Scrapbookpages Blog

September 27, 2010

German courts now using the “common plan” or co-responsibility charge against John Demjanjuk

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 7:11 am

The trial of John Demjanjuk in a German court is on again, after a summer break.  Ninety-year-old Demjanjuk is accused of being a guard at the Sobibor death camp in German-occupied Poland during World War II. Although there are no specific charges against him, he is accused of being an accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews who were gassed at Sobibor. Demjanjuk denies that he worked as a guard at Sobibor.  

Here is a quote from a recent news article about the case:

Nazi hunters have taken keen interest in the Demjanjuk saga because it’s the first time German authorities have prosecuted such a low-ranking suspect on the premise that, even without evidence of a specific crime, simply working at a death camp was enough to be an accessory to murder.

German prosecutors have since opened investigations of two others on a similar basis, both men who were called as witnesses at the Demjanjuk trial — and a conviction could open the way to scores of more such cases.

At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal and the American Military Tribunal proceedings, which took place after World War II, the charges against the accused were “participating in a common design.”  Under the “common design” charges, German war criminals were convicted without being charged with committing specific crimes. Anyone who worked in a concentration camp, even a supply clerk, was guilty of a crime and there was no defense against the charge.

In 1948, the German courts took over the task of trying German war criminals, using the rules of the German courts, rather than the new rules made by the Allied victors.   Now, the Demjanjuk trial has created a legal  precedent which will open the way to put more former camp personnel on trial in German courts.

You can read about the Demjanjuk trial here and here.  You can read about the rules of the American Military Tribunal proceedings here.


  1. […] previously blogged about the Demjanjuk case in which the “common plan” law was used.  I predicted that this principle would be […]

    Pingback by The ex-post-facto law of “common design” lives on as the “Demjanjuk principle” « Scrapbookpages Blog — August 20, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  2. Let me ask you when does your sense of justice for all kick in? Society must have rules, victims must have justice and victors courts serve a strong moral purpose. I assume you advocate death to all brutal Japanese camp gurds who beheaded USA pilots, or who tortured children in front of there parents – to make the parents confess. Is this alright in your book. About 900 Nazis were executed, 900 out of an possible list of 10000. By all means sleep with the devil, but please don’t preach moral values. [signed] Disgusted from Tunbridge Wells.

    Comment by Robert Bystanders — December 27, 2010 @ 1:16 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: