Alan Dershowitz   Letter 08   14-May-2001   The Trawniki Identification Card
"Perhaps it is the case that when you saw a lynch mob passing by, you paused only long enough to notice that the mob was Jewish, and that its intended victim was Ukrainian, before yourself grabbing a torch, and leaping to the front of the mob." Lubomyr Prytulak
Correction: Subsequent to having written the letter below, Lubomyr Prytulak was informed that the German "Seitengewehr" does mean "bayonet" (as is correctly stated below), but cannot also mean "hand gun" (as is erroneously stated below).

Alan M. Dershowitz
Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law
520 Hauser Hall
Harvard Law School
1575 Massachusetts Avenue
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA   02138

Alan Dershowitz:

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  1. The Low Point For John Demjanjuk

    Following his 18-Apr-1988 Jerusalem conviction for the crimes of Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka in 1942-1943, John Demjanjuk's already-sunken fortunes hit rock bottom.  The Israeli court sentenced him to death on 25-Apr-1988, whereupon the audience of which you claim to have been a member erupted in chants of "Death! Death! Death!", shouted, sang, danced, whistled, clapped its hands, stamped its feet, and climbed up on the seats.  John Demjanjuk's prospects seemed bleak indeed:

    In December [1988] [Yoram] Sheftel, [Paul] Chumak, and [Dov] Eitan will argue the appeal before a new panel of five judges from the Israeli Supreme Court.  Given the unequivocal tone of the verdict and the fact that the defense has yet to produce new witnesses or, for that matter, more convincing arguments, it is not likely that Demjanjuk will win.  The president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, has the power to set aside the death sentence, but journalists and lawyers who follow the case in Israel predict that Herzog will let the verdict stand.

    Even Sheftel is not optimistic.  "There are substantially more chances the appeal will be rejected than that it will succeed," he says soberly.  "Because of this, most likely Mr. Demjanjuk is going to be hanged."
    Susan Adams, Ivan the Terrible's terrible defense, The American Lawyer, Oct-1988, pp. 147-157, p. 157.

    It did not help that on 29-Nov-1988, the recent addition to the defense team, former Israeli judge Dov Eitan, was pushed to his death from the 15th floor of an office tower, or leapt voluntarily as some prefer to have it.  It did not help that at Eitan's funeral on 01-Dec-1988, defense attorney Yoram Sheftel had acid splashed into his face.  It did not help that from his prison cell last occupied by Adolf Eichmann John Demjanjuk could hear the hammering of his gibbet being constructed.

  2. To Which You Helped Drag Him

    In the publicity campaign aimed at convincing the public that John Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, and more particularly in convincing the public that the Trawniki Identification Card the only WW II documentary evidence presented by Demjanjuk prosecutors was authentic and inculpatory, you played a leading role:

    The second kind of evidence was an identification card with the name and photograph of Ivan Demjanjuk.  Since the card placed him in an SS camp that trained guards for duty at the death camps and showed him wearing an SS uniform, the defense was forced to claim that the damning card was a forgery.  The card had been turned over to the prosecution by the Soviet Union, thus giving rise to complaints from members of the Ukrainian community that it was part of a KGB plot to frame the Ukrainian.  But scientific evidence established its authenticity and proved that the man in the photo was Demjanjuk.
    Alan M. Dershowitz, Chutzpah, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1991, p. 166.

    These crimes are proved by documentary evidence that has been authenticated by some of the world's leading experts.  The evidence includes an identification card bearing Demjanjuk's photograph, his name (Ivan Demjanjuk) and his description.  Although Buchanan at first claimed that the card was a "forgery," he now seems to acknowledge that it is authentic and, in fact, cites it in support of his current claim that Demjanjuk is not the man who was known as Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.
    Alan Dershowitz, Boston Herald, unknown date.

    However, before writing statements that push a man toward the gallows which is what you were doing when you wrote the statements above one would expect you to have acquainted yourself with the chief defects of the Trawniki Identification Card, and to have satisfied yourself of your ability to refute all such defects beyond the standard of a reasonable doubt.

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  1. The Demjanjuk Trawniki Identification Card

    The Demjanjuk Trawniki Identification Card, to assist you in refreshing your memory, is shown below, along with a translation of all material appearing on the original card.  Larger images of the card are available for inspection at www.ukar.org/idcard.html.  Much of the handwriting on the card for example, all handwriting on the outside left panel is in Russian, in purple ink, apparently written on 12-Mar-1948 by Z. Bazilevskaya, a female translator working for the MGB, a successor after WW II of the Cheka-GPU-NKVD, and precursor of the KGB the translator's signature and date occupy the last two lines on of the outside left panel.  Most of the Russian notation simply translates the German that is nearby, and is in turn translated into English at www.ukar.org/idrussia.htm.

    Left Panel               Outside               Right Panel

    Space for Notations by the Office:

    The Representative of the Reichsführer-SS
    For the Establishment of SS and Police Bases
    In the New Eastern Territory



    The            Demjanjuk, Ivan          
    (Name of Bearer)

    is employed as a guard in the Guard Units of the Reich Leader of the SS for the Establishment of SS and Police Bases in the New Eastern Territory.

    [Stamp:] The SS and Police Chief in the Lublin District  [The German reads top: "Der SS und Polizeiführer", and bottom "Im Distrikt Lublin"]
    [Signature:  Karl] Streibel
    [Red] is explanatory material that I have added, Blue is handwritten, Gray is typed.

    Left Panel               Inside               Right Panel
    Equipment received:
    Height:   175 cm  [5'9"] Cap: 1    Belt:  
    Facial type:   Oval Coat: 2    Holster:  
    Hair:   Dark Blond Blouse: 1    Gloves:  
    Eyes:   Gray Pants: 1  Undershirt: 2  
    Distinguishing Features:   Scar on back Boots:    Underpants: 2  
      Shoes: 1  Wool vests:  
    Socks: 1  Swimming Trunks  
    Family Name:   Demjanjuk Foot Wrapping:    Backpack 1  
    First Name and Father's First Name:  Ivan/Nikolai Utensils:      
    Birth Date:   03 Apr 1920 Bread Bag:      
    Birth place:   Duboimachariwzi/Saporosche Drinking Cup:      
    Nationality:   Ukrainian Field Flask:      
    Assigned on  22 Sep 1942  to  L.G. Okzow Wool Blankets: 1  
    Assigned on  27 Mar 1943  to  Sobibor Rifle No.:  
    Assigned on               to Side Arm No.:  
    Assigned on               to Issued: Received in Order:
    Assigned on               to [Ernst] Teufel Demjanjuk
      SS-Rottenführer [Corporal]  
    [Red] is explanatory material that I have added, Blue is handwritten, Gray is typed.

  2. Three Other Trawniki Identification Cards

    Juchnowskij, Iwan
    Wolembachow, Iwan
    Demjanjuk, Iwan
    Bondarenko, Mykola
    From the first appearance of an image of the Demjanjuk Trawniki Identification Card in the News From Ukraine issue of Sep-1977, until the middle of the Demjanjuk trial in Jerusalem in 1987, the Demjanjuk Card was thought to be the only one in existence.  However, in 1987, the Soviets supplied, unannounced, three other cards, making a total of four in existence.  The names on the four cards (German transliterations of Slavic names, which is where "Iwan" comes from instead of "Ivan"), along with the identification numbers, were as shown opposite.  Thus, when I speak of the "Trawniki Identification Card", or simply the "Trawniki Card" it will be the Demjanjuk Trawniki Identification Card that I am referring to, otherwise I will prefix my reference with the surname of the putative bearer, as in the "Bondarenko Trawniki Card".

Reference will often be made below to the 1987-1988 show trial of John Demjanjuk in Jerusalem in which he was convicted and sentenced to death for crimes committed in 1942-1943 as Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.  Presiding over this show trial were the three Israeli judges, Dov Levin from the Supreme Court of Israel, and Zvi Tal and Dalia Dorner from the District Court.  In the present letter, it will be convenient to refer to the three as Levin-Tal-Dorner.

Some reasons for doubting the authenticity of the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card are as follows:

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  1. The Photograph Came From Some Other Document

    The photograph on the Trawniki Card has two staple holes to the right of John Demjanjuk's face, but no staple.  There are no corresponding staple holes in the card itself.  Of the two photographs on the other three Trawniki Cards (the Bondarenko photo was missing), none had staple holes, suggesting that some prior stapling of the photo was not a usual procedure in creating a Trawniki Card.  From this one might conclude that the Demjanjuk photograph was taken from some other document to which it had been stapled, and then had been glued to the Trawniki Card.

    What that other document was, and who performed the transfer, and when and where and why these things the KGB chose not to disclose, and this lack of disclosure undermines the authenticity of the card.

  2. The Original Photograph May Have Been Removed

    The animated image opposite contains the upper-right corner of the outside of the card, together with the same corner viewed from the inside, but left-right reversed.  Two holes which could be staple holes can be seen to have penetrated the card.  If these are staple holes, then as the holes are closer together than the ones in the photograph, the staple that created them must have been smaller.

    What we saw higher above, then, is that the photograph presently glued to the Trawniki Card appears to have been taken from some other document to which it had been stapled, and what we are seeing now is the suggestion that a photograph that had earlier been stapled to the Trawniki Card was removed.

    Arguing against the hypothesis that these two staple holes, if that is what they are, once held some other photograph is that they would have attached only to one edge of the photograph, making it susceptible to being torn off.  Thus, it might have been the case either that the earlier photograph had been held on primarily by glue, and only reinforced by a single staple, or else that a second staple had held that earlier photograph's opposite edge.  Searching the card for a matching pair of staple holes that might have indicated attachment of an earlier photograph by its opposite edge fails to turn up a clear find, but it does turn up something that looks like a hole in approximately the right location visible on the outside right panel, within the second "e" in Dienstausweis.  This falls far short of confirming the hypothesis of a second staple holding the hypothetical missing photograph, as no partner hole is evident that would have indicated that this is one of a pair of holes that could have been caused by a single staple, and in any case, if this is a hole in the card, it would have appeared to the right of the photo on the inside left panel, which it does not.

    In view of the doctoring that has been performed in connection with the Trawniki Card, and in view of the incomplete and inept expert analysis that the card has undergone to date, and in view of the secrecy that has always surrounded, and that continues to surround, the card all of which will be demonstrated below one must view as still open the question of just how many holes the card contains and what the significance of these holes might be.  Opposite, for example, can be seen three holes in a row through the card one large and two small which had they not been placed within an animation would (in the poor-quality reproductions available to us) be mistaken for ink spots.  The distance between the outer holes is similar to the distance between the pair of holes in the animation above, suggesting the possibility that the triplet too may have originated from a staple the large hole being produced perhaps by the staple being torn out, and the middle hole perhaps by one of the tips of the staple aiming inward upon application, or perhaps by having to be dug out upon removal.  Though we can't make much of this triplet here, forensics experts might be able to make something of it in a laboratory, had they access to the original card.  Experts might also look for indentations in the card that appear on either side of staple holes, like the ones visible in the image of a Kennkarte identification card below.  An inventory and analysis of all holes would contribute toward clarifying the meaning of the card.

  3. The Staple Holes In The Photograph Contained Purple Ink

    The two staple holes in the photograph contained what appeared to be purple ink resembling the ink used by Z. Bazilevskaya to write her Russian translations on the card.  On 06-Nov-1987 somewhat late in the game to be doing such obvious work defense expert Julius Grant removed some of the material from the upper hole and compared it to a sample of ink from the Russian notation, observed a "dark patch separation" when he viewed the two in "short wave length ultra violet light", and from this concluded that the two inks were similar.  At that time, the bottom hole did not contain purple ink, said Julius Grant, because it "had already been examined by someone else".

    The question before us, then, is how Bazilevskaya's ink got into the staple holes.  Here are some possibilities:

    1. Ink seeped from back.  Bazilevskaya, or somebody, wrote on the back of the photograph, and the ink seeped through the staple holes to the front, a possibility suggested by Julius Grant (Trial Transcript, 11-Nov-1987, p. 9741).  Given this possibility, it becomes imperative that the card be removed to see if anything is written on the back, as the defense repeatedly pleads:

      I feel that if it was possible to remove the photograph, one might clear up a lot of these controversial points.  But I can't talk about things that I haven't done.
      Julius Grant, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 10-Nov-1987, p. 9624.

      Observers who are not members of the defense team like Phoenix attorney William J. Wolf are sometimes dumbfounded at the sight of the defense being forbidden to look underneath the card:

      I have criticized the three-judge panel for refusing to allow the defense document expert, William Flynn, to examine the underside of the photograph contained on the alleged Trawniki identity card, and for other rulings.  As a lawyer, I see it as absolutely incredible that in a capital case a defense expert would not be allowed to do whatever testing he deems appropriate to test the authenticity of the evidence.
      William J. Wolf, This is the road I wish to travel, Ukrainian Weekly, 23-Oct-1988.

      Pleas to be allowed to view the back of the photograph don't elicit in the prosecution-judiciary coalition any sense of obligation to satisfy defense curiousity, and don't seem to elicit any corresponding curiousity on the part of the coalition either.  Judge Zvi Tal asks disingenuously "what would be the point of examining the back of the photograph (p. 9741)" and prosecutor Michael Shaked says bluntly of the photograph, "I promise you it won't be removed (p. 9760)".  The appearance that the coalition does not fear to project is that it has already looked under the photograph, and does not want to share with the defense what it saw.  Supporting this interpretation are two pieces of evidence:

      • Prosecution expert witness Gideon Epstein testified that in 1981 "the photograph was loose enough to move with your hand, so that you could get some sort of play into the photograph", whereas in 1987 in Israel, "I found that the photograph was very firmly affixed so that it could not be moved" (Trial Transcript, 11-May-1987, pp. 5873-5874).  In other words, the photograph had been re-glued, to accomplish which it would have had to be removed.

      • Yellow stains on the outside right panel of the card looked to the defense like they could have been glue solvent that had penetrated from the inside left panel when the photograph had been removed.  Gideon Epstein said that it was the glue itself that had penetrated the card, which, however, is less plausible as glue would have been more viscous than solvent and thus less penetrating.  In any case, no laboratory analysis to determine the origin of the yellow stains was ever conducted (Trial Transcript, 11-May-1987, pp. 5876-5877), which might lead to the question of why an expert who has it within his power to answer a question by means of laboratory analysis prefers to omit the analysis and venture an opinion anyway.

      There is some chance, in other words, that the prosecution is covering up exculpatory information lying underneath the photograph.  In some jurisdications aspiring to Western standards of justice, no more than this degree of obstruction of defense evaluation of evidence might have been needed to raise a doubt of its authenticity.
    2. Disguise the holes as ink spots.  KGB forgers wanted to pass the staple holes off as ink spots.  Not likely to succeed, but nobody had any better ideas, and no harm done if it didn't work.  Julius Grant mentions this possibility on p. 9760 of the Trial Transcript.
    3. Tie the photo to the card.  The KGB wished to give the impression that since Bazilevskaya's 1948 ink was on the photograph, the photograph must have been attached to the card no later than 1948, and thus possibly 1942.  However, the consensus of expert testimony at the trial seemed to be that the date of application of the ink on the Trawniki Card could not be determined, and so both Bazilevskaya's notation and the ink inside the staple holes could have been applied at different dates.
    4. Bazilevskaya doodled.  Bazilevskaya was fooling around, and playfully let her pen touch the staple holes in the photo? Rather unprofessional to be defacing documents on which she was working, and thoughtless of her to leave evidence, in the purple ink, of who the author of the defacing had been.  As all interpretations but this one cast doubt on the Trawniki Card's authenticity, this is the interpretation that Levin-Tal-Dorner favored (as on p. 9740 of the Trial Transcript).
    Dieter Lehner, Du sollst nicht falsch Zeugnis geben, Kurt Vowinckel KG, D-8137 Berg am See, 1977, p. 64.  Note that the wing tip points above the hyphen.

  4. Problems With The Two Seals Overlapping the Photograph

    Card-photo misalignment of seals

    One obstacle which designers of identification cards place in the path of counterfeiters who want to switch photographs on a card is the seals (that is, the ink images applied by rubber stamps), that overlap both photograph and card.  That is, counterfeiters will often be faced with the task of either drawing a seal on the photograph which matches the seal already on the card, or drawing one on the card which matches one already on the photograph, neither of which is going to be easy.  Are there seals on the photograph inside the Trawniki Card, and can we say that these seals are credible?

    It turns out that there are two such seals overlapping the photograph on the inside of the Trawniki Card, one on the lower left of the photograph, and one on the upper right, as reproduced below.  At the John Demjanjuk denaturalization hearing in front of judge Frank Battisti in Cleveland in 1981, prosecution expert witness Dr. Wolfgang Scheffler testified that the two seals are two instances of the seal opposite, where Standortverwaltung in the German army lexicon signified the unit responsible for providing housing and equipment in an administrative district, in this case Lublin, and where Zweigstelle Trawniki means "Branch office, Trawniki":

    However, Dr. Scheffler's testimony nevertheless verified the historical accuracy of the indicia found on the card.  Particularly, Scheffler noted that the two stamps overlapping the photograph bear the legend: "SS Standortverwaltung Lublin, Zweigstelle Trawniki."
    Frank Battisti, United States v. Demjanjuk, Memorandum Decision and Order, Cite as 518 F. Sup. 1382 (1981), p. 1367.

    Prosecution expert witness Gideon Epstein, testifying in Jerusalem in 1987, similarly concluded that the two seals were produced by the same stamp:

    [T]he conclusion was that we were using one and the same stamp.  That one stamp was used both at the top and at the bottom of the seal or the photograph.
    Gideon Epstein, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, p. 5871.  The meaning is unambiguous even if the wording is sown with the same confusion that typifies the rest of the transcript.

    The Bondarenko Card wing tip
    points below the hyphen
    The eagle's right wing-tip pointing at the hyphen in SS-Standortverwaltung above is also evident in the lower-left seal below, where the same wing-tip is visible in the margin of the photo, pointing at the same hyphen.  Actually, small differences indicate that the two seals above and below are not identical, as for example: (1) above, the wing tip points just above the hyphen (and the wing tip curves upward), whereas below, it points directly at the hyphen (and is flat); (2) above, the hyphen lies closer to the preceding "SS", whereas below, the hyphen is centered between the characters on either side; and (3) the central arms of the swastika do not point at the same characters in the surrounding text of the seal.  Do such small differences indicate that one of the seals is forged, or merely that different versions of a rubber stamp need not have been produced by exactly the same die?  The same seal appears on the Bondarenko Trawniki Card (even though the photograph is missing), and here we see a third variation the hyphen lies closer to the following text, and the wing tip points below the hyphen (the Juchnowskij and Wolembachow cards have entirely different seals overlapping the photograph).

    Note that the wing tip points at the hyphen.
    Shown opposite, with white letters A, B, and C, and white circles, added, are the two seals that overlap both photograph and card on the Demjanjuk Trawniki Identification Card.

    A defect which readily catches our attention is that both seals show gross deviation from circularity, as for example in the left seal near the "F" in "Familienname".  Of course we could make up some harmless explanation of how this might have happened.  We could, for example, suppose that the rubber stamp, or stamps, fell on the ground and were trampled by hobnailed Nazi jackboots before being picked up, and remained somewhat deformed from the trampling.  The Trawniki Card is burdened by a large number of defects that have to be explained away by imaginary scenarios to lend it credibility.

    More importantly, there may be a lack of correspondence between the seal on the card and the seal on the photograph, suggestive again of the possibility that the photograph does not belong to the card.  The prosecution attempted to explain away such lack of correspondence by supposing that the photo had at one time fallen off the card, and was imperfectly re-aligned when glued back on.  However, this explanation may not work.

    Consider, for example, that at A and B above, the photograph looks like it needs to be rotated clockwise for its seal to better align with the seal on the card.  If this were the case, however, we would expect to see an existing gap between card and photo seals at C which would be filled by such a clockwise rotation; however, no such gap is visible at C, and this prohibits us from performing the clockwise rotation, and so leaves us unable to rectify the poor fits at A and B.

    If, in turn, we ask what repositioning of the photo would be needed at C to produce a better-formed seal, the answer would have to be a counter-clockwise rotation this because both at the top and bottom, we see the seal approaching too close to the white circle, such that the seal would come closer to circular if its curvature on the right were sharpened, which could be achieved by a counter-clockwise rotation of the photo at C.  However, improving the curvature at C by means of counter-clockwise rotation of the photo would only make things worse at A and B, where as we have seen, it was a clockwise rotation that seemed called for.

    Perhaps it is the case, then, that lack of alignment or of proper curvature at any one point can indeed be rectified by some alternative positioning of the photo, but that whatever benefit such a re-positioning may bring to that one point may always make things worse at other points.

    Wolf in sheep's clothing?

    Myroslaw Dragan circulated a lengthy document (57 pages of text followed by 213 pages of exhibits) titled "Documentation of the Forgery of John Demjanjuk's Trawniki Card", 06-Feb-1990, in which he claimed to see the word Waffen in the upper-right seal, and concluded that at the time of the creation of the Trawniki card 1942 this word constituted an anachronism which proved that the seal was forged.  The animation below, consisting of three images, will throw light on this claim:

    1. No Waffen.  The image with the writing in the seal on the Demjanjuk photograph least visible is from a 20x14 cm, glossy reproduction (possibly issued by prosecutors) that I thought up to now was my best image of the card.
    2. Hint of Waffen.  The image appearing after that (the one on which my scanning produced a moiré pattern) is from Dieter Lehner's book, Du sollst nicht falsch Zeugnis geben (1977, p. 33), and seems to show some of the letters of Standortverwaltung, and also laid out along an inner circle, perhaps a faint "W" where none was apparent before.
    3. More Waffen.  The last image has a graduated ruler covering the bottom, and is supplied by Myroslaw Dragan.  (It would not hurt to begin wondering right now what Dragan's motive might have been for including a ruler in this image.)  In this third image, the letters of Standortverwaltung are clearer, and the "W" is clearer as well, and following the "W" emerges out of nothingness, or at best out of smudges, the beginning of the word "Waffen".

    To explain this emerging Waffen, three hypotheses spring to mind:

    1. Dragan has the best photo.  The photograph of this region available to Myroslaw Dragan is of superior quality to my own and to Lehner's, which permits Dragan to see things that Lehner and I can't.
    2. Dragan forged to save Demjanjuk.  Myroslaw Dragan was so anxious to win the exculpation of John Demjanjuk that he doctored this seal with the word Waffen which he considered to be exculpatory, and above that within the seal he used his pencil to outline some of the letters within Standortverwaltung so that they would match Waffen in clarity and legibility.
    3. Dragan forged to destroy Demjanjuk.  Myroslaw Dragan doctored the image, but not out of anxiety to exculpate John Demjanjuk.  Rather, Dragan was in the employ either of the KGB or the Israeli prosecution, and was attempting either (1) to discredit the defense by luring it into relying on his doctored material, or (2) to distract defense attention away from real evidence capable of showing that the upper-right seal was forged (discussed below under the heading "The upper-right seal really is forged"), and (3) to divert Demjanjuk-support contributions away from the Demjanjuk defense team to himself in recognition of the ground-breaking research he gave the appearance of conducting on the card.

      The possibility that Myroslaw Dragan is a KGB agent has been under public discussion for some time, as for example in Jacek Wilczur's article, Korona Cierniowa, published in the Warsaw weekly Przeglad Tygodniowy of 09-Jun-1991, where Dragan's full name is given as Myroslaw Iwan Franz Dragan and where he is cited as claiming to be a "Doctor of Psychiatry".  If there is truth to the accusation that Dragan works for the KGB as opposed to being merely a hobbyist provocateur then his intervention in the Demjanjuk case, and in particular his dissemination of his confusing and distracting Trawniki Identification Card analyses, arouses suspicions that the Kremlin is not content to let the evaluation of the card proceed according to the dictates of disinterested forensic science, but sees some need to influence that evaluation.

    We are able to reject the first of the above hypotheses that Waffen can really be discerned within the seal for the following reasons:

    1. The ruler is a tuft of grass.  Dragan's placing of a graduated ruler over the card has as its chief purpose the covering up of a region of the stamp that should display the counter-clockwise continuation of the lettering that Dragan has begun drawing in, but which continuation he realized he lacked the knowledge and skill to extrapolate convincingly.

      This ruler reminds me of certain tufts of grass.  A young relative of mine once showed me a drawing she had made of a horse each of whose feet happened to be standing in a tuft of tall grass.  I immediately said, "So, you can't draw hoofs!" which she remembers to this day several decades later, and acknowledges as the reason for the tufts.  This ruler of Dragan's plays the same role as those tufts of grass it covers up the area counter-clockwise to the forged Waffen which would have been difficult to draw in.  The ruler serves also to cover up the Zweigstelle Trawniki which would otherwise be visible in the seal if allowed to appear, its characters would contrast with Dragan's written-in characters, and the evident difference would reveal the forgery.
    2. Poorly-drawn letters.  The letters in the Dragan version can be seen to be drawn in by hand.  The lines are uniformly pencil-line thin.  The bases of the letters do not sit on circular, concentric paths.  The letters are unevenly spaced.
    3. Card darkening.  The darkening of the card on which the photograph sits serves the same purpose as the ruler it releases Dragan from the obligation of extending his forged lettering, this time into the area clockwise to where he began it.
    4. Scrawled "tu".
        The writing of "tu" from the end of Standortverwaltung on the dark card just to the right of the photograph is unmistakable proof that doctoring has taken place this "tu" is plainly handwritten, is much larger than the letters to its left on the photograph, and dips its bases far below the bases of the preceding letters in the word.  It was the inability to avoid slovenliness such as this that mandated the darkening of the card in the Dragan forgery.  The lack of proportion between this "tu" and the preceding letters of the word Standortverwaltung can be appreciated in the animated image above.
    5. Photocopier malfunction.
        The appearance of fine, white, vertical lines on the darkened card (which, however, do not cut through anything printed, typed, or written on the card) was produced by a malfunctioning photocopier used to create a dark background.  Following that, a photocopier that was working better was used to copy the Trawniki Card to the vertically-striated dark background, which is why the vertical striation does not cut through the printing-typing-writing on the card.  The last step was to montage the light photograph of John Demjanjuk and the light graduated ruler.  Forgery does not get any easier to detect than this.  The vertical striation is also apparent in the animated image above.
    6. Margin of photo drawn in.  The dark line along the border between the photo and the card especially along the top has been drawn in by Dragan.
    7. The "5" modified.  Looking at the Dragan "5" in the "175" shows its loop heading upward as it shoots off the edge of our animated image, whereas in the two other versions the loop is flat at this point.

    In his forgery, Myroslaw Dragan conjures up before our eyes the spectacle of John Demjanjuk beset not only by his acknowledged persecutors, but beset also at best by supporters who do more harm than good, and at worst by secret agents sowing disinformation in their attempt to speed him to his destruction.  One of the disadvantages of trying John Demjanjuk in Israel is that it made it impossible for him to subpoena individuals like Myroslaw Dragan so as to be able to put them under oath and ask them what they thought they were doing when they attempted to introduce forged material into a capital case, and what encouragement and assistance they had from others when they did so.  Our society is cursed by individuals to whom sowing disinformation is a way of life, and who have begun to imagine that because no sanctions have as yet been applied to them, that no sanctions exist.

    But what about the "W" in the Lehner version?  I can't say.  It seems too well-formed to be random markings.  Perhaps there is more than one forger at work, the later building on a foundation supplied by the earlier.  One awaits a high-definition, color view of the card before speculating further.

    The upper-right seal really is forged

    Although the only evidence of forgery that Myroslaw Dragan supplies is evidence of his own forgery, perhaps the following analysis will demonstrate that the upper-right seal is indeed forged.

    If the two seals were created using the same rubber stamp, then we expect the two seals to be identical.  As the region of Zweigstelle Trawniki is the most legible in the upper-right seal, it is within these two words that a comparison will be made.

    The animated image below shows the lower-left seal together with the upper-right seal, the latter rotated 37º clockwise.  In viewing this animated image, it is necessary to attend to the seal itself, and to blot out from awareness all the other material which changes wildly from one frame to the next, and is not helpful.  If a more leisurely examination of the individual images is desired, they are available just above, but of course with the upper-right seal not rotated 37º clockwise.  For ease of reference, the rotated seal will be spoken of as the "tipped seal".  The degree of rotation of the tipped seal attempted to place the middle "e" in Zweigstelle at the bottom of the seal, which is approximately where it is in the untipped seal.  This middle "e" is marked by a white bar.  Two other letters, one on each side of the white-barred "e", are themselves marked with white dots.

    The white dot on the left marks the "s" in Zweigstelle.  This "s" is significant for two reasons.  First, this "s" can be seen to be closer to the white bar in the tipped seal, indicating that the letters are being written closer together.  (Attend only to the white bar and the white dot on the left to see this effect.)  Second, this "s" is given so little room in the tipped seal that it is drawn more like a vertical line containing a couple of weak bends.  In contrast, the "s" in the untipped seal is fully rounded and uncrowded.

    The "t" immediately following this same white-dotted "s" can be seen to have been rotated clockwise in the tipped seal.

    Looking in turn at the white dot on the right, we see that it marks the "w" in Trawniki.  The contrasting placement of the "w" serves to underline how very much more cramped are the letters in the tipped seal.  (Attend only to the white bar and the white dot on the right to appreciate this.)

    Although it is hard to see exactly where the Zweigstelle Trawniki begins and ends, particularly in the upper-right stamp, a rough guess followed by an approximate measurement of angle indicates that the two words in the lower-left seal subtend an angle of 120º, and in the upper-right seal subtend an angle of only 100º.

    Thus, we are faced with the quandary that two experts who examined the original card accepted the two seals as containing identical wording with Gideon Epstein going so far as to conclude that what appeared to be two seals were in fact "one and the same stamp" and yet when the seals are rotated to the same orientation and superimposed in an animated image, the tipped seal can be seen to contain letters that are more crowded, as well as a malformed "s", as well as a "t" that is rotated clockwise.  The experts having failed to notice these differences leaves the impression that what they offered as their expert testimony in the Demjanjuk proceedings was sometimes no better than their flippant first impression.

    What the animated image above reveals as a discrepant upper-right seal calls to mind at least the following three hypotheses:

    1. Scheffler and Epstein were wrong.  Prosecution expert witnesses Dr. Wolfgang Scheffler and Gideon Epstein were wrong to conclude that the two stamps were the same.  Although they may share some words, in fact they are quite different stamps, and so should not be expected to allocate equal spacing to the words that they do happen to share.

      This hypothesis is weakened by the failure to actually observe any differences in what is written on the two stamps, not counting Dragan's Waffen, that is.
    2. A good rubber stamp and a bad rubber stamp.  Two different rubber stamps were in use at Trawniki.  They contained the same words, but on one stamp the letters were spread out and well formed, while on the other stamp the letters were jammed together and poorly formed.  Trawniki personnel did not dispose of the defective stamp, but rather saw virtue in using it alongside the non-defective stamp within a single document.

      But what virtue could anyone have seen in employing two equivalent rubber stamps, one of reasonable quality and the other of poor quality?  Two equivalent stamps would complicate the work of the stamper, and would invite confusion as to which stamp should be applied where; and would complicate the work of an official verifying the identity of someone bearing the card, because the official would have two visual patterns to learn to recognize as valid on the identification card, instead of only one.

      Furthermore, no evidence was presented at the trial of the existence on any other document anywhere of an equivalent seal but in which the letters were jammed together and which contained a malformed "s", which is hardly surprising given that nobody at the trial appears to have taken the trouble to notice the appearance of this degraded version of the seal on the Trawniki Card.
    3. A real seal and a forged seal.  One of the seals is a forged imitation of the other, and where the forger did a poor job duplicating the spacing and the proper letter formation of the original.  Little care was taken in forging the upper-right seal because it was thought its defects would be offset by its faintness, making it an unpromising subject for close scrutiny.

      But why might anyone have needed to forge the upper-right seal on the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card?  The other three Trawniki Cards each have only one seal overlapping the photo, so the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card would have been acceptable with only the lower-left seal, and the upper-right seal would not have been missed.

      An occasion for forging some particular seal may arise upon adding a photo to a card to which it does not belong.  Under such circumstances, it may occur that either (a) the card already contains a seal at a location where the photo does not, so that the seal has to be extended to the photo, or that (b) the photo already contains a seal at a location where the card does not, so that the seal has to be extended to the card.

      For example, suppose that the card has already been stamped only on the lower-left, but the photo which is going to be added to the card has already been stamped only on the upper-right this would require the forging of a seal on the photo on the lower-left, and on the card on the upper-right, resulting in two seals where other cards might have only one.  Other predicaments calling for seal forgery can be imagined.

      The supposition that the Demjanjuk Card upper-right seal is the deviant one that has been forged is somewhat bolstered by the observation that the Bondarenko version of the seal has the spread-out lettering, and the well-formed "s", of the Demjanjuk lower-left seal.

    As no one appears to have noticed the difference between the two seals before this time, one may consider that examinations of the card to date especially those conducted by Dr. Wolfgang Scheffler and Gideon Epstein have been cursory, superficial, erroneous, and misleading.

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  1. The "Demjanjuk" Signature Was Not Written By John Demjanjuk

    A standard German identification card would contain a space for Unterschrift des Inhabers (Signature of Bearer), in which we would expect to find a signature which included the first and last names of the bearer.  This, however, is strangely not the case on the Trawniki Card.  There is no space marked Unterschrift des Inhabers, and there is no full signature.

    What the Trawniki Card does contain is only a surname signature "Demjanjuk" in Ukrainian whose purpose is acknowledgement of receipt of items listed just above on the card.  This surname signature appears under the German Richtig empfangen, meaning "received in order".

    In any case, although it may be a significant flaw that the Trawniki Card lacks a space for a full signature and that no full signature appears, it is a fatal flaw that the Cyrillic "Demjanjuk" that does appear does not resemble known signatures of John Demjanjuk.

    All copies of the Trawniki Card signature that I have seen are of poor quality, with the initial "De" being so faint that parts are invisible, and the terminal "k" being largely invisible.  Two versions of this Trawniki signature are reproduced below.  I also have 41 samples of John Demjanjuk's signature on letters that he wrote from Ayalon prison in Israel during his incarceration there from Feb-1986 to Sep-1993, and reproduce two typical examples below:

       Trawniki signature
    one version
       Trawniki signature
    another version
       Demjanjuk signature
       Demjanjuk signature

    • Continuity

      Leaping out at us in the above comparison is that in the Trawniki signature, the lower-case letters are joined (that is, written continuously, with the pen not being lifted from the paper), whereas in the Demjanjuk signature (with the exception of the fifth and sixth letters), they are written separately.

