|Elie Wiesel, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities||December 3, 1986|
I have been asked by the Ministry of Justice, State of Israel, through the Office of the State Attorney, to request the assistance of the Soviet Union in obtaining original documenting material regarding Ivan Demjanjuk who was denaturalized as an American citizen and deported for trial to the State of Israel for extraordinary crimes against humanity in the period 1942-1944 in Poland.
The documents required by the State of Israel are of critical importance in the trial of Demjanjuk whose preliminary proceedings recently opened; therefore, expeditious cooperation in providing these documents will be greatly appreciated.
The prosecution in this case will contend that Demjanjuk was recruited to the SS auxiliaries in early summer 1942 and was trained for his Operation Reinhardt duties at the SS training camp at Trawniki. On his recruitment, Demjanjuk was issued by the SS authorities with Trawniki camp identity card No. 1393 (Dienstausweis). On completion of his training at Trawniki, Demjanjuk was assigned to the Treblinka death camp, where he perpetrated the atrocities and mass murders with which he is charged.
Demjanjuk argues that he never joined the SS auxiliaries, that he was never trained at Trawniki and that he never served at Treblinka. The SS identity card issued to Demjanjuk at Trawniki shows clearly his enlistment into the SS auxiliaries and his training at Trawniki. This card is therefore an important link in refuting Demjanjuk's alibi and in proving the prosecution's claim.
It is our understanding that the Soviet authorities are now again in possession of the original identity card issued to Demjanjuk at Trawniki. They sent the original card to the Soviet Embassy in Washington and in February 1981, a document examiner from the U.S. Department of Justice was permitted to study and photocopy the card. On March 3, 1981, the U.S. Department of Justice was permitted to take the original card and produce it to Judge Battisti, Chief Justice of the U.S. District Court in Cleveland. Judge Battisti was then presiding over the denaturalization proceedings against Demjanjuk. After the original identity card had been produced to Judge Battisti, it was returned to the Soviet Embassy in Washington.
It is important that this original identity card also now be made available to the Israel Ministry of Justice so that the prosecution can produce it to the court in Jerusalem which is now hearing the case against Demjanjuk.
This identity card from the Trawniki training camp is the only one of its kind submitted in legal proceedings in Western Europe and the United States. The Israel prosecution team would therefore be interested in receiving from the Soviet authorities any additional cards of this type relating to other SS auxiliaries trained at Trawniki. Production of additional cards would help the prosecution to prove the authenticity of Demjanjuk's card No. 1393.
The SS command at the Trawniki camp also maintained personnel files (Personalbogen) on all SS auxiliaries trained at the camp. It is believed that the Army of the Soviet Union took possession of some of these Personalbogen when it liberated the eastern areas of Poland in the summer of 1944. The State of Israel has asked the Soviet authorities to check in their various archieves to ascertain whether they possess a Personalbogen relating to Ivan Demjanjuk. Should such a Personalbogen be found, Israel would be eager to obtain the original document in order to present it to the court in Jerusalem.
In summary, the State of Israel requires the following:
|1.||The original of Demjanjuk's identity card No. 1393 (i.e., the same card that was presented to the U.S. authorities in 1981 and then returned to the Soviet Embassy in Washington);|
|2.||Any other example of this type of identity card ("Dienstausweis") from the Trawniki training camp;|
|3.||Demjanjuk's "Personalbogen" from Trawniki (is such a document is in the possession of the Soviet authorities).|
Requests by the State of Israel for these documents have on several occasions been presented to the Soviet authorities by the Dutch Embassy in Moscow. However, the Ministry of Justice of the State of Israel indicated to me that the only reply they have received was that in 1981 the documents relating to Demjanjuk were forwarded to the United States Department of Justice. It could just possibly be that the original identity card is still in the Soviet Embassy in Washington and has never been returned to Moscow.
Therefore, in the interest of justice and its appropriate and complete pursuit in this case, I would be grateful for any assistance and cooperation that the Soviet authorities could render in helping to obtain these documents in their original form for transmittal and use in this trial and other similar legal proceedings. The preliminary hearings began several days ago, and the trial itself is scheduled to begin January 19, 1987, so that the matter is one of urgency.
The recent delegation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, who met with various high-ranking Soviet officials, found great understanding and willingness to cooperate in matters of mutual concern for which I personally, and on behalf of the delegation, am most grateful. I hope we may see similar cooperation on this urgent matter.