Vladimir Putin: You must allow the BKA to examine the Trawniki ID card
Letter 21          16-Dec-2004

"On the one hand, the Kremlin can continue defaming and persecuting Ukrainians as it always has, but then it should not wonder why they do not wish to be the Kremlin's friend, and do not wish to vote for the Kremlin's candidate." Lubomyr Prytulak

             16 December 2004

Vladimir Putin, President
4 Staraya Square
Moscow 103132

Vladimir Putin:

On 23 January 1987, three weeks before the show-trial of John Demjanjuk began in Israel, Israeli police major Amnon Bezaleli handed the only documentary evidence which seemed to put John Demjanjuk in German uniform the Trawniki ID card over to the world's leading experts in authenticating Third Reich documents the experts at the forensic laboratory of the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), or Federal Criminal Police Office, in Wiesbaden, Germany.  Based upon its preliminary examination, the BKA told Bezaleli that the card looked like an amateur forgery, and offered that its formal analysis could be completed in less than two weeks.  In response to this unwelcome news, Bezaleli demanded that the analysis be terminated, took possession of the card and returned to Israel.  The Israeli prosecutors never disclosed the BKA incident to the defense, and three Israeli judges, placing reliance on the authenticity of the Trawniki ID card, convicted John Demjanjuk and sentenced him to death.

At no time during the trial did the Israelis allow any laboratory but their own to examine the Trawniki ID card, and at no time did they allow the defense to examine it except in Israeli offices and only to a limited extent.

Among the things that the Israelis disallowed was for the defense to see the back of the photograph that was glued to the card.  The back was of interest because the photograph contained a pair of staple holes as can be seen in the image on the right but no staple, and the card itself contained no corresponding staple holes, which invited the conjecture that the photograph had originally been stapled to some other document, and later removed from that document and glued to the Trawniki ID card.  Deepening the mystery was that the two staple holes contained purple ink, which laboratory analysis indicated was the same as the purple ink in which Russian translations had been written all over the card, and which invited the question of whether something had been written or stamped on the back of the photograph whose ink had seeped into the staple holes.  The question was of considerable interest, because if that something on the back of the photograph turned out to be in Russian, this would indicate that it had not been the Germans, but either the Russians or the Israelis, who had glued the photograph to the card.  That the Israelis had themselves examined the back of the photograph was indicated by its initially having arrived from Moscow loosely glued, and its later being observed to be tightly glued, and by the front of the card becoming discolored by what might have been glue solvent bleeding from the photograph side of the card, and finally by the Israelis feigning indifference to what was on the back of the photograph, when in fact they would have been strongly motivated to view the back because it might have contained something conclusively inculpatory.  Despite the defense's strong interest, it was never told what the Israelis had found on the back of the photograph, and was never permitted to remove the photograph to see for itself.

As the Trawniki ID card was indispensible to the Israeli prosecution, and as it was loaned to the Israelis by the Kremlin, the Kremlin must take responsibility not merely for collaborating in the staging of the Jerusalem show trial of John Demjanjuk, but in fact for making that show trial possible by providing Israeli prosecutors with their sole piece of documentary evidence.

Although John Demjanjuk was acquitted upon appeal, he has not freed himself from persecution, today's persecution, however, being stripped of the evidentiary support of witnesses.  The five witnesses who had earlier testified to Demjanjuk's beastly crimes at Treblinka, and whose testimony led to his death sentence, though disbelieved at the time by only a few, are disbelieved today by everyone.  Even the allegation that John Demjanjuk had ever been at Treblinka has today been totally withdrawn.  All those horrid stories of Ukrainian sadism which for two decades had fascinated the world turned out to be nothing but Kremlin-encouraged Jewish nightmares which Russian and Jewish leadership found expedient to present as reality.  John Demjanjuk's persecution today rests on not a single witness, but principally on the Trawniki ID card, with no particular crimes alleged.  Thus, the basis of today's outstanding denigration of the Ukrainian name is the credibility that is attached to the Trawniki ID card, and the Kremlin which owns that card knows that the BKA has already said that it looks forged, and knows that the card has never been subjected to the exhaustive and impartial and expert forensic examination of the sort which is standard outside of show trials, and of the sort which in this instance only the BKA can provide.

