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February 24, 2011

Will 90-year-old John Demjanjuk live long enough for a third trial?

John Demjanjuk, now 90-years-old, is currently on trial in Germany, charged with being an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Dutch Jews at the Sobibor death camp in 1943. Demjanjuk was previously tried and convicted over 20 years ago in an Israeli court after he was identified by eye witnesses as a Ukrainian guard nicknamed “Ivan the Terrible” at Treblinka. He spent 7 years in prison in Israel before he won the case on appeal.

John Demjanjuk as a young man and in a courtroom today

A verdict in the current case is expected in late March this year, but if 90-year-old Demjanjuk is still alive, he could be brought in on a stretcher to another courtroom in Spain for a third trial.

In January 2011, a Spanish judge indicted Demjanjuk on charges of being an accessory to genocide and Crimes against Humanity, based on the accusation that he was a guard at the Flossenbürg concentration camp in Germany. The Spanish are expected to have Demjanjuk extradited to Spain when the German trial ends.

“Crimes against Humanity” is a new crime that was made up specifically for the Germans in the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal after World War II ended. Genocide is also a concept that did not exist before the Holocaust. As far as I know, no one claims that there was a gas chamber at the Flossenbürg camp in Germany.  On the other hand, it is officially accepted that Sobibor was a “death camp,” built by the Nazis in March 1942, for the sole purpose of killing European Jews in gas chambers.

The exact number of Jews who were murdered at Sobibor is unknown; allegedly, the bodies were first buried, then dug up and burned on pyres. All the train records are missing so the number of Jews who were transported to Sobibor is unknown. Estimates range from 170,000 to 250,000 deaths in the short time that Sobibor operated as a death camp.  The US Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates that 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor during a period of only 18 months.

Sobibor was one of the three Aktion Reinhard camps; the other two were Belzec and Treblinka.  Demjanjuk was first charged with being Ivan the Terrible, a guard at Treblinka.  Shouldn’t his third trial be for being a guard at Belzec, not Flossenbürg?

The three Aktion Reinhard camps were all in remote locations, but “each site was on a railroad line linking it with hundreds of towns and villages whose Jewish communities were now trapped and starving” in the spring of 1942, according to Martin Gilbert’s book entitled The Holocaust. Sobibor was linked by rail with many large Jewish communities, including Lublin, Wlodawa and Chelm.

Gilbert also wrote a book called Atlas of the Holocaust which is mainly a book of maps pertaining to the Holocaust.  On page 108 of this book, there is a large map that shows that Sobibor was in the “General Government” which was the name given to German-occupied Poland.  Sobibor was right on the border between the General Government and the Ukraine.

On January 20, 1942, a conference was held in Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin, where plans were made for the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question.” According to the figures given by the Nazis at the Wannsee Conference, there were approximately 5 million Jews in the Soviet Union in January 1942, including 2,994,684 in the Ukraine and 446,484 in Belorussia. There were another 2,284,000 Jews in the area of German-occupied Poland known as the General Government. At the Conference, the Nazis claimed that they were planning to resettle some of the Jews who were living in the General Government into the Ukraine, an area of the Soviet Union which they then controlled.

The three camps, called the Aktion Reinhard Camps, were planned at the Wannsee conference. All three of the Aktion Reinhard camps were located on the western side of the Bug river. On the eastern side of the Bug river was the Ukraine, according to the maps drawn by Martin Gilbert.

Railroad bridge over the Bug river near Treblinka

The photo above shows a one-way bridge over the Bug river that is designed for trains, cars and pedestrians.  When I visited Treblinka in 1998, my private tour guide took me over this bridge.

There must be another way to get to the Treblinka Memorial Site because this bridge would collapse if a tour bus tried to cross it.  I’m not sure if the trains to the camp went over this bridge; the bridge is a reconstruction, according to Martin Gilbert.

So why is this bridge so important?  Being a train buff, I knew that the train tracks in the Soviet Union are a different gauge than the tracks in Poland.  Trains did not cross the Bug river during World War II because the trains would not have been able to run on the tracks across the river.  There is a bend in the river near Treblinka, which required a bridge over the river in order to get to the Treblinka camp, although the camp is located on the western side of the border between the former General Government and the Ukraine.  There were no railroad bridges for trains to cross the Bug river into the Ukraine during World War II, so all train transports to the East had to stop at the Bug river.

After the joint conquest of Poland by the Germans and the Russians in September 1939, the river Bug (pronounced Boog) became the border between the German-occupied General Government of Poland and the Russian zone of occupation. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, the Germans quickly conquered the territory that was being occupied by the Russians.

Hardly more than a creek, the Bug is shallow enough in some places so that one can wade across it, and according to historian Martin Gilbert, some refugees, from both sides, did wade across. The movie Europa, Europa has a scene in which Jewish refugees are shown walking toward the Russian sector, trying to escape the Nazis in September 1939 by crossing the Bug river on rafts.  The river is shallow enough that trucks could drive across it, and in winter, people could walk across on the ice.

If the Nazis were really planning to “evacuate the Jews to the East” as was claimed in the minutes of the Wannsee Conference, it would make sense to establish three transit camps near the Bug river, which was on the border between two areas that had different size railroad tracks.  If the Nazis were planning to kill the Jews, the gas chambers did not need to be right on the border between German-occupied Poland and Russian-occupied territory.

Martin Gilbert wrote that Jews were brought from the Theresienstadt ghetto, located in what is now the Czech Republic, and from the Netherlands, to be gassed at Sobibor.  Wait a minute!  The Netherlands?  Why would Dutch Jews be transported all the way to Sobibor in what is now Poland to be gassed?  Why not gas the Dutch Jews in the Westerbork camp in the Netherlands and use these valuable trains for transporting goods and soldiers during World War II? Or why not gas them in Germany at the Sachsenhausen camp which was not far away?

According to Dutch historian Johannes Houwink ten Cate, the transportation list of the Jews sent on 19 trains to Sobibor from the transit camp at Westerbork in the Netherlands contains the names and place of birth of  34,000 Dutch Jews, but the names of the Jews sent from other countries to Sobibor are unknown.

This Dutch Historian claims that 33,000 Dutch Jews were killed in the gas chambers at Sobibor and 1,000 were chosen as workers at Sobibor, or to be sent to a nearby labor camp. There were 19 Dutch Jews who survived. So the Germans left 1,000 potential witnesses alive so that they could testify against them?  How stupid was that?

In his book entitled The Holocaust, Martin Gilbert wrote about a survivor of Sobibor, Dov Freiberg, who was a 15-year-old boy on a transport of 2,750 Jews from the town of Torobin in Poland on May 12, 1942. The Jews were assembled in the town square and told that they were going to be “resettled in the Ukraine,” according to Freiberg. They were then taken to the nearest railroad station at Krasnowka, where they were joined by Jews from other nearby towns and villages. When their train arrived at the camp, the story of resettlement seemed to be coming true: a sign at the entrance to the camp said “SS Sonderkommando Umsiedlungslager.” which means “SS special unit resettlement camp” in English.

According to Freiberg, there was a band playing at the entrance. The women and children “went straight to the gas chambers,” but since the gas chamber “didn’t really operate in the night,” the men “stayed there on the spot during the night.” Freiberg was one of 150 Jews from this transport who “were sent to work” in the camp itself, sorting the belongings of the victims.  Another case of the Nazis stupidly leaving witnesses behind.  Were they trying to get caught?

Martin Gilbert wrote that in the month of May 1942, there was a total of 36,000 Jews, from 19 communities between the Vistula river and the Bug river, who were transported to Sobibor and immediately killed in the gas chamber. This was the largest number of Jews gassed that month in any one camp, surpassing Auschwitz, Belzec and Chelmno. The Treblinka camp was not yet open at that time.

