Andrew Fylypovych   Ukrainian Weekly   22-Nov-1992   The George Parker memo
The George Parker memo is discussed not only below, but also in some detail in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decision, and the George Parker memo itself is reproduced within that same decision in Appendix 7.

But once you have a document as big as that court decision on screen, how are you supposed to find where George Parker is mentioned, or where Appendix 7 is?  One way is that you are able to FIND any search string within that document by CTRL+F (which means, holding down the CTRL key, then hitting the F key), then typing in the search string (say "Parker", but without the quotation marks), and then either hitting ENTER on the keyboard or clicking on FIND NEXT in the prompt box.  Following these instructions will initiate a search for "Parker" starting at the point that your cursor happens to be at the moment.  In the same, way, you can find "Appendix 7".  A tip: why type in that you are looking for the character string "Appendix 7" when you can instead type in that you are looking for "x 7"? The only place that the string of characters "x 7" is likely to occur is within the larger string "Appendix 7".

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Former OSI attorney says Demjanjuk could not have been at Treblinka

Memo warned superiors not to proceed with case

by Andrew Fylypovych

Special to The Ukrainian Weekly

NASHVILLE A former U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor testified here on November 12 that when he left the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) in 1980, he "did not think" John Demjanjuk was "Ivan the Terrible" of Treblinka.

George Parker stated in testimony before U.S. District Judge Thomas Wiseman that in 1980 he authored a memo explicitly warning his superiors at the OSI that proceeding with the Treblinka allegations against Mr. Demjanjuk would violate canons of ethics promulgated by the American Bar Association's Code of Professional Responsibility.

Mr. Parker, an OSI trial attorney who was principally responsible for the daily routine of guiding the prosecution against Mr. Demjanjuk, produced a copy of the five-page, single-spaced memo, the original of which he said he personally delivered to Walter J. Rockler and Allan A. Ryan, Jr., then, respectively, the director and deputy director of the OSI.

Government lawyers have repeatedly denied that such a memo was ever seen anywhere at the Justice Department.

The memo traces in careful detail two irreconcilably different factual scenarios of Mr. Demjanjuk's alleged whereabouts during a period of World War II.

The first, supported essentially by Holocaust survivor testimony, places Mr. Demjanjuk in Treblinka.  However, the memo notes that, "the three Israeli witnesses are unwilling to say with absolute certainty that the photo [of Demjanjuk taken in 1952] is of Ivan [the Terrible]."  The memo also makes it clear that Mr. Parker thought the photo only reminded the survivors of someone they had seen.

The second scenario, supported by a statement given by a Soviet soldier, Ignat Danilchenko, places Mr. Demjanjuk at Sobibor at the exact same time the survivors claimed he was at Treblinka.  Mr. Parker questioned whether that document was in fact a verbatim witness statement.

Mr. Demjanjuk's name does not appear on any Soviet or Polish list of Treblinka guards, a fact that, Mr. Parker wrote, was "disturbing" to U.S. government prosecutors, such as Norman Moscowitz, who were trying to make the Treblinka charges stick against Mr. Demjanjuk.

The Parker memo then states: "We have little admissible evidence that defendant was at Sobibor, yet serious doubts as to whether he was at Treblinka.  Even if we may be comforted that we have the right man for the wrong act, the ethical canons probably require us to alter our present position."

Mr. Parker was particularly concerned about attempting to prove a case against Mr. Demjanjuk for involvement at Treblinka when the OSI had "good reason to believe he was at Sobibor and as such, could not have been at Treblinka."

Mr. Demjanjuk has steadfastly denied involvement in any death camp, maintaining that he himself was a prisoner of war.  The government never advised Mr. Demjanjuk's lawyers of the existence of the conflicting evidence, preferring instead to lull the defense into a belief that the OSI was actually attempting to aid the defense in its search for exculpatory information.

This point was graphically underscored through the testimony on November 13 of another former OSI attorney, Martin Mendelsohn, whose name appears as a recipient of several transmittal telegrams from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow dispatching copies of various statements of former Soviet soldiers regarding the Demjanjuk case.

Mr. Mendelsohn acknowledged that in 1981, during the Cleveland denaturalization hearing, he understood that the results of that hearing could lead to Mr. Demjanjuk's extradition.

"You knew this was more than a civil proceeding?" Mr. Mendelsohn was asked by Ed Marek, the U.S. federal public defender appointed for Mr. Demjanjuk by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

"That's right," the witness responded.

"You knew the defense was unable to obtain the information from the Soviets through the State Department?" Mr. Marek queried.

