"To save one Ukrainian, the Ukrainian response has always been to support blood libels against all Ukrainians." Lubomyr Prytulak
11 March 2001

Irving Greenberg, Chair
United States Holocaust Memorial Council
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
100 Raoul Wallenberg Place SW
Washington DC      20024-2126

Irving Greenberg:

Marchenko Pointing Photo
In my 15-Feb-2001 letter to you discussing doctoring and forgery in Jewish-holocaust-related photographs, the last example that I touched on was that of the "Marchenko Pointing" photograph, a thumbnail version of which appears on the right.  Since writing that letter, I have come across further information concerning that photograph, which further supports the hypothesis that it is being used fraudulently.

Specifically, upon the world insisting to Israel that the case against John Demjanjuk lacked credibility, Israeli prosecutors attempted to salvage what was left of their project by claiming that there really had been a Ukrainian Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, and that they had merely made the error of thinking that he was Ivan Demjanjuk when in reality he had been Ivan Marchenko.  The Marchenko Pointing photograph proved useful in this salvage operation by providing Soviet witnesses under KGB interrogation the opportunity to link Ivan Marchenko to Ivan Tkachuk, to Trawniki, and to Treblinka.

For example, KGB documents claimed that in 1961, Sergey Vasilenko identified the two individuals in the Marchenko Pointing photograph as Ivan Marchenko and Ivan Tkachuk, and that Ivan Marchenko had been the operator of the engine which furnished Treblinka gas chambers with toxic exhaust:


6 March 1961

p 5:

QUESTION:  Who is photographed in photograph, where a man is standing with a pistol, and the other one is showing him something?

ANSWER:  On the photograph is depicted the wachman of the "SS" forces of the Treblinka death camp, Tkachuk I do not recall his first name or patronymic; Tkachuk is photographed with a pistol in the right hand together with him is standing the motorist of the gas chamber ('Dushehubka') of the Treblinka camp, Marchenko Ivan.  Both of them are photographed in the uniform of wachmen of the "SS" forces (vakhmanov voysk "SS" transl.).

NO 85-3435, In the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, John Demjanjuk v. Joseph Petrovsky, et al., Petitioner's Appendix Volume One, p. 00058.  Errors and irregularities were in the original, as was parenthesized material.  Red emphasis added.


6 March 1961

p 26:

(photograph appears on top of page)

the present photograph was shown on 6 March 1961 to the witness Vasylyenko, Sergey Stepanovych, who stated that in the picture are photographed wachmen of the 'ss' forces serving in the Treblinka death camp, Tkachuk and Marchenko Ivan.  With pistol in his right hand is the wachman Tkachuk, standing alongside him is the motorist of the dushehubka Marchenko Ivan.

Signature of Witness:      'Vasilyenko'

NO 85-3435, In the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, John Demjanjuk v. Joseph Petrovsky, et al., Petitioner's Appendix Volume One, p. 00058.  Errors and irregularities were in the original, as was parenthesized material.  Red emphasis added.

In the same year, 1961, Ivan Tkachuk himself provided KGB interrogators with this same information:

9 March 1961, City of Vinnitsa

TKACHUK Ivan Kondratyevich

....  In photograph no 3 I am depicted with the machinist of the gas chambers ('dushehubka') of the Treblinka death camp, Ivan Marchenko...

NO 85-3435, In the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, John Demjanjuk v. Joseph Petrovsky, et al., Petitioner's Appendix Volume One, p. 00084.  Errors and irregularities were in the original, as was parenthesized material, as were ellipses.  Red emphasis added.

However, eleven years earlier, in 1950, Ivan Tkachuk had examined the Marchenko Pointing photograph, and had given a very different evaluation of it.  Below is part of a FAX sent on 09-Aug-1991 by the John Demjanjuk Defense Fund (JDDF) to a member of the defense team.  The Russian in the FAX is translated into English below.  The JDDF notation at the head identifies the segment as coming from the 02-Jun-1950 KGB interrogation of Ivan Tkachuk:


Question:  You are presented with one more photograph showing two men in German military uniforms.  One of them is holding a pistol in his hand.  On the back of the photograph is the inscription: "Memento for my dear son, Kolya.  I5.II.43"  Who are the people appearing in this photograph?

