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March 20, 2012

The Demjanjuk affair (like another “Dreyfus affair”)

I got the idea for my blog post today from a comment made by a reader who provided a link to a website which published an edited transcript of an interview given by John Demjanjuk’s Israeli defense attorney, Yoram Sheftel, to Roma Hadzewycz of The Ukrainian Weekly.  Sheftel joined the Demjanjuk defense team just before the trial began in Israel in February 1987; on the 29th of July 1993, Demjanjuk was acquitted unanimously by the Israeli Supreme Court in the appeal case.

Sheftel wrote a book about the case in Hebrew, which was published in Israel in 1993 by Adam Publishers.  The English version was published in America under the title Defending “Ivan the Terrible”: The Conspiracy to Convict John Demjanjuk. 

Sheftel compared the Demjanjuk case to the trial of  Alfred Dreyfus, which was covered by Theodore Hertzl. Wikipedia calls Hertzl “an Ashkenazi Jewish Austro-Hungarian journalist and the father of modern political Zionism and in effect the State of Israel.”  If it had not been for the Dreyfus affair, there would have been no Zionism and probably no state of Israel.

This quote is from Wikipedia:

As the Paris correspondent for Neue Freie Presse, Herzl followed the Dreyfus Affair, a notorious anti-Semitic incident in France in which a French Jewish army captain was falsely convicted of spying for Germany. He witnessed mass rallies in Paris following the Dreyfus trial where many chanted “Death to the Jews!” Herzl came to reject his early ideas regarding Jewish emancipation and assimilation, and to believe that the Jews must remove themselves from Europe and create their own state.

The interview given by Sheftel is quite long, so I have quoted the most important part of it here and highlighted the important words:

One phase of this case was held in the state of Israel. In another phase it was held in the United States. In the United States it was held in a much worse way than in Israel, because in Israel it was a show trial, but in the United States it was a conspiracy to conceal evidence which shows unequivocally the innocence of Demjanjuk. This definitely is not the case with the Israeli part of this case. So the U.S. conducted itself in a much worse way than the Israelis.

Here [in America] they just founded a new organization within the Justice Department and yet it was able to put its hands on the worst Nazi criminal alive. Then, a year later, in connection with another case altogether, the case of Feodor Fedorenko, the OSI received a hundred pages of documents from the American Embassy in Moscow, which a day before had received these same 100 (pages of) documents from the Soviet procuracy. Now these documents dealt not only with Fedorenko, but with many other Treblinka guards, including the two guards who operated the gas chambers in Treblinka, that is, Ivan Marchenko and Nikolai Shelayev. Three of the statements contained unequivocal data that there is no way whatsoever that Demjanjuk could be “Ivan the Terrible” because Ivan Marchenko was the right one. And they concealed this evidence.

On the 12th of August, the OSI gets this material. This is 1978 – 1978! On the 25th of August, Joshua Eilberg, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration of the House writes a letter to (Attorney General) Griffin Bell, warning him of the consequences of Demjanjuk being found not eligible to be stripped of his citizenship as Fedorenko was found a few weeks before. And then, naturally, the OSI got scared about its own existence, about ensuring that it continue to exist. And in my book I quote from the decision of the Federal Court of Appeals, which not only declares the functioning of the OSI as fraud on the court, but also outlines the reasons which are political, largely political and obviously considerable. It would raise a political problem for us all, including the attorney general, if the case is lost. So actually, they wanted to preserve their bureaucratic organization just established and this was the motive of the OSI to conceal the evidence.

Now the Soviets, they must be commended. They never went as far as the OSI did. You see the Soviets, of course, knew all along that Demjanjuk could not be “Ivan the Terrible” because of their own data about “Ivan the Terrible.” Therefore, they suggested he was a camp guard from Sobibor, but they never ever even hinted, even after the identification of Demjanjuk by survivors as “Ivan the Terrible,” that he had anything to do with Treblinka, let alone that he was “Ivan the Terrible.” But, the Soviets wanted to cause a rift between the Jewish and Ukrainian communities in North America, which we all know were collaborating in the middle ’70s in anti-Soviet activities – each community for its own interest. And, the best proof of this is that the entire affair was exploded in the United States by Michael Hanusiak, who was then the editor of the Ukrainian Communist newspaper, called Ukrainian Daily News. And he is the one who wrote the book “Lest We Forget” in the early 1970s, warning – and I give quotes from this book – about the reactionary, dangerous, collaboration between the Ukrainian reactionaries and Zionist reactionaries against the Soviet Union, and warning that this must be stopped. And he stopped it. He stopped it. As far as this is concerned, the Soviets had complete success.

Now we come to the Poles. The Poles were not an independent entity in those days, and they were completely governed by the KGB. They knew exactly as the Soviets did that “Ivan the Terrible” was not Ivan Demjanjuk but someone else. And because they were protégés of the Soviets, they had no choice but to pursue the line of the Soviets.

Now the German part of the conspiracy relates directly to the Trawniki card. The world expert on the authenticity or non-authenticity of Nazi German documents is Dr. Louis Ferdinand Werner, who is the head of the BKA laboratories of the German police in Wiesbaden. He examined the Trawniki card three weeks before the case started in Israel, that is to say the middle of January 1987. He told the Israeli chief expert on documents, Amnon Bezaleli, who testified for four days in the witness box in the case in Jerusalem, that not only is the Trawniki card a forgery, but it is even an amateur forgery, obvious when you first look at it. And he asked for the document to be left with him for 10 days so he would be able to provide an extensive expert opinion about all the faults and forgeries on the card.

And in response Bezaleli took the document from him and didn’t allow him to pursue these tests. And, it is very important what Dr. Werner wrote in a memo when all this happened, and I quote this memo in my book as well. He said simply that it seems that in this case the facts are not interesting, and everything has to be subordinated to the political aspect of the case. Now that document, that memo was kept secretly by the German government for seven years in a safe and was not published until Stern magazine revealed it in March 1992. So this is the German end of the conspiracy.

And, of course, Israel is part of the conspiracy as far as this (Trawniki card) is concerned. It also was party to falsifying one identification made, not in the state of Israel, but by the OSI in the United States of one of the eyewitnesses, (Yehiel) Reichman. But I left for the reader to decide, because I don’t have 100 percent proof that Israel was involved in the cover-up of the OSI- concealed evidence which suggested that someone else and not Demjanjuk is “Ivan the Terrible.”

Maybe something good will come from the “Demjanjuk affair,” as Sheftel has named the “conspiracy” to convict Demjanjuk in Israel.  Demjanjuk died as a man without a country.  At the very least, his American citizenship should be restored and the United States Government should extend an apology to Demjanjuk’s family for concealing evidence that would have led to his acquittal in his first trial in Israel.

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