Bloomberg Businessweek | 23Nov2010 | Oliver Suess, Karin Matussek

Demjanjuk Says German Court Has Taken His ‘Liberty’

(Updates with statement from son of Demjanjuk in seventh paragraph.)

Nov. 23, 2010 (Bloomberg) -- John Demjanjuk, on trial for aiding in the murder of 27,900 Jews during World War II, told a Munich court it had robbed him of his right to “liberty.”

In his second statement to the court in the nearly year-old case, 90-year-old Demjanjuk said the three judges had ignored the fact that he was a Nazi prisoner during the war. Prosecutors say he was trained as a guard and served at the Sobibor extermination camp from March to September 1943, when the Jews, mostly deported from the Netherlands, were killed.

“The judges suppress the Israeli, American, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian files about me, fearing that there is more evidence of my innocence,” Demjanjuk said in a statement read to the court by an interpreter. “The decision to continue with this trial is a crime of infringement of the law and a deprivation of my liberty.”

Demjanjuk, a Ukraine native and retired autoworker, lived near Cleveland until he was stripped of his U.S. citizenship [in 1981] and extradited to Israel in 1986. He was tried there on charges he was “Ivan the Terrible,” the guard who tortured Jews while herding them into the Treblinka concentration camp gas chambers.

His death sentence and conviction in the case were overturned in 1993 by Israel’s Supreme Court, which said there was reasonable doubt that he served at Treblinka. Demjanjuk returned to the U.S., regaining his citizenship. [W.Z. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Office of Special Investigations perpetrated fraud on the court to obtain his denaturalization in 1981 and his extradition  to Israel in 1986. The perfidity of the OSI is well documented in my Critique of Wiseman's Report.] In 2002, a U.S. court revoked it again over his alleged role at Sobibor. He was extradited to Germany to stand trial in Munich in May 2009.

Soviet Union Documents

Earlier today, the court rejected motions by Demjanjuk’s lawyer for access to more documents from eastern European countries, the U.S. and Israel as well as additional expert witnesses on the reliability of documents coming from the former Soviet Union.

“The court’s bias is further evidenced by their willingness to ignore the Demjanjuk investigative files still hidden in Russia,” Demjanjuk’s son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said in an e-mailed statement. “The history of the Israeli proceeding, which nearly ended in the execution of the wrong man, should cause them to want all of the evidence available.”

Spokeswoman Margarete Noetzel said the court wouldn’t comment on Demjanjuk’s statement.

The court today allowed the reading of the testimony by Ignat Daniltschenko, a Ukrainian who said he served with Demjanjuk in Sobibor when they both “participated in the annihilation of Jews” working as a camp guards. The document read was a transcript of a 1979 interview by a Soviet prosecutor taken at the request of U.S. authorities. [W.Z. The Danilchenko protocols were withheld from the Demjanjuk defense by the OSI in 1981 and 1986.]

Ulrich Busch, Demjanjuk’s attorney who has fought to keep the incriminating statement out of the case, said it was a forgery by the Soviet secret police. Daniltschenko’s testimony, first given in 1949, was pressed out of him by torture, said Busch. Daniltschenko is now dead.

[W.Z. During and after WWII torture during interrogation was routinely used by the 4th Directorate of the MGB:
/tp/Demjanjuk2009/Demjanjuk2009.html#H.z  ]

--Editors: Anthony Aarons, Angela Cullen

To contact the reporter on this story: Oliver Suess in Munich at [email protected]; Karin Matussek in Munich via [email protected].

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at [email protected]