    • Slant

      The Demjanjuk signatures are considerably more slanted than is the Trawniki signature.

    • D

      The Demjanjuk "D" is wider, and its final curve is flatter than the Trawniki "D".  Also, the Demjanjuk "D" typically starts with an upstroke, but as this can be light, and as the Trawniki "D" is faint, one cannot be certain that the Trawniki "D" is missing such an upstroke.  Perhaps it is the case that the Trawniki "D" ends in a decreasing spiral to the left of the main downward stem a spiral which makes no appearance in any of John Demjanjuk's known signatures but in the Trawniki signatures in my possession, this is uncertain.  William J. Flynn's testimony, based presumably on a more legible signature, indicates that the "D" does indeed end in such an unusual decreasing spiral:

      [T]he formation of the capital letter "D" in Demjanjuk terminates in an inward spiral on the left side of the staff of the "D" nowhere onany of the known signatures does that occur.
      Trial Transcript, 23-Nov-1987, p. 10550.  Absence of sentence boundary, and "onany" are in the original.

    • E

      The Demjanjuk "e" is smaller and flatter than the large and round Trawniki "e".

    • M

      The Demjanjuk "m" starts with a smaller initial curl than the humongous one in the Trawniki "m" a curl so large, in fact, that it makes contact with the preceding "e".

    • Apostrophe

      In a sample of 41 Demjanjuk signatures in my possession, an apostrophe was written 30/41 times, as in the examples above; the Trawniki signature, however, lacks the apostrophe.

    • Ja

      The "ja" in the English "Demjanjuk" stands for a single Cyrillic character which looks like a capital R facing backward, and which is pronounced something like "jah".  In examples written by myself at (1), this letter is spread out to show how it is formed, and at (2) it is shown written properly, not spread out.  At (3) is a spread-out demonstration of how the stem is sometimes not carried right to the top the way it should be, and at (4) is demonstrated that when such a shortened stem is better aligned with the oval, its shortness is not as readily apparent.  The two Demjanjuk signatures above correspond to versions (3) and (4).  The Trawniki signature, in contrast, corresponds to version (5), which is radically different the stem is very short, does not reach a sharp peak but is rounded, and is displaced far to the right.

      Examining the Russian written on the card by MGB translator Z. Bazilevskaya, putatively on 12-Mar-1948, we see her making her "ja" in a manner that resembles the Trawniki-signature "ja" in its treatment of the upward stem, although in the first two instances ending hers on a downstroke because there was no ensuing letter to which to join in the first instance because the "ja" appeared at the end of her own signature, and in the second instance because it came from her rendering of "Demjanjuk" which she did writing in disconnected letters, to enhance clarity one imagines.  But when there is an ensuing letter, as in the third instance, we see her continuing her "ja" into an upstroke so as to connect.

      We note too that Bazilevskaya's slant is closer to that of the Trawniki signature than John Demjanjuk's is, and that as the apostrophe is never used in Russian, she never uses it, which too brings her handwriting closer to that in the Trawniki signature.

      This demonstration invites the conclusion that randomly selecting any writer of Ukrainian or Russian may provide a closer fit to the Trawniki signature than John Demjanjuk does, a moral that Bazilevskaya will assist us in echoing a couple of more times below.  We may say that given a choice of concluding that Bazilevskaya wrote the Trawniki "Demjanjuk" signature or that John Demjanjuk did, an inspection of their respective hands would indicate that she did.

    • N

      The "n" in the English "Demjanjuk" stands for a Cyrillic character that looks like a capital H, and is pronounced like the English "n".  At (1) is shown how the letter is formed, with loops added to clarify the path of the pen, and where (2) shows the conventional rendering which follows a similar path but lacks loops.  Version (3) is a guess at what has been written in the Trawniki signature, and which includes one large loop at the bottom of the first downward stroke.  The letter "n" is particularly revealing because in writing it, Demjanjuk traces a different path than the conventional one shared by versions (1) to (3) and used in the Trawniki signature Demjanjuk writes it in the variations shown at (4) and (5).

      In my opinion, it is the writing of the letter "n" which reveals the greatest discrepancy between the Trawniki and Demjanjuk signatures.  For the Trawniki signature to be accepted as John Demjanjuk's, it would be necessary (but not sufficient) to demonstrate that John Demjanjuk did sometimes form a Cyrillic "n" the way it is formed in samples (1) to (3).  The Demjanjuk "n" is so atypical of Cyrillic writing that one wonders whether he didn't pick it up from English, where the historical transition should be easy to demonstrate.

      In her Russian notation on the card, Bazilevskaya demonstrates that her Cyrillic "n" (in the middle case, a double "n") resembles sample (2) above, and is at least formed following the same path as in the Trawniki signature, and not the path followed in the Demjanjuk signatures.

    • Ju

      The "ju" in "Demjanjuk stands for a single Cyrillic character which looks like the number ten with a hyphen in the middle "1-0," and which is pronounced something like "you".  At (1) is shown the writing of the letter in which the closure (left incomplete so that its location can be noted) of the oval portion occurs at the top, where an English writer might put it.  However, a Ukrainian writer might more often prefer to place the point of closure of the oval farther left, as at (2), or even way off on the left side, as at (3), which are the two variations that can be seen in the Demjanjuk signatures above.  Variation (4) is one that a writer might use when intending to join the letter to some following letter, which however would be less frequent in Ukrainian or Russian, as they place less emphasis on joining letters in writing.  At (5) is something like the Trawniki version, with a large loop at the base of the downward stem, and a large loop at the beginning of the line moving off to the right to join the following letter both of which large loops in these locations are unknown in John Demjanjuk's writing.

      Bazilevskaya writes several "ju"s, but these are typically tiny and cramped and scrawled.  I do not count her "ju" when she writes "Demjanjuk," because the unconnected letters are atypical of her writing, being closer to printing than writing.  Her clearest written "ju" on the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card appears in the first of the two samples, and bears a marked resemblance to the Trawniki-signature "ju," both in the matter of the loop at the bottom of the downward stroke, and the continuation to the following letter from the top of the oval, and even with the suggestion of a loop at the beginning of that continuation line.  A "ju" that she wrote on a different Trawniki Card, one attributed to Bondarenko, is shown in the second of the two samples, and reveals an even stronger resemblance to the Trawniki signature "ju" note how the horizontal bar of the "ju" begins by sloping downward, and how the continuation line which departs for the following letter starts from the top of the oval with a distinctive loop.  To repeat: Bazilevskaya is a better candidate for authorship of the Trawniki "Demjanjuk" signature than John Demjanjuk is.

    • K

      One searches the Trawniki signature for some sign of the distinctive Demjanjuk "k" with its extravagant final "<" stroke, but fails to find it, the Trawniki "k" having been so unemphatic as to have largely faded away.  In a glimpse of the Trawniki signature in a videotape of a William Flynn adress to the UABA in 1988, it appeared that the Trawniki "k" was written following the path that would have been used in English one involving no pen lift which would make it radically different from the Demjanjuk "k" whose last stage consists of a pen lift before creating a large "<".

    In short, the Trawniki signature does not at all correspond to known Demjanjuk signatures.  If Demjanjuk's handwriting had changed over time (whether spontaneously or by design), then it should not have been a difficult matter to demonstrate this by comparing early samples to more recent ones, which demonstration however was never offered, but instead the observation that John Demjanjuk's signature had remained stable over the preceding 35 years (William Flynn, Trial Transcript, 23-Nov-1987, p. 10549).  Thus, where the prosecution was obligated to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Trawniki signature was written by John Demjanjuk, in fact the evidence indicates beyond a reasonable doubt that it was written by somebody else.

    Understanding that it was impossible to argue that the "Demjanjuk" signature was written by John Demjanjuk, the prosecution attempted as much as possible to simply skirt the issue, leading to such comical results as prosecution expert witness Gideon Epstein ignoring the "Demjanjuk" signature altogether during the entire interval of his involvement, right from 1980 through 1987 as if it did not constitute the single most important authenticating feature and yet nevertheless (without at that time having seen a single other instance of any similar card) going on to conclude that the Trawniki Card was genuine.  One may wonder whether the juxtaposition of the following three statements on the same day within the trial transcript could fail to raise eyebrows in anything but a show trial:

    • The prosecution's expert witness never looked at the Demjanjuk signature:

      JUDGE TAL:  Mr. Sheftel, did in the U.S. court this particular witness make reference to Demjanjuk's signature.  Will Mr. Sheftel please use the microphone, he is inaudible.

      SHEFTEL:  I am repeating, not at all, your honor, only Teufel's and Streibel's signatures.

      H.J. LEVIN:  Mr. Shaked, please.

      SHAKED:  May it please the court.  This witness's testimony in the United States consisted of two parts.

      H.J. LEVIN:  Let's leave the United States apart.  You submitted the contents of his opinion on the 30th of May 1986.  Have you submitted any other opinion since then?

      SHAKED:  No, your honor.

      H.J. LEVIN:  So it refers to two signatures only.

      SHAKED:  That is so.
      Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 07-May-1987, pp. 5751-5752.

    • The prosecution's expert witness had no other Trawniki Identification Card to compare the questioned Card to:

      Q:  In this particular case, do you know or have you received the information that the questioned document itself, Taf 149, is the only document that has ever been found that is like that?

      A:  It is my understanding that this is the only document of its type that can be found, yes.
      Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 07-May-1987, p. 5770.  Question asked by defense attorney, John Gill; answer given by prosecution expert witness, Gideon Epstein.

    • And yet the prosecution's expert witness concluded that the Trawniki Identification Card was genuine:

      In light of the various examinations that I conducted of the document, at the Soviet Embassy, on February 27th 1981, and later of the signatures and the comparison of that writing and the identification of the individuals Streibel and Teufel as making those signatures, my conclusion to the overall document is that it is a genuine document, that it does not bear any evidence of being authored, text substituted, or in any way fraudulently prepared.  And as a result I feel that the document is what it purports to be, what it purports to represent and is therefore genuine.
      Gideon Epstein, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 07-May-1987, p. 5753.

    Levin-Tal-Dorner, in their turn, ventured beyond the mediocrity of merely ignoring that the "Demjanjuk" signature discredited the card to the genius of presenting the signature as one of the card's authenticating signs, as summarized in the Appeal statement below, where the focus is on the atypical decreasing spiral which terminated the "D", and where "Tav/149" is the current rendering of the court's exhibit designation for the Trawniki Card:

    The Honorable Lower Court determined that the great difference between the letter D in the signature ascribed to the Appellant on tav/149 and all the other letters D appearing in his known signatures, showed that the signature is not forged (p. 366 of the verdict), because the KGB would not forge in such an amateurish manner.  This determination clearly shows that according to the method of the Honorable Lower Court the Appellant had no chance from the beginning of challenging the reliability of tav/149, since had the letter D been similar, it would rule that the signature was authentic, since there was a fit.  When it was proven that it was different, this too was a sign of authenticity, especially because of the difference.  It can be said from now on, that according to this logic, there was no need whatsoever for the Prosecution to bring experts, since it was totally clear that the KGB would not send a forged document to the West, so as not to be embarrassed [...].
    Statement of Appeal, Jerusalem, 1988, pp. 208-209.  Underlining was in the original.

    Did John Demjanjuk confess that the Trawniki Card signature was his own?

    The Israelis certainly wanted to think so!  However, observers with a weaker committment to seeing John Demjanjuk hanged are able to arrive at a more sensible conclusion.

    The Trawniki signature has several characteristics, some of which are similar to John Demjanjuk's known signatures, and some of which are different.  The similarity is that the Trawniki signature is in Cyrillic characters, and these characters do spell out the surname Demjanjuk obviously!  The difference is in the style of handwriting, or to use the expression in the Verdict, in the "graphological form of the letters".

    Thus, to the question of whether John Demjanjuk used to write his name the Trawniki-card way in 1942, there can be different answers depending upon what is being considered.  If it is the spelling out in Cyrillic characters of the surname Demjanjuk, then "Yes," we would expect John Demjanjuk to answer, "this is how I used to write my surname in 1942 obviously!"  But if it's a question of handwriting style, then "No," we would expect him to say, "that is not how I wrote my surname in 1942".

    What, then, are we to understand when John Demjanjuk flatly says "No, it is not my signature," and then in the very next breath says, "It is like I wrote my name"?  Well, interrogators who wanted to know what he meant by these two seemingly-clashing statements would simply have asked him.  They would have asked for clarification.  They would have realized that following John Demjanjuk's first statement, they had interposed an ambiguous question, and in return had received an ambiguous answer, and they would have requested disambiguation.  "When you affirmed first Not A, and then A, what did you mean?"  "Did you mean this, or that?"  And it is clear that John Demjanjuk would have said by way of clarification and disambiguation words to the effect that "I know that this is not my signature because that is not the style in which I write, and yet this is how I write my surname in the sense that I do write the same sequence of Cyrillic characters".  What could be simpler?  What could be more obvious?  What could be less inculpatory?

    And yet that is not how the Israeli interrogators and prosecutors saw it, and that is not how Levin-Tal-Dorner saw it.  What they had heard in those seven words, "It is like I wrote my name," was John Demjanjuk confessing, and they were not interested in listening to any clarification or disambiguation that might make this wonderful confession evaporate.  Never mind that John Demjanjuk's expertise in recognizing his own signature had never been established, and that handwriting experts were likely to be better able to judge similarity of signatures than he was.  Never mind that forever before his "confession" he had said "No, it is not my signature," and never mind that forever after he had said "No, it is not my signature".  The Israeli interrogators and prosecutors and judges were sure that they had been gifted a confession, and they were in no mood to hand their gift back.  The Israelis did not feel themselves bereft of evidence for their position they pointed out that since the interrogation sometimes concerned handwriting style, that John Demjanjuk's "confession" could only have concerned handwriting style.  And even if the context of the interrogation at that very moment may indeed have concerned style, the Israelis thought it inconceivable that John Demjanjuk's thoughts could have wandered to other characteristics of the signature, or that the interrogators' ambiguous wording put him in mind of another understanding of the question they were putting to him.  No possibility either that after hours of questioning, his concentration had waned and he had allowed himself to blurt out an ambiguous statement with insufficient concern of the misuse that his interrogators might make of it.

    For a view of judicial writing bearing an uncanny resemblance to a passage out of Alice in Wonderland or out of a Stalinist show trial or out of the Malleus Maleficarum, below is reproduced the discussion of this question that appears in the Verdict.

    Incidentally, it must be kept in mind that what we will be reading in the excerpt from the Verdict below is only a distorted version of what was really said.  In the first place, any Israeli interrogator would have addressed John Demjanjuk in Hebrew, and we would be getting an Israeli-supplied translation into English.  In such a case, furthermore, we don't know what John Demjanjuk heard another Israeli would have translated that Hebrew question into Ukrainian, which we aren't privy to.  And as for John Demjanjuk's answer, it gets put through two distortions first, its Ukrainian is translated into Hebrew so that the interrogators can understand it, and then later that Hebrew is translated into English for our benefit.  In the case of statements made in English, one would imagine that the number of translations between the original statement and our reading it in English would be zero, but this is sometimes not the case the question may first be translated into Hebrew, then back into English.

    When defense attorney Mark O'Connor asked Gustav Boraks a question, his English question was first translated into Hebrew, then the Hebrew was translated into Yiddish; and when Boraks replied in Yiddish, it took two more translations before the answer could get back to O'Connor for a total of four translations between Mark O'Connor asking his question, and his receiving an answer.  Anyone reading the O'Connor question in English, furthermore, may not get O'Connor's initial question as he spoke it, but only what some translator guessed the Hebrew of that question might be English; and anyone reading the Boraks answer in English might not get the original translation of Boraks' answer into English that O'Connor heard, but a fresh translation, either from the Boraks Yiddish or the mediating Hebrew.  There is too much mud in this water for us to be confident that we can see what is going on.

    Given the low credibility of Jews when they talk about John Demjanjuk in particular, and about the Jewish holocaust in general, it is reasonable to fear biased distortion at each translation.  Nevertheless, below follows the Levin-Tal-Dorner version of their own pathetic grasping at straws that they are not ashamed to disclose in their Verdict:

    In fact, the Defendant admitted, in the course of his interrogation in the United States, that he used to sign in a manner similar to that in tav/149.

    In this connection, he states in the testimony taken from him in the Attorney General's offices, when he himself was represented, tav/193, p. 76:

    Q:  Now, does that appear to be your signature?
    A:  No, it is not my signature.
    Q:  Can you say without a doubt that that's not the way you wrote your name in 1942?
    A:  It is like I wrote my name
    In his testimony in Court, the Defendant claimed, at first, that in the United States he said explicitly that the signature in question was not similar to his signature in 1942 (p. 5539 of the Record).  However, when the Prosecutor read the above mentioned words in tav/193, he explained that he did not mean the shape of the signature, but the manner in which the word "Demjanjuk" was written, i.e., the spelling, and perhaps the fact that in that period he wrote in Cyrillic characters.  We shall quote his actual words:

    This is how my name is written.
    Q:  There it is not written that this is how it is written; there it is written, and the precise translation is, that what you are showing me is how I wrote my name
    A:  I do not agree with you.  I just read it, and I know what is written there.  There it is written that this is how the name Demjanjuk is written (p. 5541 of the Record).
    It is clear that this explanation by the Defendant does not stand up to scrutiny, since it emerges from the context that the shape of the signature was discussed.  Indeed, in his testimony in court in the United States, when he was asked repeatedly about the signature in tav/149, he answered in greater detail, and related to the shape of the letters.  He said (tav/159, p. 1111 of the Record):

    Q:  Is this your signature?
    A:  I don't think so
    Q:  But you are not sure?
    A:  I never wrote the letter 'Ya' the way it is written here.
    And continuing the same testimony (p. 1117 of the Record), the Defendant mentions an additional difference in the signature in question, namely, the absence of an apostrophe between the M and the Ya.  Thus the Defendant, in testifying in the United States, referred to the graphological form of the letters, and not to the spelling of his name.
    Verdict, Jerusalem, 1988, pp. 317-318.  Formal version.  Missing periods at the ends of sentences was in the original.

    It appears possible that Levin-Tal-Dorner above are jumping between statements made in 1981 and 1986-1988 as if the interval between them was not years but seconds for example, that if John Demjanjuk had once spoken of handwriting style in 1981, then he could only be still talking about handwriting style in 1988 but their presentation is so confused as to make the dating of the various statements little better than a guess.  On top of that, the authenticity of any statement is undermined by the lack of rigor in its documentation for example, it is impossible to say in Yoram Sheftel's statement below where various interrogations fell on the dimension of rigor defined by the two ends: (a) an interrogation that is tape-recorded and transcribed and verified and signed, and (b) an interrogation that is summarized following some interval after its completion, and verified and signed by no one:

    In the years 1978-84, Demjanjuk had given more than ten statements and testimonies in connection with the legal proceedings conducted against him in the US.  In addition, over thirty statements made by him had been recorded during his interrogation in Israel, which began immediately after his extradition in March 1986.  Demjanjuk had not confirmed most of them with his signature; they had been recorded in summaries made by his interrogators.
    Yoram Sheftel, The Demjanjuk affair: The rise and fall of a show-trial, Victor Gollancz, London, 1994, p. 116.  Note the ambiguity in the meaning of "recorded".

    Despite the ambiguity of the statement (which translated from Ukrainian to Hebrew to English comes out "It is like I wrote my name"), and despite John Demjanjuk's denials that it constitutes an admission that the Trawniki signature is his, the prosecution presents it to witnesses as a Demjanjuk confession.  The answer that prosecuter Michael Shaked receives in the instance below indicates why such a confession would be worthless even if Demjanjuk had made it that people cannot be assumed to recognize their own 43-year-old signatures:

    SHAKED  You see the accused has in the past been shown the signature.  And he said, that this is the way in which he used to write.  Do you have any reason to think that that is not correct?

    FLYNN  Mr. Shaked, let me propose an experiment, let us take 10 people in this room that were born prior to 1943 have them come up to this blackboard, and sign them name as it looked 43 years ago, in absolute detail.  If it is accurate then I will believe that what Demjanjuk said.  If there is any difference in the way one remembers what their signature looks like 43 years ago, then I cannot trust Demjanjuk's memory either.
    Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 24-Nov-1987, p. 10684.  Errors were in the original, and more likely attributable to the practice of translating English statements into Hebrew and then back again into English, or just slovenliness on the part of transcribers, than to William Flynn.

    The realization emerges from the above that over the course of hundreds could it be thousands? of hours of questioning spanning several decades, it is inevitable that an accused will let slip a few ambiguous statements, and that if his accusers insist on throwing their own perverse interpretation over these ambiguous statements in spite of common sense and over the objections of the accused, and then insist on using these perverse interpretations to bolster the prosecution case, then the accused's only defense would have been to remain absolutely mute under all interrogation, and indeed within the hearing of his persecutors.

    Julius Grant is harassed to join the "Demjanjuk confessed" prosecution-judiciary coalition

    The prosecution recognized that the "Demjanjuk" signature on the Trawniki Card differing from known signatures of John Demjanjuk might be the biggest obstacle blocking the acceptance of the authenticity of the card.  In the popular mind, that the signature was not John Demjanjuk's was among the easiest flaws to understand and to remember, and the experts too sometimes regarded the flawed "Demjanjuk" signature as their chief reason for concluding that the card was inauthentic.  Below, for example, we see defense attorney Yoram Sheftel (identified by "Q:" for "Question") eliciting from defense expert witness Julian Grant (identified by "A:" for "Answer") that the "Demjanjuk" signature was "one of the primary factors" leading to Grant's concluding that the card was inauthentic.  Grant's brief statement is reproduced within its context below to demonstrate that when Yoram Sheftel had worked up to asking whether the signature was "the most important factor", the prosecution-judiciary coalition jumping out of their skin at what they have just heard, and even more at what they knew they are just about to hear blocked Julius Grant from answering.  Julius Grant was about to deliver one simple word, "Yes" or "No," but the court forbade this word from passing his lips.  Notice that the first to intervene as Grant is about to pronounce the dread word was judge Dov Levin, which signalled prosecutor Michael Shaked to enter his own objection, followed who would have guessed? by the disallowance of the question by Levin:

    Q:  Your conclusion, your overall conclusion as you stated it at the end of the examination in chief yesterday concerning the document as far as its being, or rather not being the identification card of the accused would it be true to say, or would it not be true to say that this conclusion is for the most part rests for the most part on the findings concerning the signature.

    A:  The signature is one of the primary factors leading to the conclusion.

    Q:  And in order to clarify exactly whether it is it the most important factor?  Yes or no?

    H.J. LEVIN:  Just a minute.

    SHAKED:  I generously agreed not to object to the question with the crescendo by my leanred colleage.  I regard the last question as superfluous.

    H.J. LEVIN:  We disallow it.
    Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-Nov-1987, p. 9779.  Errors (such as "leanred colleage") are in the original.

    It is the pivotal importance of the "Demjanjuk" signature in discrediting the Trawniki Card that encouraged the prosecution-judiciary coalition to undertake the mission impossible of ridding itself of all the expert testimony which discredited that signature.  To achieve this mission, the coalition came up with the plan of getting John Demjanjuk to confess that the signature was his own confession would trump not only everybody's perception that the signature was not John Demjanjuk's, but all expert testimony on the question as well.  First, of course, the coalition had to get the confession from John Demjanjuk, which they claimed to have done, as we saw just above, but only by interrogating him on the subject until he said something ambiguous enough that after it had been translated (in how many stages and between what languages is unclear), its meaning could be twisted into looking like a confession.  But on top of that, the coalition wanted an expert sanction of what they were doing, which they tried to get from Julius Grant by barraging him with ten by actual count below solicitations.

    Thus, on 10-Nov-1987, the Trial Transcript shows Israeli prosecutor Michael "Mickey" Shaked tirelessly pressing Julius Grant with scenarios which if Grant acquiesced to would constitute the desired expert sanction of using the defendant's confession to sweep away all testimony that the "Demjanjuk" signature was inauthentic.  In one of the variations below, Julius Grant himself is asked to repeat the question, and in another, judge Zvi Tal thinks he can help by throwing in a repetition of his own, but sweetened by introducing the involvement of an imaginary individual of the most exalted integrity and here judge Tal's mind searches for an exemplar before whose unsurpassable probity all must bow, and hits on what? why a member of the British House of Lords, or in his words, "one of the Lords"!

    1. SHAKED:  When you say of a certain signature that it is unlikely to have been written by a certain person, and that very same person comes along and tells you well, Dr. Grant, this happens to be my signature.  Then, you would admit that you'd made a mistake in your diagnosis?  (p. 9700)
    2. SHAKED:  I'm not asking whether it has ever happened, I'm simply questioning you concerning your attitude, if somebody came to you and said it, would you then say well, I was wrong then.  (p. 9700)
    3. SHAKED:  But he doesn't happen to have any more specimens, but he knows how he signed and he keeps on insisting that it is his signature.  (p. 9700)
    4. SHAKED:  [Y]ou came to the conclusion that it is unlikely and then the person would say ah, well yes, but in those days this is the way I signed.  Would you then say well, I made a mistake.  (p. 9701)
    5. SHAKED:  A person turns up whose signature you said it is unlikely this person now comes to you and says Dr. Grant, this is my signature.  You don't quite believe him.  But he keeps insisting that it is his signature ...  (p. 9702)
    6. TAL:  Let us say for a moment suppose for a moment somebody comes to you and says this is my signature and it is a very reliable person of the highest integrity let's say a member of the House of Lords, one of the Lords, comes and says this is my signature Dr. Grant, after all.  What would then be your response?  (p. 9703)
    7. SHAKED:  Well then Dr. Grant at the end of such a process, somebody comes to you and says that the signature of what you said it is unlikely yet he claims it is his would you then say I must be mistaken in my assessment?  (p. 9703)
    8. SHAKED:  The accused was shown his signature and he was asked the following quote "Can you say without a doubt that this is not the way that you wrote your name in 1942?"  And then the accused said quote "It is like I write my name."  (p. 9705)
    9. GRANT:  Yes I was asked if in view of the fact that somebody might say that he wrote a particular signature, despite its unusual appearance what would my reaction be?  (p. 9706)
    10. SHAKED:  I am saying that the accused himself was shown this signature and he said in reference to this signature, that this is how he used to write his name.  In other words, the accused did not see anything unusual in this turn, in this loop.  He regarded it as perfectly reasonable.  Therefore I am asking you to comment in light of what I've just read you and what was inspected by the Court as well what would you say when there is such a disparity between what you say and what the accused says?  (p. 9707)
      Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 10-Nov-1987.

    For all its labor, what is the prosecution-judiciary coalition finally able to extract from Julius Grant?  In the end, Julius Grant throws them a crumb where their stomachs were growling for a feast:

    GRANT:  If what I have been told is correct, then my deduction that this signature was not written by the accused loses an element of certainty.
    Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 10-Nov-1987, p. 9708.

    Feast, crumb what does it matter?  Conviction is certain either way, as is the conclusion that the "Demjanjuk" signature is authentic.  Levin-Tal-Dorner go ahead and credit John Demjanjuk with the requisite confession that the signature is his, as we have already seen above, despite empty stomachs.

    The "Demjanjuk" Signature on the Trawniki Card could not be dated

    It would have strengthened the authenticity of the Trawniki Card if experts had been able to agree that the "Demjanjuk" Trawniki-Card signature had been written around 1942.  However, no such dating was possible:

    After examining the four types of fountain-pen inks on the card, U.S. and Israeli authorities determined that the inks did not contain any component that did not exist in the early 1940s.  Of these four inks, three contained iron, which has been common in ink for centuries, yet the fourth, the ink used in the "Demjanjuk signature," contained no iron.  The reason this is significant is that, without iron, the Demjanjuk signature could not be accurately dated.
    William J. Flynn, Demjanjuk: a victim of Soviet forgery, Ukrainian Weekly, 18-Sep-1988, originally published in the 10-July-1998 Arizona Republic.

    William Flynn did not quite get his facts straight above the Bazilevskaya purple ink was also iron-free, and thus if the presence of iron is necessary to establish date of writing, then Bazilevskaya's writing was also not datable (Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 25-Jun-1987, p. 6585; 23-Nov-1987, p. 10588, 10590-10591).

    However, it is a matter of great mystery to me that if the other two of the fountain-pen inks on the card contain iron so that their times of application to the card are datable, why they were never dated.  Furthermore, there are three other kinds of ink on the card (typwriter and rubber-stamp inks), and these also contained iron, and yet these too were never dated.  Plugs were cut of the various ink samples, the samples were removed to the United States for analysis, it was determined that none of the seven inks contained materials unavailable in 1942 but the dates on which the various inks were applied to the card were never estimated.

    Perhaps there is no reliable way of estimating date of application.  In support of this supposition we note that producing a document in 1977 that looks like it was produced in 1942 may not be a difficult matter because this requires only a 35-year displacement backward in time, whereas even a 150-year displacement backward can be manufactured without being detectable:

    [T]he documents that Hoffman produced were alledgedly 150 years old and he was able to convince both the collectors to whom he sold the documents and the experts that examined them that the documents were in fact 150 years old, when in fact almost at no time were the documents more than a year old when they were examined.
    William Flynn, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 23-Nov-1987, p. 10459

    Or perhaps like the BKA analysis described below the ink analysis discussed above did involve estimation of writing date, but these estimates were unsupportive of the prosecution case and so were suppressed.

    Does the 1941 "Dear Mother" letter explain where the strange Trawniki "Demjanjuk" signature came from?

    In the absence of some plausible explanation of how the KGB could have come to forge such a non-Demjanjukian "Demjanjuk", it is easy to feel stranded between not being able to believe that Demjanjuk wrote it, and yet neither being able to believe that the KGB forged it.  Fortunately, at least one such plausible explanation exists, which I transcribe from a videotape of William Flynn delivering an address on the subject of the Trawniki Identification Card to the Ukrainian American Bar Association in 1988.  Flynn is speaking extemporaneously, displaying slides, and pointing out features as he speaks:

    FLYNN:  I just said a few moments ago that probably the best forgers in the world, as far as a state-run operation is concerned, is the KGB.  So, the question arises, very logically, Well how could the best forgers in the world do such a poor job?  It's a good question, and I think that I know the answer, and I'll show you at the very end why I think they made a terrible mistake.

    Just to give you a little bit of background I think the Russians had a document in their possession that they thought was signed by Demjanjuk, that was not.  It was truly not, and you'll see that it was not.  But it was the earliest known writing of Demjanjuk that would have been available, in 1941 a letter supposedly written by John Demjanjuk to his mother while he was in the Russian army.

    When the mother died in Ukraine, the Russians went in and seized all the paper work.  The closest document in time to this [Trawniki] card was that letter.  The problem is that letter was neither written nor signed by John Demjanjuk.  It was written and signed by his company commander in the Russian Army.  And that signature [on the 1941 letter] looks like that [pointing to the signature on the Trawniki Card].

    FROM VARIOUS MEMBERS OF THE AUDIENCE:  OK!  Oh-oh!  Oh-oh!  How do you know that?

    FLYNN:  You'll see it.

    FROM THE AUDIENCE:  No, I'm saying, how do you know that it was written by the company commander?

    FLYNN:  Well, I don't, actually, but when I saw this letter dated 1941, supposedly written by Demjanjuk, [but] obviously and you'll see for yourself not written by Demjanjuk, I said, Well, how could this be?  The letter starts out first off, "Mother, let me give you my ardent, Red-Army greetings!"  That's the way the letter starts out, "Mother, let me give you my ardent, Red-Army greetings!"  That doesn't sound something like, "Hi, Mom!  It's your son, Johhny!" or something, you know?  "Let me give you my ardent, Red-Army greetings!"

    I said, Well, that's a little bit strange.  I said, Who would have done this in those days?  And they said, Well, a lot of the peasant soldiers could neither read nor write, and so it was quite common for the one person in the company that could read or write to send the letters back to the mother.  And if it happened to be a sergeant, or a lieutenant, or a captain, or whatever it was, who could read or write, he was the one who had these guys come in and dictate what they wanted to say to their Mom, and he would write it out.  And I think that that was even true in our Civil War, with our people, even during the Second World War, I understand.

    FROM THE AUDIENCE:  It was true even when I was in the service guys who couldn't write I would write letters for them.
    Transcribed from the videotape of an address by William Flynn to the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA), Detroit Michigan, 23-Apr-1988.  Explanatory material in red added.

    Flynn displays the 1941 letter, and which can be seen to have some such formal salutation as mentioned above, though a few lines down rather than right at the beginning.  The language throughout the letter is formal, and incongruous for a 22-year-old with a fourth-grade education.  Even the conclusion strikes a stiff note: "z pryvitom do vas, vash syn, Vanya Demjanjuk", meaning, "with greetings to you, your son, Vanya Demjanjuk".  "Vanya" being the diminutive of "Ivan", signing a letter to a mother with a diminutive followed by a surname seems incongruous.  If one were writing formally, one would sign "Ivan Demjanjuk", and if affectionately, then just "Vanya" whereas "Vanya Demjanjuk" is out of place in either context if John Demjanjuk wrote the letter, but perhaps more understandable if someone wrote it for him.

    The handwriting on the 1941 letter is orderly in the extreme, almost something out of a handwriting workbook, or even out of a calligraphy book as inconceivable for a 22-year-old conscript with a fourth-grade education as was the language, and unlike John Demjanjuk's known writing.

    The "Demjanjuk" signature on the 1941 letter is the one that the KGB might have imitated on the Trawniki Card, believing it to have been written by young John Demjanjuk.  Flynn credits the 1941 "D" with ending in the decreasing spiral that was evident in the Trawniki "D", but nowhere in any of Demjanjuk's known signatures or writing; however, the decreasing spiral can't be seen on the slide being projected: "You can't quite see it in the photocopy here, but this 'D' comes around and curls around inside.  It's a very narrow 'D'".  Nothing special about the "e".  The "m" does start with a large initial curl, like the Trawniki "m", though Flynn doesn't comment on this, and in fact may mistake the large initial curl as part of the preceding "e".  The "ja" resembles neither the Trawniki "ja" nor the known Demjanjuk "ja"s it looks like an "R" printed backwards, not following the path of a written "ja".  The "n" is typically Cyrillic, and thus like the corresponding Trawniki "n".  Nothing special about the "ju".  The "k" is like Demjanjuk "k"s in that there is a pen lift in order to execute the final "<" stroke.

