from his wheelchair.

[...]

Spectators packed into a cinema converted into a courtroom applauded and whistled their approval as the sentence was read out.

[...]

Demjanjuk, who sat in a wheelchair because of back pain, was hissed as he insisted that he was never at Treblinka.
Sun (London), 26Apr88, p. 5.


PLUS A SIXTH
SURPRISE EYEWITNESS


(1) Washington Times  (Washington)

As soon as the verdict was announced
there were screams of relief from the audience.


Watching Ivan as sentence is passed

[Ukrainian Archive Surprise Eyewitness]

JERUSALEM

[...]

The audience of survivors and survivor's children waited for the court to return its verdict.  The mood was tense as the judge began to speak.  He announced that the sentence was to be death, noting that there was no mitigating the awful crimes of Ivan the Terrible.

As soon as the verdict was announced there were screams of relief from the audience.  One woman simply started to read off the names of her family members murdered at Treblinka.  Others sang religious songs.
Washington Times (Washington), 27Apr88.


WHICH ENTRENCHES
THE INCONGRUITY


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.


Lubomyr Prytulak


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