American Free Press | 23Oct2009 | Peter Papaheraklis

Traficant speaks to AFP: Demjanjuk excerpt

You’ve always been in the forefront of fighting injustice. You made a lot of enemies -- including both the Justice Department and AIPAC, among others -- when you came to the defense of Ukraine-born Cleveland autoworker John Demjanjuk, a naturalized citizen, who was falsely accused by the so-called “Nazi-hunting” unit of the Justice Department of being a concentration camp guard at Treblinka during World War II. Although the U.S. government stripped Demjanjuk of his citizenship and deported him to Israel where he was tried and convicted as a war criminal and sentenced to death, it was your work that got him released. And now he’s facing new charges, many years later, in Germany. Could you reflect on your experiences in the Demjanjuk case?

It’s a travesty and I’m surprised no one has even lifted their voice. Be advised that the original evidence that resulted in the Israeli Supreme Court overturning Demjanjuk’s conviction came from me. It came through a Freedom of Information Act request regarding a man named Feodor Fedorenko, the only man ever tried for war crimes at the Treblinka camp in Poland. He was acquitted.

He had been a naturalized American and when he went to Ukraine to visit his family, he was picked up by the Soviet KGB and tried in the old Soviet Union and was executed. There’s no doubt our government arranged that, perpetrated that.

When the Demjanjuk case came up, I couldn’t get anywhere. So I tricked the government. I did a Freedom of Information Act on Fedorenko, and bingo. I was told that there were a hundred pages or so on him and in those pages was the information that led to Demjanjuk being cleared of the charges and the dropping of the death sentence against him.

And remember that 17 people testified in the Demjanjuk case and identified him as the concentration camp guard known as “Ivan theTerrible” -- IvanMarchenko -- a man who was taller than Demjanjuk, had black hair, not blonde hair, was nine years older and had a scar on his neck.

Then when I went on the House floor and revealed that I had a photo of the real Ivan, the Justice Department turned around and claimed that there were two Ivans.

Well, let me tell you about the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). No one in Congress would accept the evidence I had clearing Demjanjuk nor would they agree to hold a hearing regarding the activities of the Justice Department in this case. Demjanjuk had been stripped of his citizenship and he was scheduled to be executed in Israel. No one in the government of the United States would listen to the evidence.

I tried to put it before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinatti and they would not accept the evidence. So Demjanjuk’s attorney placed my evidence before the Israeli Supreme Court and they asked me to go over.

I went over. I payed my own way. While I was there, Bryant Gumbel of the Today show on NBC interviewed me and I said, “If they put this man to death, Israel is going to lose $20-25 billion a year from the American taxpayers.”

He said, “What do you mean, Congressman? Israel only gets $3 billion a year from the U.S.”

And I reminded him that $3 billion is $5,000 a year for every man, woman and child who lives in Israel (although, of course, that money goes to the Israeli government).

That’s from the foreign aid appropriations bill. However, when you look at the loans to Israel that are converted to grants, economic assistance, military assistance, trade pacts, Israel gets the equivalent of $30-35,000 a year for every man, woman and child in Israel. And my people in my district who are working 40 hours a week aren’t making that much money in Youngstown, Ohio.”

Gumbel’s response was “Thank you, congressman. Thank you.”

That night I got a phone call. Demjanjuk was being released and was going to be delivered to me to take him home from the Tel Aviv airport. I have to give Israel credit. They accepted the evidence and our government wouldn’t. Our congress wouldn’t and our courts wouldn’t, but Israel did. They knew that our government perpetrated one of the greatest crimes in history and as soon as I got Demjanjuk back to the United States, the Sixth Circuit Court issued a statement saying that this case was a tragic but honest mistake by the government.

No one in the Justice Department ever faced charges for this. They knew that Demjanjuk wasn’t “Ivan the Terrible.” The documents I used to convince the Israelis to free Demjanjuk came from the Justice Department.

Now the Justice Department went after Demjajunk again but this time Israel wouldn’t try him. Israel didn’t want someone like Jim Traficant -- if such a person existed -- to start questioning the case. Well, now Traficant is out of jail and he is questioning the new case.

So now Germany is trying Demjanjuk for being a guard at another concentration camp, Sobibor. The truth of the matter is that if the government was proven to be so reckless and criminal in a previous action, how can they warrant any serious consideration in the current case. They were embarrassed the first time so now they are determined to hurt Demjanjuk and show the world that he was some kind of Nazi.

The truth is that Demjanjuk was taken prisoner by the Nazis and while the Germans did put guns in the hands of some of their prisoners and made to act as perimeter guards (under the threat of death) even if that was the case, those men shouldn’t be charged.

Well, now that I am out of prison, they are concerned. [People who have heard me on television speaking out] are starting to say, “Hey, wait a minute. This guy Traficant is right. We are bankrupt. We are involved in areas that are very questionable. Do they have this kind of control?”

Look at China. Look at Japan. China is taking $350 billion a year plus out of our economy. They are buying tanks, attack aircraft, nuclear submarines—building them with our money.

Look at our foreign aid. Forget about Israel. We gave $98 million last year to North Korea to convince them to slow down their nuclear development. What do you think they are using that $98 million for?

We gave $58 million to Russia so they would strive toward the word of law. I’ve got to say, “Beam me up” here. Here in Youngstown we have the Delphi workers, formerly Packard and General Motors. The salaried workers lost all their pensions and the hourly workers have to pay for their health insurance now. It’s a $160 million impact on our community. And look at the ripple effect and the other losses of jobs that will subsequently come, it will be a $250 million loss every year. But we can’t get a bit of help for our own people.