Toronto Sun | 21May2011 | Peter Worthington

No satisfaction in Demjanjuk case

Cleveland auto-worker John Demjanjuk, at age 91 with a failing memory and a smorgasbord of health problems (including leukemia), has been sentenced to five years in prison by a German court, for being a guard at the Sobibor death camp in the Second World War.

Judge Ralph Alt released him, pending appeal, which could take six months. Hopes are that he dies before his prison time begins.

For some 30 years the Demjanjuk case has festered -- and for most of that time I've periodically written, scolded, argued and berated the process that seemed more akin to persecution than prosecution.

Guilt was mostly assumed, not proven.

There is nothing about the Demjanjuk case that invokes either pride or satisfaction. He is being called "the littlest of little fish" -- the lowest ranked prison guard ever convicted of war crimes. Superiors were acquitted.

There is no living witness who could testify to his presence as a camp guard at Sobibor -- an allegation he denies, and which caused delays in the 18-month trial when FBI documents indicated that some Demjanjuk's identify papers were forged by the KGB.

Demjanjuk was in the Soviet Red Army when captured by the Germans in 1942, who trained him and used him as a concentration camp guard from March to September in 1943.

He claims that he joined the Vlasov army towards the end of Second World War -- so named after Gen. Andrey Vlasov, one of the heroes of the Soviet defence of Moscow who was taken prisoner by the Germans, and eventually used to form an army of Russian PoWs who wanted to rid Russia of Stalin and Communism.

At the war's end, Vlasov sought to surrender to the Americans, but was taken by the Soviets, tortured, and hanged.

Demjanjuk attended his Munich trial in a wheelchair or on a stretcher, refusing to take part. No evidence was presented that he abused prisoners, just that he was a guard at Sobibor, where some 28,000 Jews were executed in gas chambers.

The Demjanjuk case is significant because it highlights one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice in the United States -- exacerbated because the justice system knew it was doing wrong, but continued on a course it hoped would result in Demjanjuk being executed.

But for the integrity and courage of the Israeli supreme court, the vendetta would have succeeded.

The U.S. Office of Special Investigations (OSI), set up some 30 years ago to track down Nazi war criminals and extradite them to Israel, decided that John Demjanjuk was, in fact, a sadistic guard at Treblinka extermination camp.

He was believed to be a guard known as "Ivan the Terrible," who on occasion hacked at naked prisoners with a sword.

An FBI report in 1985 noted in the charges against Demjanjuk that "justice is ill-served in the prosecution of an American citizen on evidence which is not inadmissible in a court of law, but based on allegations quite likely to be fabricated by the KGB."

The OSI ignored such concerns.

Extradited to Israel, Demjanjuk was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to hang.

Prior to the trial, his frustrated Israeli lawyer, Dov Eitan, committed suicide under mysterious circumstances.

A retired judge, he jumped from a 15th storey window, but left no suicide note.

The lawyer who then defended Demjanjuk, Yoram Sheftel, recalled Eiten getting death threats "and maybe he was pushed mentally to commit suicide."

At Eiten's funeral, Sheftel had acid thrown in his face, which caused an 18-month trial delay.

Such were the passions about Demjanjuk.

During that time, helped by extraordinary efforts of Demjanjuk's son-in-law, Ed Nishnic, and investigators, it was discovered -- and confirmed -- that Demjanjuk was not "Ivan the Terrible," had not been a guard at Treblinka, and that the "real" Ivan the Terrible (one Ivan Marchenko) had died a natural death in Trieste.

All aging Ukrainians tend to look alike, and Demjanjuk was mistakenly identified and wrongly accused.

To it's great credit, the Israeli supreme court reviewed the conviction, assessed the new evidence, and ordered Demjanjuk's release and return to America.

Otherwise, a wronged man would have been executed.

In his resulting book on the case, Defending Ivan the Terrible: The Conspiracy to Convict John Demjanjuk, Sheftel blames two former OSI directors, Allan Ryan and Neal Sher, for "the worst coverup in concealing evidence in a major case taken by an American public prosecutor in modern history and the Second World War."