Gilbert also told the story of Yaakov Biskowitz, who was sent, at the age of 15, on a transport of 3,400 Jews to Sobibor from the town of Hrubieszow in Poland on June 1, 1942. According to his testimony at the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Israel, Yaakov and his father were among 12 Jews who were selected to work in the Sobibor camp.

As told by Martin Gilbert in his book entitled The Holocaust, Biskowitz recalled how those who were too sick or too old to walk the length of the path to the gas chamber were taken to the so-called Lazarett (hospital) on a small rail spur used to carry coal. Men who could not run fast enough, and small children, would be thrown into the coal wagons and sent to the hospital where they would be shot by the Ukrainian guards.

According to Yaakov Biskowitz, as reported by Martin Gilbert, there were 8 Jews who were forced to work in Camp 3, burning the bodies of the victims who had been gassed. These 8 Jews also sorted the belongings and burned all damaged clothing, personal documents and photographs.

Biskowitz testified at the Eichmann trial that his father was shot at the Lazarett (hospital) because he came down with typhoid. (The German word for typhoid is “spotted fever,” the same as the word for typhus; it is more likely that Biskowitz had typhus, which was a problem in the camps in Poland.)

During World War II, and for years afterward, the Sobibor death camp was virtually unknown. William Shirer did not even mention it in his monumental 1147-page book entitled The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. It was not until the release of a 1987 TV movie, Escape from Sobibor, based on a book with the same name, that the public knew of this remote spot where thousands of Jews lost their lives. The movie tells the story of the revolt during which around 300 prisoners escaped; no more than 50 of them survived to the end of the war.

One of the survivors of the escape from Sobibor was Esther Terner Raab, who made her home in New Jersey after the war. In a TV documentary, Esther told about a party that the SS had before her escape. The SS men told Esther that they were celebrating the fact that one million Jews had been killed at Sobibor.

Unlike the other Nazi death camps, the SS barracks were located inside the Sobibor camp. According to Toivi Blatt, the Jewish workers in the camp socialized with each other and sometimes with the SS guards.
Another Sobibor survivor, Moshe Bahir, testified in 1965, at the trial of several of the Sobibor perpetrators in Hagen, Germany, that he was a witness to a celebration by the Germans in February 1943 after one million Jews had been killed at Sobibor. However, Raul Hilberg wrote in his book entitled The Destruction of the European Jews that the number of Jews killed at Sobibor was estimated to be 200,000.

So the SS guards at Sobibor had a party to celebrate killing one million Jews and they invited at least two of the Jewish workers at the camp?  This was the height of stupidity!  And why did they exaggerate the number of Jews that had been killed?  This doesn’t make any sense at all.

Deportations to the Sobibor death camp began in mid April 1942 with transports from the nearby town of Zamosc in Poland, according to Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert. He wrote that Jews from the Lublin ghetto were sent to Sobibor to be gassed, although there were several gas chambers at the Majdanek death camp just outside the city of Lublin.

During the first phase of the extermination of the Jews at Sobibor, which lasted until July 1942, around 100,000 Jews were gassed, according to Martin Gilbert. Their bodies were buried in mass graves, then later dug up and burned on pyres. During the next phase, the bodies were burned immediately, according to Toivi Blatt, one of the survivors of Sobibor. At the age of 15, Blatt had been selected to work in sorting the clothing taken from the Jews, which was then sent to Majdanek to be disinfected.

The survivors of Sobibor do not agree on the number or size of the gas chambers. The victims were allegedly killed with carbon monoxide from the exhaust of engines taken from captured Soviet tanks, which had been stored at Sobibor. There is also disagreement among the survivors on whether these were diesel engines or gasoline engines.