The Kremlin, then, places itself in the position of hoping for collaboration with Ukraine, and of wishing for Ukrainian goodwill, and even of expecting Ukrainian gratitude, while at the same time supporting Ukrainian defamation and persecution.  But surely it is unreasonable for the Kremlin to expect to have it both ways.  It must choose one or the other.  On the one hand, the Kremlin can continue defaming and persecuting Ukrainians as it always has, but then it should not wonder why they do not wish to be the Kremlin's friend, and do not wish to vote for the Kremlin's candidate.  On the other hand, the Kremlin can admit that defaming and persecuting Ukrainians all these years has been a mistake, and can abjure future defamation in favor of civilized discourse, and in this way can begin to win Ukrainian trust.  The Kremlin can follow one path or the other, but it cannot straddle both paths by defaming and yet hoping to be loved.  Every day that the Trawniki ID card remains unevaluated by competent authority is another day of Demjanjuk suffering and of Russia defaming Ukraine and of Ukraine resenting the defamation.  I may venture to say on behalf of many Ukrainians that we have had enough.  Our patience is exhausted.  Reverse your course today, or risk forever incurring the ill will of those you smear.  Choose today whether you are more afraid of losing the respect of 48 million Ukrainians, or of offending the already-discredited stagers of show trials.

Mystery man appearing on one version of the John Demjanjuk Trawniki ID card

  The same mystery man appearing unnamed on two other Soviet documents

It would be good to keep in mind that some of the questions surrounding the card can only be answered by yourself, and so from whom full disclosure will be expected.  For example, where and when was the card captured, and by whom, and in whose custody has it been stored in the interim?  These are the fundamental questions concerning origin and chain of custody which the law normally asks to authenticate a historical document, but which it seems to waive in the case of documents being used by Jewish leaders to persecute Ukrainian blue-collar retirees, as this card has been consistently trusted by all courts without the Kremlin having provided an iota of such information.  And only the Kremlin will know how many such cards were captured blank, and how much German ink, and which German rubber stamps, and what German typewriters, and which German printing plates, and what German printing presses, and what German paper questions of considerable relevance, as they measure Kremlin possession of the means to forge.  And why is the "Ivan Demjanjuk" signature on the card so unlike any of his known signatures that Israeli prosecutors failed to persuade any document examiner to testify that it was John Demjanjuk's, and so unlike that Israeli judges took it as evidence of the card's authenticity, as they could not believe that the KGB was capable of such inept forging?  And why did V. Pohoreliov and M. Kameniuk publish Upyr Zhyw u Klivlendi (The Vampire Lived in Cleveland), in the Soviet Molod Ukrainy (Ukrainian Youth) of 30-Apr-1986 together with a picture of the outside of the Trawniki ID card on which was affixed a photograph of a sad-faced mystery man (the one you see on the left), but did not include a picture of the more interesting inside of the card on which should have been affixed a photograph of John Demjanjuk?  This is the same sad-faced mystery man who can be found unnamed on two other Kremlin documents in my possession (whose portraits you see on the right).  These and many other questions which the Kremlin might be able to answer can be found in my 14-May-2001 letter to anti-Demjanjuk publicist Alan Dershowitz on the subject of the Trawniki ID card at www.ukar.org/dersho09.html.  It should not surprise anyone if some confession of Kremlin doctoring and forgery were necessary to resolve all extant issues.

Any goodwill concerning the Trawniki ID card that proceeds from your direction will undoubtedly be too late to influence the 26-Dec-2004 Ukrainian presidential election in favor of the Kremlin candidate, ex-convict Viktor Yanukovych.  But no matter improved relations will still need to be pursued after the election, and the Kremlin soon asking the BKA to do whatever needs to be done to fully evaluate the Trawniki ID card will be a positive and indispensable step toward Ukrainian-Russian reconciliation.  In the face of the Kremlin continuing its defamation and persecution of John Demjanjuk, on the other hand, an increasing tilt of Ukraine away from Russia and toward Europe is inevitable.

Lubomyr Prytulak