Patrick Buchanan   Ukrainian Weekly   15-Feb-1987   Orwellian and Kafkaesque

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Patrick Buchanan: the world has forgotten the Hitler-Stalin alliance

Following is the text of remarks delivered on January 25 by Patrick Buchanan, special assistant to the president and White House communications director, at the Ukrainian Independence Day banquet in Chicago, where he was honored with the Man of the Year Award.

Pat Buchanan, Reagan Communications Advisor

I consider this a great honor; and I thank you profoundly for it.

The hour is getting late; and the Super Bowl is just ahead.  And even though the Washington Redskins eliminated the Chicago Bears, and neither team made it to Pasadena, I am sure you don't want to miss it.  So, I will be brief in my remarks.

The first subject I wish to discuss, briefly, is the case of John Demjanjuk, the denaturalized American citizen of Ukrainian birth, who came to the United States in 1952 to raise his family in Cleveland, Ohio, and who, this coming month, goes on trial for his life in Jerusalem accused of the most odious of Nazi atrocities during the second world war.

My views on this case are, of course, personal; they are my own; not those of the American government, nor of the administration which I serve.

But I have studied and written on this case for four years.  And the deeper one reads into the matter of John Demjanjuk, and that bloody killing ground called Treblinka, the more implausible it becomes that this 22-year-old Red Army conscript, wounded and captured in the Crimea in early 1942, could conceivably have become within months the sadistic camp guard before whose barbarities even the veteran Nazis of the SS blanched in horror.

It is my deep personal belief that John Demjanjuk is an innocent man, that he is a tragic victim of American gullibility and Soviet malice, that history will one day record that few greater errors were ever made in the history of American jurisprudence.

The only piece of documentary evidence that exists against John Demjanjuk is a Soviet-supplied I.D. card supposedly from the Trawniki training center for guards.  We believe that card was produced by the KGB; I believe that; and at least one German veteran of Trawniki has dismissed it as a "laughable forgery."

The half dozen survivor witnesses against Demjanjuk, all of whom identified him from a 30-year-old photograph, over the years, contradicted themselves and contradicted one another under oath.

The defense now has the camp roster from Trawniki and the transfer list to Treblinka.  The name Ivan Demjanjuk is on neither one.

And even though the Israeli indictment against Demjanjuk contends that he was universally known in the death camp as "Ivan the Terrible" 12 of the 17 Jewish survivors of Treblinka who were questioned by OSI either could not identify Demjanjuk or had never even heard of an "Ivan the Terrible."

In the fall of this past year, I read and re-read the contemporaneous accounts of Treblinka of half a dozen Jewish survivors.  Not one mentions an "Ivan the Terrible."  The one who describes a camp guard named Ivan also describes the manner of his death in the August uprising of 1943.

For months now, Polish villagers who still live in the vicinity of the destroyed camp called Treblinka have been prepared to testify that the Ivan camp guard they remember was both an older and a much larger man than Ivan Demjanjuk.  Yet, the Polish government had denied defense counsel access to these witnesses.  Why if this is an open and shut case?

As I have repeatedly stated, my views about this case are my own not those of the United States government or the Reagan administration.  But I would urge this community and all your friends do not turn your back on John Demjanjuk and his family.  And I would urge my former colleagues in the press, who believe in justice, not to automatically assume the guilt of this man in the dock in Jerusalem.

We know, for example, that Frank Walus of Chicago was accused by almost a dozen "eyewitnesses" of perpetrating Nazi atrocities in occupied Poland.  All 12 eyewitnesses were proved wrong.  We know that Ivan Stebelsky of Denver, a Ukrainian American leader, was accused by Simon Wiesenthal of being a Nazi war criminal.  And Wiesenthal was dead wrong a second time.  We know that Tscherim Soobzokov, a Circassian living in New Jersey, was also falsely accused of being a Nazi war criminal.  The charge was disproved by a courageous journalist, my friend John Caster; but that did not save Soobzokov from assassination outside his home in 1985.

Great atrocities ought not to be unpunished; there should be no statute of limitations on Treblinka and Auschwitz.  But what the decent and patriotic Americans of the Eastern European communities in the United States ask of the American government it seems to me, is not unreasonable.

We are Americans, they say, and we believe in American justice, not Soviet justice which is a contradiction in terms.  There is hard evidence that the KGB has fabricated charges and forged documents against American citizens in the past and any Soviet-supplied evidence should be viewed with massive skepticism.  And any witnesses produced by the agents of the KGB against citizens of the United States should be made subject to cross-examination by American defense attorneys in American courts.

It is both Orwellian and Kafkaesque that Americans of East European descent should be deported to the Soviet Union to stand trial for collaborating in war crimes with Adolph Hitler, when Adolph Hitler's principal collaborator in the great war crimes that launched World War II was the self-same government of the Soviet Union.