The Sobibor camp was initially divided into three camps (Lager 1, Lager II and Lager III) but a fourth camp was added later to store munitions captured from the Soviet Army. Lager I was where the Jewish workers in the camp lived. A moat on one side of this camp prevented their escape. Lager II was where the victims undressed; Jewish workers sorted the clothing in this camp.

From Lager II, an SS man escorted the victims through a path lined with tree branches to the gas chambers in Lager III. Only the Ukrainian SS guards and the German SS officers were allowed in Lager III, so the survivors could not have known what happened in Lager III.

The Sobibor camp was 400 meters wide by 600 meters long; the entire area was enclosed by a barbed wire fence that was three meters high. On three sides of the camp was a mine field. The watch towers were manned by Ukrainian SS guards who had been conscripted from captured soldiers in the Soviet Army to assist the 30 German SS men who were the administrators of the camp. In 1965, a German court put 11 of the German SS guards on trial; 6 of them were sentenced to prison, and one committed suicide during the trial; the others were acquitted.

The victims arrived on trains which stopped at the ramp across from the Sobibor train station, or in trucks from nearby Polish villages. Most of the Jews were transported in cattle cars, but the 34,000 Dutch Jews who were sent to Sobibor arrived in passenger trains, according to Toivi Blatt. The luggage of the Dutch Jews was transported in separate cars and the victims were given tags which they were told would be used to reclaim their bags. All of the belongings of the Jews were confiscated upon arrival.  According to Toivi Blatt, all documents, photos and personal items were removed from the confiscated baggage and anything that could not be recycled to send to Germany was burned in open fires that lit up the night sky.

The Jews were then forced to walk along the path, called the “Himmelfahrtstrasse” (Street to heaven), which led to the spot where the hair was cut from the heads of the women, and then on to the gas chambers disguised as showers.  Demjanjuk is accused of being one of the Ukrainian guards who herded the Jews into the gas chambers disguised as showers.

Demjanjuk’s trial is being conducted in Germany where judges takes judicial notice that Jews were killed in gas chambers by the Nazis, so no proof is required.  If his attorney were to ask for proof that there were gas chambers at Sobibor, he would promptly be arrested for being a Holocaust denier.  He would have no defense because the Holocaust is considered to be “manifestly obvious” by the German courts and does not have to be proved.


  1. At the time of his arrest in Hamburg in 1945, Joachim von Ribbentrop presented the arresting officers with a letter addressed to Vincent Churchill containing the Last Political Will and Testament of Adolf Hitler.

    – Hitlers secretary Traudl Junge only typed three copies of Hitlers last political will and testament.
    – The last political will and testament of Adolf Hitler in the possession of Joachim Von Ribbentrop is never mentioned by Traudl Junge.
    – The “Vincent Churchill” letter and Hitlers testament is forwarded to Winston Churchill in 1945 and then on to Stalin and the US President.
    – Stalin complains that the Russians have failed to capture Adolf Hitler.
    – Winston Churchill requests an inquiry into the last days of Adolf Hitler to establish whether or not Hitler escaped.
    – Hugh Trevor-Roper is appointed on behalf of the British government to write a report on the last days of Adolf Hitler.
    – The report prepared by Hugh Trevor- Roper never mentions a letter addressed to Vincent Churchill containing the last political will and testament of Adolf Hitler even though the British government of 1945 is aware of Ribbentrops copy.
    – Hugh Trevor-Roper is widely praised for his research work and accordingly embraced by the British Establishment.
    – Joachim Von Ribbentrop faints as the indictments are read out at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.
    – Joachim Von Ribbentrop is never questioned during the tribunal about the Vincent Churchill letter and the last political will of Adolf Hitler. He is later hanged.
    – The relationship between Russia and the West turns cold. In years to come the Russians remain very sceptical about the circumstances surrounding the end of the Second World War and the possible escape of the Nazi leadership. The Russians are also very interested in Rudolf Hess at the Spandau prison.

    Has there been a cover-up in London?