Answer:  I am shown in this photograph holding the pistol in my hand.  Together with me is photographed one of my acquaintances.  I do not remember his surname or first name, or place of residence.  We were photographed together in the Trawniki camp, when we were studying in the sentry school.  I sent this photograph also to my wife in Kamianets-Podilsky oblast.

I5.II.43 could mean 15.11.43, which would be 15-Nov-1943; or it could mean 15.II.43, which would be 15-Feb-1943.  As the correspondence is between Americans, 6-2-50 likely refers to 02-Jun-1950.  For "sentry," Tkachuk uses a Russian derivative of the German "Wachmann."  Red emphasis added.

Once Ivan Tkachuk had changed his position from the 1950 (that he was unable to recognize Ivan Marchenko) to the 1961 (that he could recognize him and knew him to be one of the Treblinka motorists), then of course he could be counted on forever after to repeat the revised story, and even to graduate to being able to "remember well" a list of Treblinka personnel which included Marchenko, as he does for example in 1965:


25 March 1965           City of Krasnodar

TKACHUK Ivan Kondratyevich


Question:  Whom do you remember from among the traitors to the Motherland serving with you in the Treblinka death camp?

Answer:  Besides those I have already named from the Treblinka death camp I remember well the zugwachmen Pilman and Trebel or Schtrebel, the oberwachman Levchishin, the motorists of the 'dushehubka' Marchenko and Shalayev, the wachmen Sklyyudov, Vedernikov, Shilov, Kulak, Lyachenko and Ryabtsev. . . .

NO 85-3435, In the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, John Demjanjuk v. Joseph Petrovsky, et al., Petitioner's Appendix Volume Three, p. 00834.  Ellipses were in the original.  "Dushehubka" refers to a gas chamber, or to a building housing more than one gas chamber; though sometimes it can refer to a "gas van."  Red emphasis added.

The Marchenko family never verified the Marchenko Pointing photograph

If the Marchenko Pointing photograph had been doctored or forged, or if its meaning was being misrepresented, wouldn't we expect the Marchenko family to blow the whistle?

It turns out that the Marchenko family would have been utterly unable to present any challenge.  First, all their photographs of Ivan Marchenko had been seized long ago by the KGB (with the exception of a single "wedding picture" portrait which nobody could have found helpful as it was more of a drawing than a photograph).  Second, the family learned of the accusations against Ivan Marchenko too late.

Specifically, Yoram Sheftel describes John Demjanjuk son-in-law Ed Nishnic meeting with Ivan Marchenko daughter Katarina Ivanovna Kovalenko in 1992, by which time Ivan Marchenko's wife had died, and it would have been 40 or 50 years since anybody in the Marchenko household had seen any of the seized photographs:

She was also able to relate that when she was still a girl, in the late '40s and early '50s, KGB men had often come to their home, confiscating all photographs of her father except for the wedding picture she had shown to Nishnic.  The KGB had never explained why they took her father's photographs, or what he was suspected of.
Yoram Sheftel, The Demjanjuk affair: The rise and fall of a show-trial, Victor Gollancz, London, 1994, p. 319.

Thus, where we might have expected that the Marchenko family would have been called forward to provide the most credible verification of the Marchenko Pointing photograph, and to identify the individuals in it, it appears rather that they were deprived of both the opportunity to comment on it, and the ability to evaluate it.

The several defects of the Marchenko Pointing photograph

In my letter to you of 15-Feb-2001 (linked at the beginning of the present letter), I have already provided reasons for hypothesizing that the Marchenko Pointing photograph is fraudulent, or is being used fraudulently:

  1. The origin of the photograph is the KGB, and the KGB was an unprincipled and uninhibited sower of disinformation, and had the motive of wishing to undermine Ukrainian nationalism by discrediting Ukrainians.

