Patience T. Huntwork   Ukrainian Weekly   09-Dec-1990   Tom Teicholz disinformation

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New book on Demjanjuk

Dear Editor:

Tom Teicholz's new book on the Demjanjuk case, "The Trial of Ivan the Terrible," bears a glowing endorsement on the back cover by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.  Prof. Dershowitz has won acclaim as an advocate of civil liberties in high-profile cases.  It was, therefore, with some surprise that I read the following statement by Prof. Dershowitz: "No objective reader can be left with any reasonable doubt that Demjanjuk was a Nazi murderer."

This statement struck me as strange, since Prof. Dershowitz must have been aware that Mr. Teicholz's book devotes only a three-page epilogue to the exculpatory evidence unearthed since Mr. Demjanjuk's conviction, which indicates that Mr. Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible.  Mr. Teicholz's book fails even to mention that exculpatory documents from the U.S. government's investigation of Mr. Demjanjuk were recovered from trash dumpsters outside the Office of Special Investigation's Washington office, as made public in August 1989.

Similarly, Mr. Teicholz makes only passing reference to the Polish eye-witness evidence uncovered by CBS "60 Minutes," which points to one Ivan Marchenko not Mr. Demjanjuk as having been the hated Ivan.  (Marchenko is listed on the roster of Treblinka camp guards, while Mr. Demjanjuk. is not.)

Mr. Teicholz dismisses the Marchenko evidence by quoting Israeli Prosecutor Michael Shaked, who asserted in July of 1990 that Marchenko was Mr. Demjanjuk's mother's maiden name, as though it were an unassailable fact.

To the contrary, in August of 1990, representatives of the Demjanjuk defense traveled to the Soviet Union and obtained copies of Mr. Demjanjuk's mother's marriage and death certificates, showing that her maiden name was not Marchenko but Tabachuk.  This leaves the prosecution and Prof. Dershowitz with no answer to the Marchenko evidence, and with the real possibility that they are advocating the execution of an innocent man.

Mr. Teicholz's discussion of defense forensic expert William Flynn is marked by glaring inaccuracies.  To name a few: Mr. Flynn has never been a pupil or colleague of prosecution expert Gideon Epstein; Mr. Flynn never brought a copy of the Trawniki I.D. card to the Palm Springs meeting of U.S. document examiners in September 1986; and Mr. Flynn never stated in Jerusalem that it was impossible to give a conclusive opinion about the signatures on a historical document.

The limitations on Mr. Teicholz's objectivity are also evident in his treatment of defense memory expert Willem Wagenaar.  Mr. Teicholz contents himself with adopting the prosecution's questioning of Mr. Wagenaar during trial as scientific fact, while failing even to acknowledge the serious legal deficiencies in the prosecution's identification procedures, as detailed in Mr. Wagenaar's highly acclaimed book Identifying Ivan: A Case Study in Legal Psychology (Harvard University Press, 1988).

There, Mr. Wagenaar concludes that "I know of no other case in which so many deviations from procedures internationally accepted as desirable occurred."

"I will not say that the investigative procedure was a farce, but a total farce could have violated only a few more rules," he adds.

Mr. Teicholz also omits any mention of the fact that two of Israel's noted psychologists, David Narvon and Ashir Koryat, acted as advisors to the prosecution yet failed to take the stand to testify under oath in opposition to Mr. Wagenaar's testimony.

It is irresponsible at best to voice a judgment on guilt or innocence until the appeal is concluded, particularly where it appears exculpatory evidence was suppressed by the U.S. government.  In any death penalty case in which Prof. Dershowitz acted as defense council, he would doubtless argue that the suppression of exculpatory evidence alone justified reversal.  For Prof. Dershowitz and others to portray Mr. Teicholz's book as "definitive" does not serve the interests of justice or of the State of Israel.

Patience Tipton Huntwork
Phoenix, Ariz.