"That's right," Mr. Mendelsohn again acknowledged.

Despite indicating that he fully understood Mr. Demjanjuk's difficult defense predicament, Mr. Mendelsohn testified that he offered to help Mr. Demjanjuk's family get information while at the same time admitting he already had evidence that was exculpatory as to the Treblinka charges.

This scenario drew the following question from Judge Wiseman: "You ever hear of the term 'stonewalling,' Mr. Mendelsohn?"

"Yes, sir," Mr. Mendelsohn replied, quickly volunteering that he didn't consider his conduct to be in that category.

Both witnesses also testified about the extreme pressures brought on the OSI by a member of Congress, former Rep. Joshua Eilberg of Pennsylvania, who wrote to then Attorney General Griffin Bell, telling the latter that the Justice Department "could not afford to lose" the Demjanjuk case.

Mr. Mendelsohn stated he was at the OSI to win cases.  He further testified that the Israelis wanted the case prosecuted as well, particularly after the government lost the initial trial involving Feodor Fedorenko.

Mr. Fedorenko was ultimately deported to the USSR in 1984, after the U.S. Supreme Court found that, from a legal standpoint, it was irrelevant that his admitted service as a camp guard was not voluntary.  He was executed by the Soviets in 1986.

OSI motives questioned

Some observers following the Demjanjuk proceedings suggest another motive for the OSI's actions.  It is believed that government prosecutors were genuinely concerned about the reliability of Soviet witnesses should those witnesses ever testify in the U.S.  No Soviet witness has ever testified live in an OSI case in the U.S.  In at least one case, however, during depositions in the USSR, witnesses indicated they would be willing to come to the U.S. to testify if so asked by U.S. authorities.  Perhaps the OSI feared that once in the U.S. and free from the stranglehold of their KGB handlers, the Soviet witnesses might change their testimony to favor the defense, or, might simply prove to be unreliable.  That is a question still facing other OSI operatives in further hearings before Judge Wiseman, particularly in light of the fact that the OSI withheld the Danilchenko information from Mr. Demjanjuk's defense attorneys until two years after that witness had died in the USSR.

The hearings before Judge Wiseman continue on December 21, when Mr. Moscowitz, another former OSI prosecutor, and the man who replaced Mr. Parker as chief trial attorney on the Demjanjuk case, is scheduled to testify.

Mr. Parker stated in court that he left the OSI because he could not ethically continue to prosecute Mr. Demjanjuk on the Treblinka charges.  He further indicated that the issues raised in his detailed memo were dismissed in a brief meeting with Messrs. Rockler and Ryan.

Mr. Moscowitz has retained defense counsel who is vigorously attempting various legal maneuvers focused on challenging the validity of the proceedings before Judge Wiseman.

In legal papers filed before the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati, his attorneys have argued that the matter is best left to the investigators at the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility.  That office has twice in the past concluded that there was no wrongdoing on the part of the OSI in the handling of the Demjanjuk case.  Some observers believe that if Mr. Moscowitz is forced to appear and testify he may choose to invoke his constitutional rights and refuse to give any testimony at all.

Family reaction

After this initial round of testimony, Ed Nishnic, Mr. Demjanjuk's son-in-law, was both optimistic and somewhat shocked by the evidence which appeared to show that, at a minimum, the government lacked good faith in dealing with his family.

He said he was particularly incensed by the fact that both witnesses claimed certain information was withheld because it was not specifically asked for.  "Do you mean that if the OSI had a photo of Mr. Demjanjuk standing in a POW camp in 1943 wearing a hat, and we asked them for all photos of him but didn't specify to include those with him wearing a hat, they would have withheld that one?" he asked pointedly in a telephone interview after the hearing.

Mr. Nishnic, together with Mr. Demjanjuk's son, John Jr., have vowed to continue their fight for justice as long as it takes.  John Jr., now 27, has been living with this family nightmare since he was 15.  Mr. Demjanjuk, 72, has been behind bars, first in the U.S. and now in Israel, for the last seven years.  He has two young grandchildren whom he has never seen.

     Mr. Nishnic, who also acts as administrator for the John Demjanjuk Defense Fund, again pleaded for financial assistance.  The family is almost $200,000 in debt.  Their phone service has been cut off several times, and most recently they have lost their Federal Express service on which they rely heavily for coordinating the defense effort between their attorneys in various parts of the United States.  Mr. Nishnic asked that financial contributions be sent to: John Demjanjuk Defense Fund, P.O. Box 92819, Cleveland, OH 44192.