    Something smells rotten in London. But lets face it…… It´s not as if no-one has been complaining about the quality of British investigations…. (There has been Mr. Al Fayed, Mr John Ward – father of Julie and Dr. Jim Swires just to mention a few).

    Please post comments on this blog if you have anything to add on whether there has been a cover-up in London of historic proportions.

    Comment by Robin Drinkall — February 28, 2011 @ 12:06 am

  2. I hope this does explain what happened to Demjanjuk defense team. There is no doubt that Israeli lawyer Dov Eitan was “suicided” for filing an appeal. They are killing people of their own kind, just to make their point. That means: no human lives will be spared, that does include even “jews”,if they would try to cut off the money supply line, which is holocaust.


    INTERVIEW: Yoram Sheftel, Israeli defender of John Demjanjuk


    by Roma Hadzewycz

    Yoram Sheftel, the Israeli attorney who defended John Demjanjuk and ultimately succeeded in having his client acquitted by the Supreme Court of Israel, is the author of a book newly released in the United States titled “Defending ‘Ivan the Terrible’: the Conspiracy to Convict John Demjanjuk.” Issued by Regnery Publishing Inc. of Washington, the 445-page book sells for $27.50. (For information call Regnery sales at 1-800-955-5493.)

    In the preface to this American edition of his book (it was previously published in Israel and Great Britain), Mr. Sheftel points to “the continued and hypocritical silence of the American bleeding-heart liberals.”

    He explains: “These liberals, so quick to jump to the defense of anyone on the left of America’s political spectrum, fell silent when the facts about Demjanjuk were disclosed. But then Demjanjuk is a right-wing conservative, and the perpetrators of the fraud identified with the left. Moreover, once Demjanjuk had been exonerated, almost all the book publishers in the United States wanted nothing to do with this book. As far as they were concerned this book was ‘politically incorrect.’ ”

    Mr. Sheftel’s exposé of the Demjanjuk case was published by a publishing house, which prides itself on hard-hitting books that have been “challenging the liberal establishment and impacting national and world affairs since its founding in 1947.” A publicity release notes: “The leader in conservative public policy books, Regnery specializes in current events, politics and corporate history publishing.” Among the authors whose works it has published are William F. Buckley, James J. Kirkpatrick and Whittaker Chambers.

    In his book, Mr. Sheftel tells the inside story of the trial and reveals the international conspiracy in what he calls the “Demjanjuk affair.” He recounts the genesis of the show trial, the biased conduct of the judges hearing the case, the falsification of evidence, the dismissal of Mark O’Connor as Mr. Demjanjuk’s defense attorney, the arguments presented by the prosecution and the defense, the turning point in the Demjanjuk defense and, finally, the successful appeal to the Supreme Court of Israel.

    The Tel Aviv attorney was in the United States recently on a brief book tour that took him to New York, Cleveland, Chicago and Washington. Mr. Sheftel was interviewed at The Ukrainian Weekly on June 25. Part I of the interview was published last week. The conclusion is published below.



    Q: Your colleague Dov Eitan, the retired Israeli judge who joined the Demjanjuk defense, committed suicide. Do you believe he committed suicide? It says in your book you believe that, but given that you yourself were the victim of an attack with acid, I wonder, do you believe there was some foul play?

    A: Look, there is no question whatsoever that Dov Eitan was not pushed, physically. What may be is that he was threatened. He was threatened, definitely – but maybe he was threatened in a way that on one hand he was afraid of pursuing his role as a defense attorney, and on the other hand he said to himself that this is impossible to retreat from as well, from the moral point of view. And, maybe, the solution to it was committing suicide.

    In other words, maybe he was pushed mentally to physically commit suicide. But, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that Dov Eitan was not pushed from the 15th floor. He jumped. Maybe he was forced mentally to do so, but not physically.

    Q: So he was under pressures and threats; you knew of those threats.

    A: I knew of threats, yes. How they really influenced him mentally, I don’t know.