    On the whole especially if we are to credit the decreasing spiral within the initial capital "D" the 1941 signature could have been used as a model for the Trawniki signature, though the correspondence falls short of compelling two shorfalls being that the 1941 signature does not apear to have provided the model for the Trawniki "ja" or the Trawniki "k".  On the other hand again, perhaps the KGB copied characters not only from the 1941 signature, but from throughout the 1941 letter, so that a closer look at the 1941 letter might produce further insights.

    The 1941 letter gives rise to two questions:

    1. Is the defense obligated to explain a weird signature?  If the Trawniki signature is not John Demjanjuk's, then is John Demjanjuk obligated to explain where the Trawniki signature originated?  What we have just seen demonstrated above is not only that there do exist plausible scenarios as to how the KGB blundered, but also that our ability to guess how it blundered depended on the accident of coming across the 1941 letter which was obtained only under an FOIA request to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (and not obtained by the letter being volunteered to the defense by considerations of justice for John Demjanjuk).  However, maybe there are other officer-written 1941 letters that we have been unable to see, or other KGB-pratfall scenarios that we have been unable to imagine.  Surely it is not for the defense to demonstrate the origin of the Trawniki signature when that origin is buried in the distant past and has a good chance of staying buried forever.  For the Trawniki Card to be discredited, surely it is enough that its "Demjanjuk" signature differs from John Demjanjuk's.
    2. Why has the 1941 letter not been featured?  Despite its potential value to the defense, William Flynn never mentioned the 1941 letter in his 1987 testimony in Jerusalem.  Neither has he mentioned it in articles that he has written concerning the Trawniki Card.  Neither is it mentioned in Yoram Sheftel's book on the Demjanjuk case.  The value of the 1941 letter is so immense (if not in definitively providing the original signature that the KGB copied, then at least in demonstrating the sort of error that the KGB could have fallen into in its forgery), that its not being mentioned anywhere but in the Flynn address to the UABA presents a major incongruity.

      Two explanations of this incongruity suggest themselves:

      1. William Flynn, and others, shrank from using the 1941 letter because they had been afflicted by the Patty Hurst syndrome into not doing a good job for John Demjanjuk.

      2. To ingratiate himself with his Ukrainian audience, William Flynn exaggerated the value of the 1941 letter; in fact, the correspondence between the 1941 signature and the Trawniki signature is too weak to make it usable in a court of law.

        However, as already pointed out above, even if the correspondence between the 1941 and the Trawniki signatures were disappointing, the 1941 letter continues to have immense value in demonstrating a path that KGB forgers could have followed.  Surely John Demjanjuk sent more than one letter home during the war, and if an officer did the actual writing for him on one occasion, then some other officer with some different handwriting may have done the writing for him on another occasion, and the KGB would not have been so incompetent as to send to the West the letter with the signature that they did imatate when forging the Trawniki signature.

        One way or the other, then, the 1941 letter does have immense value, and should have been introduced during the Jerusalem trial.  If it was not, we are left wondering whether the Patty Hurst Syndrome, or mere incompetence, denied John Demjanjuk the benefit of an effective defense.
  2. The "Streibel" Signature Was Not Written By Karl Streibel

    The writer looped the "e"

    Two signatures of Trawniki camp commandant SS-Haupsturmführer Karl Streibel appear below, the upper signature from the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card and the lower signature from a Mykola Bondarenko Trawniki Card.  These two Streibel signatures contain a total of four "e"s.  The first of these "e"s can be seen to have been altered where the typical Streibel "e" is closed (encloses little or no white space), the first of these "e"s has had a loop superimposed in such a way as to transform an original closed "e" into an open "e" (enclosing white space).  Handwriting experts refer to such an alteration as "patching".

    This superimposed loop can be seen to be discontinuous with the underlying closed "e" both in the upward leg of the "e" and in the downward leg as well.  The discontinuity is one of direction at both ends of the superimposed loop, and is one of brightness on the upward leg of the "e.".

    Why was the first "e" in the Demjanjuk-card signature opened up through the addition of a loop, but not the second "e"?  The answer is evident.  It can be seen within the two signatures that on some strokes typically on upward strokes the nib of the pen deposited little ink, a characteristic known to handwriting experts as "feathering".  The upward leg of the first "e" happened to be faint, and could thus be corrected; the upward leg of the second "e", however, happened to be dark, and was therefore not susceptible to correction.

    However, the feathering within the altered "e" that we are talking about is not the only instance of feathering in the two signatures below.  Other, more outstanding, instances can be found, as for example in the capital "S" that begins the Bondarenko version of the Streibel signature where the feathering is so extreme that the entire top of the "S" vanishes and yet Streibel does not go back and darken this or any other feathered lines in his signatures.  The most probable reason that he does not is that he produces feathering intentionally, valuing it for its aesthetic, calligraphic effect.  Feathering is not a necessary concomitant of writing in ink.  None of the other writers on the Trawniki Card, for example, display any feathering not the writers of the Bazilevskaya script, nor of the Teufel, nor of the Demjanjuk.  Feathering is so easy to avoid that one must suppose that anyone who displays it in his writing does so deliberately, and for that reason would not go back to alter it.  In striving for the aesthetic effect of feathering, one does not undo the effect by introducing the blight of patching.

    If Streibel did not add that extra loop to the "e" and why would he have? then somebody else must have, which would be indicative of a forging or doctoring effort, however misguided and unproductive it may have turned out to be for the forgers in the present case.

    Streibel signature on Demjanjuk Trawniki Card

    Streibel signature on Bondarenko Trawniki Card

    Julius Grant on the looped "e".  What does defense expert witness Julius Grant say about the added loop?  He notices it, and calls it "abnormal" (Trial Transcript, 09-Nov-1987, p. 9505) and says that he would "normally count it as being against common authorship" (Trial Transcript, 09-Nov-1987, p. 9504), meaning common authorship between known signatures of Streibel on the one hand, and the Trawniki Card "Streibel" on the other.  However, in the present case, Grant decides to make nothing of this abnormality that normally would indicate forgery: "I attribute that to perhaps a faulty pen or a discontinuity in the smoothness of the paper which is of a very common type, which has prevented a proper "e" being made" (Trial Transcript, 09-Nov-1987, p. 9504).

    However, Grant's decision to discount the looped "e" is a needless concession to the prosecution, a neglect of the welfare of his client, and a lapse of reason.  His conjecture that the writer ran into some difficulty in constructing the "e" fails to take into account that the writer completed his "e", as we can see in the "e" having a top which differs from the top of the added loop.  And not only did the writer complete his "e", he went on to complete the entire signature, and only after that went back to superimpose a loop over the "e", and in doing so he did not attempt merely to darken the path that he had originally followed (the path of a closed "e"), but rather he set off on a new path, one whose goal was to produce an open "e", in other words a non-Streibel-like "e".  As the writer did complete his signature on the first try, there was nothing (as Grant supposes) wrong with his pen, and if the pen ran into some defect in the paper in the middle of the "e" (as Grant also supposes), then Grant was obligated to demonstrate this, which he didn't.  Sure, the pen was no longer available for examination, so all Grant could do was speculate that it suddenly ceased to function, but the paper was still available for examination, so that to speculate that it contained a defect without taking a look to see if it did contain any defect seems negligent.  If the pen somehow snagged on the paper and was brought to a halt, or just hit a rough patch and was slowed, then some sign of the stopping at a snag, or slowing at a rough patch, should show up under microscopic examination.

    How Grant could have made this major blunder of failing to recognize the significance of the looped "e" is a mystery.  He himself stresses that the typical Streibel "e" is closed, or to use his word, "narrow", as for example when he says:

    [T]hat narrow loop is seen consistently in most of the "e"s that follow [...].  We are talking now about the long narrow loop of an "e" which I think is a characteristic of the writer's handwriting [...]".
    Trial Transcript, 09-Nov-1987, p. 9505.

    From our, and Grant's, observations, we might conclude that Streibel was happy with his closed "e"s, and saw no need to improve them.  There was no possibility of anyone mistaking his closed "e" for an "i", as it was (1) more open than an "i", (2) it was not dotted, and (3) the real dotted "i" that followed would militate against the preceding letter also being an "i" within the surname "Striibel".  In any case, from an examination of signatures on the four Trawniki Cards alone, and on a Kennkarte that appears further below, it would appear that signing officials then, as today, sometimes took pride in sometimes flaunted the illegibility of their signatures, and so it seems implausible that any experienced signing authority would have gone back to alter his own signature into closer correspondence with memories of grade-school exhortations to write open "e"s.

    And yet Grant chooses to make nothing of this writer completing the signature, then going back to produce an "e" which Grant and everybody recognizes is quite unlike a Streibel "e".  All I can imagine to explain this blunder of Grant's is that he is gripped by a Patty Hurst syndrome against the interests of his client and against his better judgment, he begins to identify with the side that carries the overwhelming force, and begins to act more like a witness for the prosecution than a witness for the defense.

    William Flynn on the looped "e".  And what does defense expert witness William Flynn do with the looped "e"?  He does not bring it up himself, and when defense attorney John Gill alludes to it, Flynn treats it as lacking significance.  When Gill suggests that it may somehow validate the signature, Flynn elaborates with "Yes", and that's the last mention the court hears of the looped "e" from Flynn:

    Mr. Gill:  Looking at the first "e" in Streibel there is an aberration or a patching.  Would you explain that to the court please at this time?

    Mr. Flynn:  A patching refers to a writer going back and retouching or going over a line a second time.

    Mr. Gill:  You have heard other document examiners testify in this case in reading their protocol and you've also I believe agreed that this is what in some instances really validates or verifies an individual's signature the unavoidable or the detectable mistakes so to speak that would be found in a signature.

    Mr. Flynn:  Yes.
    Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 23-Nov-1987, pp. 10530-10531.

    Are we to conclude, then, that William Flynn not only sees nothing wrong with the Streibel signature, but that he is particularly reassured of its authenticity because of the looped "e"?  By calling an alteration to a signature "patching", does that release us from the obligation of wondering whose patching it may have been?  Does patching only occur in authentic signatures, or can it sometimes also occur in forgeries?  Must "patching" have an unvarying significance always ranging from neutral to authenticating?  Are we to make nothing of "patching" whose effect is to produce a letter uncharacteristic of a writer?  From a leading expert in the field, I would have expected an evaluation less thoughtless.

    In case William Flynn's unelaborated "Yes" above leaves us in any doubt as to his committment to the notion that the looped "e" authenticates the Streibel signature, we note his 1988 statement to the UABA:

    Interestingly enough, there is a mistake in that signature.  Right at the top of the "e" in "Streibel" it looped up like an "l" and then this extra stroke is put on it.  To me that almost indicates genuineness rather than a clumsy forgery.  We all make, from time to time, mistakes in our signature.
    Transcribed from the videotape of an address by William Flynn to the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA), Detroit Michigan, 23-Apr-1988.

    What Flynn seems to be saying above is that the writer made the mistake of making his "e" too much like an "l", and then imposed the loop by way of correction.  Of course Flynn is dead wrong, as the original "e" is too short to look like an "l", and in any case resembles all other Streibel "e"s, including the one that comes later in the same word.  When a member of the UABA audience pointed out the similarity between the unlooped first "e" and the second "e" in "Streibel", Flynn started talking about something else.

    Gideon Epstein on the looped "e".  Prosecution expert witness Gideon Epstein too flirts with the notion that the looped "e" is authenticating, and in doing so is unaware that he is creating two delightful incongruities:

    It is very much a characteristic of a genuine signature because if somebody were to attempt to forge a signature, this would be like a red light for somebody to beam in on and this is more a characteristic of the true writer making his own correction.
    Gideon Epstein, Trial Transcrit, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, p. 5846.

    The incongruities are:

    1. If the looped "e" is "very much a characteristic of a genuine signature", then how can it at the same time be a "red light" indicating forgery?  (Surely any alteration to a signature could indicate either genuineness or forgery, depending on whether it was likely to have been made by the writer or not.)

    2. If the looped "e" is "very much a characteristic of a genuine signature", then why couldn't the KGB have known this, and included the looped "e" in order to trigger the judgement that the signature was genuine?  (Surely Epstein underestimates the KGB in assuming it to be incapable of a cunning one level higher than ground-floor.)

    One wonders if it is not peculiarly characteristic of a show trial that a prosecution witness can so pack his statements with self-contradiction, and yet with small chance of being exposed and held up to ridicule.

    The writer took a coffee break between the "t" and the "r"

    Having bottomed out in the stroke leading into the "r", the writer stops and lifts his pen from the paper.  There is no apparent reason for him to do so.  The thickness of the interrupted stroke indicates that his nib is well-supplied with ink, so he is not stopping to dip his pen.  When the line beginning the "r" is resumed, it is thin, suggesting a reduced supply of ink, or lighter pressure on the nib, and which worsens until the upward stroke vanishes at one point.  (When the "r" resumes in the downward stroke which creates the roof of the "r", it is so much thicker that one imagines that the writer either replenished his nib with ink, or began pressing harder.  This roof, furthermore, uncharacteristically begins from left of the upward stroke.)

    What is important here is the stopping and resumption of the stroke leading into the "r", and what is important about it is that Streibel himself would seem to have no reason for having made this stop.  A forger, in contrast, might have been seized with uncertainty concerning how Streibel wrote his "r"s, and might have taken a break to study Streibel's known "r"s, or to practice copying them, before continuing.  A forger might proceed cautiously and might sometimes need to create a signature in segments so as to permit time for reflection in mid-signature.  In contrast, an official like Streibel writing his signature for the thousandth time on the least significant of the documents which he has to process would want to dispose of the task as expeditiously as possible, and would avoid the delay of pausing or the tedium of proceeding in stages.

    Examining six other Streibel signatures that appear scattered throughout Dieter Lehner's book, Du sollst nicht falsch Zeugnis geben (1977), fails to show a second instance of the sort of line interruption and resumption that we are discussing here, and fails to show another instance of an "e" over which a loop has been superimposed.

    The interrupted "r" and looped "e" paint a coherent picture they indicate a writer proceeding through the signature in a studied manner, trying to get it just right, and so pausing to reflect before venturing to try the "r", and also adding a loop to an "e" that looked too closed.  Both of these anomalies are the opposite of what one might expect from an official performing an insignificant and repetitive task.  Together, the two anomalies may not quite prove that the Streibel signature is forged, but together they do succeed in introducing a significant element of doubt that it is genuine.

    Placing the two above signatures within the animation below serves not only to contrast the first "e" in "Streibel" as it appears with and without the added loop, but also to reveal that the two signatures are not so similar as to inspire unwavering confidence in their common authorship fixing one's gaze on each letter in succession reveals that some letters differ radically from one signature to the other.

    Noting two characteristics of the above images may aid in their evaluation: (1) that they are correctly scaled, as can be verified by measuring the width of the "SS-Hauptsturmführer" in each of the two still versions; (2) that they have been centered so that the lowest point of the loop connecting the two middlemost letters, "ei", occupies the same position in each image, as can be verified by placing the mouse arrow at that point within the animation and seeing that it remains stationary.

    Julius Grant and William Flynn on the coffee break.  What did defense expert witnesses Julius Grant and William Flynn have to say about the break before the "r"?  Having watched them bungle the matter of the looped "e", we would like to see them redeem their reputations by doing a better job on the "r" but they don't.  Neither of them so much as mentions any break before the "r".  Perhaps their eyesight failed them.  Perhaps they understood that it was not in their personal interests to champion John Demjanjuk's innocence too ardently which is to say perhaps they were overwhelmed by the Patty Hurst syndrome.

    John Gill and Gideon Epstein on the coffee break.  I do find defense attorney John Gill bringing the break or pen lift before the "r" to the attention of prosecution expert witness Gideon Epstein:

    Now you will agree that at the point of the upstroke for the initial upstroke into the letter "r" there is in fact a stopping and a restarting [...] that is in fact a pen lift and a restarting would you not Sir?
    John Gill addressing Gideon Epstein, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, p. 5840.

    But Epstein simply denies it:

    The entire signature is done without any pen lifts from "s" from the beginning stroke of the "s" to the terminal stroke on the "r" the signature in Taf 149 is a continuous movement, with simply shading differences in upstrokes and downstrokes.  But there are no, no actual pen lifts in any portion of the signature.
    Gideon Epstein, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, p. 5840.

    In the face of Epstein's denial, Gill shows no tenacity and drops the subject.  It is Judge Dov Levin who brings the matter up again a minute later, and elicits from Epstein the following elaboration:

    H.J. LEVINE:  What counsel Gil pointed to is the line that joins the "t" to the "r" which seemingly is interrupted [...] would that not indicate as if there had been some sort of a pause, and then resumption of the writing in the "r"?

    A:  No Your Honor, because we have the continuous smoothness of this line.  If the writing had stopped or if it had slowed down considerably, we would have shake or tremor in that particular portion.  What this is caused by is that this paper is very porous, very fibrous.  It's a poor quality paper and it has very thick paper fibers.  Some of the fibers are larger than others and sometimes a little gap like this is more due to the largeness of the paper fibers and the pen moving over them.
    Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, p. 5841.  Answer is by Gideon Epstein.  Spelling "LEVINE" is in the original.

    However, Gill was doing both John Demjanjuk and truth a disservice by being left speechless by Epstein's explanation.  In the first place, if there is a raised fiber at the point of the break, or if there is a sunken trough, side lighting would make it visible in a photograph taken through a microscope, and such a photograph could be taken in minutes if the equipment were set up, but at the outside within an hour, say if film had to be loaded into the camera, the camera attached to the microscope, and so on.  That Epstein presented no such photograph to defend his position was negligent on Epstein's part; that the disclosure, or the taking, of such a photograph was not requested in response to Epstein's explanation was negligent on Gill's part.  In fact, magnifying glasses were available in the courtroom, and a dissecting microscope could have been commandeered, so that a raised fiber or sunken trough could have been seen right there on the spot if they really existed, or not seen if they existed only in Epstein's imagination.

    Furthermore, Gill should have argued that the appearance of the break was not consistent with either a raised fiber or a sunken trough, because either case supposes a collision of the nib with some obstruction, and a collision must leave some ink spread or splatter: (a) a nib colliding with a raised fiber will produce spread or splatter at the point of collision, and the break will lie on the far side of the fiber; and (b) a nib encountering a trough will first produce a break, followed by spread or splatter as the pen collides with the far wall of the trough.  However, the observation shows no ink spread or splatter, but only rounded lines as one line stops and the next begins which is compatible with a pen lift, followed by resumption.

    Also contraindicating Epstein's argument is that the line approaching the break is particularly thick, indicating that the nib is laden with ink.  Not only is the line thick, but it is thickening.  The thickening indicates a slowing of the stroke.  And not only is the line thickening, but it ends in a blob.  The blob indicates that the pen nib came to a halt.  In fact, this very observation suggests to us an alternative motive for the forger's stopping he wanted to create the lightening of the line called "feathering" to be produced by a reduction of pressure on the pen, and which was common to Streibel's up strokes, and yet the forger could see as he began to approach the "r" that his nib was so laden with ink that no feathering would be produced, and so he slowed, stopped, lifted his pen, touched the nib to a blotter to soak away the excess ink, and then continued, getting the feathering that he wanted, but in doing so, leaving tell-tale clues as to what he had done the clues of the thickening line, the end blob, and that the resumed line was substantially thinner!  The difference between terminated and resumed lines is not one of gradual thinning as pressure on the pen is reduced it is a stepwise jump from thick line to thin line mediated by a pen lift.

    That the resumed line continues nicely in the expected direction indicates that the forger was not lacking in skill, but it falls short of a miracle.

    In short, if the pen had encountered any transverse irregularity in the paper, that transverse irregularity should have been there for all to see, and should have produced in addition to a gap also some transverse deposit of ink which it did not and should not have left behind nicely rounded ends at the blobbed termination and at the resumption of the line.  An irregularity in the paper cannot produce two ends which are clean, nicely rounded, and differing in thickness.

    To this day, the coffee break between "t" and "r" is an issue that remains to be settled by a more competent examination of the card, and that the custodians of the card can permit to be settled by allowing access to the card.

    An obstacle in the path of authenticating the signature of a busy official.

    The more documents that a bureaucrat signs:

    • the harder it becomes for him or his staff to keep track of which ones he has signed, and thus the easier for a forgery to be introduced and to pass unnoticed; and

    • the more likely he is to relieve himself of tedium by authorizing others to sign his name for him; and thus,

    • in gathering a collection of genuine signatures against which a questioned signature is to be compared, the more likely it is that the supposedly genuine collection will contain inauthentic signatures which will confuse and mislead evaluation of the questioned signature.

    The consequence relevant to our case may be that because Streibel signed a lot of documents, the question of whether any given Streibel signature is genuine or forged may be difficult or impossible to answer.  Consider that in the six Streibel signatures presented by Lehner, two give indication of being forged.  In the example on the left, (from Lehner, p. 27), the smooth lines that come with rapid, automatic writing are replaced by irregular, jagged lines that come with slow writing that is attempting to copy an original.  Thus, we notice the irregularity in the bottom loop of the capital "S", and the change of direction in the downward stroke of the "r", and in the downward stroke of the stem of the "b", and in the sharp reversals of direction at the bottoms of most of the lines that connect letters.  This lack of smoothness may be enough to introduce a reasonable doubt of authenticity, but it falls short of being proof of forgery, as the same effect might result from Streibel writing his signature aboard a bouncing train, or while lying sick in bed, or balancing the document on his lap, or under other non-optimal circumstances.

    More decidedly indicative of forgery is the creation of a letter following a path which the writer does not use, as we saw above taking place in the creation of the "n" and the "k" in the Demjanjuk-Trawniki signature.  In the present Streibel signature, it is the creation of the "t" which may be following an unprecedented path (the signature is from Lehner, p. 66).

    The problem posed by this "t" centers on how Streibel's pen arrived at the point marked with an arrow.  In the solution depicted here, the bottom loop of the "t" is opened up to clarify the path that Streibel might have followed.  (This is the approximate path followed in all other Streibel signatures, though he usually does not travel nearly so far leftward of the main stem of the "t", and his loops are more closed consult the three other signatures higher above to see what I mean.)  However, looking back at the complete signature immediately above, we see no indication that such a path was followed.  The problem, then, is that there does not seem to be any simple and smooth curve that will get Streibel from the almost-closed bottom loop of his "t" up to where the arrow is.

    Thus, we are led to entertain the possibility that following completion of the almost-closed bottom loop of his "t", the writer simply lifted his pen off the paper, then placed it down just under the arrow from where he continued his signature.  This, however, would constitute the sole instance within the eight Streibel signatures that I have seen of a lifting of the pen from the paper in mid-signature (in order to jump to a new location from which to continue, that is).

    On top of the unusual "t", we note three other anomalies in this last instance of the Streibel signature that we are considering:

    1. A choppiness in the straight vertical segment in the bottom loop of the capital S.

    2. An "r" resembling the Demjanjuk-Trawniki-card Streibel-signature "r" by its roof starting left of the upward stroke, and by its second peak being attenuated.

    3. The completion of the terminal "l" by means of an upswing, which is atypical for Streibel again, compare to the three other signatures above.

    On the one hand, one might account for radical differences in any Streibel signature by supposing that Streibel assumes an experimental and explorative attitude when signing his name.  On the other hand, it might be the case that others are signing Streibel's name for him, with or without his permission.  Distinguishing between these two hypotheses can never be easy, and most usually must be impossible.  For our purposes, we conclude that the Demjanjuk-Trawniki-card Streibel signature shows signs of forgery, and even if it did not, we would be unable to authenticate it because of the viability of alternative hypotheses, more than one of which may be true at the same time, foremost among them being:

    • The most deviant of Streibel's genuine signatures is so weird that even an inexpert forger will have little trouble producing a signature which is closer to typical.

    • Supposedly-authentic Streibel signatures contain fakes, which detracts from their dependability as a standard against which to compare a questioned signature.

    Double-culling of known signatures is the fatal flaw of signature authentication

    Our above encounters with deviant Streibel signatures brings to mind the question of how a document expert obtains the signatures questioned as well as known that he is to compare.  In cases where prosecutors send the expert both questioned and known signatures, we recognize that the prosecutors can get whatever answer they want from their expert by selecting which known signatures to send if prosecutors want to hear the expert say that a questioned signature is forged, they can send him known signatures that are unlike the questioned signature; if prosecutors want to hear the expert say that the signature is genuine, they can send him known signatures that are similar.

    The ease with which the prosecution can guarantee whatever expert testimony it wants must be acknowledged in the course of a trial, and the procedure that had been employed by the prosecution in selecting known signatures must be explored.  If the prosecution sends the expert as few as two known signatures as it did when it asked Gideon Epstein to evaluate Streibel and Teufel signatures in 1981 then the prosecutors must be asked why so few, and the expert must be asked whether he had been satisfied with so few, and what guarantee the expert required of the prosecutors that he was not being sent an atypical sample, and what he would have concluded with reference to, say, the Streibel signature if the two known signatures that he had been sent had been as weird as the two shown above?  The standard practice should be that prosecutors send the expert every instance of known signatures that they have ever been able to find, and they should testify under oath that this is what they have done, and if they are ever discovered to have practiced any culling of know signatures, then any expert testimony that resulted should be rejected, and the prosecutors should be cited for misconduct.

    In the absence of such precautions, an expert's assurance that it is safe to assume that the known signatures constitute a random or representative sample must be considered to be naive or disingenuous, and so an answer like that given by Gideon Epstein must be considered so unsatisfactory as to discredit his conclusions.  Actually, on top of the culling that prosecutors do in sending an expert known signatures, Gideon Epstein reveals that the expert himself can continue the same culling, whose end result will be the presentation to the unsuspecting court of the illusion that a questioned signature closely resembles all known signatures, when it only closely resembles a small number of doubly-culled known signatures:

    Q:  Did you have at your disposal all of the known Karl Streibel signatures that were taken by the Israeli police department?

    A:  I would I don't know if I had available all of the known signatures, but I did have available those signatures that I've mentioned in my charts.

    Q:  In addition to the ones that you have used in your direct examination, how many additional signatures of Karl Streibel did you have at your disposal?

    A:  I believe there were an additional 5-7 signatures, something like that.

    Q:  Did you use those other signatures for testing purposes?

    A:  All of the known available Streibel signatures that were presented to me for the actual examination yes.

    Q:  Can you tell us why the others were not used in preparation for that which was presented to this Court?

    A:  I thought I would spare the Court of going over the same material over and over again, because the Streibel signatures don't have very much variation and he's a fairly consistent writer one signatue is very much like another and I felt that those that I used were random samples and adequately displayed my procedure for identification.
    Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 23-Nov-1987, pp. 5817-5818.  Question are by defense attorney John Gill; answers are by prosecution expert witness Gideon Epstein.

    Althought, as we have just seen above, the defense did broach the subject of the double-culling of known signatures, the full destructiveness of the practice was not explained, let alone emphasized.  However, one good defense lawyer armed with no more than this one powerful argument is all that it should have taken in front of an impartial court to lead to all prosecution evidence on the authenticity of the Streibel and Teufel signatures being demolished.  Within Gideon Epstein's second-stage culling alone we find that he excluded from consideration one known Teufel signature written 10 years before the questioned Teufel Trawniki signature because it was different, but included in his comparison two known signatures written 21 and 23 years after the questioned signature because they were similar (Trial Transcript, 11-May-1987, p. 5850).  Although this might find some justification under the principle that signatures reaching back into one's youth show less stability than ones advancing into one's maturity, it might also justify fears that document examiners enjoy a dangerous degree of discretion to select known signatures as they see fit in order to justify a predetermined conclusion.

    Streibel wrote over paper-clip rust?

    On 09-Nov-1987 in the Demjanjuk trial in Jerusalem, defense expert witness Julius Grant demonstrated that he was not entirely on the side of the prosecution he noticed two approximately horizontal line segments through the Streibel signature, the shorter of the two passing through the tops of the letters "ei", and the longer of the two passing through the bottoms of the letters "bel".  According to Grant, these line segments had the following characteristics:

    1. they were brown in color,

    2. they were almost parallel,

    3. when a fragment of one of the brown lines was removed and tested in a laboratory, it was found to contain iron, and

    4. the Streibel signature was superimposed on top of the brown lines.

    One interpretation that suggests itself is that the brown lines are rust deposited by a paper clip that had been attached to the card, and that had been exposed to humidity.  The Streibel signature could have been written only after the paper clip was removed.

    When Trawniki personnel were issuing new identification cards, it would be reasonable to suppose that they started with blank cards from a stack of new blank cards that had been supplied by a printer, and they could have completed each card Streibel signature included perhaps in a matter of hours, but at the outside in a matter of days.  During even the longer of these intervals, there would not have been time for a paper clip to leave a deposit of rust over which Streibel would have to sign.  Therefore, the deposit of rust was more likely to have built up over prolonged contact between card and paper clip, which would more plausibly have taken place during decades in Soviet custody after the war, and which would make the Streibel signature a Soviet creation.

    A stronger stand that the defense suggested, but did not have the resources to investigate and prove, was that paper clips of the size and shape that left the two rust lines were not in use at Trawniki in 1942, but were in use in later years in the Soviet Union.  This possibility is still up in the air and awaits further study.

    The question of the paper clip rust lines serves to bring out the inadequacy of the investigation that was conducted into the Trawniki Card:

    1. Iron in the brown lines?  Julius Grant finding iron in one of the brown lines was OKGood would have been if he had found iron in both brown lines.  Better would have been if he had found no iron in the paper beside the brown lines.  Best would have been if an independent laboratory replicated his findings.
    2. Harder-to-see brown lines?  If a paper clip had really deposited two visible lines of rust, then possibly it left less-visible traces along its entire length.  The imprint of the full paper clip might be revealed by means of advanced forensic techniques.  However, I have found no mention of anyone employing advanced forensic techniques to search for a fuller imprint of a paper clip.
    3. Layering.  The superimposition of the Streibel signature on top of the rust lines makes us realize the importance of the order of layering, and that any deviation from a correct order would be conclusive proof of forgery.  Specifically, if the card is genuine, then on the bottom layer must be all material deposited by the printer.  In a layer on top of that would be all material added around 1942, either by rubber stamp or by typewriter or by pen.  In the uppermost layer would be Bazilevskaya's 1948 handwritten notation.  If it were observed, to take one example, that a rubber-stamped seal fell on top of Bazilevskaya's notation, or that some pre-printed material lay on top of a rubber-stamped seal, this would prove that some forgery had taken place, and would conclusively discredit the card.

      Thus, one would imagine that among the first steps in evaluating the Trawniki Card would have been an examination under high magnification, and under special lighting designed for the purpose, to verify that every instance of overlap on the card (there might be hundreds) showed layering in the expected order.  Every expert who examined the card should have testified that he had performed this fundamental screening; however, I have not discovered any such testimony from any of the experts who have been called upon to evaluate the card.
    4. Finding all paper clips.  If the brown lines were made by a paper clip, then examining all paper clip sizes and styles that might have been used either at Trawniki around 1942, or in the Soviet Union in the following three decades, should have either produced a paper clip that exactly matched the rust lines, or should have failed to.  However, although the subject of paper clip sizes and styles was broached during the trial, no broad research was conducted, and no conclusions were reached (just as the subject of staple sizes which might fit the photograph holes was broached but never investigated).
    5. Letting the public see the card.  If high-resolution, color images of the card, under several lighting conditions designed to bring out different details, were published online, then many tests could be conducted by the public at any time.  The cost to the custodians of the card would be a few hours of work, and a few dollars a year in web site maintenance.  The contribution to the discovery of truth in the still-ongoing Demjanjuk prosecution would be enormous, as it is not necessarily the case that a handful of hired experts can be depended upon to do a better job evaluating a document than can the public which harbors a vast amount of expertise and resourcefulness.

    That the Demjanjuk defense did not do all of the above, or in fact any of the above, is understandable hiring the personnel who would recognize what needed to be done, and then getting it done, costs money, and the defense was impecunious.  That the state of Israel did not allocate a minuscule proportion of its Demjanjuk mega-budget to accomplish all of the above, or in fact any of the above, is inexcusable, and reminiscent of the guardedness to be expected in a show trial.  Today, almost 24 years after the Kremlin released the first image of the Trawniki Card in the Sep-1977 issue of News from Ukraine, analysis of the card has been allocated such meagre resources, and the card has been kept under such strong guard, that one might view its evaluation as barely having begun.

    The phantom "k"

    What some observers have taken to be a printed "k" above the second "e" in the Streibel signature (see farther above), and what they have somehow taken as further evidence that the card is forged, is in fact not a "k", but rather some scribble or accidental marking of unknown origin and dubious significance.  And if not an accidental marking, then perhaps some wool-gathering employee in a KGB forgery factory momentarily mistook that second "e" for an "i" and started to dot it, and the resulting scribble was the best disguise for the unwanted beginning of a dot that he could devise.

    In demonstration that the mark is not a printed "k", I present below three real "k"s taken from elsewhere on the card with the scribble appearing in the right-most position, and this juxtaposition reveals that the scribble is not a "k" for the following reasons:

    1. it is smaller than all the other "k"s,
    2. its main stem is disproportionately short,
    3. its main stem is tipped clockwise from the vertical,
    4. its main stem bottoms out below the level that the lower of the two angled arms bottoms out at (which is the opposite of what we would expect from a letter tipped to the right).

    Some clouds look like animals, some ink blots look like bats, some accidental markings look like letters.  If one cares to gaze at the phantom "k" beyond the duration of a first glance, it can take on the appearance of a hand-drawn "x".  The Trawniki Card abounds in so many fatal defects that they do wrong who make much of trivial and inconclusive ones.

    And what was defense expert witness Julius Grant's bottom line on the Streibel signature?  We saw above that he misconstrued the significance of the looped "e", and that he failed to even notice the break before the "r", but that he was the discoverer of the rust lines so what did all that add up to in his mind?  Grant gave the Streibel signature his top rating of authenticity, "highly probable".  With defense witnesses like that, who needs prosecution witnesses?  Patty Hurst rides again?

    What does Karl Streibel himself say?

    The following is a translation of an excerpt from a declaration made under oath in Hamburg on 22-Sep-1983 by Karl Streibel, born 11-Oct-1903:


    I declare under oath, after I had been informed of the significance of the declaration under oath and the penalty of a false declaration under oath, as follows:

    I was shown a photostat copy of a document which carries my signature.

    This document, according to the photocopy, was issued in the name of a certain Ivan Demjanjuk by "one commissioned by the Reichsfuehrer-SS for the erection of the SS-and Police Bases/Service Assignment Lublin/Training Camp Trawniki", and carries, as I have noticed, no issue date, even though documents always were provided with a date.

