Persecution of John Demjanjuk
by Patrick J. Buchanan: Vanishing
Guilty of Nazi Death Camp Murders," ran the headline on the BBC.
The lede began:
"A German court
has found John Demjanjuk guilty of helping to murder more than 28,000
Jews at a Nazi death camp in Poland."
Not until paragraph
17 does one find this jolting fact: "No evidence was produced that
he committed a specific crime."
That is correct.
No evidence was produced, no witness came forward to testify he
ever saw Demjanjuk injure anyone. And the critical evidence that
put Demjanjuk at Sobibor came – from the KGB.
First was a
KGB summary of an alleged interview with one Ignat Danilchenko,
who claimed he was a guard at Sobibor and knew Demjanjuk. Second
was the Soviet-supplied ID card from the Trawniki camp that trained
There are major
problems with both pieces of "evidence."
has been dead for a quarter of a century, no one in the West ever
interviewed him, and Moscow stonewalled defense requests for access
to the full Danilchenko file. His very existence raises a question.
How could a
Red Army soldier who turned collaborator and Nazi camp guard survive
Operation Keelhaul, which sent all Soviet POWs back to Joseph Stalin,
where they were either murdered or sent to the Gulag?
As for the
ID card from Trawniki, just last month there was unearthed at the
National Archives in College Park, Md., a 1985 report from the Cleveland
office of the FBI, which, after studying the card, concluded it
was "quite likely" a KGB forgery.
ill-served in the prosecution of an American citizen on evidence
which is not only normally inadmissible in a court of law, but based
on evidence and allegations quite likely fabricated by the KGB."
This FBI report,
never made public, was done just as Demjanjuk was being deported
to Israel to stand trial as "Ivan the Terrible," the murderer of
Treblinka. In a sensational trial covered by the world's press,
Demjanjuk was convicted and sentenced to hang.
But after five
years on death row, new evidence turned up when the Soviet Union
collapsed and Russia opened up. That evidence wholly validated the
claims of Demjanjuk's defenders.
Not only had
Demjanjuk never even been at Treblinka, the Soviet files contained
a photograph of the real "Ivan" – a larger and older man.
To its eternal
credit, the Israeli Supreme Court reversed the conviction, rejected
a request to retry Demjanjuk as a camp guard elsewhere in Poland,
freed him and sent him home to America.
a laughing stock, and denounced for fraud by Ohio district and appellate
courts, the Office of Special Investigations began crafting a new
case, John Demjanjuk of Sobibor, to deport and try again the old
man whose defense attorneys had made fools of them.
Thus the Sobibor
story and Demjanjuk's supposed complicity in the murder of 28,000
Jews – though, as the BBC notes, no one testified at the trial that
they ever saw John Demjanjuk injure anyone.
life this tormented American has lived.
Born in Ukraine
in 1920, as a boy he endured the Holodomor – the famine imposed
on his people in 1932 and 1933 by Stalin and his hated henchman
Lazar Kaganovich, which resulted in the starvation and death of
somewhere between 5 million and 9 million Ukrainians.
It has been
called by historians the "forgotten Holocaust."
into the Red Army, Demjanjuk was captured in the German blitzkrieg.
Unlike American and British POWs, whom Germans regarded as racial
equals, Ukrainians were untermensch who could be used for medical
Not only did
Demjanjuk survive, he managed to evade the Allied order, under Keelhaul,
for all Red Army POWs to be repatriated to Stalin, which was the
Soviet dictator's demand before he would return the U.S. and British
POWs his troops liberated in the march to Berlin.
In the war's
aftermath, Demjanjuk married his wife Vera, who had been conscripted
in the Ukraine and brought forcibly west to work in the German economy.
Thence he moved
to Cleveland, became an autoworker, raised a family and practiced
his Christian faith. But he made a mistake.
He sent his
wife to Ukraine to tell his aged mother that he had survived the
war and was living in the great United States of America.
got around the village. The KGB came calling. Swiftly, the payments
his mother had been receiving for her war hero son were halted,
and suddenly, there turned up an ID card that said John Demjanjuk
had been trained at Trawniki to be a Nazi camp guard.
The KGB began
feeding OSI from its "files," as OSI began a manic persecution of
Demjanjuk that has lasted 30 years.
in bed in 1953. Kaganovich died with his family around him in Moscow
in 1991. And John Demjanjuk, 91, after spending five years on death
row for a crime he did not commit in a place he never was, is stateless
and homeless in a Germany where veterans of the SS walk free.
That is justice
– in our world.
J. Buchanan [send
him mail] is co-founder and editor of The
American Conservative. He is also the author of seven books,
the Right Went Wrong, and A
Republic Not An Empire. His latest book is Churchill,
Hitler, and the Unnecessary War. See his
© 2011 Creators Syndicate
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