  2. The stance of the men in the photograph is unaccountable and implausible.

  3. If the two men are both Ukrainians at the same military camp, we would expect them to be wearing the same uniform, whereas their uniforms can be seen to be different.

  4. The great difference in size of the two men is suggestive of a clumsy scaling of their separate images prior to pasting them into a single picture.  However, their difference in size in the photograph may be explained at least in part by their difference in size in reality, which appears to be 12 cm or 4.72 inches (Marchenko was 1.84 m, and Tkachuk was 1.72 m, according to p. 00285 and p. 00098 of NO 85-3435, In the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, John Demjanjuk v. Joseph Petrovsky, et al., Petitioner's Appendix Volume One).

  5. The photograph shows further signs of doctoring or forgery, as for example in the different lighting in which the two men seem to be standing; in the + on the wall, and the X on Tkachuk's jacket, which look like inked lines; in Tkachuk's pistol which appears to be painted in; in the black mass sitting on Marchenko's left shoulder.
The material reviewed in the present letter provides further occasion for doubt:

  1. Between 1950 and 1961, Ivan Tkachuk went from not knowing who the finger pointer beside him was, to knowing that it was Ivan Marchenko, and that Marchenko was a notorious sadist and operator of the Treblinka engines, which had it been true would have been even less forgettable in 1950 than it seemed to be in 1961.

  2. Ivan Tkachuk identifying the location of the photograph as Trawniki is not credible, as German military barracks would not have had polka-dot bedspreads, plants, framed religious pictures on the walls, or embroidered table cloths.  Having some contemporary observer like Yoram Sheftel claim that the location was Trawniki speaks merely to the carelessness or duplicity of contemporary players in the John Demjanjuk game; however, having one of the people in the photograph Ivan Tkachuk claim that the location was Trawniki speaks to a profound corruption of the Jewish-holocaust data base.

  3. The Marchenko family never authenticated the photograph, or identified the individuals in it.
To save John Demjanjuk, members of his defense team were required to serve as spokesmen for the Jewish-holocaust industry

In view of its many fatal defects, the Marchenko Pointing photograph had no probative value whatever, and its presentation to the public as a breakthrough toward the discovery of truth must be understood as cynical, disingenuous, Jewish-holocaust-industry, anti-Ukrainian-blood-libel, corroborative-details-pulled-out-of-thin-air disinformation:

CLEVELAND (AP) A relative of convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk said Tuesday a copy of a photograph showing two Treblinka death camp guards proves Demjanjuk's allegation of mistaken identity.  [...]

Nishnic said the Israeli prosecutor in the case, Michael Shaked, obtained a copy of the photograph in May from the Soviet Union and supplied it to Demjanjuk's lawyer, Yoram Sheftel, during this past weekend.  Nishnic said the defense lawyer was told the photo, along with other documents, would be placed in the Israeli Supreme Court's case file Tuesday.

The photograph, according to Nishnic, shows two death camp guards in uniforms the Nazi SS supplied guards at Treblinka.  Nishnic said documentation supplied Israel's high court includes testimony from a man who identified himself as one of the guards in the picture and the other was the notorious, so-called "Ivan the Terrible."
M. R. Kropko, Associated Press writer, Photo Allegedly Shows Other As Ivan At Treblinka, 30-Jul-1991.

Victims of war crimes persecution are forced to turn traitor

As the above testimony concerning the Marchenko Pointing photograph came from the KGB, the KGB was aware that in 1950, Ivan Tkachuk had no idea of who it was that was standing beside him in the photograph.  As Israeli prosecutors received all KGB documents (passing along to the defense whatever selection they chose to), then the Israeli prosecutors too were aware of Ivan Tkachuk's 1950 ignorance of who was standing beside him.

We see too that Tkachuk's 1950 ignorance was known to the inner circle of the Demjanjuk defense team not only was Tkachuk's original testimony in Russian being distributed to members of the team, but its importance was being emphasized by extensive annotation the writing of a brace and vertical lines in the left margin, a large asterisk, and arrows marking the beginning and end of the critical passage.  This material was indeed of overwhelming importance, as it signalled that the proposed new story of Ivan Marchenko the Terrible of Treblinka was every bit as false as the discredited old story of Ivan Demjanjuk the Terrible of Treblinka.

However, it was in the interests of the three parties involved to keep this discrepant information from the eyes of the public, and from the eyes of Demjanjuk judges:

  1. The Kremlin wanted to save the story of Ivan Marchenko the Terrible of Treblinka in order to discredit Ukrainians and thus to undermine Ukrainian nationalism.

  2. Israel wanted the story of Ivan Marchenko the Terrible of Treblinka in order to sow discord between Ukrainians and Jews so as to increase the brain drain from Ukraine to Israel, and so as to refresh the image of Jewish victimization in order to mask within-living-memory Jewish crimes against Ukrainians and contemporary Jewish crimes against Palestinians.

  3. The Demjanjuk defense wanted the story of Ivan Marchenko the Terrible of Treblinka because the State of Israel had adopted as the burden of proof required to save John Demjanjuk not merely the raising of a reasonable doubt, not even the raising of a strong or an overwhelming doubt but rather the State of Israel had placed upon the defense the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that someone else had been Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka, and the only someone else available was Ivan Marchenko.

Thus we see the creation of a conspiracy against truth.  Every conspirator is aware that the evidence does not support his conclusions, and each lays the evidence upon his anvil, and hammers away at it until it is beaten into a more agreeable shape.  The longest, noisiest hammering is conducted by the great blacksmiths of the Kremlin, then the Israeli prosecutors roll up their sleeves and take a turn, and even the defense must add a few finishing whacks before the product is complete.  On the receiving end of this assembly line of disinformation is the public which finds itself unable to guess the original shape of the fantastic object dangled before it.

From the Ukrainian point of view, this is not only a conspiracy against truth, it is a conspiracy against the Ukrainian people.  In order to save John Demjanjuk, his defense team is forced to disseminate palpable untruths concerning a Treblinka death camp, and concerning the leading role played by Ukrainians in bestial crimes.  To save one Ukrainian, the Ukrainian response has always been to support blood libels against all Ukrainians.  So dependable is this Ukrainian support that the Israelis disclosing evidence that the Ivan-the-Terrible-Marchenko story is a myth cannot be viewed as a blunder the defense has joined the conspiracy, and can be counted on to keep the myth-fracturing information to itself.

One effect of this policy of defense through upholding the myths of the persecutor is to make future persecution more credible and more likely.  The capitulation of an accused today is made necessary by the capitulation of an accused yesterday, and the long chain of capitulations is wrapped around the necks of the Ukrainian people and drags down their progress toward emancipation.

Had the Demjanjuk defense refused to take its place on the disinformation assembly line, the current spate of anti-Ukrainian show trials in Canada, in Italy, in the United States might have been avoided.  The fear that a refusal to appease the persecutor would have endangered John Demjanjuk is unwarranted it happens to be easy to demonstrate that Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka is a myth; but once the myth is accepted, it might be hard to prove that John Demjanjuk played no role in it.  It is easy to demonstrate that German responsibility for the Katyn Forest massacre is a myth; but if that myth were accepted, then it might be hard to prove that some accused German had not done the shooting.  It is easy to demonstrate that witches flying around on broomsticks is a myth; but if that myth were accepted, then it might be hard to prove that some accused woman had logged no air miles last Halloween.

Who defends truth?

It emerges from our discussion that our society provides only a weak protection of truth.  The press sells subscriptions and attracts advertisers by parroting anti-Ukrainian calumnies.  The Ukrainian intelligentsia trembles in fear at the thought of violating political correctness.  The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum serves as a fountain of anti-Ukrainian disinformation, not caring that in the end the museum will stand as a testament to the mendacity of the Jewish people.

Lubomyr Prytulak