    After closer examination of the photocopy, I have come to the following conclusion:

    My signature as "SS-Captain", which can be seen on the photocopy, is evidently genuine, but I cannot remember ever having put my signature to this or any similar document.  I would only be in a position to judge the authenticity of the document, i.e. to verify my signature on the document or to categorically deny it, if the original would be put before me.

    I also cannot say with certainty, if such documents were even issued by my former service unit.

    Mr. Demjanjuk is not known to me.  There were Ukrainians in Trawniki.  They mainly were assigned to guard agricultural estates.  Upon completion of their assignment, they were always returned to Trawniki before they were assigned (commanded) elsewhere.

    I am the former SS-Captain Karl Streibel, managed the camp Trawniki and was, after a court trial which lasted from 1972 to 1976, declared innocent.  Therefore, as the German court declared by the verdict, as the manager of the Camp Trawniki, I never participated in any crimes or in the preparation thereof.

    I declare under oath that the above statement is true and correct.

    I make this declaration before a US court to give credibility to the deposition.

    Among the reflections called to mind by the Karl Streibel declaration might be the following:

    1. Of course a forged Streibel signature looks like a real Streibel signature.  It is to be expected that a forger who imitates Karl Streibel's hand will produce a signature that to Karl Streibel looks like it may well have been written by himself.  More important, what Karl Streibel notices is that the card "carries, as I have noticed, no issue date, even though documents always were provided with a date".  Karl Streibel's position, then, reduces to: Even though that signature is good enough to be mine, the card can't be authentic because it lacks a date of issue.

      Despite Streibel's strong statement, however, the date of assignment to the first posting which is on the card may be so close to the date of issue of the card which Streibel notices is missing that the two dates are equivalent, and the dates of assignment to each new subsequent posting can be viewed as conveying the same information as, upon each new posting, issuing a new card with its own date of issue.  If there were no dates at all on the card, this would be a serious defect; but as the requisite date information is conveyed in an alternative manner, this defect appears far from fatal.  It does appear fatal, however, to those who understand that the preparation of identification documents followed strict rules, and that including an explicit date of issue was one of those strict rules.
    2. Karl Streibel's memory of Ukrainians is as farm guards.  If John Demjanjuk had been Ivan the Terrible, he would have been notorious among his commanding officers.  If, however, his commanding officers cannot remember him even when examining his photograph, then John Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible.  It would have been informative to also have asked Karl Streibel to comment in this same declaration on whether he remembered any Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka at all.  His statement that Ukrainians "mainly were assigned to guard agricultural estates" suggests that he possesses no memory more salient than this to connect to Ukrainians, and certainly not the memory that Ukrainians furnished the greatest monster of WW II.
    3. Karl Streibel too wants to see the original card.  Karl Streibel says that if he were given the opportunity to examine the original Trawniki Card, and not a mere copy, then he would be able to state whether his signature, and the document as a whole, were authentic.  However, the prosecution did not provide Karl Streibel with this opportunity, as the card was in the hands of the KGB, which for some undisclosed reason was not making it available.  Perhaps Karl Streibel was provided with a copy of the Trawniki Card of the abysmal quality of the copies that have been released to the public.
    4. He who freely gave orders is acquitted early, those who were compelled to obey the orders are prosecuted late.  It seems incongruous that if the camp commandant was acquitted of Trawniki crimes in 1976, those who were conscripted to serve under his command at Trawniki should still be persecuted 25 years after that acquittal, as they are to this day in Canada.

  3. Why Pre-Print A Fixed Rank?

    Underneath Karl Streibel's signature is the pre-printed rank, SS-Hauptsturmführer, which is the same pre-printed rank on all four Trawniki Cards at this position, with Streibel signing on the Demjanjuk and Bondarenko cards, and someone else (illegible to me, but some interpreting the signature as Forster, and others as Hoefle) signing on the Juchnowskij and Wolembachow cards.

    Waffen-SS rank US Army equivalent
    SS-Standartenführer Colonel
    SS-Obersturmbannführer Lieutenant-Colonel
    SS-Sturmbannführer Major
    SS-Hauptsturmführer Captain
    SS-Obersturmführer Lieutenant
    SS-Untersturmführer Second Lieutenant
    SS-Sturmscharführer Sergeant Major
    SS-Hauptscharführer Master Sergeant
    SS-Oberscharführer Technical Sergeant
    SS-Scharführer Staff Sergeant
    SS-Unterscharführer Sergeant
    SS-Rottenführer Corporal
    SS-Oberschütze Private First Class
    SS-Schütze Private
    The question arises, then, of how the creators of the card could have known in advance that all the signing authorities would have the rank of exactly SS-Hauptsturmführer?  They must have decided that everybody of a lower rank would forever be under-qualified to sign, and that everybody of a higher rank would forever be over-qualified.  However, perhaps it would be more reasonable to expect the card's creators to have foreseen that such inflexibility could lead to the difficulty down the road of somebody other than an SS-Hauptsturmführer needing to sign.  For example, we see in the Waffen-SS ranks in the table on the right that the SS-Hauptsturmführer is roughly equivalent to a Captain in the US Army, and wonder why the creators of the Trawniki Card thought it inconceivable that a Major or a Lieutenant-Colonel or a Colonel might occasionally need to sign the Trawniki Card instead; or going lower, that a Lieutenant or a Second Lieutenant or a Sergeant-Major might occasionally be called upon to do the job as well.

    As the location Trawniki is not pre-printed on the card, but only stamped, the card appears to have been intended for use at various facilities throughout the Eastern occupied territories, rendering even more unrealistic the assumption that the senior official at each facility, large facility as well as small, would at every instant be exactly an SS-Hauptsturmführer.

    In November 1992, the German magazine, STERN, noted that this pre-printed rank was one of the Trawniki Card characteristics which led the BKA to conclude that the card was a forgery: "The rank of the issuing officer (SS-Hauptsturmführer Captain Streibel) is printed in and not entered by hand or using a typewriter, as was customary because ranks would change quickly".  More on the BKA evaluation of the Trawniki Card is reported below under the heading "The BKA said that the card was forged".

  4. Anachronistic Rank For Ernst Teufel

    The table of Waffen-SS ranks above is about to prove serviceable to us again, this time in connection with the three ranks that it displays in red.

    The table below shows the four Trawniki Cards ordered from the smallest to largest Dienstausweis number (forget about the yellow row for the time being).  If the Dienstausweis number reflects the order of conscription, we would expect a correlation between it and the date of first posting, which is what we in fact observe the Dienstausweis numbers get bigger as we go down the table, and at the same time the dates get later.

    When we examine the ranks that Teufel was credited with on the three cards that he signed under the Ausgegeben (Issued) heading, we discover an anachronism on the Wolembachow 1211 card, Teufel has already reached the rank of SS-Unterscharführer, but when he arrives at the Demjanjuk 1393 and Bondarenko 1926 cards, he reverts to the lowly rank of SS-Rottenführer.

    The yellow row in the table below denotes not an identification card, but the promotion of Teufel to the rank of SS-Scharführer on 19-Jul-1942.  This promotion has been inserted at the point where its date is continuous with the posting dates in the same column, but a strong case can be made that the yellow row should be inserted lower in the table the Israeli court correctly explained that there was no contradiction between the date of Teufel's promotion and his signing himself as Rottenführer on the Demjanjuk card, since the Demjanjuk card was not issued on 22-Sep-1942 (that was the date of the bearer's first posting), but at some unknown earlier date when Teufel might indeed have been only a lowly Rottenführer:

    As stated, the certificate does not bear the date of issue, but dates of postings only, the earliest of which is 22 September 1942.

    It is logical to suppose that the certificate was issued prior to this date.  This may also be determined by relying on a known Trawniki document tav/138 Teufel's paybook, listed in which is the date of his promotion to the rank of Scharführer (sergeant) on 19 July 1942.  At the time that he signed certificate tav/149, as we said, his rank was that of Rotführer (Corporal)  Thus, this also proves that the certificate was issued prior to 19 July 1942.
    Verdict, Jerusalem, 1988, p. 286.  Misspelling Rotführer is in the original.  There is some latitude in what the rank of SS-Scharführer might be equivalent to, say in the United States army, and Levin-Tal-Dorner preferred to think it was sergeant.

    However, the impression of anachronism does not arise from the seeming clash of the Teufel promotion to SS-Scharführer on 19-Jul-1942 and his signing himself as SS-Rottenführer on the Demjanjuk card.  Rather, the observation leading to the charge of anachronism is that Wolembachow's card 1211 already advances Teufel to the rank of SS-Unterscharführer whereas Demjanjuk's card 1393 puts him back to a lowly SS-Rottenführer, and the Bondarenko card 1926 keeps him there.

    Name on card Dienstausweis Nr. Date of first posting Teufel rank
    Juchnowskij, Iwan   847 16-Jun-1942 Signer wasn't Teufel
    Wolembachow, Iwan 1211 none SS-Unterscharführer
    Teufel is promoted. 19-Jul-1942 SS-Scharführer
    Demjanjuk, Iwan 1393 22-Sep-1942 SS-Rottenführer
    Bondarenko, Mykola 1926 03-Nov-1942 SS-Rottenführer

    One hypotheses which might serve to explain this anachronism is that KGB forgers lost track of who was signing and what rank he was claiming under his signature, and made errors as a result.  This hypothesis gains credibility when we examine the legibility of the three Teufel signatures-and-ranks found on the Trawniki Cards, which I will demonstrate by comparing the Wolembachow and Demjanjuk cards below.

    On the Wolembachow card, the stamped SS-Unterscharführer rank seems largely illegible at first glance (see just below), though under higher magnification, what can be discerned, perhaps, is
    "S S - U n t _ _ s c h _ _ f ü h _______".
    With the assistance of our table of Waffen-SS ranks higher above, we recognize that no other rank could have been intended by this pattern of visible letters than SS-Unterscharführer, and this recognition comes particularly quickly when our knowledge of Ernst Teufel tells us to concentrate our search through the table among the junior ranks.  However, MGB translator Z. Bazilevskaya , writing on Wolembachow's card in 1947, apparently did not have the table of Waffen-SS ranks above, and obviously did not know the name Ernst Teufel, or even Teufel.  Why should she have known these things, after all she was a translator and not a historian.  Her guess at Teufel's signature can be seen in her notation where she writes in Russian, "Foizel".  As for rank, we see her writing "CC" which is the Russian representation of "SS", but she realizes that the German (of what we know to be Unterscharführer) is too faint for her to make out, and the few letters she writes to the left of her "CC" (the reversal of order of the German SS-rank to the Russian rank-SS is common) have no intelligible intent, and are too few to constitute a transliteration of the lengthy Unterscharführer.  It does not help that she conceals some of the faint characters of the stamp that she is trying to read underneath her own writing.

    On the Demjanjuk card, in turn, Z. Bazilevskaya appears to have fallen into frustrated passivity.  She makes no attempt to decipher either the signature which we know to be Teufel, or the rank SS-Rottenführer which we know Teufel abbreviates to SS-Rottff (which is a misspelling because the two "f"s cannot be justified).  Bazilevskaya is unable to even begin to penetrate the opacity of this unfamiliar script combined with careless execution, and writes nothing.

    The Teufel signature and rank on the Bondarenko card (not shown below) resemble the ones on the Demjanjuk card, though fainter, upon which Bazilevskaya is again unable to throw any light, and so again writes nothing.

    On card 1211, Teufel is already a Sergeant.

    But by card 1393, Teuful is only a Corporal.

    Thus, we can see that it is indeed possible for any given Teufel-with-rank entry to be an anachronism produced by forgery for the reason that KGB forgers may not have known whose signature it was that they were dealing with on other cards, and more importantly because they could not decipher what ranks had already been assigned on other cards.  Specifically, unaware that Teufel had been credited with the rank of SS-Unterscharführer on card 1211 (just as Bazilevskaya had been unaware), KGB forgers could not see that they were creating an anachronism by crediting Teufel with the lesser rank of SS-Rottenführer on cards 1393 and 1926.  It has been proposed by others, furthermore, that documentation concerning the dates of promotion of German military personnel fell into the hands not of the Soviets but of the Americans, and that the Soviets did not have access to this information, which would again have facilitated their confusion on this score.

    Levin-Tal-Dorner did not follow the above line of reasoning, but rather offered whatever speculation was compatible with their presumption of guilt, speculation which I elaborate as follows:

    1. Wolembachow gets his gear late.  Wolembachow got his card early (and thus the low Dienstausweis Nr. of 1211), but Teufel delayed giving him his clothing and equipment until Teufel had been promoted to the rank of SS-Unterscharführer, which is the rank that he then stamped on the Wolembachow card as he signed it.  Thus, according to Levin-Tal-Dorner, there is no anachronism.  Teufel was not SS-Unterscharführer at the time Wolembachow was assigned his Dienstausweis Nr. of 1211, but he had become SS-Unterscharführer by the time he got around to giving Wolembachow his uniform and equipment.

      However, it might be objected that this speculation would seem to leave conscript Wolembachow for some time hanging around the Trawniki camp without uniform or gear, and thus perhaps unable to perform duties or to begin learning the routines of camp life, unable even to be distinguished by his uniform from the prisoners.  Why should Wolembachow have experienced delay in being outfitted not getting his gear until after even latecomer Demjanjuk had gotten his?  We can speculate, but speculation is not evidence.
    2. Teufel waits for his rubber stamp to arrive.  Wolembachow got his gear early, and Teufel signed his name on the Wolembachow card early, but Teufel didn't write his rank because he preferred to have that stamped, and yet the stamp, which had been placed on order, had not yet arrived.  When, after long delay, the stamp finally did arrive, it had on it Teufel's current elevated rank, SS-Unterscharführer, so that when Teufel stamped Wolembachow's card, that stamp gave a rank which was higher than Teufel's rank had been at the time he had signed his name.

      However, this line of speculation might be objected to on the grounds that on the Demjanjuk and Bondarenko cards, Teufel seems happy to write his SS-Rottenführer abbreviation under his name, so that he would seem to have no motive to await delivery of a stamp which would designate his rank in the case of the earlier Wolembachow card, and he would have anticipated that when the new stamp arrived, its application to Wolembachow's card would create an anachronism.
    3. Proof that the KGB didn't forge.  In any case, if the KGB had been forging Teufel's name or rank, it was too competent to create an anachronism, therefore the anachronism was evidence that the KGB could not have been forging Teufel's name or rank.

    Concerning Teufel's seeming demotion between the Wolembachow 1211 and the Demjanjuk 1393 cards, Levin-Tal-Dorner did not express themselves in as much detail as above, but they did express the same sentiments more laconically:

    The discrepancy can indeed be explained logically, by the fact that the equipment was not issued according to the order of enlistment, or by the fact that the rank in certificate tav/223 [the Wolembachow card] was impressed by means of a stamp, on a date following the promotion.  Whether one way or the other, it is clear that the K.G.B., which had custody of both documents, as appears from the writing on both, would not have "manufactured" such a discrepancy.
    Verdict, Jerusalem, 1988, p. 288.

    Observers with a weaker committment to seeing John Demjanjuk hanged than was gripping Levin-Tal-Dorner, however, might at the very least have admitted that here was another drop in a shower of incongruities falling from the Trawniki Card; and might at the very least have objected that the judges did not cite evidence to explain the anachronism in question, but rather set off on a path of wild speculation at whose end lay the conclusion of guilt, and presented their walk down this path as being necessitated by disinterested logic.

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  1. No Printing Office Identification

    The layout of a German identification document was not improvised by whoever was entrusted with the task, but rather followed strict rules laid out in a service manual, Dienstanweisung.  Among the requirements for an identification card is a printer's code identifying the office which printed a card, the chief options being the Staatsdruckerei, the Reichsdruckerei, or some local Druckerei (printing shop) licensed or authorized to print administrative documents.  An instance of an identification card which bears the Staatsdruckerai information will be presented below.  The nature and significance of printing office identification is explained by Hans Peter Rullman:

    One of the essential features of any German official form is a series of numbers or a symbol that indicates from which printer the document came.  It is still that way today: every official form, every identification card, even each postal return receipt contains such a symbol.  And this symbol, too, is missing from the so-called "service identification card from Trawniki."

    One can imagine the consequences for the internal security of the Nazi empire, if identification cards had been printed and issued which did not indicate what printer had made them.  If that were the case, any private printer could have printed identification cards.  And if such a forged identification card had fallen into the hands of the German Security Police, one would not have been able to tell whether it was really a forgery or whether it had been issued by a German office.
    Hans Peter Rullman, Victim of the holocaust, English translation abridged and edited from the German, Ukrainian National Center: History and Information Network (UNCHAIN), Newark NJ, 1987, p. 23.

  2. The Card Was Not Prepared by Native Speakers of German

    The purpose of a military identification card is, on the one hand, to prevent infiltrators or saboteurs or spies from appearing to belong to some military unit, and, on the other hand, to prevent deserters from appearing to not belong, and more generally to permit verification that people are where they are supposed to be, and not wandering around where they are not supposed to be.  Under conditions of war, of course, it becomes particularly important to achieve all these goals, and so the role of an identification card becomes particularly important.

    Anyone who examines an identification card for purposes of verifying an individual's identity, then, will be on the lookout for indications of forgery, and among these indications might be that the card had been composed by somebody who did not speak or write proper German, or who did not have access to German characters or fonts, or simply who did not understand what characteristics of an identity card were standard.  Thus, an American highway patrolman who was handed a driver's licence that had on it "Driverse Licence" or "Drivër's Licence" or "Licence to go Driving" would consider it to be a forgery somehow or other, he would think, the creators of such a licence seemed to not be in sufficient command of the English language, which would be unusual and suspicious.  If some of the characters that should be printed were poorly formed, to the degree that they looked like they had been drawn in by hand, this would not add to confidence in the card's authenticity.  If on top of that there was no room for the bearer's signature, or no date of issue and date of expiration, the patrolman's suspicion would rise to incredulity.

    The defects of the Trawniki Card in this respect are numerous.  Below is no more than a sampling of deviations from proper German from comments made by several native speakers of German:

    The preprinted word Vatersname is not formal German, and for that reason would have been avoided on a document.  It would be correct if it read Vatername, Vater's Name, Name des Vater's, or des Vater's Name.
    The preprinted word Schnurschuhe should read Schnürschuhe (meaning "shoes with shoelaces"). 
    In the preprinted words Grösse, Fusslappen, and Essgeschirr the double "ss" is incorrect, and should be the "sharp" German "ß".

    Bluse in German refers to the feminine article of clothing, a blouse.  Hemd would be used in reference to a male shirt, which conclusion is consistent with Unterhemd being used nearby to signify "undershirt".  However, the jacket which in Russian or Ukrainian would be called a "Bliuzka" was in German called a Russenbluse, which consideration might not keep this particular malapropism from constituting a fatal error, as it seems implausible that conscripts into a German military unit are being handed out Soviet jackets.
    The handwritten Ruksak (backpack) contains three errors.  First, two "c"s have been omitted, the correct spelling being Rucksack.  Second, the diacritic over the "u" serves to distinguish a written "u" from a written "n" which can be similar in appearance (as is evident in the Ruksak under consideration).  However, to indicate that below it lies a "u", the diacritic must be concave upward.
    To be consistent, Ernst Teufel, who presumably wrote the above Ruksak, should place the same diacritic above the "u" when he signs his own surname.  (When we look at this surname, we again see the usefulness of such a diacritic, as Teufel's "u" looks exactly like an "n".)  However, what Teufel does write above the "u" in his surname is not the incorrect concave-downward diacritic that he used in Ruksak, and not the correct concave-upward diacritic, but a circle.
    In attempting to write the single German word FESTZUNEHMEN, meaning to arrest or to apprehend, the Trawniki Card breaks it up into three words FEST ZU NEHMEN.  In clearer versions of the Trawniki Card issued to other individuals (particularly to Bondarenko and Juchnowskij), it can be seen that there is an "S" in the blank within "FE T", and that there is a "U" (but no hyphen) following the "Z" at the end of the first line above.

    A large number of other deviations from proper German have been pointed out by observers fluent in German, the first five below by August Sobottka of Alsike, Alberta in a critique of the Trawniki Card which he wrote in 1989:

    • It is possible to object to the meaning "Assigned on ______ to _____" being rendered on the card as Abkommandiert am _____ zu _____, as in Abkommandiert am 27.3.43 zu Sobibor.  In proper German, no one is Abkommandiert zu because no one goes zu Sobibor or travels zu Berlin or transfers zu Paris.  Rather, one geht nach Sobibor or reist nach Berlin or zieht um nach Paris.  (August Sobottka)

      Also, in German military usage, a man was not Abkommandiert to another location, he was versetzt or verlegt (transferred).  A man could be Abkommandiert zur Wache (commandeered for guard duty), or he could be Abkommandiert zur Arbeit (commandeered for work detail), but he could not to be Abkommandiert zu some other location.  (August Sobottka)

    • On the outside right panel of the card, the article Der is not appropriate in front of a proper name, as in Der Demjanjuk, Iwan just as in English one does not say "The Demjanjuk, John".  Der would have been appropriate if the person's position, occupation, rank, or title had preceded his name (which it had not), as in Der Wachmann Demjanjuk, Der Bergmann Demjanjuk, Der Handwerker Demjanjuk, and so on, again somewhat paralleling English, where "The Guard Demjanuk" would be proper.  Proper in German would have been Dieser Demjanjuk or Derselbe Demjanjuk.  (August Sobottka)

    • Where SS-Rottenführer (Corporal) Teufel signed his name, he wrote his rank as the abbreviation Rottff.  However, the correct abbreviation is Rottf, the word Rottenführer containing only a single "f".  (August Sobottka)

    • The phrase Im Distrikt Lublin (In the Lublin District) appears within the seal on the outside right panel of the card.  Although the word Distrikt is common in German, it was at the time considered a Fremdwort (foreign word), and in German Amtsdeutsch (administrative language) would have been avoided according to the principle Das Deutschtum wird hervorgehoben (the German element prevails).  In the proper German of the day, the word Bezirk or Bereich might have been preferred, as in Im Amtsbereich Lublin or Im Dienstbereich Lublin.  (August Sobottka)

    • In Russian and Ukrainian, as in English, the single item of clothing "pants" is plural, which is not the case in German.  (In English, for example, we say, "Put your shirt on; put it on.  Put your pants on; put them on.)  The difficulty is that the Trawniki Card has the singular Hose (pants), and the singular Badehose (swimming trunks), but the plural Unterhosen (underpants).  Other articles of clothing on the card are not pluralized, as for example "undershirt" is written Unterhemd (singular), and not "Unterhemden" (plural).  The question, then, is why the plural Unterhosen was preferred to the singular Unterhose.  One possibility is that a speaker of Russian (thus, possibly a KGB forger) started from the Russian pluralized "underpants", and translated that into the German pluralized Unterhosen.

    Similar examples abound, but the above suffice to document the conclusion that the creators of what is supposed to be a German military identification card were not proficient in German.

  3. The Card Contains Numerous Typographical Irregularities

    In the preprinted word Reichsführers, and in others, the double dots of the umlaut are irregular.

    The colons are sometimes irregular, as for example the upper dot in this colon being too high.
    The Schutzstaffel, or thunderbolt SS-runes, throughout the Trawniki Card are irregular.

    The word Distrikt appears within the phrase Im Distrikt Lublin (in the Lublin District) at the bottom of the round seal which sits to the left of the Streibel signature on the outside right panel of the card.  However, the letters "st" within "Distrikt" are so closely juxtaposed that they occupy the space of a single letter.  A higher-resolution image would be helpful in clarifying this anomaly.  Of the four Trawniki Cards offered by the Kremlin, only the Wolembachow card has this same stamp, and in it the same compression of "st" is evident.
    The preprinted word Dienststelle, Nationalität, and many others, contain a "t" in which the upper stem is bent to the right.  A commentator has written in a critique which he wishes to remain private that he has been unsuccessful in locating this type of "t" in German documents between 1900 and 1945, but did find it in documents issued by the Czech government.


    Several writers have concluded that irregularities in umlaut dots, in colons, or in the SS-runes indicate that these were drawn in by hand, and that drawing by hand indicates forgery.  In an attempt to determine the nature of this supposed drawing in by hand, I created the three animated comparisons to the left which feature highly irregular (and thus presumably the most likely to be hand-drawn) instances of each character.  The successive images in the animation are fragments from the four Trawniki Identification Cards belonging to Bondarenko, Demjanjuk, Juchnowskij, and Wolembachow.  The Demjanjuk versions within the three animations can be found in image fragments already presented above: the "SS-und" is the upper one of the two appearing above, the "che:" comes from Feldflasche:, and the "ührers-SS" comes from the Reichsführers-SS

    What is suggested by an examination of these animations is that the one umlaut that is visible, and the one colon, and the two sets of SS-runes, do vary from one card to another, but in such a way as might be produced by:

    1. different amounts of ink spread over the printing plate,
    2. the uneven distribution of the ink across the plate,
    3. changing viscosity of the ink, or changing presence of foreign particles in the ink,
    4. varying pressure of the printing plate against the paper,
    5. irregularities in the paper,
    6. inconstant brightness or contrast of the photograph taken of the card,
    7. inconstant brightness or contrast of the scanned image of this photograph,
    8. inconstant scaling producing images within the animation that are bigger or smaller than they should be,
    9. inconstant centering of the image,
    10. tilt introduced either during the photographing of the card, or during the scanning of the photograph.

    However, the animations provide no reason to suppose that either the umlaut or the colon or the SS-runes have been drawn in on each card individually.  Rather, the size, the orientation, the position, the shape of these characters are sufficiently unvarying from one card to the next that it is obvious that they exist on some original printing template which was used to print all four cards.  That some of the characters on this original template may have been imperfectly shaped simply demonstrates that the printer responsible for the Trawniki Card did not have access to the high-quality characters available to other printers, and perhaps had to rely on characters that had been improvised locally.  If to the handicap of wartime shortages of equipment we add the further handicap that the printer may have been Polish or Czech, or a Volksdeutscher whose German had slipped over a lifetime of living among Slavs, and who because of the low importance of the work was not closely supervised by well-educated, native speakers of German then many of the above irregularities recede in importance.

    However, even though we are able to depreciate the significance of many of the above-mentioned irregularities in the Trawniki Card, the fact that there are a staggering number of them (I have brought attention to only a handful), and that while their origin may be speculated upon, it has not been resolved through the presentation of evidence, must somewhat weaken our confidence in the card's authenticity.

    Examination of the three other Trawniki Identification Cards leaves the same impression of inexplained chaos that the Demjanjuk Card presents.  The Bondarenko card comes missing its photograph.  Demjanjuk's photograph is the only one on which were stamped two seals (lower left and upper right); the Juchnowskij and Bondarenko photographs received only a single seal on the lower left, and the Wolembachow photograph only a single seal on the upper right.  The seals on the photographs of the Demjanjuk and Bondarenko cards are the same, but Juchnowskij's is different, and Wolembachow's is different still.  Wolembachow never signs his card, is never posted anywhere, and has the Dienstsitz Lublin Ausbildungslager Trawniki (Service Assignment Lublin Training Camp Trawniki) on the outside right panel of his card stamped upside down; and apparently walks around the camp barefoot, as he is never issued shoes or socks.  Juchnowskij joins him in his barefoot walks, and also in failing to sign his card, but is nevertheless posted to Lemberg, and his posting is the only one on all the cards that was typed.  Wolembachow and Juchnowskij are issued one coat each, but Bondarenko gets no coat, while Demjanjuk gets two.  Demjanjuk's surname signature is in Ukrainian Cyrillic; the only other bearer signature Bondarenko's is in Latin characters, except that he continues to make his "n" in the Cyrillic style.  None of the four guards, if that's what they were, seems to have been issued a rifle, sidearm, or holster.  The rivulet of evidence to explain this chaos having run dry, explanations are offered instead from the river of speculation which never ceases to flow.

  4. Individually-Doctored Dienstsiegel

    Although we have seen above that irregularities in colons, umlauts, and SS-runes can be so similar from one card to another that they do not indicate that these characters were drawn by hand on each card individually, yet there is one place at least where hand-drawing from card to card does seem to have been practiced.  This is on the outside right panel of the card, within the pre-printed word Dienstsiegel ("Official Stamp") located within a pre-printed circle.  That pre-printed circle offers the target over which the seal is at some later time to be rubber-stamped, and is the reason for the appearance of two circles, one within the other, but not perfectly concentric.

    It will soon prove to be important to recognize that the four images below were scanned from photographs supplied to Demjanjuk supporters many years ago by the Demjanjuk defense team, and very likely supplied to them in turn by prosecutors, and in which the dimensions of the cards measured roughly 20x14 cm.

    Comparing one card with the next suggests that many of the characters in Dienstsiegel have been traced over with ink, producing lines that are thicker and blacker than are lines which haven't been traced over, and that vary enough from card to card as to encourage the conclusion that they have been drawn by hand on each card individually.

    The following are particularly worth comparing or noting:

    Demjanjuk Card

    Juchnowskij Card

    Wolembachow Card

    Bondarenko Card
    1. All four "D"s.  The Demjanjuk "D" is so thick as to give the impression that it has been drawn by a jumbo-size, felt-tipped pen at least that is the impression given in the enlargement.

      Bondarenko's "D" has a gap on the upper-left, where one might commonly be created in writing, and yet in Wolembachow's, this corner of the "D" is particularly thick and solid.  Juchnowskij has almost a gap in this region, but located counter-clockwise to the Bondarenko gap.

      The Juchnowskij vertical stem is somewhat concave to the right; the Wolembachow and Bondarenko vertical stems are somewhat concave to the left.  The Bondarenko stem is tipping over to the left.

      Stepping inside the Wolembachow "D" shows a marked deviation from the concave-inward line to be expected from an internal view.

    2. Note the radical difference between the first of the two "i"s in Wolembachow and Bondarenko.

    3. Note the radical difference between the "n"s in Juchnowskij and Wolembachow.

    4. The "ts" in Juchnowskij has been swallowed by a round blob which cannot have been shed by the seal, as this can be seen to have left only a thin deposit of ink; and yet in Wolembachow immediately below it, the "t" and "s" are clearly separate, though poorly formed.

    5. Compare the second of the two "i"s in Demjanjuk and Juchnowskij.  Put your face up to the screen, and take a really good look at that Demjanjuk "i" it's a beauty!  The corresponding Bondarenko "i" is worth inspecting too its squared top contrasts jarringly with the rounded corners typically appearing at the ends of lines or around the dots of "i"s.

    One notices that this ink tracing of characters concentrates in locations where the seal happens to have fallen for which only a single hypothesis springs to mind.

    The drunken-forger hypothesis

    Specifically, we understand that the Dienstsiegel-with-its-circle is supposed to have come pre-printed on the card, and the seal with its own circle to have been rubber-stamped over it at a later time.  However, suppose some KGB employee became confused and thought it should be the other way around?

    Let us imagine some KGB forger who has recently been chewed out by his superior and threatened with a stint in the salt mines.  In a state of high anxiety, perhaps having overindulged in vodka over lunch, he notices horrors! what he takes to be another blunder on the cards for which he is reponsible the Dienstsiegel lies underneath the seal!  He panics, and in order to put Dienstsiegel on top where he mistakenly thinks it belongs, he begins to trace over whatever letters in Dienstsiegel he finds lying under the seal.  Although the letters look big to us, enlarged as we see them above, he is doctoring the unenlarged original, and the letters are tiny, and he has no anticipation that someday what looked passable to him unenlarged would look unacceptable to viewers who saw it enlarged.

    As we can see, our enebriated KGB forger does a terrible job lifting Dienstsiegel so that it sits on top of the seal, what with his hands trembling and his head spinning and his rushing to finish before his superior walks over to see what he is doing, or orders the cards shipped off to some higher authority for inspection.  Occasionally, he also traces letters which did not overlap the seal, in order to make them look more like ones he has just finished tracing.  Whatever he botches badly, he simply covers with a blob.  The Demjanjuk card is where he may have begun his tracing, as the initial letters here appear to be particularly coarse.

    Whatever scenario we care to imagine as the reason that some of the letters of Dienstsiegel have been traced over, that they have been traced over does seem indisputable.  Happily, the matter can readily be resolved just as soon as access to the Trawniki Cards is allowed, or even when high-quality reproductions are made available.  Two questions which access to the cards might address itself to first are:

    1. Is Dienstsiegel composed of two kinds of characters ones that have been pre-printed on the card, and ones that have been traced over by pen ink?

    2. Does pen ink which traces some of the characters in Dienstsiegel lie on top of the rubber-stamped seals?

    Demjanjuk Card (Doctored)

    Demjanjuk Card (Lehner, 1977, p. 28)

    Demjanjuk Card (Rullman, 1987, p. 101)

    References are to:
    •  Dieter Lehner, Du sollst nicht falsch Zeugnis geben, Auslieferung und Vertrieb: Kurt Vowinckel KG, D-8137 Berg am See, 1977.
    •  Hans Peter Rullman, Der Fall Demjanjuk: Zur Beweislage und zu den politischen Hintergründen des Prozesses in Jerusalem, Verlag Hermut Wild, 7419 Sonnenbühl 3, 1987.
    The smoke-screen hypothesis

    Demjanjuk.  Reproducing the Demjanjuk version of Dienstsiegel once again on the right, but this time followed by two other Demjanjuk versions of Dienstsiegel taken from two different books, demonstrates that at least two versions of Dienstsiegel are in circulation the doctored version in which the card occupies approximately 20x14 cm on a glossy photograph (and distributed by, and to, nobody knows whom), and an undoctored version (which we find in the Lehner and Rullman books).  That the two versions are different is demonstrated most clearly in three features:

    1. the doctored version shows the bow of the capital "D" dipping downward, whereas the undoctored version shows the bow of the "D" shooting off horizontally from the stem, and then rising;

    2. the doctored version shows the bow of the "D" protruding left of the stem;

    3. the doctored version shows the second "i" with squared corners, and so thickened that it makes contact with both the preceding "s" and the following "e", whereas the undoctored version shows the second "i" slim and uncrowded by adjacent letters, and in fact with a particularly large gap between it and the preceding "s".

    The existence of doctored and undoctored versions of Dienstsiegel can be interpreted in two ways.  One interpetation is that the two undoctored images show the Demjanjuk-Card Dienstsiegel prior to doctoring.  This interpretation, however, requires us to believe that the KGB is so incompetent as to put into circulation both doctored and undoctored versions, which is a degree of incompetence that is hard to credit, thought not impossible.  In view of the heightened incredibility of our first hypothesis, it would be desirable to generate an alternative.

    One alternative interpretation that presents itself is radically different from the first it is that in formulating our first hypothesis above, we fell victim to somebody's disinformation scheme!

    That is, from the two additional and apparently undoctored instances of Dienstsiegel on the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card shown above, we venture the fresh hypothesis that there has never been any doctoring whatever of this word on the card itself, but that there has most certainly been exactly the sort of doctoring that we were describing above on the photographs that someone was circulating of the Demjanjuk card, and of the other three cards.  With the locus of doctoring changed from the card itself to photographs of the card comes a change of hypothesized motivation surely this would be smoke-screen doctoring whose intent was to achieve precisely the effect that was achieved on me above namely, to divert investigators into wasting time solving riddles created by the doctorers, to lure truth-seekers into entertaining false hypotheses, and to discredit them when they were led into levelling false accusations.

    Common to the two hypotheses is the supposition of gross incompetence of the perpetrators whether the doctoring is of the original card, or only of a photograph of the card, a comparison of doctored and undoctored versions must reveal the doctoring sooner or later, and the doctorers must inevitably be disgraced.  The gross incompetence lies in seizing the advantage of the moment without awareness of the loss to future credibility.

    Juchnowskij Card (Doctored)

    Juchnowskij Card (Lehner, 1977, p. 103)

    Wolembachow Card (Doctored)

    Wolembachow Card (Lehner, 1977, p. 106)

    Bondarenko Card (Doctored)

    Bondarenko Card (Lehner, 1977, p. 108)
    Efforts to discover doctored and undoctored versions of Dienstsiegel among the other Trawniki cards succeed, though hampered by the poor quality of the reproductions of the other cards that are in circulation.  Some key differences that most clearly signal doctoring in each comparison are as follows.

    Juchnowskij.  The "ts" blob in the doctored version is gratuitous it is too large, juts too far toward the upper left, and lacks the separation between "t" and "s" that can be seen in the undoctored version.

    Wolembachow.  The bow of the doctored "D" is constructed out of straight line segments.  The doctored "n" is too closed on the inside by an up stroke slanting off to the upper right, and its terminal stroke extends too far down and contains curves that would be found in handwriting, but not in a printed "n".

    Bondarenko.  The glaring gap at the upper-left of the doctored "D" is an exaggeration of what might be a slight fading at this position in the undoctored version.  The leftward tilt of the stem of the "D" in the doctored version is gratuitous, especially since the clockwise rotation of the entire word leads us to expect a tilt of this stem to the right.  The first doctored "i" is too thick and tall, as is the second "i" with its implausible pointed corners.

    On top of calling for continued investigation of the Trawniki Identification Cards, then, one must call also for an investigation of disinformation efforts applied to reproductions of the cards.  Who is responsible for this particular disinformation project?  Has our appreciation of the depth of prosecutorial misconduct in the Demjanjuk case probed to the bottom, or has it as yet only skimmed the surface?  The four photographs that I relied on above had been distributed to Demjanjuk supporters by the Demjanjuk defense team who in turn obtained them from prosecutors who along this chain sought advantage from taking out his pen and tracing over the letters of the word Dienstsiegel Gideon Epstein, the OSI, the Israeli prosecutors, the KGB?  Can John Demjanjuk be said to have gotten a fair trial if the army of persecutors arrayed against him was catapulting doctored documents at him?

    And another question that cries out for an answer is Where were the experts?  Why has this doctoring lain undiscovered for some fourteeen years in the case of the non-Demjanjuk cards, and for perhaps much longer in the case of the Demjanjuk Card, instead of being noticed on the very day of appearance?  Fourteen hours would have been a reasonable interval before discovery, fourteen days would have been slow, fourteen years tells us that the system is malfunctioning.

    And to add one more irregularity to our collection the Dienstsiegel on the four Trawniki Cards, as can be amply seen above, was printed rotated clockwise of horizontal on each card.  Prosecution expert witness Gideon Epstein apparently overlooked this when he described the horizontality of the cards' printing as a sign of authenticity:

    Your Honor, actually it lent to the authenticity of the document because my alignment measurements [...], what we call the horizontal alignment was exact which showed that they were printed at the same time.
    Gideon Epstein, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, p. 5805.

    What happens when Mark O'Connor jumps up and down on the side of the Dov Levin rumbling volcano

    The setting is that at the Jerusalem trial in 1987, defense attorney Mark O'Connor has been grating on the court's nerves: "We are not angry and we are not peeved and you do not have to be afraid of arousing our anger because you can't make us angry" (Judge Dov Levin, Trial Transcript, 11-May-1987, p. 5883).  Stomping up and down on the side of this rumbling volcano, Mark O'Connor gives voice to accusations that fraudulent versions of the Trawniki Card have been in circulation, accusations to which our own evidence above of doctored and undoctored versions of the card in simultaneous circulation makes us think it prudent to lend a sympathetic ear:

    As I will point out, your honor, othe court has yet to see government's exhibit 5 and 6.  The honorable bench has before it an entirely different exhibt.  Totally different, without allterations, without substitutions, without obliterations, without Soviet fraud.

    What I'd like to do, unless the court stops me, is to put the fraudulent Soviet evidence, which was a matter of record, and which this witness testified to, government's exhibit 5 and 6 into the record, it is now in Mr. Shaked's hands, and unless I can get it from Mr. Shaked and put it up on the board and ask questions this court will never see it.  And therein lies the Soviet fraud in this case.
    Mark O'Connor while Gideon Epstein is in the witness stand, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, pp. 5887.  Errors and irregularities are in the original.

    Judge Dov Levin's reaction is to block O'Connor from following this path on the grounds that the exhibits have already been entered into evidence, and that defense attorney John Gill has already had the opportunity to question Gideon Epstein about them.  Mark O'Connor, however, is undeterred.  Perhaps he feels that the exhibits in question have not as yet been adequately examined.  He voices his accusation in even stronger language, and implicates prosecutor Michael Shaked, as well as defense expert witness Gideon Epstein, in perpetrating a fraud:

    If I could have one moment, please.  If it please the court, in order to clarify and to closely examine the Soviet fraud, your honor, in this case, unless the court stops me of course from examining the fraud, I would like to display for the witness, for his own identification, I'm sure Mr. Shaked knows exactly what I am talking about because he has the Soviet fraud right in a book in front of him, if he wishes to show that and produce it for the record so the court and the world can see the fraud.  If he doesn't want to do that, that's his responsibility.  However your honor, I think I can quickly clarify this point for the court, for clarification and for the record by showing several exhibits that I am sure this witness will remember very well form 1981 when he testified in a fraudulent manner in a court in the United States.
    Mark O'Connor, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, p. 5889.  Errors and irregularities are in the original.

    At this point come two surprises.  The first surprise is that prosecutor Michael Shaked does not join Judge Dov Levin in trying to block Mark O'Connor, but rather invites O'Connor to go ahead so that the weakness of his argument can be exposed.  But then when we least expect it the volcano blows.  Judge Dov Levin terminates Mark O'Connor's presentation, and does so with considerable emotion, as evidenced by the transcript:

    Mr. O'Connor:  Your honor, you were speaking so loudly, the decibel level of your voice was so loud when you were shouting at me, your honor, that I couldn't even get an accurate translation.  Am I to understand that this fraud can not be brought out, that I must sit down?

    H.J. Levin:  What?  Did he say the fraud would not see the light of day?

    Mr. O'Connor has concluded his questioning.  I do not know what Mr. O'Connor intended to say or to prove or to ask about.
    Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, p. 5889.  Errors and irregularities are in the original.

    Conclusions?  If Mark O'Connor did not have evidence of fraud, then his accusation makes him a bit of a madman.  If Mark O'Connor did have evidence of fraud, then the Israeli court suppressed it.  If John Demjanjuk had a madman as counsel, he was not getting an adequate defense; if the Israeli court was suppressing vital evidence, John Demjanjuk was not getting a fair trial.  Judge Dov Levin did not have the emotional control to be sitting on this case, and he did not care enough about truth and justice to take an interest in testimony, however obnoxious he found its presentation, that fraud was being perpetrated in his court.  The story of the Trawniki Identification Card has yet to be told.

  5. Four Rubber-Stamp Swastikas

    Below still more chaos.  We see the swastikas within the seals rubber-stamped on the front of the four Trawniki Cards.  The peculiar thing about this KGB Trawniki-Card collection is just how many peculiarities it comes with like the Bondarenko version of the swastika.

    Juchnowskij (847) Wolembachow (1211) Demjanjuk (1393) Bondarenko (1926)

    How is it possible for the Bondarenko swastika to be so poorly formed that by itself it would not even be recognized as a swastika?  How does it happen that no matter where we look in this KGB assortment of cards, we find some glaring defect?  Surely there cannot be any other collection of four identification cards of any kind from WW II that contain such a concentration of anomalies and discrepancies and incongruities and errors not if the cards are authentic.

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  1. Are Alterations Allowed on an Identification Card?

    Strictly speaking, any alteration on an identification card disqualifies the card.  One set of alterations on the Trawniki Card has to do with the number of items of clothing assigned to the bearer, with the bearer on the Demjanjuk card having the number of undershirts, as well as the number of underpants, changed from 1 to 2.  Below, we see how Ernst Teufel makes his ones and his twos, which enables us to judge unmistakably the pair of cases in which he or somebody changed ones to twos:

    1 changed to 2
    1 changed to 2

    The Demjanjuk Trawniki Card is the only one of the four that the KGB has presented on which any alteration in the number of items issued is evident, and the only one giving the bearer more than a single undershirt and more than a single pair of underpants.

    It may well be argued that these alterations are of small importance, because (a) they do not concern the identity of the bearer, and (b) they would not (given they escaped detection) enhance the credibility of the card, and are thus unlikely to have been made by the KGB.  On the other hand, it is always possible to credit the KGB with a degree of cunning one level higher by imagining that in these ones-changed-to-twos it is throwing up a smoke screen of seemingly purposeless anomalies behind which to conceal damaging anomalies which the KGB realized it had been unable to avoid creating.

    In any case, at the very least, we are able to view these alterations as dropping onto the camel's back not a rock, but merely another straw.  The camel's back, loaded down not only with a bale of straws, but also with pebbles, rocks, and boulders, cannot avoid collapse.

  2. The Card is Mistaken Concerning John Demjanjuk's Personal Characteristics

    1. Place of birth.  The Trawniki Card lists village and district of birth as Duboimachariwzi/Saporosche, whereas Levin-Tal-Dorner think that what is written on the card is Dubo Makriuzi/Zaporozho.  (Why Levin-Tal-Dorner fail at the simple task of copying two words is one of the mysteries associated with the card.)  On top of that, Levin-Tal-Dorner think that the correct rendering is neither of the two, but rather the mysteriously Italianate Dub Makrenzi/Zaporozho which I venture to predict you will find nowhere but in their Verdict, or in the writing of someone relying on their Verdict.

      What is important in all this is the district being specified as Zaporozho (I use the Verdict spelling), because it is agreed by all parties that this is wrong.  The correct district is Samgorodok, or maybe Vinitze (again to use the Verdict spelling), since the district at a certain period went under that name too.  Perhaps, then, this error approaches the level of seriousness of inscribing on an American identification card something like "Baton Rouge, Texas", or "Chicago, California".

      Levin-Tal-Dorner, talented in finding a silver lining in the darkest cloud, did not regard the district of birth being wrong as weakening the card's authenticity, but rather decided that it was further evidence that the card was genuine:

      But this erroneous combination cannot support the version of K.G.B. forgery, for who is better versed in the districts of the Soviet Union than this institution?  Is it conceivable that it would make such a geographical error, and state a district so distant from the Dub Makrenzi village, in a document which it forged and transmitted to the West?
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 291.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.

      Although the KGB is incapable of error goes the thinking of the judges a German clerk at Trawniki is well capable of experiencing phonetic confusion listening to Slavic names, and so where John Demjanjuk had really said "Samgorodok," the clerk could have written "Zaporozho".  Perhaps, Levin-Tal-Dorner attributed to this imaginary German clerk the following mental algorithm.  The clerk categorizes John Demjanjuk's utterance, Samgorodok, as containing the four vowels AOOO, and throws Samgorodok into the AOOO bin in his brain.  However, already stored in that AOOO bin is Zaporozho, since it enjoys the same vowel pattern.  When it comes time for the clerk to write the name on the card one second later, the clerk lifts out a name at random from that same AOOO bin, and it happens to be Zaporozho, which he proceeds to enter on the Trawniki Card.  As the pattern of consonants in the two words is entirely different, we infer that this clerk's short-term-memory Slavic-name-processing algorithm has not as yet been updated to handle consonants.

      It's not a very realistic algorithm, but it simulates well the not very realistic supposition of Levin-Tal-Dorner that someone could hear Samgorodok and write down Zaporozho.

      As evidence that some such confusion was possible in 1942 Trawniki, Levin-Tal-Dorner cite an instance they thought they noticed concerning the name of the village in which John Demjanjuk was born, offering the contrast of their Italianate and gratuitous Dub Makrenzi (which they thought that John Demjanjuk must have said because they thought it was correct) as compared to Dubo Makriuzi (which they thought was written on the card, though it was not).  Anyway, the judges pointed to the difference between the first and the second and concluded, in effect, "See how typical it is for a German to write a Slavic name incorrectly!".  The "geographical error" referred to in the first sentence below is the error concerning district of birth:

      It is reasonable that this geographical error, perhaps resulting from a phonetic difficulty, was made by a foreigner unfamiliar with the geography of the U.S.S.R.  This explanation is also supported by an error in the recording of the Defendant's birthplace, where Dub Makrenzi is written as Dubo Makriuzi.
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 291.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.

      However, (1) we have no reason to believe that the German clerk typed a village name other than the one John Demjanjuk had told him, as we don't know what John Demjanjuk told him, the name of his village finding expression in several variations, as for example in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Duboviye Makharintsy; and (2) if the card did evidence the small confusion of Dubo Makriuzi with Dub Makrenzi (to go along with the judges), then this would not make plausible the large confusion of Samgorodok with Zaporozho.

      One inescapable conclusion of our glance at John Demjanjuk's place of birth is that Levin-Tal-Dorner show imprecision in their handling of Ukrainian names.  The more important conclusion is that Levin-Tal-Dorner demonstrate themselves unwilling to be deterred from hanging John Demjanjuk by any shortcomings in the Trawniki Card.
    2. Height

      The court accepted that in 1942 John Demjanjuk was 1.85 m tall (and that in 1987, at the age of 67, he was 1.80 m tall), whereas the Trawniki Card credits him with only 1.75 m, a 1942 discrepancy of 10 cm, or 3.94 inches:

      The second error is in the entry of the Defendant's height who, in the relevant period, was apparently 1.85 meters tall (today his height is 1.80 meters, p. 5529 of the Record).
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 291.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.

      Levin-Tal-Dorner dismissed this height discrepancy for the following reasons:

      1. Somebody made a mistake.  They concluded that the 1.75 m entry was an error made by the Germans in 1942, and pointed out that no evidence had been presented that Trawniki conscripts had their height measured, as opposed to volunteering it from memory which would increase the chance of error.  However, they do not disclose what justifies their assumption that the Russians couldn't have made a similar error while forging the Trawniki Card in, say, 1977.
      2. The KGB knew the correct height.  They concluded that the KGB must have known John Demjanjuk's true height from his Red-Army induction records, and so if the KGB had forged the Trawniki Card, it could not have gotten that known height wrong.  Therefore, the KGB could not have forged the card.  This conclusion was not supported by evidence that such Red-Army records existed (or were accessible, or were accessed).
      3. The KGB had no motive to forge.  Levin-Tal-Dorner concluded that the KGB which knew the correct height could have had no motive to forge a knowingly-incorrect height, and so that the incorrect height could not be an indication of forgery.  This conclusion was based not on evidence that no motive was present, but rather on the impression that if anybody should try to think of a motive, they would probably be unable to.  However, motives can be imagined, as will be discussed farther below.

      To the Levin-Tal-Dorner reflexive habit of allowing no discrepancy to weaken confidence in the card's authenticity, the Statement of Appeal comments as follows:

      Thus it is, that the Honorable Lower Court, again interpreted a fact in a manner which can only support the Appellant's conviction.  If the height listed in tav/149 would have been 180cm., then due to the accuracy it would be concluded that tav/149 is of the Appellant, and if it is not correct, the same is to be concluded due to the inaccuracy.
      Statement of Appeal, Jerusalem, 1988, pp. 213-214.

      We note that the Appeal statement above minimizes the discrepancy in question, attributing to 1942 Demjanjuk not his 1942 height of 1.85 m, but rather his 1987 height of 1.80 m.  This is the defense making less of a card discrepancy than the court was willing to make of it, or than is rational.  Under normal circumstances, one would attribute this to carelessness.  When we know that John Demjanjuk's defense had fallen under the control of Israeli agent Yoram Sheftel, however, it is hard to keep more sinister interpretations from flitting across consciousness.

    In any case, it seems an indefensible position for Levin-Tal-Dorner to say that the accuracy of the personal information on the Trawniki Card is irrelevant to evaluating the card's authenticity.  Surely, in support of the conclusion that the card is authentic, it is better that the name on the card is Demjanjuk and would have been somewhat worse if the name had been Demianchuk, and would have been disastrous if the name had been Johnson.  Surely, in support of the conclusion that the card is authentic, it would have been best if the height on the card had been 1.85 m, and somewhat worse that the height is 1.75 m, and would have been catastrophic if it had been 1.55 m.  Surely, it would have been best if the district of birth had been Samgorodok, and it is a little worse that it is Saporosche, and it would be devastating if it had been California.  Surely Levin-Tal-Dorner are obligated to impose some limit on how many inaccuracies they can absorb without their confidence in the card being shaken.  Surely highest credibility goes to greatest accuracy, and every decrement of accuracy must cause some loss of credibility.  Surely Levin-Tal-Dorner must recognize that the position that they are approaching is that their confidence in the card would have been greatest if it had been attributed to Johnson who was 1.55 meters tall and had been born in California because the KGB would be absolutely incapable of framing John Demjanjuk with a card that was so inaccurate.

    Granted that some level of error is to be expected, and that a small number of understandable errors would only inappreciably weaken the credibility of a document, but in the present case, the sum of all errors is overwhelming and must be credited with some disconfirmatory power.

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  1. The Card Came Without A History

    No Soviet representative ever stepped forward to relate where, when, how the Trawniki Card had been captured.  None stepped forward to vouch for its authenticity.  None stepped forward to offer any explanation of when and how the card may have accrued its many flaws and defects.  None stepped forward to describe how the card had been safeguarded from tampering during its long custody.  Levin-Tal-Dorner were reminded of this more than once, as below, but what effect can mere reason have on judges determined to hang?

    [A]ll I'm trying to say is that the type of regime that obtains in the U.S.S.R is widely known and that when a document comes from such a country where it is in that country a well-known fact that it is being to be submitted to a court, in a criminal case, for a specific purpose, and there is no official explanation or any indications where it was found?  Who kept it?  Where it comes from?  And so on?  Why the pension should have been paid to the mother of the accused as if he had fallen in the war when this document has been in their possession since 1948 all sorts of, a host of questions arises to which the answers of course have not been provided.

    Under such circumstances it would seem inconceivable in my humble opinion to admit this document as if it had been blown in by the wind.
    Yoram Sheftel, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 22-Apr-1987, pp. 4780-4781.  That's what the transcript says.

    It must be emphasized that the objection to the Trawniki Card is not merely that we do not know its history, but more importantly that those who give us the card do know its history and won't tell.  And on top of that, those who won't tell are malevolent and unprincipled.

    In fact, although in 1981 it was the Soviets who explicitly brought the card to Cleveland, and who made it briefly accessible in their embassy in Washington, DC, by the Jerusalem trial of 1987-1988, the Soviets had put up a firewall between the Trawniki Card and themselves thus, it was not the Soviets who handed the card over to the Israelis for their 1987-1988 trial in Jerusalem, it was private American citizen Armand Hammer, and Armand Hammer did not stick around to be questioned in court about the card, and finally the instructions were that when the Israelis were finished with the card, they should return it not to the USSR, but to Armand Hammer.  The Soviets, one might infer, were aghast at the plans that the Israelis had for the card, and although wishing the Israelis success, feared the failure of so implausible a venture, and hoped by distancing themselves from it as much as possible to not share in the blame when it failed.  One might even speculate that the Soviets outfoxed the Israelis, and knowingly led them on to their defeat.

    William Flynn begins to tell us below why the Trawniki Card could not be evaluated without knowing its history:

    Fiber analysis proved that the card itself was manufactured in the 1940s.  This was not surprising, because experts believe that about 5,000 of these cards were printed by the Nazis.  When the Soviet Red Army stormed the Treblinka and Trawniki camps, they could easily have captured these documents, creating for themselves a reservoir of ID card forms which they could subsequently "issue" to whomever they desired.  If that is what occurred, it would have been virtually impossible to prove forensically whether the card was prepared in 1942 or sometime later.
    William J. Flynn, Demjanjuk: a victim of Soviet forgery, Ukrainian Weekly, 18-Sep-1988, originally published in the 10-July-1998 Arizona Republic.

    And not only might the Soviets have seized blank cards, but they also could have seized blank paper of the same type, typewriters, rubber stamps, pens, ink, printing presses, and printing plates for the cards.

    Flynn being called only as a document examiner in the Demjanjuk case, he was not required to know the Jewish-holocaust story, or else he would not have said above "when the Soviet Red Army stormed the Treblinka and Trawniki camps...".  The Jewish-holocaust story expounded by the prosecution was that the Soviets never did storm Treblinka.  Rather, the Germans are supposed to have so systematically obliterated every last trace of Treblinka that by the time the Soviets arrived, all they found was a tranquil farm, indistinguishable from any other farm in the area.  The gas chambers had vanished, every building in the camp had vanished, the 870,000 bodies had been consumed in open-air fires, somehow leaving behind not a single bone, not a single tooth, not a single pile of ash, and so of course no documents, blank or otherwise, could have been seized at Treblinka.  If the Trawniki Card was seized at Treblinka, then the Jewish-holocaust story told by the prosecution would have been false.

    Nor could the card have been seized at Sobibor.  Sobibor too according the the Jewish story had been replaced by a tranquil farm long before the Soviets arrived on the scene.

    And neither could the Soviets have seized the card upon the person of John Demjanjuk, as he was not recaptured by the Soviets following his German service.

    That leaves Trawniki as the remaining plausible place of capture of the card.  But if it had been the German plan to so obliterate all traces of Sobibor and Treblinka as to leave no clue that they had existed, then it would make no sense for them to have safeguarded, and allowed the Soviets to capture, documentary evidence of personnel who had served at Sobibor or Treblinka.  In any case, the standard practice was to destroy all unused identification papers so that they would not fall into the hands of criminals or of the resistance; and in this instance would be the added motive of destroying identification papers connected to Sobibor and Treblinka because all clues to the existence of Sobibor and Treblinka were being wiped off the face of the earth.  The approaching Soviet army would have energized the Germans into the fullest compliance with all such practices the approach of a military front is know for days; dumping Trawniki documents onto a fire takes minutes.

    How the Soviets acquired the Trawniki Card, then, is a mystery of considerable importance to its authenticity, because the less plausible it is that the Soviets captured the card, the more plausible it becomes that they forged it.  Without some credible account of the origin of the card, it cannot be given high credence.

    Perhaps the strongest reason for requiring a questioned document to come with a history or a context is that these will indicate what other documents, the same or only related, the questioned document should be compared to, and those other documents are essential to a verification of a questioned document, and can only be discovered by means of a search through archives.  Flynn is talking below about the most successful forgeries in American history the Hoffman forgeries which Flynn's work exposed:

    In this particular instance the access to the archives was the only way that we could have proven the documents forgeries because as I have said the inks were proper, the paper was proper and the handwritting was beyond determination as having been forgeries.  That being the case the only avenue left was to examine all of the other documents in those time periods and show that the Hoffman Documents were slightly different.
    William Flynn, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 23-Nov-1987, p. 10548.  Errors and irregularities were in the original.

    It follows that free access to archives is indispensible to the evaluation of a document, and that a court is obligated to interpret the denial of free access to archives as an obstruction to the evaluation of a document.  The Demjanjuk Trawniki Identification Card should not have been accepted as authentic for this one reason alone that defense experts were not permitted to search Soviet archives looking for other Trawniki Identification Cards, or related Trawniki documents, to which the Demjanjuk Trawniki Identification Card could have been compared.

    Institutions that have never seen a Trawniki Identification Card

    As some 5,000 men were trained at Trawniki, there should have been some 5,000 completed cards in existence at one time (in addition to some stock of blank cards).  However, from its first appearance in 1977 until 1987, the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card was thought to be the only one of its kind in existence, and only in 1987 did the Soviets produce also the Juchnowskij, Wolembachow, and Bondarenko Trawniki Cards.  After that squirt, the fountain dried up, and has remained dry for the past 14 years.  Among the institutions that have never been able to find an instance of a Trawniki Identification Card are the following:

    1. Any American agency that has ever been involved in the investigation or prosecution of Nazi war criminals, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the General Accounting Office (GAO), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Army Counterintelligence Corps (CIC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Special Litigation Unit (SLU), or the Office of Special Investigations (OSI).

    2. The Military Archives of the West German Federal Archives in Freiburg.

    3. The Federal Archives in Koblenz.

    4. The District Attorney's Office in the city of Dusseldorf which keeps extensive files on German concentration camps.

    5. The Deutsche Dienststelle in Berlin which deals mostly with notification of next-of-kin of war dead of the former German Armed Forces, and for this purpose collects all kinds of documents and especially wartime identification cards.

    6. The US-controlled Berlin Documentation Center.

    7. The Central Office of the State Justice Department for Investigation of National-Socialist Crimes in Ludwigsburg.

    8. The Dimitrov Museum in Leipzig which has a section on artifacts and documents of the German Nazi era, including identification cards.

    9. The Polish Main Commission for the Investigation of Nazi German War Crimes.

    Between them, the above institutions have instances of, or copies of, perhaps every known identification card from the Nazi period but they don't have a single Trawniki Identification Card.  This by itself is highly suspicious, and by itself should be enough to at least cast doubt upon, and in an impartial court even to discredit, the four Trawniki Identification Cards supplied by the Kremlin.

    Individuals who have never seen a Trawniki Identification Card

    1. Dr. Wolfgang Scheffler, prosecution expert witness at John Demjanjuk's denaturalization hearing, thought that the card was believable, but nevertheless stated that he had never seen a card like it.  Furthermore, it can happen that some of those who vouch for the card's authenticity are discovered to be more ethereal than corporeal when one tries to touch them:

      How, then, was it possible for the German expert Dr. Wolfgang Scheffler from West Berlin to say before the American court which ruled on Demjanjuk's extradition to Israel that this document was "authentic"?  We were unable to locate the expert Dr. Scheffler, who in the American court had been identified as a professor of the Free University of Berlin, at that university: Dr. Scheffler has no office there, is not actually a faculty member, and does not teach there.  We found him listed in the telephone directory under his own name.  In a telephone conversation, Dr. Scheffler declared that he, too, does not know of any identical or even similar document from Germany.  As an author, he had visited the Soviet Union on various occasions, but he told us that there, too, he had never seen an identical or similar document.
      Hans Peter Rullman, Victim of the Holocaust (English translation abridged and edited from the German), Ukrainian National Center: History and Information Network (UNCHAIN), Newark New Jersey, English translation 1987, p. 28.

    2. Karl Streibel said in his deposition, cited above, "I cannot remember ever having put my signature to this or any similar document" and "I also cannot say with certainty, if such documents were even issued by my former service unit".
    3. Heinrich Schaefer had worked as paymaster at Trawniki, but said "I never saw a card like that one during my service in Trawniki", as we have already seen above.
    4. Rudolf Reiss, similarly identified as paymaster at Trawniki, is cited both in the STERN article of Nov-1992, and in the Jerusalem Verdict in 1988, as asserting that he "had never seen a certificate of the kind".  Both these references can be found in the present letter.

    At the same time, no one has stepped forward to say that he had ever seen an instance of a Trawniki Identification Card beyond the four produced by the Kremlin.  No historian has ever alluded to such a card.  No biographical or autobiographical writing has ever presented so much as a Trawniki Dienstausweis Nr. that could be compared to the ones on the four Trawniki Cards.

    Applying Jewish show-trial logic, Levin-Tal-Dorner say that when someone who should have come across instances of the Trawniki Card states that he did not, this does not constitute evidence:

    In contrast, Rudolf Reiss, an S.S. man who served as paymaster in the Trawniki camp from 20 December, 1941 until August 1943 (non/149, p. 46), testified that he never saw a certificate of the type of tav/149.  He explained that the Wachmans, whose salaries he paid, identified themselves to him by means of identification tags (non/149, pp. 16-17).

    Reiss's testimony does not contradict that of Leonard, since "I do not see" is not evidence.
    State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 268.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.

    If we were to apply Levin-Tal-Dorner logic to other situations, we might say that the statement "I do not see the man who robbed me in that lineup" is not a statement that is worth listening to, as it is not evidence.

    Trials at which no Trawniki Identification Card was ever entered in evidence

    Neither does it enhance credibility that although the four existing Trawniki Cards were processed by the MGB in 1947 and 1948 (as can be seen by the dates written on them by MGB translator, Z. Bazilevskaya), they were never used in any of the several Nazi-war-crimes trials conducted throughout the Soviet Union, or by the Germans in their own war crimes prosecutions, or by the Western Allies in theirs.  Among the Western trials at which a Trawniki Identification Card could conceivably have been entered into evidence, but wasn't, were the following:

    1. Major War Criminals, Nuremberg, 1945-1946.
    2. Adolf Eichmann, Jerusalem, 1961.
    3. Kurt Franz (Treblinka), Dusseldorf, 1965.
    4. Franz Stangl (Treblinka), Dusseldorf, 1970.
    5. Feodor Fedorenko (Treblinka), Fort Lauderdale, 1978.
What we do know for certain about the Trawniki Card is that it came from the Kremlin, which only discredits it.  The hallmark of the Soviet government was its mendacity, its lack of principle, its fear of emerging nationalism among the peoples that it had subjugated, and consequently its readiness to use disinformation to discredit the Ukrainian diaspora which supported the most threatening branch of that nationalism Ukrainian nationalism.  That the Soviets had not abandoned their tactics at the time of the Demjanjuk persecutions is evidenced by the low characters of the messengers they employed:

  1. Roman Rudenko (1907-1981) was the first Kremlin messenger to hand the Trawniki Card over, in 1981 to the Americans.  However, Rudenko had been chief prosecutor in the Communist show trials of the 1930s, and was the chief Soviet prosecutor at Nuremberg as well (where he proved that the Katyn Forest massacre had been conducted by the Germans, that the Germans had made soap out of human fat, and other things that are known today to be false).  Of Rudenko's career, Nikolai Tolstoy offers the following comment:

    In a recent survey it was remarked that:

    There has never in Amnesty International's experience been an acquittal of a political defendant in the USSR.  No Soviet court trying a person charged for his political activity has rejected the prosecution's case on grounds of procedural violations committed during the investigation period or on grounds of insufficient evidence ...  In many cases defence witnesses have not been allowed to give evidence.  Often defence witnesses who have been called have been prevented from giving evidence other than that elicited by the prosecution.  Frequently contradictions and patent falsehoods in evidence given by prosecution witnesses have been accepted by courts without challenge.
    Dealing with a particularly obdurate Polish prisoner in 1945, State Counsellor R. Rudenko explained patiently:

    After the termination of the interrogation, I have to prosecute you in court and shall have to mention that you did not confess to the alleged crimes.  It will be the first time since the Soviet Revolution that a defendant, who is to be tried in the Supreme Court of Justice of the USSR, has not pleaded guilty.
    It was the same Rudenko who travelled a few months later to act as public prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals.
    Nikolai Tolstoy, Trial and Error: Canada's Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals and the Soviets, Justinian Press, Toronto, 1986, p. 11.

  2. Armand Hammer (1898-1990), Occidental Petroleum chairman, was the second Kremlin messenger to hand the card over, this time to the Israelis in 1986.  Too bad for our confidence in the authenticity of the card that Armand Hammer had the ethics of a snake, as was evident as far back as 1920 when he let his father serve time at hard labor in Sing Sing for a manslaughter that he himself had committed.  When the Demjanjuk defense attempted to demonstrate that Armand Hammer's involvement in acquiring the Trawniki Identification Card constituted one of the "suspicious facts regarding its historical background," Levin-Tal-Dorner prohibited testimony that would reflect on Hammer's credibility (Statement of Appeal, Jerusalem, 1988, p. 186).
This is not to say that because these two messengers Rudenko and Hammer can't be trusted, that they may themselves have doctored the Trawniki Card while it was in their hands.  This would be an implausible supposition, as the card was in their hands briefly, and presumably under circumstances in which they would lack access to forging equipment or expertise, and in any case, forging would not have been conducted by a lone individual acting without direction or coordination.  More plausibly, the weakening of credibility that Rudenko and Hammer bring comes from the recognition that those who employ agents of such low integrity cannot have abandoned their own devious ways, and furthermore are such strangers to integrity that they are unaware even that to project its appearance they must disassociate themselves from both Rudenko and Hammer.

  • 1977 News From Ukraine Version

    The first appearance of the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card was in an article by O. Matviychuk, Punishment Will Come, in the Soviet-sponsored News from Ukraine of Sep-1977.  Three panels only were shown (the outside left panel was excluded), and the quality of the reproduction was atrocious, though exactly how atrocious I cannot say, as I have only a photocopy, and do not know to what degree loss of quality resulted from photocopying.  The animation below reveals differences between the inside panels of the 1977 version and the standard version that I have been relying upon above.  The 1977 version can be seen to have the following characteristics:

    1. The symptoms of an attempt to cover up a forgery are present small size, low resolution, maximal contrast, and in this case the innovative covering over of the card by the visual noise of black spots.

    2. The vertical dimension has been compressed, one effect of which is to make the face in the photograph look broader.

    3. The face in the photograph has been doctored.  In addition to being broader, a black line has been added to connect the eyebrows, the subject's right eye has been extended to his temple, the crease descending from the right corner of the mouth has been darkened, the ears have been made to stick out, various shading has been blackened and broadened, all tending to make the face look older and coarser.