Back in America, Demjanjuk's citizenship was reinstated in 1998 -- to be revoked again in 2004, when the OSI determined he'd been a guard at Sobibor.

He was deported to Germany as a "stateless" citizen.

A U.S. appeal court authorized an investigation of "prosecutorial abuses" in the Demjanjuk case, and found the OSI had "acted with reckless disregard of the truth," and had carried out "proprietorial misconduct that constituted a fraud on the court."

Sher was disbarred in 2002.

None of this benefitted Demjanjuk.

The OSI justified its stand by saying that if Demjanjuk was wrongly accused of being a guard at one camp, he was certainly a guard at another camp, so his guilt was undeniable.

Except that there's no evidence that Demjanjuk ever abused anyone.

As a Ukrainian war prisoner, he'd never have been fully trusted by the Nazis.

There was no evidence he'd committed a specific crime, but the state argued just being there was evidence of guilt -- the first time such a legal argument has been used in a German court.

Curiously, higher ranking German officers and guards at Sobibor have been acquitted, making Demjanjuk the lowest ranking guard ever convicted.

After Demjanjuk and the decline of living Nazis, the OSI shifted to seeking war criminals from Bosnia, Serbia, Rwanda, and the like, who may have taken up residence in the U.S.

Last year, the OSI -- which never wavered in its determination to "get" Demjanjuk -- was merged into something called the human rights and special prosecutions section of the justice department.

It seeks to prosecute cases of genocide, torture, use of child soldiers, and immigration fraud when such perpetrators seek sanctuary in the U.S.

As for Demjanjuk, two possibilities loom: Either his case marks the end of prosecutions of suspect Second World War criminals nearly 70 years ago, or that the hunt will shift to small fry suspects who were ignored in the past.


Paulette MacQuarrie:
Thank you, Mr. Worthington, for your courage to report the truth about this case, unlike so many of your media colleagues.

Thank you, Mr. Worthington, for a balanced article on this case.

SS Captain Karl Streibel commanded the Trawniki Training Camp.  He was absolved of any war crimes.  Now go figure?  Where is the justice?

Lubomyr Luciuk:
Two additional points: 

Mr Sher was disbarred for (allegedly) stealing funds from Holocaust survivors.
The OSI refused to prosecute a New York resident, Jacob Tannenbaum, said to have been a Jewish kapo at the Gorlitz concentration camp, because he was old (75 in 1987) and ill. At the time, justifying this leniency, Mr Hier of the "Simon Wiesenthal Center" in LA said "There are no Jewish Ivan Demjanjuks." There are certainly no Ukrainian Jacob Tannenbaums.

i wonder at a hypocrisy level in the world..why doesnt world want to punish the bankers who basically funded countries to fight? who is this man? a soldier, a prisoner or tortured guy who may be forced to do so?? 

why america or any c other country wants to know who handled the banking system? can somebody explain me how germany was able to produce wealth within the country only? how did they manage to collect raw material for everything? why those people are not accused for supplying materials?

and please forgive me if you think hitler and his army cruel than please have a look at what did "the queen and her army did to the india?" go google and look at the "jaliyawala massacare" and tell me what was that? why only hitler is being accused of cruelty? what about america who kiiled thousands of "common japanes citizens"? why it is not called as a massacare? people had suffered and yet suffering from that disaster why it is not a torture? 

so please stop this bullshit and lets try to make this world better and liveble there are many many many things to do than this..i mean whats the point of this? even if he admits he was there? you willl hang him at an age of 91? he was a just simple soldier who has no power against the officials...than why he is going through this? 

when american soldier follows the order than he is following order and when somebody else did the same than it is cruelty how come? (refer vietnam)

It is way past time that alleged guards in Nazi POW camps be allowed to live the rest of their life in peace.For Christs' Sake, it states that there is no one left alive to prove that he was a guard there.This is just a travesty of justice - something that is happening all too frequently, and is getting to be an everyday thing. WW2 ended 66 years ago; isn't it time we left these old men and women alone? I believe that if they did what it is alleged they did 70 or more years ago, they will pay in the next life.

" no suicide note? that's mysterious circumstances?"

