Cleveland Jewish News | 24Jul2009 | Marilyn Karfeld

Survivors approved as plaintiffs in Demjanjuk trial

Eight plaintiffs whose relatives were killed at Sobibor death camp in spring 1943 have been approved to participate in the accessory-to-murder trial of John Demjanjuk, the news magazine Der Spiegel reported last week. The trial in Munich district court is expected to begin in mid-October, the magazine said.

To counter the likely defense argument that Demjanjuk was a Nazi prisoner-of-war and forced to follow orders, the prosecution will rely on the testimony of 22 witnesses, Der Spiegel said. In the 86-page indictment, the prosecution maintains the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk could have escaped from the death camp, as did other foreigners conscripted as Nazi guards.

Demjanjuk, 89, a retired Seven Hills autoworker, has been indicted on 27,900 counts of accessory-to-murder. He was deported to Germany in May to face charges he helped herd Jews to the gas chamber at Sobibor while serving as a guard there between April and October 1943.

The eight approved plaintiffs, represented by five attorneys, are from the Netherlands, the U.S. and Germany, Der Spiegel reported. One of them, Thomas Blatt, escaped from Sobibor during a prisoner revolt; both his parents and younger brother were killed there upon the family’s arrival in April 1943.

Blatt, 82, has said he cannot identify Demjanjuk. Now a resident of Santa Barbara, Calif., Blatt has written two books about Sobibor, which he described as a killing factory.
[email protected]