    4. The two staple holes to the right of the face are obscured.

    5. MGB translator Z. Bazilevskaya's notations have been removed.

    6. The swastika in the seal at the bottom of the photograph has been emphasized.

    7. The "Demjanjuk" signature has been emphasized.

    8. A white neck is visible above the collar.  This could be an indication of a doctoring not of the 1977 version, but of the post-1977 standard version.  That is, several commentators (including the BKA, as we shall see below), have concluded that the head in the photograph has been montaged onto the body.  The KGB could have blackened the photograph in the region where the two montaged portions joined so as to obscure the seam between them.  This blackening, if that is what it is, has certainly achieved the desired effect with me as my best version of the card shows little but blackness around the neck, I am unable to join my voice to those who suspect montage.

    What can we conclude from the 1977 version?

    1. The Kremlin was defensive.  We might conclude that the Kremlin was defensive about the card.  It felt that card was not sufficiently impressive, not sufficiently convincing as it was, and needed to be improved the person in the photograph needed to be made more brutish, the swastika had to be more salient, the messy Russian notation had to be erased, and so on.
    2. The Kremlin doctors.  The conjecture that the Kremlin has photo doctorers on hand that are used to create desired impressions is supported.
    3. The photo might be a pre-montage version.  Perhaps this earliest 1977 version of the card reveals a stage at which the hypothesized montage of head onto body had not yet taken place, the face in 1977 needing to be drawn.  However, one must avoid making too much of images of such poor quality as we have available at the moment, but when the day arrives that better images do become available, two things worth looking at will be the collar under Demjanjuk's left ear, and the white patch on his left breast both of these seem to be changing shape between the 1977 and the later standard version.
    4. The Kremlin was unambitious.  Most importantly, if the Kremlin had anticipated that the card would ever be brought into Western courtrooms and examined by Western forensics experts, then the Kremlin would not have started by releasing a doctored reproduction, because it would have anticipated that eventually a comparison would be made and the doctoring discovered.  Thus, the willingness of the Kremlin to offer this 1977 doctored version supports the conclusion that the initial Kremlin plan for this Trawniki Card lacked ambition by connecting John Demjanjuk to Sobibor, the plan intended no more than to put a scare into him and to embarrass the Ukrainian diaspora, and that's all.  When the Kremlin was eventually asked to produce the card in an American courtroom, consternation seized the KGB, and seeing American and Israeli Jews use the card to connect John Demjanjuk not to Sobibor but to Treblinka opened the KGB's eyes to a level of chutzpah they had never dreamed could be practiced without the heavens falling.

    Levin-Tal-Dorner relapse into silliness.  The unambitious Kremlin Demjanjuk-at-Sobibor project was not originally coordinated with the Israeli Demjanjuk-at-Treblinka project, and once the 1977 image of the Trawniki Card had been published, there was no possibility of meshing the projects by adding Treblinka to the list of assignments on the card.  As the Israelis insisted on meshing the two projects into one anyway, it had to be done without doctoring the card further.  Levin-Tal-Dorner's unwillingness to contemplate this obvious interpretation led to their concluding that if the KGB were forging, it would have forged an assignment to Treblinka on the Trawniki Card, and so that the absence of Treblinka on the card guaranteed its authenticity:

    The absence of a record of the posting to Treblinka is one of the truthful signs negating the Defense claim that the Soviets wished to frame the Defendant as Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.

    The witnesses in Israel already testified to the Defendant being Ivan of Treblinka in 1976.  Notwithstanding this fact, no posting to Treblinka was recorded in the certificate, [a copy of which appeared in the News From Ukraine of Sep-1977, and] the original of which was sent to the United States in 1981, and a photocopy of which was examined by the immigration authorities in 1980.

    Such an entry would have been required if this were a forged document intended to support the identifying testimonies.  And if it be said that the K.G.B. intended to concoct a more limited false charge, viz., that the Defendant was an ordinary Wachman at Sobibor, there was no point in forging a document not supported by identifying witnesses, and which does not prove the contended deceit.

    In any case, if out of unusual involvement (which appears to be a figment of the imagination on the assumption that the Defendant was framed) truthful witnesses were found (who, according to the Defense, made a bona fide mistake), why didn't the K.G.B. adjust the evidence to support the witnesses' version, which is much more serious?  The one and only explanation is that the certificate tav/149 is an authentic document which was transmitted to the United States as it is, with all its errors, faults, and omissions.

    In summary, it has been proved to us positively that the document tav/149 is the service certificate of Ivan Demjanjuk who is the Defendant before us.
    State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 328.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.  Material in red added.

    It is important to understand exactly what Levin-Tal-Dorner are saying above, and how wrong it is.  They are making it appear that 1976 eyewitness testimony placing John Demjanjuk at Treblinka so far antedated the 1980 appearance of a reproduction of the Trawniki Card that if there had been a unified, international conspiracy to frame John Demjanjuk for being Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, then Trawniki Card forgers would have had plenty of time, and plenty of motivation, to include Treblinka among the card's assignments.  As Treblinka was not included, Levin-Tal-Dorner argue, the card was not a product of an international conspiracy to place Demjanjuk in Treblinka.  However, Levin-Tal-Dorner's reasoning is faulty in several respects.

    In the first place, it is agreed that there was no unified international conspiracy to place John Demjanjuk at Treblinka, and Levin-Tal-Dorner debunking this conspiracy is attacking a straw man.  Rather, there were two independent plans the Kremlin plan, and the Israeli plan, and it was perverse of Levin-Tal-Dorner not to recognize this.

    The Kremlin plan.  The Kremlin plan had been to place John Demjanjuk only at Sobibor, without surviving eyewitnesses and without vivid atrocity stories, and therefore without the status to walk in Adolf Eichmann's footsteps toward an Israeli gallows.  The Kremlin first showed the card not in 1980 or 1981, as Levin-Tal-Dorner suggest above, but in the News From Ukraine of Sep-1977.  Once the card had been displayed without an assignment to Treblinka, Treblinka could not be inserted without the forgery becoming evident.  (The Kremlin plan did stand some chance of getting John Demjanjuk extradited to Ukraine, where he could be put through a perfunctory show trial and then shot, as was done with Feodor Fedorenko, without the messy due process behind which Nazi war criminals find shelter in the West.)

    The Israeli plan.  The Kremlin plan was worthless to the Israelis.  The Israelis wanted a monster in a cage that they could parade before the public (for seven years it turned out), and then hang before a cheering, hand-clapping, foot-stamping, cat-calling nation, and for this they needed eyewitnesses with atrocity stories.  The problem was that their eyewitnesses had already committed themselves to saying they had been at Treblinka, and so Treblinka is where John Demjanjuk would have to be placed, despite the fact that the Trawniki Identification Card failed to assign him to Treblinka.

    Prior to Sep-1977, the Israeli plan was a joke.  The first activity in the implementation of the Israeli plan did indeed pre-date Sep-1977, but the activity was on a small scale, and lacked credibility.

    1. Eugen Turowski.  Consider, for example, the very first eyewitness who was questioned by Miriam Radiwker of the Unit for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes, Israel Police this was witness Eugen Turowski, interviewed at 10am on 09-May-1976, as described by Willem Wagenaar, professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, cited below.  According to Radiwker's notes, written from recollection after the interview, Turowski identified Fedorenko from photo spreads, but not Demjanjuk whose photo (far bigger than any other on the page) sat right beside Fedorenko's (the second-biggest on the page).  Furthermore, Turowski stated of Fedorenko:

      If asked about the names of Ukrainians, so I can in reality mention the name of only one Ukrainian, who had a ring, whom I knew.  The simple guards did not come to the workshops, and I had nothing to do with them.  The Ukrainian called Fedorenko I knew personally.  He was an underofficer, and I saw him almost daily.  I knew him by his name, and as I said, also personally.
      Eugen Turowski quoted by Miriam Radiwker in Willem Wagenaar, Identifying Ivan: A case study in legal psychology, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1988, p. 99.

      Anywhere but Israel, that would have been the end of Turowski's usefulness to the prosecution in the Demjanjuk case.  Turowski should have at this point become either a witness for the defense (he had been at Treblinka but could not recognize John Demjanjuk), or else he should have dropped off the Demjanjuk radar screen altogether (he denied knowing any Ukrainian but Fedorenko).  However, this was Israel, and Turowski did not become a defense witness and did not withdraw from the Demjanjuk investigation.  Later that same day, Miriam Radiwker interviewed Abraham Goldfarb and wrote that he did identify John Demjanjuk.  The surprise is that the following day, 10-May-1976, at 12 noon, back comes Turowski to say that he now does recognize John Demjanjuk, and he is not beset by any doubt:

      ["]I know the name Demjanjuk and ever better, the first name of Ivan.  To me, he was Ivan.  This Ukrainian I can well remember, I knew him personally, because at times he came to the shop to have things repaired.["]  The witness is shown 17 photographs, all pasted on three brown cardboards.  Immediately the witness points at photo No. 16 (photo of Demjanjuk) and declares: ["]This is Ivan.["]

      ["]Him I recognize immediately and with full assurance.["]
      Eugen Turowski quoted by Miriam Radiwker in Willem Wagenaar, Identifying Ivan: A case study in legal psychology, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1988, pp. 101-102.  Red quotation marks have been added to distinguish Radiwker's comments from her quotations of Turowski.

      The very first witness dug up by the Israelis, then Eugen Turowski appears to be a liar.  At the Fedorenko trial in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, he appeared to be a fool as well as a liar.  Here is how United States District Judge Norman C. Roettger, Jr., describes Eugen Turowski's courtroom identification of Feodor Fedorenko, whom the United States was attempting to strip of his citizenship:

      Turowski, the first survivor witness, was asked to identify defendant in the courtroom on direct examination.  He stood up in the witness stand and looked around the courtroom for forty seconds.  The Government counsel asked if the witness could come down from the witness stand to make an identification, if possible.  The witness stepped down from the stand and took only one minute to make an identification of a middle-aged spectator sitting in the last row of the courtroom.  Apparently sensing from the crowd reaction that he had blundered, the witness backed away from the gentleman he had identified, then moved around the courtroom and in exactly another minute identified defendant.

      The courtroom is square, approximately 40 feet to a side.  Defendant sat approximately 22 feet from the witness stand, with his lawyer and associate, ages 30 and 26 respectively and translator, under 30.  At the Government's counsel table sat four lawyers, whose ages ranged from 31 to 36.  [...]

      [N]ot exactly a difficult task in view of defendant's age being twice that of any of the other seven persons at the counsel tables.
      Opinion of Judge Norman C. Roettger, Jr., United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, United States of America, Plaintiff, vs. Feodor Fedorenko Defendant.  Case No. 77-2668-Civ-NCR, pp. 191-192.

      To be fair to Eugen Turowski, one must explain why his discovering Ivan the Terrible among the spectators is not as deranged as it at first may seem.  The fact of the matter is that Turowski had testified at the 1965 trial of Kurt Franz in Dusseldorf, and it was that experience that misled him into his Fort Lauderdale gaffe:

      Turowski and each of the six survivors at Treblinka also testified at a trial in Dusseldorf in 1965 against 11 SS personnel.  Most also testified in Dusseldorf in 1970 against Stangl, the Commandant at Treblinka.  The court noticed that, according to the news article carried in the Miami Herald, May 31, 1978, describing Turowski's error, at the Dusseldorf proceedings the German court would locate defendants among the spectators in order to test the identification ability of the witnesses.
      Opinion of Judge Norman C. Roettger, Jr., United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, United States of America, Plaintiff, vs. Feodor Fedorenko Defendant.  Case No. 77-2668-Civ-NCR, p. 192.

      Thus, although Turowski's blunder cannot be taken as symptomatic of something like advanced senility, the fact that John Demjanjuk had been sitting 22 feet in front of him at the time, and that Turowski had been looking at photographs of John Demjanjuk in the several photo-identification sessions that he had gone through, and that Turowski nevertheless succeeded in identifying John Demjanjuk only slowly, and after blundering, and with many strong clues, and with the help even of audience feedback telling him whether he was getting warm or cold all this demonstrates that Turowski lacked the capacity to identify John Demjanjuk as the Ivan the Terrible that he suddenly (on 10-May-1976, at 12 noon, in front of Israeli Police investigator Miriam Radiwker, for the first time in 33 years) began claiming to be able to do.

      Let us pause here to get our bearings.  The subject of the present letter is the Trawniki Identification Card, so why are we digressing to talk about witnesses?  The reason is that Levin-Tal-Dorner stated in their 1988 verdict that the Israeli plan was in progress before the Kremlin unveiled the Trawniki Card in Sep-1977, so that if the Kremlin were forging an identification card, it would have forged one that conformed to the Israeli plan, which is to say, one that assigned John Demjanjuk to Treblinka.  What I am doing at the moment, then, is demonstrating that pre-Sep-1977, the Israeli plan was a joke, and not something that the Kremlin would join and began forging documents to support.  I will spend just a few more moments demonstrating more fully just how much of a joke that Israeli plan was in the days before the Trawniki Card was first unveiled.

      Eugen Turowski died before Demjanjuk's Jerusalem trial began a blow to the prosecution to lose such a valuable eyewitness, though it did its best to carry on without him.  A total of five survivor witnesses did make it to the Demjanjuk trial (Boraks, Czarny, Epstein, Rajchman, and Rosenberg), of whom three had been interviewed by Miriam Radiwker prior to Sep-1977 (Boraks, Czarny, and Rosenberg).  From this small number of viable witnesses alone, we might say that by Sep-1977, the Kremlin could not have been inspired with enough confidence in the Israeli plan to support it by means of forgery.  But let us go farther than that and enquire into the solidity of these three witnesses that Miriam Radiwker had interviewed pre-Sep-1977:

    2. Gustav Boraks.  By the Demjanjuk trial, Gustav Boraks proved of little use to the prosecution:

      The next identification witness was Gustav Boraks, another survivor of Treblinka.  At this time Boraks was eighty-six years old and almost completely senile.  When he was asked how he had reached the Florida court in 1978 to testify in the Fedorenko case, he said that he had made the journey from Haifa to Florida by train.  Judge Levin quickly came to his assistance, to minimize the damage done by this remark to the testimony as a whole.  He asked Boraks if he was really sure that he had travelled to Florida by train.  This time Boraks responded that he had actually gone there on a plane from Katowice in Poland.  Then he changed his mind again and said that he had really flown to Florida from the city of Czestochowa.  When Levin asked him why he had to travel to Florida from these places, Boraks answered that he had lived there in 1978.  (In fact he had been living in Israel since 1948.)  All Levin's attempts to put Boraks on the right track were in vain; this elderly, amicable witness was senile.  His testimony, given in Yiddish and translated into Hebrew by Judge Tal, created a heavy, uncomfortable feeling in the courtroom.
      Yoram Sheftel, The Demjanjuk affair: The rise and fall of a show-trial, Victor Gollancz, London, 1994, p. 50.

      This is not to say that when interviewed by Miriam Radiwker in 1976, Boraks was of sound mind.  He might have been encountering serious mental difficulties years even before that.  Read into evidence in the Demjanjuk trial in Jerusalem was the following description of an aborted attempt to elicit testimony from Gustav Boraks in 1967:

      I could not record Gustav Boraks' testimony, because he was very confused talking to the microphone.  He forgot the name of his youngest son who died in Treblinka.  Therefore I decided to drop the idea of recording his testimony.
      Statement of Ida Yarkoni written on 19-Sep-1967, read to the court by defense attorney Mark O'connor, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 04-Mar-1987, p. 1723.

      In 1967, Boraks could not remember the name of his youngest son who died in Treblinka.  In 1987, Boraks thought that he had travelled from Israel to Florida by train.  Gustav Boraks could not have done much to inspire the Kremlin to begin forging on behalf of the Israeli plan.

    3. Josef Czarny.  Concerning Josef Czarny, Judge Roettger said of the Fedorenko trial in Fort Lauderdale that Czarny was "clearly the least credible of the survivor witnesses" (p. 188).  Worse even than Eugen Turowsky, who some might think was not great.  And not just "among the least credible" or even "perhaps the least credible" or "possibly the least credible", but sui generis "clearly the least credible".  Josef Czarny, then, could not have given the Kremlin strong reason to begin forging in support of the Israeli plan.

    4. Eliahu Rosenberg.  Concerning Eliahu Rosenberg, we note that he had left depositions in 1945 as well as in 1947, in each of which he stated that he had been present at the killing of "Ivan" during an inmate uprising in Treblinka ("Ivan the Terrible" is a title which made its first appearance with reference to Treblinka only in the 1970s).  The Kremlin might have thought, then, that Rosenberg was not going to be of much use testifying that the living John Demjanjuk was that same terrible, but dead, Ivan of Treblinka.  Although the Israelis did not find these two discrepancies sufficient to disqualify Rosenberg from testifying in a Jewish show trial, the Kremlin might well have viewed the discrepancies as a reason to not provide forgeries in support of his story.

    To summarize at the time that News From Ukraine published a copy of the Trawniki Card in Sep-1977 showing no Treblinka posting, the Israeli plan looked like it might never get off the ground, and so the Soviets would not have been busily forging away to support it.  Levin-Tal-Dorner's refutation of a world conspiracy to place John Demjanjuk in Treblinka addresses an implausible conspiracy and neglects Kremlin and Israeli conspiracies evolving independently, the Israeli plan not gathering steam until the Kremlin plan had released an image of the Trawniki Card.  By the time that the Israelis committed themselves to implementing their Demjanjuk-at-Treblinka plan, they were stuck with a Trawniki Identification Card that in a fair court would have exculpated John Demjanjuk, but which examined using the Alice-in-Wonderland logic of a Jewish show trial was still serviceable.

    For purposes of my argument, it was necessary to demonstrate that pre-Sep-1977, the Israeli plan was a joke.  That the Israeli plan never rose above the level of a joke would have taken longer to establish, and would not have been relevant to the Trawniki Identification Card, to which the present letter is struggling to restrict its attention.

  • 1981 Cleveland Denaturalization Trial Version

    The Soviets allowed a first peek at the card itself in 1981.  Up to that time, prosecution and defense had only poor-quality reproductions to look at.

    One of the discoveries that this first peek at the real card revealed was that the copies that the Kremlin had been circulating up to that time were incomplete missing from the outside left panel had been Bazilevskaya's Russian translation.  We infer from this that the outside left panel was being released in stages.  In the Sep-1977 News from Ukraine version, it had been entirely omitted.  Following that, in reproductions supplied by the Kremlin, the German was shown, but Z. Bazilevskaya's Russian translation was omitted.  And only now in 1981 was the entire outside left panel unveiled.

    This pre-1981 omission of Bazilevskaya's Russian had put an obstacle in the path of the defense understanding what that outside left panel was all about even somebody fluent in German may have been confused by the illegibility of some portions of the German, rubber-stamped text, and confused further (as we have seen above) by the single German word, FESTZUNEHMEN "to arrest" being split up into the three words FEST ZU NEHMEN, and on top of that having two letters missing so as to produce F  ST Z  NEHMEN, and on top of that having a line break in the middle so as to produce something like

    F  ST Z

    It certainly couldn't have speeded up the interpretation of that outside left panel to pile on obstacles to intelligibility, especially not if the defense unsuspecting that something important was being hidden instead of paying out of its thin purse somebody fluent in German who would be able to decipher that outside left panel, relied on whoever was at hand who knew a little German who proved unable to decipher it completely, and concluded that it was unimportant.

    Had Bazilevskaya's Russian translation of the rubber-stamped German been available right from the start, it would have been a little easier for the defense to decipher the German with the help of the Russian, and which would have made the defense realize two things: (1) that the breaking up of a single German word into three words signalled that the creators of the card were not proficient in German, and more importantly, (2) that the German instructions on that page commanded, by implication, that as the card bearer was forbidden to be at Treblinka, if he did ever set foot there, he was to be arrested.  Now there, when the bearer is being accused of having been Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, is an exculpatory detail that the prosecution might indeed want to obscure!  (The first of the above numbered points has already been discussed above, the second will be elaborated below.)

    Withholding any part of the card for any length of time can only detract from its credibility, and this particular withholding does detract from the Trawniki Card's credibility.  Furthermore, it is not for the defense to present convincing explanations of what motivated any instance of withholding; rather, it is for the card to suffer a loss of credibility upon each instance of withholding unless the prosecution presents convincing explanations of why such withholding was innocent which the prosecution failed to do in this case and in every other case of withholding, and there were many.  The impression that is hard to avoid is that the KGB never famous for its competence or finesse was hiding details that it understood were exculpatory whenever it thought it could get away with it, and for as long as it was able.

    The very first Western peek at the card appears to have been given to prosecution expert witness Gideon Epstein, Chief Document Analyst at the Forensic Document Laboratory of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Washington, DC.  Gideon Epstein's conclusion was that the Streibel signature was genuine, but as he was shown only two known signatures of Streibel, all this proved is that it is possible to find two Streibel signatures that resemble the one on the Trawniki Card.  Epstein also concluded that the Teufel signature was genuine, but as he was shown only two known signatures of Teufel, all this proved is that it is possible to find two Teufel signatures that resemble the one on the Trawniki Card.  As Epstein claimed that no one showed him any Cyrillic signatures of Demjanjuk, he concluded that the Demjanjuk signature was genuine because the Streibel and Teufel signatures were genuine.  On the basis of the conclusion that these three signatures were genuine, and nothing that he could see wrong with the card, Epstein concluded that the card was authentic.

    Epstein's account of his 1981 first encounter with the card attempts to inspire trust:

    In the case of this card, it was brought to Washington, DC from Moscow with the express instructions that it not leave the control of the Soviet government.  As such the card was examined by the author in the Soviet Embassy in Washington, DC under the watchful eye of Russian Embassy personnel.  Any examination that was required, was permitted.  The card was photographed there and was then returned to Soviet personnel.  At the time of trial, a Soviet embassy staff member brought the document to Cleveland, Ohio where it was shown to the court.  A copy was then substatuted for the court record and the original was returned to Moscow.

    This is the first time such a document has ever been released to the United States for use in trial.  Others have since been made available.
    Gideon Epstein, The Trawniki Card The role of the forensic document examiner in modern war crimes trials, Presented to the annual meeting of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, Houston Texas, August 16-20 1981.  The misspelling "substatuted" is in the original.

    However, there are several things that Epstein's account does not make perfectly clear:

    1. Of the 236 or so examiners certified by the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners, Epstein was the only Jew, which gives him the appearance of having been selected because he was a coreligionist of the John Demjanjuk persecutors rather than because of his impartiality.

    2. Epstein was not just an INS document examiner, he also handled Office of Special Investigations work.

    3. As Epstein worked in Washington, it was no trouble for him to visit the Soviet Embassy to examine the card, whereas any defense expert that could have been dug up would have to fly to Washington at Demjanjuk expense.

    4. Epstein examined and photographed the card at the Soviet Embassy on 27-Feb-1981, and thus had seen it before it streaked through the Battisti courtroom on 03-Mar-1981.  The defense, in contrast, glimpsed it as it flashed by in court, and had to send somebody to the Soviet Embassy later for a closer look, if indeed they were able to send anybody at all, which remains unclear.

    5. Epstein says nothing about being called upon to examine the card without warning, or upon short notice.  He had enough warning to take a "portable laboratory" with him to the Soviet Embassy, without specifying whether his "portable laboratory" was contained in a briefcase, or was lugged in by movers.  The defense, in contrast, was caught off guard, and had to scramble to try to find a document examiner who could drop what he was doing and fly to Washington before the card disappeared back into the Soviet Union, and who would have been unable to carry much of a laboratory with him on the plane.

    6. It is not merely the case that "a copy" of the card was substituted for the original in Battisti's court it was a copy that Gideon Epstein had produced from his Soviet Embassy visit of a few days earlier, and which he chose to give the court.  If the defense was going to be unable to find someone to take a better photograph at the Soviet Embassy, it would end up having to rely on the version that Epstein had chosen to release.

    7. Even though Epstein expressed awareness of the principle that it was unethical to publicly discuss his testimony until such time as all legal proceedings had terminated, yet in Aug-1981, two months after the conclusion of the denaturalization trial but while the matter was under appeal, Epstein gave an address in which he presented not only his findings with respect to the Trawniki Card, but also his views concerning the political implications of the case.  Epstein admitted of his address that "at the time I was given permission to go ahead with it by people who I felt had the knowledge to give me that advice".  When defense attorney Mark O'Connor asked him who those people were, Judge Dov Levin disallowed the question (Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-May-1987, pp. 5879-5881).
    The defense account below of the Trawniki Card's whirlwind visit to the US leaves us somewhat more cynical than Epstein's account had.  The Trawniki Card appeared in the Cleveland court on such short notice that the Demjanjuk side was unable to find an expert to be on hand to view it, and the card was whisked back to the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC the same day despite Demjanjuk protests.  The Demjanjuk representative that may have been eventually found (who that was, or what his level of expertise, or if anybody at all was found who could fly to Washington right then, I have been unable to determine) would have had to go to the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and there be permitted to gaze at the card, but not subject it to any forensic testing.  After the card's weekend at the Soviet Embassy elapsed, it was whisked back to the Soviet Union, not to reappear for another six years.  Below, the "Defendants" refers to the U.S. government and others who are being sued by John Demjanjuk in a Cleveland court in front of Judge George White:


           The Defendants knew the source of Trawniki Identification Card.  Moreover, they knew that

    "Most Soviet historical archives are under the control of the Main Archives Administration (GAU), formerly part of the KGB, but now an independent agency," (Ex 23, Memo to Allan Ryan from George Garand), emphasis supplied.
    They knew that the Card was of questionable origin, having been under the control of the KGB, which has been known as a master forger since its creation.  They knew that its thorough forensic scrutiny might disrupt utterly their claim to its authenticity.  They knew further that the Soviets had to be constantly cajoled to cooperate (Ex 4, Ryan to Rekunkov).

           With this knowledge, the Defendants made every effort to shield the original document from forensic examination.  On March 3, 1981, the Trawniki Card was flown from the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C. to this Court.  The Defendants submitted the card into evidence, then moved to substitute photographs.  John Martin, Mr. Demjanjuk's counsel objected:

    "Your Honor, we had hoped of having someone, an expert, come in and view the exhibit.

           That's why we're objecting to them taking it away at this time.

           There is some one now trying to contact an expert of questioned documents to come in and view it, so we would like for it to at least remain in the jurisdiction here.", (Ex 24, C77-923, TR at 915-916).

    At that, the Court stated to the government:

    "It's here in this Court, so you hold onto it" at 917.
    further requesting Mr. Martin to notify the Court when his expert would examine the document (TR at 918).

           Later that day, the Court, recognizing the Defendant's position said:

    "I will order that the document be retained in Court until tomorrow" (Ex 25, C77-923, TR at 943).
           Still later that day the government asked the Court to reverse itself:

           Under their law, this is an official government document and it cannot leave official Soviet hands.  With those assurances, they agreed to allow us to have the document.

           The problem is, your Honor, that this is the first time they have ever allowed a document outside their country.  We have many other cases pending around the country and we would like similar treatment in these other cases, and we are afraid this would jeopardize that kind of treatment."  (Ex 26, C77-923, TR at 963-964).
    Mr. Martin responded:

           "Mr. Martin: First of all, I have made no agreement with the Government lawyers.  They dictated to me when this would be ready.  I had nothing to say about it."  (at 964).
    The Court, relying on the fact that the expert resided in New York, and that he could as easily fly into Washington as Cleveland, reversed himself:

           "Now, with the assurance of the Government that the document will be made available for inspection by his expert in Washington at the embassy

           Mr. Horrigan: Yes, your Honor, you have those assurances.  We spoke to them and they assured us that that document will remain in the embassy there and will be available until the end of this week."  (at 965).
    The result of this was that the defense was never able to forensically examine the card (Ex 27, C77-923, TR at 1194, Ex 28, Affidavit of John Martin).

           The Trawniki Card was made available to the defense some six (6) years later in Israel.  Between 1981 and 1987, it remained in Soviet hands.  Sophisticated lawyers such as the Defendants cannot claim that they could not anticipate the frustration of Mr. Demjanjuk's attempt to examine the original in 1981.  Such a knowing frustration of the defense falls squarely within the fact patterns contemplated by H.K. Potter, supra and Hazel-Atlas, supra as frauds upon the court that justify relief to the wronged party.  Especially so, when that wronged party came forward with evidence of fraud when afforded the opportunity.  (Ex 29,30).
    David C. Eisler, Attorney for Plaintiff, John Demjanjuk (Plaintiff) vs The United States of America, et al (Defendants), Case No. C88-0864, pp. 22-24.  Black underlining was in the original, colored underlining constitutes a URL added in the present letter.

    The defense view of the 1981 glimpse is summed up as follows:

    No defense expert in the U.S. proceedings was permitted to forensically examine the I.D. card.  The card remained in Soviet custody throughout the brief time (one weekend) when it was available to the Demjanjuk defense.  Because the Soviet officials would neither permit the experts to take the card to their labs nor permit any physical tests on the card, the defense was unable to test its authenticity before it was abruptly withdrawn by the Soviets.
    Patience T. Huntwork, PBS's "Demjanjuk Dossier": A case study in bias, Ukrainian Weekly, 03-Jun-1990.

  • 1986 Molod Ukrainy Version

    Perhaps the most bizarre appearances of the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card was in a Ukrainian-language article by V. Pohoreliov and M. Kameniuk, Upyr Zhyw u Klivlendi (The Vampire Lived in Cleveland), in the Soviet Molod Ukrainy (Ukrainian Youth) of 30-Apr-1986.  Only the two outside panels of the card were shown.  The animation below reveals differences between the Apr-1986 Molod Ukrainy version and the standard version.  The Molod Ukrainy version can be seen to have the following characteristics:

    1. The usual symptoms of an attempt to cover up a forgery are again present small size, low resolution, maximal contrast, and again the covering over of the card by visual noise.  As a result, much of the card is illegible.

    2. On the left panel, the bottom three lines of MGB translator Z. Bazilevskaya's Russian notation have been removed.

    3. A photograph has been added to the bottom of the left panel which clearly does not belong one would not expect a photograph on the outside of the card, the seal on the photograph does not continue on to the card, and the photograph is not even of John Demjanjuk.

    Who is the mystery man making his appearance on the Molod Ukrainy version of the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card?  From the "SS" on the stamped seal on his photo, it is possible to infer that he once served in the SS or the Waffen-SS, and if alive in 1979 it might be guessed that he was the subject of a Soviet-conducted war crimes investigation.  This supposition is somewhat fortified by finding the mystery man's glum face on identification photo-spreads that the Soviets were using to build their case against John Demjanjuk, as for example the two shown here.  Although the impression produced by these three manifestations of the mystery man is not identical, the three photos share enough characteristics that they can be taken to be the same as, for example, by him being turned somewhat to his right, by the seal being tangent to his head and clipping his ear, and by the similar location of the "SS" within that seal.  (One remarks, incidentally, the lack of sophistication of the Soviet investigators in their signalling the mystery man's guilt on these photo identification spreads by displaying an "SS" beside his face.)

    Comparing the three versions of the mystery man in an animated image leaves the impression that his Molod Ukrainy version was doctored the man has been given eyebrows, his hair line has been changed from straight to choppy, his upper lip has been re-drawn from flat to concave downward, which along with many other small alterations give him an entirely different appearance.  The "SS" in the seal has been made illegible and perhaps has been shifted downward point your mouse arrow to the top of the man's ear, and you will see that the ear does not move downward in the Molod Ukrainy image; now point your mouse arrow to the "SS" and you will see that it does move downward in the Molod Ukrainy image.  The motive behind any such doctoring? Who can imagine!  Any moral to be drawn? The KGB's forgers are hard at work on this case.  In one statement the KGB forgers are hard at work on this case with unfathomable motives.  Implications for the Trawniki Identification Card? Another occasion for doubt.  Anything to add to our wish list? High-definition, color images on the internet of the three documents (and any others) on which the mystery man appears.

    But if we were to probe into the unfathomable motives of KGB doctorers, what might we come up with?  On the one hand, it is inconceivable that putting the mystery man on the Trawniki card was an attempt to replace the accused John Demjanjuk with some other accused, because this new photograph obviously does not belong in the location in which it is shown, and because the standard version of the Trawniki Card (with John Demjanjuk's photograph on the inside) had been widely disseminated for the previous nine years, and because John Demjanjuk had been in an Israeli prison for the previous two months since 28-Feb-1986 so that it was a little late to be thinking of replacing him with someone else.  Some speculations which may come closer to explaining the mystery man may be as follows:

    In any case, one might have expected that the prosecution would feel obligated to call testimony as to why such different versions of the Trawniki Card as the 1977 and 1986 versions had ever appeared, and in the absence of satisfactory explanations, one might have expected the existence of different versions to leave Levin-Tal-Dorner a notch less confident of the card's authenticity.

  • 1986-1987 Jerusalem Trial Appearance

    It is important to distinguish appearances of copies of the Trawniki Card, from appearances of the card itself.  The Sep-1977 News from Ukraine version, and the Apr-1986 Molod Ukrainy version, were copies only.  The real card has surfaced on only two occasions in 1981 at the Cleveland denaturalization trial (as part of which is counted its week-end accessibility in the Russian embassy in Washington, DC immediately afterward), and in 1986-1987 at the Demjanjuk trial in Jerusalem.

    We have seen above the brevity of the look that the defense was allowed in Cleveland in 1981, and now we will see what kind of a look it was allowed in Jerusalem in 1987.  As a measure of duration and the magnitude of the defense deprivation, we note that up to 21-Apr-1987, the defense did not even have a color reproduction of the Trawniki Card, and was delighted at seeing the various colors of the inks on the card (Trial Transcript, Jerusalem 21-Apr-1987, pp. 4578-4579).

    The Kremlin passed the Trawniki Card to Israel through the hands of Armand Hammer on 11-Dec-1986.  The prosecution creates a paper trail giving the impression that the Kremlin was stonewalling about supplying the card to everybody; an alternative interpretation is that the prosecution conspired with the Kremlin to keep the card unavailable to the defense until the last possible minute, and that the appearance of impartial stonewalling was necessary to keep the defense from recognizing the extent of prosecution-Kremlin cooperation.

    William Flynn takes a look at the card.  William Flynn arrived in Israel on 20-Sep-1987, nine months and nine days after the card itself did, and first saw the card the following day on 21-Sep-1987.  Flynn testified in court on 23-Nov-1987.

    What kind of look had Flynn been able to get of the card?  Levin-Tal-Dorner made it seem like it was a leisurely three-day look, though their getting the year wrong does not enhance their reputation for accuracy:

    From here we proceed to the witness Flynn.  This witness arrived in the country in September 1986, and in the course of three days examined, in the Criminal Identification Laboratories of the Israel Police National Headquarters, the certificate tav/149, and the comparison documents.
    State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 321.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.  The year "1986" above is an error in the Verdict, and should read 1987.