No - that is not the unusual circumstance.
The unusual bit of evidence is that this defense lawyer for Demjanjuk purportedly jumped to his death - but somehow managed to scuff the TOPS of his shoes on the window ledge.

And isnt it unusual that the other defense lawyer was blinded by acid at the funeral?

Finally, Israel did try Demjanjuk for being at Sobibor after it was proven that he was not Ivan the Terrible.  That evidence came from a McDonalds dumpster where the Dept of Justice tried to destroy exculpating evidence.

However he was found innocent again when the Sobibor survivors testified that Demjanjuk was never there.

Another Cowardly act by Germany.

Herbert Schein:
ID - Card 1393 Demjanjuk - absolutely KGB  Fantasy Card -- Stamp SS  General Globocnik ( Lublin ) absolutely FAKE --  --  OSI - Justice  Mafia  - manipuliert   KGB  Fake - Demianiuk of Demjanjuk  -i j - all Trawniki Document absolutely FAKE and eheat --  Ritual  Lynchjustice - Satan Justice - Barbaren Trial -
gez. Schein  Germany

Thank you Peter.  There are a lot of irrefutable facts in this article and it gives me shivers to think that an arm of the American justice system can be so manipulated.  If one arm can be such a traversty of justice, can other arms be as bad???

Orest Slepokura:
The persecution of John Demjanjuk began with a hit-piece in a Soviet-era newspaper in 1976. Here is what also happened in that same year . . .

When South Africa's Prime Minister John Vorster made a state visit to Israel in April 1976, it began with a tour of Yad Vashem, where the late Yitzhak Rabin invited the onetime Nazi collaborator, unabashed racist, and white supremacist to pay homage to Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Compared, say, to oft-heard outcries from Canadian Jewish groups over even the milder whiffs of Holocaust revisionism these last decades, no less remarkable was the bland equanimity Israeli Jews displayed toward the Vorster visit.

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi recalls that [The Israeli Connection, Random House: Toronto, 1987, p.x] "[f]or most Israelis, the Vorster visit was just another state visit by a foreign leader. It did not draw much attention. Most Israelis did not even remember his name, and did not see anything unusual, much less surreal in the scene [an old Nazi diehard invited to mourn the victims at a Holocaust memorial]: Vorster was just another visiting dignitary being treated to the usual routine."  As a onetime Nazi collaborator, Vorster should, of course, have been arrested and tried once he set foot on Israeli soil -- instead he was warmly welcomed by his Jewish hosts.

Vorster left Israel four days later, but not before signing several treaties between the Jewish state and Pretoria's apartheid regime. A denouement Leslie and Andrew Cockburn describe in Dangerous Liaison [Stoddart Publishing: Toronto, 1991, pp. 299-300]:  "The old Nazi sympathizer came away with bilateral agreements for commercial, military, and nuclear cooperation that would become the basis for future relations between the two countries."

Congratulations on your same frank discussion!  I lived in Toronto 1960-1980's and soon found the TORONTO SUN preferable to the Globe and Mail, as the SUN was unafraid to tackle prickly problems.  Was this mitigated by the Sunshine Girl(s)?  MacKenzie Porter and Lubor Zink (a pseudonym?) always attracted my attention.  The entire Zionist question is abetted by fear to discuss its somewhat dire suggestions and marshy roots.  The license to smear is part of the "politically correct" solution, but there is no license to lie.  Thanks for exposing the machinations of this international B.S.

Dave Catleugh:
They'll be trying people posthumously next!

Tenacious Tom:
<<otherwise, a="" been="" executed.="" have="" man="" would="" wronged="">>...There is no capital punishment in Israel, although an exception was made for Adolph Eichman.</otherwise,>

Prior to the trial, his frustrated Israeli lawyer, Dov Eitan, committed suicide under mysterious circumstances.

A retired judge, he jumped from a 15th storey window, but left no suicide note.

no suicide note? that's mysterious circumstances?

Myth:  All true suicides leave a suicide note.
Fact:  No,
in fact a surprising number of people who complete suicide do not leave
suicide notes. According to Canadian researcher Dr. A. Leenaars, who
has extensively studied suicide notes, the percentage of those who leave
notes varies from 12 to 37% percent.