    In addition, we read in the trial transcript below that although Flynn looked at the ink, he was unable to perform any laboratory tests:

    Gill:  Mr. Flynn, by your own initiative, have you performed any other tests relative to Taf-149 that relates to the ink or the component parts of the ink on that document?

    Flynn:  I have made several observations concerning the ink on the document, but I performed myself no particular ink analysis on the document.
    Trial Transcript, 23-Nov-1987, p. 010551.  Yes, "Taf" above is in the transcript, although it is usually written "Tav".

    Flynn can't do what he is trained to do, and has to sneak peeks at things he is not supposed to see:

    Although I was not permitted to perform any destructive testing (under an agreement between the Soviets and Israelis), I did manage to lift up one corner of the photo enough to see that it had been glued to the card at least twice.  This fact is significant because of the ease with which a composite photo can be made.
    William J. Flynn, Demjanjuk: a victim of Soviet forgery, Ukrainian Weekly, 18-Sep-1988, originally published in the 10-July-1998 Arizona Republic.

    In his UABA address of 1988, Flynn elaborates that his peek under the photograph was taken "while they weren't looking".

    Brief though the above accounts of the William Flynn examination of the card are, we can nevertheless infer that the circumstances of the examination were adverse:

    William Flynn sums up the nature of his examination of the Trawniki Card in his UABA address of 1988:

    FLYNN:  I came into this thing at a distinct disadvantage.  Had I had the card in my own laboratory, there is a great deal more that I could have done.  I had to sit in the Israeli document laboratory and make my examination, and there photograph what you see here now these slides at the Israeli laboratory.

    I was scrutinized every step of the way as I made these examinations, and I had no access to do any of my own ink work.  Obviously, I had to rely on the ink work of the others.

    There were a lot of tests that I could have conceived of that I would have liked to run myself rather than try to depend on someone else's work, especially the prosecution's work.

    FROM THE AUDIENCE:  Is it your experience at other trials that that type of circumscribing of your activities is unusual?

    FLYNN:  Oh, yeah!  For sure!  For sure!

    You've got to remember that this is a very unusual situation for me because I am a government expert.  I spend 99% of my time in court testifying for the government, either the federal, state, county, or municipal governments, because I work in the State crime laboratory in Arizona.  This was a little bit of an unusual circumstance.  But I can tell you this, that in a criminal case here in the United States, that if the defense requested this card so that their expert could have at it, we would have been compelled to turn that card over so that the defense expert would have an opportunity to examine it.  I never had that opportunity.

    Again, as close as I could come was to fly to Israel, sit down in their laboratory, and do my examinations there.
    Transcribed from the videotape of an address by William Flynn to the Ukrainian American Bar Association (UABA), Detroit Michigan, 23-Apr-1988.

    Julius Grant takes a look at the card.  The following statements by Julius Grant indicate that his experiences were similar he was alone, he had Israelis peering over his shoulder, the equipment was inferior, instead of working as late into the night as necessary to get at the truth of the Trawniki Card, he was hustled out of the building at closing time:

    On the 6th of November 1987, I visited the Police Laboratories in Jerusalem, where I met Mr. Eli Gabay and Ms. Sara Bar, who produced Tav 149, the questioned document, and also observed my work very closely.  [...]  I found the apparatus different from my own and apparently not thoroughly effective.
    Julius Grant, Supplemental Statement, 10-Nov-1987.

    And then the staff had to go home.  And we had to cut the whole thing a bit short.
    Julius Grant, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 11-Nov-1987, pp. 9818-9819.

  • No Access Today

    What does a real identification card look like?

    The Kennkarte shown here is an example of a genuine, WW II, German-issue identification card, though a civilian one rather than a military one.  This Kennkarte was required of all civilians in the occupied territory known as the General Government.  The card comes folded in three with the title panel as shown on the right, the "U" signifying that the bearer is Ukrainian.  All information is presented in an upper line in German, a middle line in Ukrainian, and a bottom (parenthesized) line in Polish.  In contrast to Trawniki Cards, of which there appear to be four in the entire world, all coming from the KGB, it cannot be doubted that these Kennkartes can be found in every institution that deals with WW II documents, and also scattered all over the world in thousands of private hands, and so that comparisons would be amply available for any given card whose authenticity was being evaluated.

    Of primary interest is the middle panel of the inside of the card which is shown below.  Note first that the photograph does not have one unexplained pair of staple holes in it and the card another there are no empty staple holes.  The photograph is held on not by glue, but by two robust staples.  The staples appear to be engineered to collapse downward so as to provide pressure against the photo just off the midpoint of the staple as well as at the bends.  Furthermore, the stapler leaves two indentations in the photograph on either side of the staple itself; if these indentations were out of place or absent, this would indicate that the staples had been inserted in some manner other than by means of a stapler.  Having been so stapled, the photograph cannot be transferred to another document without the staple holes and various indentations broadcasting the transfer; nor would it be easy to attach a new photograph to the card, because of the difficulty of removing the old staples without damaging the card, as well as the difficulty of getting the new staples to fit precisely into the existing staple holes in the card.  In contrast, the use of 1940s glue to hold a photograph is an invitation to document falsification, as the glue can readily be loosened with steam or cut through with a razor, with damage to the card being covered with a new photograph.  The seal, in turn, corresponds on card and photo, with small differences understandably resulting from the photo being higher than the card, and also smoother, slipperier, and less absorbent.

    Several of the features that were missing on the Trawniki Card are present on the Kennkarte:

    1. The full signature of the bearer (rather than just the surname).

    2. The place and date of issue (stamped rather than handwritten, making them harder to forge).

    3. The signature of the issuing authority (perhaps harder to forge for being illegible).

    4. Fingerprints from the index finger of each hand.  Now here's a bonus!  Nothing about the Kennkarte would be as hard to forge as these two fingerprints.  The Trawniki Card is devoid of anything like this devastatingly-convincing feature.  If the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card had had two of John Demjanjuk's fingerprints, then its authenticity would have been impossible to question.  If the Trawniki Card is authentic, it would suggest that the occupying Germans felt that it was Ukrainian civilians, and not servicemen, who needed identification incorporating this unsurpassable testament of authenticity which might not be irrational, as Wachmann units might have been small enough that everybody in them would have known everybody else, making infiltration difficult (thus small need for unforgeable identification), whereas the civilian population was vast, making infiltration easy (and thus great need for unforgeable identification).

    1. Just below, to add icing to the cake, is Kennkarte printing office identification of the sort that one knowledgeable commentator after another complained was missing from the Trawniki Card.  It appears at the bottom of the middle panel we were examining above, but on the outside of the card.  The color difference between the images immediately above and immediately below is caused by different scanner settings.  Just below this printshop identification I have reproduced a print sample from the Trawniki Card, which serves to underline the poor quality of Trawniki Card reproductions that are disseminated to the public (and perhaps even that were released to expert witnesses on both sides, and to the Demjanjuk defense):

    Anything irregular on the Kennkarte?  It is instructive that even on this fraction of a fully credible Kennkarte that we are examining, there appear two small irregularities:  (1) in the date of issue which has been stamped on the card 27 Nov 1943 the rubber stamp appears to have produced a "2" that was too light, and that was overwritten by hand afterward; and (2) above the signature of the issuing authority is a space for the identification of the issuing agency which has been left blank.

    However, the fact that the Trawniki Card and the Kennkarte both fall short of perfection does not equate them on the degree of imperfection.  A vast difference exists between the two cards in the number and magnitude of the imperfections.  The Kennkarte is credible because it contains a small number of small imperfections; the Trawniki Card is incredible because it contains a large number of large imperfections.

    Anything to hide on the Trawniki Card?  Anyone attempting to convince the public of the authenticity of this Kennkarte would begin by presenting it in the size and clarity shown above.  Note the contrast on the left between the legibility of the best Demjanjuk Trawniki-Card signature that I have been able to find and a Kennkarte surname signature of a quality that anybody is able to produce on an inexpensive home scanner.  The question that this contrast calls to mind is whether the custodians of the Trawniki Card are doing a poor job in allowing the world to get a close look at it, or whether they are doing a good job in keeping the world from getting a close look at it.  It may be no accident that one of the weaker characteristics of the card is the Demjanjuk signature, and that it is also one of the more obscured.

    The same conclusion follows a comparison of the photographs the Kennkarte photograph shows face and apparel with a clarity that might be expected; the Trawniki Card photograph almost always comes in versions so over-contrasted that both eyes and apparel are undifferentiated blackness, and never comes with a clarity approaching that seen in the Kennkarte above.  As accusations have been made by more than one observer that the Trawniki-Card-photograph face has been montaged onto the shoulders, and that the uniform is Russian rather than German, a high-resolution enlargement of the photograph, and indeed of the whole card, in color, with care taken to reveal detail rather than obscure it, would be a valuable contribution toward evaluating the card's authenticity.

    Furthermore, anyone attempting to convince the public of the authenticity of the Kennkarte would also make it available at several still-higher enlargements.  The terminal "k" from the Kennkarte signature demonstrates what is possible, and also how higher enlargement brings out detail that might be of use to a document examiner.  For example, we discussed above the importance of determining what was superimposed on what in the card, and the magnification used to reproduce this terminal "k" reveals that when the ink line crosses itself, the enlargement confirms that it is the line coming down from upper left to lower right that lies on top, which I point out not because this particular confirmation is worth having, but only to illustrate that enlargement makes confirmation of expected layering possible.

    We searched above for a pair of empty staple holes that might have attached the right-hand edge of some earlier photograph to the card, and came up with a black spot within the second "e" of Dienstausweis which looked like it could be a hole in approximately the right place.  However, with the poor reproductions of the card that are available, it was far from certain that this really was a hole.  The image of one of the Kennkarte staples presented here serves to remind us that if we had this quality of image of the Trawniki Card, then the question of its holes could be answered.  Going further, this Kennkarte staple could be presented at a resolution so high that if the Lord's prayer were inscribed on it, it would be legible.  That is the level of detail that images of the Trawniki Card would be available at on the internet if its custodians had nothing to hide.

    To plunge from the sublime to the ridiculous, I present this image the best that I have been able to find of the patch on John Demjanjuk's left breast.  During his trial, arguments were presented that there was a number written on this patch, and that the number was either 1393 or 1693.  The judges bought 1393, which is the Dienstausweis Nr. appearing on the front of the card.  A cynic might conclude that Israel together with the KGB show no interest in allowing the public to arrive at its own conclusion concerning what, if anything, is written on this patch.  Jews continue to invest resources a little of their own, but mainly those of the taxpayer in their continuing persecution of John Demjanjuk, but they avoid drawing the curtain back from the evidence that is most probative.

    The contrast between the slovenly, misspelled, unconventional, blurred, over-contrasted, doctored Trawniki Card and the Kennkarte issued by the same Germans in the same locale at the same time, and reproduced with some minimal attention paid to clarity, is stark.  The Kennkarte is presented so as to reveal, the Trawniki Card so as to conceal.  The Kennkarte is credible, the Trawniki Card is incredible.

    The original Trawniki Identification Card is inaccessible today.

    We see from what we have just been saying that the Trawniki Card is inaccessible to public inspection today in the sense that the reproductions of it that have been published are of abysmal quality and do not permit a number of outstanding questions to be answered.  One must add that the card itself is unavailable today for any kind of inspection by anybody who might be interested either in vindicating John Demjanjuk, or in defending him in the ongoing prosecution against him, or merely in conducting an objective study.  If the card is accessible to the Israelis, or the Jewish-controlled U.S. Office of Special Investigations, they are not broadcasting that fact.  Free access to all the Trawniki Identification cards would allow a large number of issues to be resolved, for the truth to come out, and for justice to be done.

    We have noted several of these issues above, but many more remain which have not been touched upon for example, it has been claimed that the Juchnowskij photograph shows his uniform buttoned on the wrong side, (which would indicate that the negative was wrong-side up during the creation of the print), whereas the number patch on Juchnowskij's chest is not left-right reversed (which would indicate that it had been added to the print afterward, which is to say, in the course of doctoring).  As the Juchnowskij photograph is cursed with that same pervasive high contrast as curses the other Trawniki Card photographs, his uniform too is plunged into undifferentiated blackness, and the claim cannot be evaluated.

    One hears often these days of old evidence being subjected to DNA analysis, with surprising results, sometimes the exculpation of individuals who had been previously convicted on the basis of eyewitness testimony.  Although John Demjanjuk's conviction in Jerusalem in 1988 was reversed upon appeal, he remains far from exonerated he continues to be reviled by the media, calumniated by Jews, and prosecuted by the OSI.  Controversy continues to swirl around the authenticity and the meaning of the Trawniki Card, but instead of the controversy being settled by objective forensic examination, the card is locked up in Moscow or in Kyiv probably which does not accord with Western concepts of justice.

    Top  Role  Cards  Photograph  Signatures  Defects  Entries  History  Experts  Alibi  Children  Hypotheses  Obligations  Bot

    1. The BKA Said that the Card was Forged

      The Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), or Federal Criminal Police Office, in Wiesbaden, Germany may hold the greatest concentration of expertise in the world for authenticating a Third Reich document, and perhaps for that reason was initially chosen by the Israeli prosecution to evaluate the Trawniki Card.  The BKA incident is significant in two respects: (1) the BKA's first impression was that the Trawniki Card was forged, and (2) Israel terminated the BKA analysis, and suppressed information about the incident:

      [T]he German weekly Stern published a shocking revelation on 5 March 1992, proving unmistakably that the Israeli prosecution concealed crucial information about the Travniki document's being a forgery; the Israelis had had the full co-operation of the German police and the Ministry of Justice.  The article states that on 23 January 1987, three weeks before the show-trial began, Superintendent Amnon Bezaleli took the original Travniki document for examination at the German police force's main criminal-identification laboratory in Weisbaden, known by its initials as the BKA.  Bezaleli, it will be remembered, was the head of Israel Police's document-examination laboratory and the prosecution's central witness on the Travniki document.  According to Stern, the BKA, after a cursory examination, told Bezaleli that this was a counterfeit document forged in a more or less amateur way.  The laboratory analysts addressed the following points: the face in the photograph, which the prosecution identified as Demjanjuk's, had been pasted on to the uniform using photomontage techniques; the picture was not originally attached to the card, but had been transferred from another document; there was no match between the seal on the Travniki picture and that on the document itself.  The analysts did not have time to compare Demjanjuk's known signature with the Demjanjuk signature on the Travniki document, but even more serious revelations appear in the rest of the article.  Dr Louis Ferdinand Werner, head of the BKA, informed Bezaleli of the results of the preliminary examination in a private conversation.  Bezaleli consulted people from the state prosecutor's office in Jerusalem, then announced to Werner that all tests on the Travniki document should be halted at once.  Even when Dr Werner told Bezaleli that with the results of further tests, which would take no more than two weeks, he would be able to provide a comprehensive report on the document and its faults, the Israeli position did not change.  Bezaleli took the document and returned to Israel with all due haste.  Dr Werner wrote a memo in the wake of these events, in which he said, "Regarding this case, the experts' doubts will be subordinated to political aspects ... the discovery of true facts in this case is not what is important here."  When Stern's correspondent had presented this information to [Israeli prosecutor] Shaked and asked for his reaction, he made no denial.  "We base ourselves on our experts' opinions and continue to consider them persuasive," he said.  Dr Werner's memo lay hidden for years in a German safe.

      So for years Shaked and Bezaleli, with the help of the German authorities, concealed vital information: that the world's most authoritative and reliable body for determining the authenticity of documents from the Third Reich needed only a cursory examination to state unequivocally that the Travniki document was no more than an amateur forgery.
      Yoram Sheftel, The Demjanjuk Affair: The Rise and Fall of a Show-Trial, Victor Gollancz, London, 1994, pp. 336-337.

      As the above may be taken as no better than the one-sided view of the defense, I offer the following account from the German magazine STERN, which corroborates the account above, and adds some new details:


      According to experts of the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) in Wiesbaden, the only piece of evidence in writing in this trial, an "SS-Dienstausweis" is a forgery.  And what is even worse, this was known to the Israeli authorities even before the trial began in February, 1987.

      For quite a long time now there have been doubts whether or not Demjanjuk, who emigrated to the United States in 1952 and who was extradited to Israel in 1986 was really "Ivan the Terrible", and whether or not the SS-Dienstausweis is authentic (STERN, Nr. 1/1992: "Iwan der Falsche" Ivan the Wrong One).  But now the Israelis are obviously trying to back up a death sentence against their better knowledge, on the basis of a piece of evidence recognized by the German Federal Office of Criminal Investigation as a forgery.

      In January 1987, a Brigadier-General of the Israeli Embassy in Bonn by the name of Yagel contacted the BKA and requested them to examine an "SS-Dienstausweis Nr. 1393" using the methods of criminalistics, since this would put "substantially more weight" on an expert's opinion of their own.  The document had been played into the Israelis' hands from Soviet sources several weeks prior to this.

      On 25 January 1987, the head of the document laboratory in Jerusalem, Police Major Bezaleli, called at the Wiesbaden BKA and handed the alleged SS ID-card Demjanjuk's to them.

      The BKA experts told their Jerusalem colleague that, at first sight, the document contained "a series of distinctive features which do not necessarily speak in favor of the document's authenticity", as BKA head of department Dr. Louis-Ferdinand Werner noted in a memo to be included in file.  For:

      • The ID-card has not, as customary, a date of issue.

      • The rank of the issuing officer (SS-Hauptsturmführer Captain Streibel) is printed in and not entered by hand or using a typewriter, as was customary because ranks would change quickly.

      • On the photograph, as can be easily seen from the interface at the base of the neck, the head was subsequently copied in.  Furthermore, two different kinds of glue were discovered on the reverse of the photograph, which means that the picture had been removed from another piece of paper and then pasted into the "Ausweis" using a different kind of glue.

      • Different, in those days certainly unusual, printing and stamping types were used for the ID-card.  Also, the "Memphis" size of type of the original printing has only been modelled.

      • The SS-runes shown on the ID-card are hand-drawings, on the basis of which a printer's copy was made.

      From this point of departure, the BKA-experts said in 1987, it would take them two weeks to meticulously examine the presumably false ID-card.

      Thereupon Major Bezaleli telephoned with Israel and subsequently informed his colleagues in Wiesbaden that "further examinations are no longer desired", and he would do the job himself.

      The BKA head of department then took down in his memo: "Die fachlichen Bedenken sollten hier offensichtlich den politischen Aspekten untergeordnot werden" (In this case, the experts' doubts are obviously to be subordinated to political aspects).  He had the impression that "finding out the true facts of the case does not really matter here", an assessment corroborated by the handwriting expert mandated by the Defense, Dieter Lehner.

      Undeterred by these events, Major Bezaleli subsequently proceeded, accompanied by BKA colleagues, to the Federal Archives in Koblenz and other places, to look for any material substantiating the authenticity of the document likewise unsuccessful.

      He searched for a comparable SS-Ausweis in vain, for there is not one single specimen in Germany.  There are, however, some of them in the Soviet Union, for the Soviet Director of Public Prosecutions sent four additional specimens to Jerusalem, when, in the course of the Jerusalem trial, the authenticity of this piece of evidence was challenged by the defense attorneys.

      Also the signatures on this "Dienstausweis" have obviously been counterfeited: The former SS-Hauptsturmführer Karl Streibel, who allegedly signed the ID-card, as well as Rudolf Reiss, the former pay-sergeant of the SS-training camp Trawniki, where according to the ID-card Demjanjuk served in 1942, emphatically denied in sworn statements in the presence of German detectives ever having signed, handed out or even having seen such a document.

      In spite of all this, the Jerusalem District Court had "not the shadow of a doubt", when on 18 April 1988, after 106 hearings, they passed the death sentence against Demjanjuk the hitherto second verdict for Nazi crimes after Adolf Eichmann, who was hanged in 1962.

      Said Judge Zwi Tal in his reasons for the judgment: "The convicted person did not organize the extermination of millions of people, like Eichmann, but he was a major henchman who murdered and maltreated people with great pleasure".

      In their judgment, the court "first and foremost based themselves on the testimonies of witnesses"; then on the SS ID-card, "the wrong alibi and other lies of the accused"; and on the Berlin expert on contemporary history, Professor Wolfgang Scheffler, who considered the document authentic, adding the remarkable argument that "anyone who would like to falsify such a "Dienstausweis" would have to be an absolute expert".  Scheffler now to STERN: "I cannot say anything about criminalistics.  But for reasons of content, I continue to stick to the authenticity of the ID-Card".

      The Israeli judges were looking for further circumstantial evidence in the statement of the BKA expert Reinhardt Altmann.  As early as December 1986, even before Major Bezaleli arrived in Wiesbaden, Altmann had compared the glued-in photograph with genuine pictures of Demjanjuk and then testified before the Jerusalem court as an expert: "The person shown on the photograph is 'with very high probability' Ivan John Demjanjuk" i.e. the accused".

      But the judges' conclusion photograph authentic, therefore ID-card authentic, too is obviously false.  Altmann's colleagues, who could have proved this at the time, were not required as expert witnesses.  When a friend of Demjanjuk's wrote to the Federal Chancellery and asked them for further BKA findings, they informed him on 13 August 1987 that the BKA expert (Altmann) was heard "only concerning the authenticity of the photograph on the ID-card (which he confirmed), but not on the authenticity of the ID-card".

      The Federal Office of Criminal Investigation refused to comment on the question why they did not raise their voice against this patent false judgment.  They passed the "hot potato" on to Bonn.  But there, too, no comment was to be had by Monday.

      STERN, November 1992, found bound in a book of trial exhibits.  The translator appears not be a native speaker of English.

      A briefer Der Spiegel account (see p. 105 of Murderous Eyes, 02-Aug-1993, pp. 103-105) supports the above two descriptions of the BKA concluding that the card was forged, and of the Israelis aborting the BKA analysis and not telling anyone of the BKA's negative evaluation.

      Amnon Bezaleli

      The same Amnon Bezaleli who is described above as having delivered the Trawniki Card to the BKA, and then having whisked it away again when the BKA analysis started heading toward undesirable conclusions, became the leading document expert for the Israeli prosecution.  He did so lacking any education relating to document examination:

      Gill:  In any class that you had while in your formal education, prior to joining the police department, did you take any classes or courses that in any way related to questioned document examination?

      Mr. Bezalely:  No.  Nor are there any such training courses available in Israel.
      Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 22-Apr-1987, pp. 4656-4657.  "Bezalely" is in the original.

      To be fair to Bezaleli, he did eventually take a one-week course in the document laboratory of the Metropolitan Police of London.  Well, not exactly a course, as he was not part of a group, and he did not attend lectures, and there were no examinations, and he did not receive any kind of certificate or diploma it was, to be honest, more like walking around the lab and exchanging views and experiences.  And, oh yes, mustn't forget: "I also saw the lab of the German police and that was recently".  So, when Amnon Bezaleli dropped the Trawniki Card off at the BKA, and then picked it up again, that bolstered his qualifications.  To be fair, maybe here too he was allowed to hang around the lab, rather than having the door slammed in his face after completing each messengerial service.  (Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 22-Apr-1987, pp. 4817-4820.)

      Although Amnon Bezaleli ended up saying a great deal about the Trawniki Card in the Levin-Tal-Dorner court (his testimony, garbled where it was not vacuous, spanned 602 pages), he did not understand why anybody should want him to say so much why wasn't his emphatic declaration that the Teufel and Streibel signatures were authentic sufficient?  And in case anyone didn't grasp the cogency of his logic, and the irresistability of his conclusions, the first time he presented them, he was sure that two further repetitions reiterating his qualifications or stating his point more emphatically could not fail to convince:

      When, after examining Teufel's signature, when I saw that I had identified Streibel's signature and Teufel's signature with certainty, I as an expert regarded this as sufficient for deciding that the document as a whole is authentic.  These two examinations in themselves.  [...]

      The conclusions that I reached on the basis of the handwriting are very convincing, very cogent ones, and it is with the highest degree of certainty that I say so.  And this is sufficient.  There are examinations with respect to which there is no doubt.  I can establish without any doubt that there is no forgery involved here.  A document of this type, which involved two signators, who were supposed to sign this document and in fact I find that they did sign it, this would seem to be sufficient grounds for establishing the authenticity of the document.  [...]

      The question is whether you are asking me whether you're asking whether those two signatures are enough or not.  As an expert of documents I would say that this is enough.
      Amnon Bezaleli, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 21-Apr-1987, pp. 4656-4657.  That is what Bezaleli said.

      To the question, "Where were the experts?", then, the BKA incident would suggest that the world contained considerable expertise able to throw light on the authenticity of the Trawniki Identification Card, but that (from the BKA analysis being cut short) this expertise was not always sought, and that (from the initial BKA conclusions being suppressed) what conclusions the expertise arrived at were sometimes kept from the notice of the defense and the court.  Personnel gaps left by missing experts were filled with lackeys.

    2. Experts Who Did Make It To The Trial Were Stricken By The Patty Hurst Syndrome

      The name of the Syndrome (alternatively called the Stockholm Syndrome) comes from the kidnapping of the Hurst-newspaper-empire heiress, Patty Hurst, by the Symbianese Liberation Army (SLA), and by her not only for a time adopting the ideology of the SLA, but also by her joining it in robbing banks.  The general principle would be that the powerless confronted with overwhelming force end up doing, and believing, whatever is necessary to avoid getting hurt.  In the milder manifestation that we are interested in, the Patty Hurst Syndrome might be evidenced in someone coming upon a dispute between parties differing in power, and neglecting both his better judgment and his professional responsibility to side with the stronger party.  The Patty Hurst Syndrome afflicted many of the participants in the Demjanjuk trial with respect to the Trawniki Identification Card, most noticeably defense expert witnesses Julius Grant and William Flynn.

      Julius Grant

      We have already noted above something like the Patty Hurst Syndrome in the testimony of defense expert witness Julius Grant, and we will add only a few details of his reaction here.  Julius Grant's predicament was that in a capital case, he was being asked to evaluate a document using Israeli equipment with which he was unfamiliar and which he judged inadequate.  His access to the Trawniki Card was limited in duration, as we saw higher above when he was hustled out of the Israeli police office (where he was examining the card) at closing time, in the middle of his work.  (The alternative, of course, would have been to allow him to conduct his investigation without time constraints in his own laboratory in England.)  Grant's testimony several times makes reference to such constraints.  In the first excerpt below, Julius Grant states that most of his handwriting analyses were conducted within a single day, and that every step required a request to a monitor from the prosecution team:

      Most of this work was done in the laboratories here on 1 day, and there was a representative of the prosecution present, who handed me the originals of whatever signatures I asked for and were available.
      Julius Grant, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 09-Nov-1987, pp. 9500.

      The equipment with which he was expected to work was sub-standard, as a result of which his attempt to compare inks using thin layer chromatography utterly failed:

      There is a recognized method of doing this known as thin layer chromotography and this was the method that I proposed to use.  It takes quite a long while and has to be set up specially.  Without wishing in any way to criticize the laboratory or the people there, I found that the apparatus I was expected to use was not entirely satisfactory.
      Julius Grant, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 10-Nov-1987, pp. 9616-9617.

      I am not sure what the reason [for the test failing] was, the ground glass cap didn't fit properly and that may have had something to do with it.
      Julius Grant, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 10-Nov-1987, pp. 9714.

      What we might have expected from Julius Grant is precisedly the sort of criticism that he confesses to being unable to express above if not of the laboratory and its personnel and its equipment, then of the prosecutors and the state of Israel for forcing him to rely on this laboratory and personnel and equipment, and thereby limiting his ability to carry out his professional responsibilities.  However, that is not how Grant reacts.

      We see below, rather, that in this trial in which a man's life is at stake, Julius Grant is "diffident" toward those who are preventing him from conducting a full investigation.  He does not feel that they are interfering with his obligation to get at the truth of the Trawniki Card, he feels that he is imposing on them in attempting to do so.  He feels that he has already put them to so much trouble asking for equipment, that he can't bring himself to ask for more.  When he considers whether to make some fresh request or not, Julius Grant is swayed less by John Demjanjuk's right to avoid getting hanged for crimes he didn't commit, and more by the Israeli Police's right to not be put to the trouble of dusting off and plugging in some piece of equipment that they have sitting in a back room:

      LEVIN   The question is whether you requested those in charge in criminal investigation division to provide you with whatever equipment you might have needed in order to photograph the finding.  Did you ask whether they had such equipment?

      GRANT   No, I didn't I was rather diffident about asking for things, because I had asked for so much.  But I am not sure that I could have made a satisfactory photograph with somebody's elses equipment.  If I had had it in my own laboratory, and time is unlimited, I could have done that.
      Julius Grant, Trial Transcript, Jerusalem, 10-Nov-1987, p. 009694.  Irregularities were in the original.

      William Flynn

      Defense expert witness William Flynn displays the Patty Hurst Syndrome more dramatically he appears not only to have been inhibited from doing his best for John Demjanjuk, but to have Patty-Hurst-like gone over to the other side.

      Few witnesses come with higher credentials than did William Flynn.  He had been a forensic document examiner for the previous 20 years, was chief document examiner for the state of Arizona, vice-president of the American Board of Forensic Documents Examiners, founder and past president of the Southwestern Association of Forensic Document Examiners, and exposer of Mark Hoffmann's forgeries of Mormon documents in the 1986 White Salamander case in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Over the course of his career, Flynn had rendered about 15,000 formal questioned-document reports, which involved the examination of more than a million and a half documents.  He had done work for the Federal Government, the FBI, the Secret Service, the United States Treasury Department, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and many others, as well as approximately 140 different police agencies throughout the United States.  He had received more than 200 awards and letters of commendation.  He had published articles in the leading professional journals, and had taught advanced forensics courses.  He had testified as an expert witness on more than a thousand occasions.  With this background, it is reasonable to expect that Flynn would have noticed the Trawniki Card's chief defects and would have brought them to the attention of the court.  However, that is not how it worked out.

      The bulk of Flynn's testimony was disallowed.  The bulk of his testimony being disallowed cannot readily be blamed on Flynn, and so may not be relevant to the topic of the Patty Hurst Syndrome.  (The contrarian position here would be that if Flynn had testified in court on a thousand occasions previously, he should have had an excellent idea as to what sort of evidence courts found impressive, and should have been giving this court more of that kind of evidence, and less of the kind that they were likely to say they didn't want to hear.)  Be that as it may, the Levin-Tal-Dorner refusal to hear the bulk of Flynn's testimony is mentioned here mainly because it is relevant to the larger topic of the fairness of the evaluation of the Trawniki Card.  In the words of the Verdict, we see that Levin-Tal-Dorner simply declined to hear most of what Flynn came prepared to say without being overly punctilious in explaining why:

      In the course of his testimony in direct examination, after we had disallowed questions which the Defense wished to ask the witness regarding the Streibel and Teufel signatures which the witness had forged, as well as a photomontage which he had made to prove his theory regarding undetectable forgery, Advocate Sheftel declared that the main objective of the testimony was to prove the theory of the perfect forgery.  Since the questions on this subject were disallowed, the Defense had no further interest in this testimony, and Advocate Sheftel requested, therefore, that it be stricken from the Record (pp. 8100-1).
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 322.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.

      Incidentally, one may notice that the Levin-Tal-Dorner repugnance (which was observed in court) toward Flynn's demonstrations of document forgeability parallels their even greater repugnance (which I suggest we can safely infer) toward any demonstration of the ease of survivor imposture, which can be viewed as a variety of forgeability.  On the one hand, William Flynn tried to present his demonstration of the Trawniki Card's forgeability to Levin-Tal-Dorner, and they refused to listen.  But on the other hand, nobody so much as dared to think of offering to present any parallel demonstration of how readily the eyewitness testimony could be simulated, and obviously Levin-Tal-Dorner would have been outraged at any such proposition.  Had Levin-Tal-Dorner assented to such a demonstration, though, the defense would have been able to flood the court with phony survivor-eyewitnesses who after a few hours of coaching were not easily distinguishable from the five witnesses which the court did accept as authentic.  In fact, five pretty-good actors and a week of coaching would have produced five "survivor eyewitnesses" who seemed more authentic and convincing than were the five who actually testified.  The possibility that the Trawniki Identification Card was a forgery from start to finish was at least brought up and discussed in court, but the possibility that the five survivor eyewitnesses had made up their stories from start to finish was never whispered.  Ready symptoms of imposture might have been psychiatric or criminal histories, but the psychiatric and criminal histories of the five survivor eyewitnesses were not probed.  Why some skepticism toward documents and almost none toward witnesses?  Is it that people lie through the documents that they produce more readily than they lie through the stories they tell? I would have assumed that it was the opposite.

      But to get back to the subject of the Patty Hurst Syndrome although a good chunk of the William Flynn testimony was lost because the judges refused to hear it, much more failed to appear by William Flynn never having noticed it.

      Flynn missed most of the main points.  A few of the card defects that Flynn missed:

      1. Demjanjuk signature.  Flynn missed the most important differences between the Trawniki signature and the known signatures of John Demjanjuk how the "n" and the "k" were made.  These differences are the most important because they are not quantitative ones, but rather differences in the path followed to create the letter.
      2. Streibel signature.  Flynn could find nothing at all wrong with the Streibel signature, thus missing the coffee break between the "t" and the "r" and the irregularities to be found within collections of Streibel signatures which damage their use as known signatures.  In the case of the loop superimposed on the "e", Flynn perversely went so far as to regard it as authenticating the signature rather than otherwise.  What more can a prosecution lacking integrity ask for than a defense expert who takes signs of forgery and interprets them as signs of authenticity?
      3. Holes.  Flynn did not notice any of the holes in the card discussed above, some of which could have been staple holes attaching some alternative photograph.
      4. Seals.  Flynn did not notice that the words in the upper-right seal were crowded in comparison to the lower-left seal, and contained a malformed "s".
      5. Bad German.  Flynn did not comment on any of the deviations from proper, administrative German.
      6. Typographic irregularities.  Flynn did not comment on any of the typographic irregularities.
      7. Inaccessibility of the card.  Flynn raised no objections during the trial that the inaccessibility of the card was irregular in his experience, and suggestive of prosecution cover-up.
      8. Handwriting diacritics.  Flynn never went to the trouble to understand the handwriting diacritics used by Teufel, even being so careless as to refer to the circle above the "u" in Teufel as an "i-dot" when there is no "i" underneath the circle, or in fact anywhere in the surname (which he does in his 1988 UABA address, cited above).

      Flynn's inadequate performance could be interpreted as governed by a fear of Jewish injury to his reputation and to his career if he were to do a thorough job on behalf of the Demjanjuk defense.

      But the justification for appealing to a Patty Hurst Syndrome is based on more than Flynn's not doing a good job it is based on his actually going over to the other side.

      How Flynn went over to the prosecution.  What Flynn might prefer to think of as his misadventure, but which others might view as his defection, is recounted in the 1988 Jerusalem Verdict:

      From here we proceed to the witness Flynn.  This witness arrived in the country in September 1986, and in the course of three days examined, in the Criminal Identification Laboratories of the Israel Police National Headquarters, the certificate tav/149, and the comparison documents.  In October 1986, he lectured at a convention of document examiners in Palm Springs in the United States, which was convened at his initiative, and which was devoted to the examination of historical documents.  At this convention he lectured (and his words were recorded), on the lesson that he learned from the late discovery of a forgery, of what was known as the Hoffman documents.  As an example of the fact that he was not prepared to eliminate the possibility of the forgery of a historical document, even if he did not find any sign of forgery, he cited the certificate tav/149, stating that in all the detailed tests he had conducted, it was found to be authentic, and had it not been for the Hoffman affair, he would have been certain beyond any doubt that it was genuine (tav/271).

      In spite of these explicit words, he testified in this Court, basing himself on several differences that he found in Demjanjuk's signature in certificate tav/149 and the Defendant's known signatures, that it is "definitely unreasonable that the signature in tav/149 was made by the suspect John Demjanjuk (p. 8052 of the Record).  He even mentioned other documents which, in his opinion, damage the authenticity of the certificate: the perforations [staple holes] in the photograph, the ink inside the perforations, and the lack of conformity between the parts of the stamp (pp. 8087, 8088, 8148 of the Record).

      As a result of these features, the question arose as to what caused the witness to retract his words at the convention in the U.S.  He refused to reply to this refutation on instructions from the client who had requested his opinion.
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, pp. 321-322.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.  Square-bracketed, red material added.  Flynn arrived in Israel not in September 1986, but in September 1987.

      When the Palm Springs recording was played in court, Flynn's testimony was reduced to shambles.  He couldn't have done the defense more damage than if he had served as an Israeli agent right from the beginning:

      The following day, with the resumption of the session, Prosecutor Shaked played the recording in the courtroom and asked the witness to relate to what he heard.  But the witness refused to comply.  He explained that he had a "contractual relationship" with the Demjanjuk defense fund, managed by one Nishnik, and that Nishnik had instructed him not to reply to the Prosecutor's questions, and that he was threatened that he would be sued in the United States should he do so.

      The witness added that even should he win the case, and the suit be rejected, he would incur heavy expenses (pp. 8156-57 of the Record).
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, pp. 322-323.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.  Flynn arrived in Israel not in September 1986, but in September 1987.

      The end result was that Levin-Tal-Dorner decided to fully believe Flynn when he said in Palm Springs that the Trawniki Card was flawless, and to fully disbelieve Flynn when he said in their own Israeli court that the Trawniki Card was flawed:

      Without an explanation of this contradiction, it is clear that no weight whatsoever can be assigned to his evidence in Court, in so far as it contradicts what he said at the convention.  However, what the witness said in the United States, which no one disputes that he said, also has independent evidential value.
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 323.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.  Flynn arrived in Israel not in September 1986, but in September 1987.

      In the case before us, the witness presented his position in the United States, freely and clearly, before his professional peers, and there is no basis whatsoever to doubt that his words reflected his professional opinion with the utmost objectivity.

      In his testimony in Court, however, he was under threats, and admitted that he did not regard himself as free to answer questions because of the "contractual relationship" with the Demjanjuk defense fund.  His partial excuse for the contradictions was refuted and, as stated, his cross-examination was not completed due to his refusal to continue his evidence.

      The truth of the matter is that the contradiction between his versions is not in the findings but in the conclusion to be drawn from them which he gave, without being influenced, at the professional convention, while in his testimony so it appears from the circumstances he saw himself bound to the party who retained his services.  We should rely, therefore, on what he said at the convention.

      Flynn explained in his above-mentioned lecture that although, at first, he regarded tav/149 with a great deal of doubt, he could not, in the thorough examination that he conducted, find any fault with it to negate its authenticity.

      Thus the witness, who was retained by the Defense to find signs of forgery, supports the Prosecution experts Bezaleli and Epstein, who determined that the certificate tav/149 is authentic.  What he said in his lecture constitutes a suitable summary of all we have detailed above, and we shall cite his own words from tav/271 A (p. 4):
      I have examined the card firsthand for three days, I have examined the thing microscopically and there's nothing abut the card that I can see that would not have passed muster.

      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, pp. 324-325.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.  Misspelling "abut" is in the original.

      What are we to make of William Flynn's Palm Springs speech?  Let us consider him from two perspectives:

      • Flynn really could not see any flaw in the card.  If this is the case, then Flynn must have perjured himself in testifying in Jerusalem that there were serious flaws in the card.  In other words, Flynn was ready to take the witness stand and lie for whichever side happened to be paying him.  This is how Levin-Tal-Dorner chose to understand him.

        In view of the many serious flaws that the card did possess, though, one would have to add that if Flynn really couldn't see these flaws, then he must have been incompetent, irresponsible, negligent, lazy.
      • Flynn really could see that the card was seriously flawed.  If this is the case, then Flynn was lying to his Palm Springs audience.  But why would he lie?  Levin-Tal-Dorner disingenuously stated that he could have no reason to lie to his Palm Springs audience, and so that he must have been telling the truth.  The reality is that Flynn did have a motive to lie the motive of ingratiating himself with Jews, and of protecting himself from Jewish resentment.

        That is, if in Palm Springs he had taken the position that the Trawniki Card was forged, then he would have been placing himself in danger of being branded by Jews as an anti-Semite if not a Nazi, and he would have been exposing his career to jeopardy.  But if, on the other hand, he demonstrated his submission to Jewish power by proclaiming that the Trawniki Card really did inculpate John Demjanjuk, and that his Jerusalem testimony had been no more damaging to the prosecution than the statement, "even this apparently-genuine card might still be forged," then he expected that his nerve-jangling foray into the world of political incorrectness might be forgiven him.  This would be the eruption of the Patty Hurst syndrome that we have been talking about.

        According to this interpretation, Levin-Tal-Dorner were wrong to portray Flynn as testifying under duress in Jerusalem, but speaking freely in Palm Springs.  The reality is exactly the opposite.  The duress the Demjanjuk family would be able to apply to Flynn was trivial in comparison to the duress that Jewish leaders would be able to apply, no matter where in the world Flynn happened to find himself, Jerusalem or Palm Springs.  All that Flynn had to lose as a result of alienating the Demjanjuks might be the remainder of his fee; in view of the meagerness of Demjanjuk resources, and in view of the implausibility of suing someone for giving testimony that was commanded by a court, the possibility of Demjanjuk suing Flynn was remote.  What he had to lose as a result of alienating Jews was his standing and his livelihood.

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      1. If Genuine, the Trawniki Card Indicates that the Bearer Worked Unarmed

        The entry Gewehr means rifle, Seitengewehr means handgun (or it could mean bayonet), and Seitengewehrtasche means holster (or it could mean bayonet sheath).  The blanks beside each of these indicate that the bearer was not issued weapons, which might be the case perhaps for someone assigned to domestic chores, such as cooking or cleaning, or perhaps assigned to driving or chauffeuring.

        Could firearms have been issued without an account being kept?  This does not seem possible.  It is inconceivable that items of small value and importance should have been recorded, while items of great value and importance were not.  The bearer receives a cap, and it is recorded.  The bearer receives a shirt, and it is recorded.  The bearer receives socks, and it is recorded.  But then the bearer receives a rifle, and it is not recorded?  The bearer receives a pistol, and it is not recorded?  No, these things are impossibilities!  If a rifle and a pistol were not recorded, it must be because the bearer of the card never received them, from which it follows that if he was unarmed, then even though he may have worked in a guard unit, he did not actually do any guarding.

        And if the bearer was not authorized to carry firearms, then this has a significance beyond the lack of evidence that he carried firearms it must be interpreted as a prohibition against carrying firearms.  A non-German in time of war found carrying a firearm that was not authorized would have been subjected to severe punishment, possibly execution.

        That the greatest killer in Treblinka, and indeed in the whole of WW II, should not have been issued weapons is inconceivable.  Even the Jewish kapos were issued weapons for their protection.  The bearer of this Trawniki Card, therefore, is unlikely to have been Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, assuming for the moment that such a person ever existed.

      2. If Genuine, the Trawniki Card Fails to Place the Bearer at Treblinka

        In the Trawniki Card fragment below, the statement "Abkommandiert am ___ zu _____", meaning "Assigned on ___ to _____", is repeated five times, and shows two assignments:

        1. On 22-Sep-1942 to L. G. Okzow.  "L. G." stands for Liegenschaftsgut, meaning large estate.

        2. On 27-Mar-1943 to Sobibor.  One must remember that there were many command posts in and around the town of Sobibor that had nothing to do with the Sobibor camp.

        However, John Demjanjuk was not accused of crimes committed at either of these locations, and thus was not given an opportunity to defend himself against any such accusations.  Although anti-Demjanjuk representatives might argue that Demjanjuk's defense would have been the same no matter which of the three locations (Okzow, Sobibor, Treblinka) the presecution had placed him at, this would not be fair, as it is possible that if accused of crimes at Okzow or Sobibor, exculpatory witnesses or documentation might have surfaced which did not surface when the accusation had to do only with Treblinka.

        In any case, the first location, L. G. Okzow, is an agricultural estate, at which I cannot recollect any crimes ever having been alleged, and the second location, Sobibor, is one of the three camps (Treblinka, Belzec, and Sobibor) that Yitzhak Arad testified had left behind not a single body, not a single building, and in fact not a shred of physical or forensic or documentary or photographic evidence, and concerning which such fantastic and confused rumors circulate, that until some reliable evidence surfaces, one must conclude that nobody knows what happened there, and so nobody can be accused of having committed crimes there.

        What John Demjanjuk was accused of for any who are able to hold their minds to the train of thought dictated by his trial what he was accused of was being Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka where he was supposed to have killed 870,000 people, mostly Jews.  However, as we can see above, the Trawniki Card does not list Treblinka as a place to which the cardholder was assigned.  If Treblinka was the locus of John Demjanjuk's main activities as charged, it is puzzling why Treblinka was not recorded on this card while the locations of his presumably secondary duties Okzow and Sobibor were recorded.

        It has been widely noted, incidentally, that if postings are entered by hand rather than typewritten, then any card bearer who wanted to escape, or set off on some sort of anti-German resistance activity, would be able to enter any imaginary posting he wanted, and use the card for safe passage throughout the occupied territories.  Some observers suggest that typewritten postings were the rule, and that handwritten postings are yet another irregularity of the Trawniki Card.

      3. If Genuine, the Trawniki Card Does Place the Bearer at Locations Other Than Treblinka

        But it is not merely the case that the Trawniki Card fails to inculpate John Demjanjuk by failing to place him at Treblinka.  No, the Trawniki Card goes beyond failing to inculpate it positively exculpates.  It gives John Demjanjuk an alibi.  Whereas the prosecution witnesses placed Demjanjuk at Treblinka from Aug-1942 to Aug-1943, the two postings on the Trawniki Card place him elsewhere in the middle of this interval at Okzow and Sobibor in the fall of 1942 and in the spring of 1943.  It is somewhat incongruous, then, that at what was supposed to be the height of the slaughter at Treblinka Sep-1942 with Ivan the Terrible described as playing a leading role, that the Trawniki Card shows John Demjanjuk being transferred on 22-Sep-1942 to work on a farm.

      4. If Genuine, the Trawniki Card Prohibits the Bearer From Appearing at Treblinka

        And the Trawniki Identification Card exculpates John Demjanjuk even more strongly than that.  By failing to specify Treblinka, this Trawniki Card positively forbids John Demjanjuk to be at Treblinka.  As can be seen on the left, the card states in German that "If the bearer of this identification card is found outside of the designated place, he is to be arrested and the command notified".  "Designated place," of course, can only mean the last place designated on the list of assignments, and Treblinka is nowhere on that list of assignments.

      In any jurisdiction aspiring to Western standards of justice, the Trawniki Card if accepted as genuine would have provided John Demjanjuk with an alibi exculpating him from the charge of having been Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.  Only in a Jewish show trial can a piece of evidence that indicates that the accused worked without weapons, and that forbids him from being at the scene of the crime, be used to help convict him of that crime.  Only according to Israeli justice can a card that would guarantee that an unarmed John Demjanjuk would be arrested if he set foot in Treblinka be used to convict him of having been Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.  Only in the 20th century's greatest mistrial can a card that suggests that the accused worked unarmed in a guard detachment (perhaps as a cook or a cleaner or a chauffeur) at Okzow and Sobibor be used to prove that he was Ivan the Terrible in Treblinka.

      A silver lining in every cloud

      As Levin-Tal-Dorner are committed to convicting, they transform every exculpatory piece of evidence into something inculpatory:

      [T]he absence of a record of the posting to Treblinka is one of the truthful signs negating the Defense claim that the Soviets wished to frame the Defendant as Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 328.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.

      Bad lawyers fail to present an effective defense

      People accused of Nazi war crimes have trouble getting good lawyers.  The lawyers are afraid of getting pushed out of fifteenth-story windows as Dov Eitan was, they are afraid of getting acid splashed into their faces as happened to Yoram Sheftel, they are afraid of having their careers ruined by Jews branding them as anti-Semites.  According to the rules of the game as they are presently played, getting stuck with a bad lawyer is the defendant's tough luck; but some of the rules of the game are not in the interests of justice.  John Demjanjuk had more than his share of bad lawyers, the worst of whom may have been Mark O'Connor (though his defects may have been mostly magnified in an Israeli smear campaign which aimed to discredit him because in some respects he was too effective).  In any case, in connection with the Trawniki Card, O'Connor made the major blunder at John Demjanjuk's denaturalization trial in 1981 of not capitalizing on the card's leading weakness that if genuine, it was exculpatory.  Instead, O'Connor put all his reliance on the argument that the card was forged:

      When the card was first introduced as evidence in the U.S. proceedings, O'Connor never brought out the fact that the card doesn't list Treblinka.  Instead, he contended that the Trawniki card, which was in the custody of the KGB, was a forgery.
      Susan Adams, Ivan the Terrible's terrible defense, The American Lawyer, Oct-1988, pp. 147-157, p. 150.

      The weakness of relying only on the forgery argument lay in the card's never having been subjected to forensic examination up to that time, and defense lawyers mainly having been allowed to gaze at incomplete and blurred copies supplied by the Kremlin, and only having been allowed to take an over-the-weekend look at the original at the Soviet embassy in Washington, so that O'Connor was unaware of most of the reasons for believing that the card was forged.  Had opposition to the Trawniki Card been better argued assuming that judge Frank Battisti was open to reason, which is a big assumption John Demjanjuk might never have been extradited to Israel, and the 20th century's counterpart of the Dreyfus trial might have been avoided.

      Bad Israeli judges, or bad Israeli translators?

      And there is one more point that can be made with respect to the assignments listed on the Trawniki Card and that has to do with the integrity of the three Israeli judges who conducted the show trial.  Specifically, in attempting to explain how John Demjanjuk could have been at Treblinka and yet for "Treblinka" not to have been entered on his identification card, Levin-Tal-Dorner hit on the following resourceful explanation:

      It is not so regarding Sovivor since from Danielchenko's testimony arises that since March 1943, the defendant was posted at Sovivor permanently anyhow there was no room for an additional entry of the posting to Treblinka after this date.  Even if he was sent to carry out a single mission, as arises from Horn's testimony.
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 0673.  All irregularities, like "Sovivor", can be assumed to be in the original.  Red emphasis added.

      Allow me to emphasize what we have just read.  Why according to Levin-Tal-Dorner wasn't "Treblinka" entered on the card?  Simple there just wasn't any more room on the card!  However, anyone who cares to refresh his memory by looking up at the second-last image above will see that there are in fact three empty slots in which a Treblinka posting could have been entered.  Were Levin-Tal-Dorner lying, expecting that their readers would not have access to copies of the card, and thus would be unable to detect the lie?  You will have to admit that the possibility of prominent Jews lying about the Demjanjuk case is not entirely far-fetched I caught you doing exactly that in your description of audience reaction (in that converted movie theater into which the audience had been packed) to John Demjanjuk being sentenced to death, as has been documented in two of my letters to you (to which you have not as yet replied), dated 08-Jul-1999 and 18-Feb-2000.

      Lying is one interpretation, but we can't be sure.  In addition to defective judges, the Demjanjuk trial was plagued with defective translators.  A different version of the above Levin-Tal-Dorner statement is as follows (as the spelling and grammar appear to have been cleaned up, perhaps this is intended to be the more authoritative version):

      This was not so regarding Sobibor.  According to Danilchenko's testimony, the Defendant was permanently stationed in Sobibor from March 1943, and there was thus no need to record another posting to Treblinka following that date, even if he was sent there to carry out a single task, as transpires from Horn's testimony.
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 328.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.  Red emphasis added.

      However, even though the latter version is more polished, and clearly intended to be the more authoritative, both versions come with a defect so stunning as to render neither credible.  The first version, as we have just noted, portrays Levin-Tal-Dorner lying (and how are we to believe that three judges would collaborate in publishing a blatant lie?); and now this second version changes "there was no room for an additional entry" to "there was no need to record another posting" (and is it any easier to believe that three judges are capable of saying that the most important of Ivan the Terrible's postings is the one that there was no need to record?).  When the bearer of this card works briefly at an agricultural estate, there is need to record that on his card, but when he spends a year as Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, there is no need to record that?  Is this a more accurate translation, or is it only editors replacing the Levin-Tal-Dorner blatant lie with an incongruity that brings the advantage of being a shade less straightforward to refute?  The incongruity is that if Levin-Tal-Dorner credit John Demjanjuk with only a brief visit to Treblinka, unworthy of being recorded on his card, then they discredit all the eyewitnesses who testified to his being at Treblinka for a year, and if they discredit the eyewitnesses, the prosecution case collapses.  Either the judges are lying, or we can't trust Israeli translators, or the editors of the more polished version are disinfecting the worst of what Levin-Tal-Dorner originally wrote but something is terribly wrong here.

      Even in the latter, more authoritative, version, we find a glaring non sequitur Levin-Tal-Dorner's "even if" is surely the opposite of what makes sense.  Surely what makes sense is "particularly because".  Thus, one could suppose that John Demjanjuk's posting to Treblinka was not recorded on the Trawniki Card "particularly because" that posting amounted to no more than a brief visit in order "to carry out a single task".  Even though this statement clashes with the testimony, at least it makes sense.  But what does not make sense is to say that John Demjanjuk's posting to Treblinka was not recorded "even if" that posting amounted to no more than a brief visit in order "to carry out a single task".  Truly, as we have seen more than once before and as we are seeing again now these judges have the minds of children, a topic which is elaborated further immediately below.

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    John Demjanjuk's ability to get a fair trial was hindered by the fact that those who controlled his fate were gifted with the minds of children.  We have already seen several demonstrations of this above.  When the "Demjanjuk" signature on the Trawniki Card differed radically from known signatures of John Demjanjuk, Levin-Tal-Dorner took this as a plus for the prosecution it proved the signature was authentic, since the KGB was incapable of forging in such an amateurish manner.  The absence of a Treblinka posting does not help the defense by indicating that John Demjanjuk was not at Treblinka, it helps the prosecution by proving that the KGB was not framing John Demjanjuk with being Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka.  When John Demjanjuk said something resembling "It is like I wrote my name", Levin-Tal-Dorner, over John Demjanjuk's denials, insisted to the bitter end that he must have been confessing that the Trawniki Card "Demjanjuk" signature was in his own handwriting, even though they were free to hear from experts, and see for themselves, that it was not.  Levin-Tal-Dorner pulled out of thin air the explanation that when John Demjanjuk told a German clerk that he was born in the district of Samgorodok, the clerk wrote down Zaporozho; and in any case, as the KGB knows all about the districts of Ukraine, it was incapable of making such an error, which proved again that the card was not forged by the KGB.  No matter what the evidence, Levin-Tal-Dorner always saw it helping only the prosecution:

    Every detail that appears in tav/149 and conforms to the Appellant's particulars, proves that it is him, while every detail that does not appear and even contradicts particulars concerning him, also shows that this is the Appellant and that the card is original, since how can it be conceived that the KGB is mistaken:

    Thus the approach is expressed in the verdict again, according to which whatever the Appellant may claim, prove what he may prove, whether in the matter of non-conformance or in the matter of conformance, in the final analysis it will be ruled that tav/149 is original and his (the Appellant's).
    Statement of Appeal, Jerusalem, 1988, p. 211.

    Below are some additional instances of Levin-Tal-Dorner childishness bursting through as they weigh the credibility of the Trawniki Card.

    1. KGB Documents Are Presumed Authentic

      The Levin-Tal-Dorner attitude to the Trawniki Card was simply that any WW II document offered by the KGB was a "public document" and an "ancient document", and that in the hands of the KGB, it was in "proper custody", each of which arbitrary labellings triggered the presumption of authenticity.  It followed, according to Levin-Tal-Dorner, that the burden of proof fell on the defense.  For Levin-Tal-Dorner, in other words, the question was not "Can the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the document is authentic?" but "Can the defense prove beyond reasonable doubt that the document is forged?"  The "proper custody" referred to below was the KGB:

      [T]he age of the document, and proper custody which under section 43, above, raise a presumption of veracity of the signatures in the document, and any other part believed to have been written by some person.  The burden of proof that the document is forged, rests on him who so claims.
      State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Demjanjuk, Verdict, 18-Apr-1988, p. 275.  Edition prepared under the direction of Consulting Editor, Asher Felix Landau, Israel Bar Publishing House, Tel Aviv, 1991.

    2. Levin-Tal-Dorner Say That "Deep Deliberation" Identifies Inculpatory Conclusions As More Dependable And Exculpatory Conclusions As Less Dependable

      When a prosecution witness ventures a statement only after "deep deliberation", this indicates that he did so with care, rendering his statement more credible.  However, when a defense witness ventures a statement only after "deep deliberation", this indicates that he is uncertain, or in the words of the Israeli judges, that he considers whatever he is looking at to be a "marginal case", rendering his statement less credible:

      "I should have therefore asked myself to which category I shall put the signature in argument, high probability is out of the question.  I thought and I have of course decided that there is no possibility for a high probability.  And then I went on to possible... and then I went on to the matter of near (it seems that here there is a disorder and according to the scale the witness considered first a grade of near and then possible) so after deep consideration I felt that the difference that it is more probable that it is not probable, that means that what I thought is that the word far is preferable to possible"  (page 7286 to the protocol)
      In these words of his, themselves that his determination was not self evident but necessitated deep deliberation, in which he did not include is, there is of an indication to the fact it regards a marginal case.
      Dr. Julius Grant quoted in the Verdict, Jerusalem, 1988, pp. 0658-0659.  Parenthesized material, and all irregularities as shown, were in the original.  Green emphasis added.

      The above version of the verdict is the less polished of the two that I have, and is presented here because it is the closer of the two to the quality of the translation supplied to the defense over the course of the trial which is to say, not completely comprehensible translation.  Dr. Julius Grant is a native speaker of English, and the world's leading authority on document authenticity, and yet his statement quoted above is close to incomprehensible, which serves to demonstrate that when an English version of an English statement is required, the Israelis nevertheless sometimes follow the path of translating the original English into Hebrew, then translating it back into English, with a predictable loss of intelligibility.  Translators of low competence exacerbate the practice.  The possibility arises that as much of the communication during the trial was through translation, some of it might have been as incomprehensible or misleading as the above.  The even more horrific possibility arises that when a witness, like Julius Grant, testified in English, the only transcript supplied to the defense was the end product of that English translated into Hebrew and then back into English.

      In any case, what we are primarily interested in here is the Levin-Tal-Dorner derogation of a defense witness statement on the grounds that it had been given only "after deep consideration".  Here is the defense objection to this particular instance of Levin-Tal-Dorner show-trial reasoning:

      Dr. Grant was "punished" by the Honorable Lower Court because of his testimony (p. 7286 of the Record) that he determined his findings after deep consideration (p. 369 of the verdict).  The Honorable Lower Court concluded that his unequivocal opinion in the matter of forgery of the signature ascribed to the Appellant on tav/149, is inadmissible, since the deep consideration shows that he wasn't certain, allegedly, of his own findings.  This is similar to a comment by any court, in the matter of deep consideration at the basis of its verdict, being a reason for not accepting the findings of its verdict, because the deep consideration shows that the judges that determined it, were not at all certain of their findings.
      Statement of Appeal, Jerusalem, 1988, pp. 207-208.

    3. American Judge Frank Battisti Wasn't Perfect Either

      It is not the case that the only minds-of-children sitting in judgment over John Demjanjuk were Levin-Tal-Dorner.  Frank Battisti the judge who denaturalized John Demjanjuk in Cleveland in 1981 also had the mind of a child.  How else to explain his making the following two statements, one page apart:

      At Trawniki, [Heinrich] Schaefer worked as a paymaster in the camp's administration office, paying the camp's Ukrainian guards.  [...]  Schaefer was shown Government's Exhibit 5 [the photo of the outside of the card] and testified that it was an official I.D. card issued to all the persons training at Trawniki, that he himself had been issued such an I.D. card.
      Frank Battisti, United States v. Demjanjuk, Memorandum Decision and Order, Cite as 518 F. Sup. 1382 (1981), p. 1366.

      Schaefer admitted that he had never seen a card similar to Government's Exhibit 6 [the inside of the card] [...].
      Frank Battisti, United States v. Demjanjuk, Memorandum Decision and Order, Cite as 518 F. Sup. 1382 (1981), p. 1367.

      In the two statements above Frank Battisti informs us, almost in one breath, that (a) Heinrich Schaefer recognized the outside of the card, testified that everybody at Trawniki had one, and that he himself had been issued one, and that (b) Heinrich Schaefer had never seen anything like the inside of the card before.

      No one with an adult brain is capable of writing these two statements side by side.  Any adult would have noticed the incongruity and attempted to explain it or to reconcile it for his reader.  On top of that, an adult presiding over the court would have asked Heinrich Schaefer to produce his own Trawniki Card, and even to assist in soliciting the production of such cards from others who had formerly worked in Trawniki and whom Schaefer might know how to contact.  And going even further, an adult judge would have noticed that Schaefer was being tricked into saying things that he didn't mean, and would have intervened so as to permit Schaefer to be fairly heard, so that after his courtroom testimony, Schaefer would not have felt compelled to issue an affidavit affirming the position that Frank Battisti had kept him from expressing in court:

      There never was issued an identification paper to a guard, which at the same time contained a list of objects which were received by him.  [...]  The list of equipment for guards always contained the carbine which was issued to the guard and its number.  [...]  It is completely unimaginable that there was no carbine given to a guard, as that was, to a certain extent, his right arm, without which he could not perform his duty.  [...]  This document cannot have been issued in Trawniki.  [...]  Official transfers were never recorded on identification documents.  [...]  The date of issuance had to be on every identification card, otherwise such a paper was automatically invalid.  [...]  A card such as the one which was shown to me and which shows the name Iwan Demjanjuk twice, was never issued by me.  I know of no such cards.  [...]  During my previous questioning before the U.S. Consul I was never asked my opinion about the authenticity of the "Demjanjuk card".  I did declare, that I never saw a card like that one during my service in Trawniki and assumed that the affidavit was sufficient.
      Affidavit of Heinrich Schaefer

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    What hypotheses are available which might explain the defects of the Trawniki Card?

    1. The Germans Were Sloppy Hypothesis

      The card's defects were not unusual for that time and place.  The chaos of war.  Shortages.  Involvement in the production of documents of non-Germans, and VolksDeutschers speaking poor German.  Of the four hypotheses considered here, the hypothesis of German Sloppiness is the only one that is compatible with the card being authentic, and it is the only one that Levin-Tal-Dorner accepted.

    2. The KGB Is Incompetent Hypothesis

      Promotion in Soviet bureaucracies depended less on competence than on ideological correctness and loyalty to the existing leadership, for which reason all Soviet agencies were plagued by incompetence, and Soviet endeavors in every sphere were predisposed to failure.  The KGB, including its earlier manifestations under other acronyms, was infamous for its bungling.  The NKVD, for example, tried to prove at Nuremberg that the Germans were responsible for the Katyn Forest Massacre, and that the Germans had manufactured soap out of human fat.  An agency as incompetent as that could easily have produced a forgery containing as many defects as the Trawniki Card.

    3. KGB Apprentices Did It Hypothesis

      Although the KGB does have a few employees fluent in German, and a few that are knowledgeable concerning Third Reich documents, and a few that are capable of producing a rubber stamp with a recognizable swastika, and so on, yet when the Trawniki Card was first forged in the 1970s, all that was hoped was that it would cause a minor and brief embarrassment for the Ukrainian diaspora, and at most a deportation of John Demjanjuk to the Ukrainian SSR.  It was never anticipated that the card would feature in the 20th century's equivalent of the 19th century Dreyfus trial, and so that it would have to be produced for forensic inspection outside the Soviet Union.  Some unspecified connection of John Demjanjuk to Sobibor was all that was alleged by the card, whereas his role as Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka was an Israeli afterthought which meshed poorly.  Because of the brief and insignificant role that the Trawniki Card was expected to play, its production was not assigned to the finest KGB linguists and historians and forgers and technicians, who were busy at more important work, but to some back-room apprentices, who proceeded to create the botched card which we are struggling to understand today.  That botched card would have been good enough for the limited role originally intended; it proved inadequate only in the expanded role that it was unexpectedly conscripted to play, and once it had been disclosed to public view, it could not be changed to fit its new role more closely.

    4. The Trawniki Identification Card Was The First Of Its Kind Hypothesis

      If copies of authentic Trawniki Cards had existed, and copies of authentic blank cards as well, then producing a credible, error-free forgery would have been easy.  However, inventing a Trawniki Card without having an original to copy would have been difficult, and was more likely to result in errors.  Thus, the many errors of the Demjanjuk Trawniki Card might be explained by its being the first of its kind, created by a KGB which lacked a model to imitate.  Imitation is easy, creation hard.

    5. The Smoke Screen Hypothesis

      KGB forgers, up against a time deadline, recognized that they were on thin ice with respect to several particulars perhaps they could not find John Demjanjuk's exact height, and decided to guess, expecting that they would be close, and that any discrepancy could be written off to clerical error; or perhaps they were unable to find John Demjanjuk's signature, and forged a generic Cyrillic pattern, thinking that any discrepancy between it and later authentic signatures could be written off to the passage of time; and so on.  In the situation of expecting that several of their fabricated details would contain errors, they found it advisable to throw up a smoke screen of other errors so as to give the impression that slovenliness was the norm in the preparation of Trawniki Cards, in the context of which each forged discrepancy would not stand out glaringly.

      In other words, perhaps the KGB forgers simply said, "Let's give Bondarenko a really weird rubber-stamp swastika so as to give the Demjanjuk defense another unsolvable riddle to worry about.  Let's put in a phantom "k" above the Streibel signature so as to elicit suspicions of forgery, but suspicions which will appear groundless since forgers are not in the habit of inserting phantom "k"s into their work.  Let's leave out an umlaut for the simple reason that it will confuse and distract and preoccupy the defense without really pointing to a forgery, as competent forgers do not make spelling mistakes.  Let's issue John Demjanjuk a blouse instead of a shirt, because nobody will know what to make of it.  Let's just mess up the card so badly that everybody begins to accept that it is the norm for a Trawniki Card to be badly messed up."

    Of course in the real world things do not happen for a single reason only.  It is possible that more than one of the above hypotheses, or all five, and more than these five, were to some degree operative at the same time.  Some of the card's defects may have been German carelessness, others may have been calculated gambles of competent KGB staff, still others may have been blunders of incompetent KGB staff, and on top of that some parts of the card may have been genuine, others copied, and still others created.  But whatever the causes of the card's defects, their presence must detract from the card's credibility.  No court of law can operate under the principle that a flawed card is at least as credible as a flawless card.

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    The question arises of how your several public declarations that the Trawniki Identification Card is authentic are to be understood:
    1. Were You Behaving Like A Faculty Member In The Harvard Law School?

      Perhaps it is the case that as a faculty member in the Harvard University Law School, and as a representative of the Jewish people, and as a conscientious and responsible human being, you recognized the gravity of publicly pronouncing the authenticity of evidence in use against a defendant in a capital case, and before venturing to make such pronouncements in the Demjanjuk case, you first paused to acquaint yourself with the particulars of the Trawniki Identification Card and to convince yourself that the many challenges to its authenticity were without merit.  In other words, the present letter only recounts what you already knew, and what you had already refuted to your own satisfaction.  All that remains is for you to disclose your refutation to the public.

      Such a disclosure is not just an option, it is an obligation.  A growing number of people view the Demjanjuk trial of 1987-1988 as a Jewish show trial, and you now have an obligation to the Jewish people to demonstrate that it was something better than that.  A growing number of people view your participation in the anti-Demjanjuk public relations campaign as governed by blind prejudice, and you now have an obligation to defend your integrity.  A growing number of people think that when you said of the Trawniki Identification Card that "scientific evidence established its authenticity", you in fact knew little about the card, had no scientific evidence in mind, and were simply saying whatever needed to be said to get John Demjanjuk hanged, and you now have an obligation to demonstrate that you were doing something better than gulling a public whose intelligence you held in contempt.  A growing number of people view you as using your status as a faculty member in the Harvard Law School to dignify hatred as if it were the product of reason, and you now have an obligation to Harvard University to show that you were not abusing its trust.

    2. Or Did You Jump To The Head Of A Lynch Mob?

      Or, perhaps it is the case that when you saw a lynch mob passing by, you paused only long enough to notice that the mob was Jewish, and that its intended victim was Ukrainian, before yourself grabbing a torch, and leaping to the front of the mob.  You were seized with the conviction that there existed only a single negative outcome which was important to avoid the embarrassment to the Jewish lynch mob of being told that it was behaving badly and should stop.  In your excitement, you quite forgot that there was a negative outcome that was even more important for Jews to avoid the outcome of violating due process and even of lynching an innocent man.

      In this alternative, too, you have obligations.  You are obligated to retract your erroneous and misleading statements, to seek restitution for John Demjanjuk, to caution others against falling into the same error, to call for a halt to similar reckless proceedings.

    The present letter asks you to explain which of the two above interpretations of your actions is the more accurate, and to take whichever actions are the more appropriate.

    Lubomyr Prytulak

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