    Q: There was no suicide note, was there?

    A: No suicide note whatsoever. His wife cannot explain it. His law partner from his law office cannot explain it. It is complete darkness. We know nothing about it. It’s still a mystery. It’s a closed case. But, what the motive was behind the suicide we don’t know, and I’m afraid we will never know.

    But, ironically, and I state this in my book, these two events, Dov Eitan’s suicide and the incident at his funeral when acid was thrown in my eyes, delayed the case for 18 months. Otherwise, the case – I’m talking now about the appeal – would have been heard December 1988 and then Demjanjuk would have definitely been executed in the spring of 1989 as being “Ivan the Terrible.” During this 18-month delay the Soviet regime in Poland collapsed, and it started to collapse in the Soviet Union. It was unthinkable before for me to go and have an interview with a Soviet judge in the Soviet Union, in the open, with the consent of the Soviet authorities. And this paved the way for the discovery of the evidence that brought the acquittal of Demjanjuk.

    Q: Even the contacts with the officials at Poland’s Glówna Komisia. These are the same people who kept quiet all these years, and they were brave enough to speak out at that point.

    A: Oh yes. But they didn’t tell us: listen this other man is Ivan Marchenko. And they wouldn’t elaborate, while having since 1981 all the statements that were in the possession of the OSI indicating so unequivocally that Demjanjuk is not “Ivan the Terrible.” Even though the Communist regime had collapsed only three to four months prior to that, they were still afraid specifically to tell us the truth. They just pointed the way for us to get there.

    Q: If you had the opportunity today to speak with the two former directors of the OSI, Allan Ryan, who wrote the book “Quiet Neighbors,” with a chapter devoted to John Demjanjuk….

    A: I confronted him on “Nightline” in December 1991, and I predicted that Demjanjuk definitely will be found not guilty and that he would be, in spite of his [Mr. Ryan’s] efforts, back in his hometown in Cleveland.

    Q: What would you say to him today?

    A: I would tell him that he is a key player in, in my opinion, the worst cover-up in concealing evidence in a major case taken by an American public prosecutor in modern history after the second world war.

    Q: And what would you say to his successor, Neal Sher?

    A: Exactly the same.

    Q: Those two are equally guilty of this cover-up?

    A: I would say Allan Ryan more, because Allan Ryan was in charge of the OSI in August 1978 and through 1981 – this is the key, crucial time of the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute Demjanjuk. And the decision to prosecute was made by Allan Ryan, who knew that Demjanjuk was not “Ivan the Terrible” and yet he prosecuted him for being “Ivan the Terrible.” Again, I don’t know of a major case with such a deliberate cover-up as Allan Ryan, more, and Neal Sher, not much less, are responsible for.

    Q: Having been his lawyer, you were able to observe John Demjanjuk. How was he able to hold up for so many years while imprisoned in Israel?

    A: I think the secret is that he is a very limited person, not a great intellectual. And, therefore, and only because of it, he was able to stand the pressure. I, who am considered by many people a strong character, would immediately lose my sanity if I was accused of such crimes knowing, of course, all along that I had nothing to do with it. I don’t think I’d be able to retain my sanity for a long time.

    He really stayed in excellent physical and mental shape throughout this entire ordeal. To the point that now you wouldn’t know when you sit down and speak with him about things that are not related in any way to his ordeal – you would never even think what this man lived through for 18-19 years, specifically the seven and a half years in an Israeli prison – six years of them on death row – for things which he knew all along had nothing to do with him.

    Q: During the course of the trial were there times he seemed distraught? He seemed unemotional in court.

    A: He was unemotional. Also, not only in the court, but even outside the court when we met, most of the time he was out of hope as well. I mean, he did not believe after he saw what went on in the courtroom – how the judges behaved for instance, what the media reaction was, how even in the original trial we were able to show evidence, not the kind of evidence we later found, but all kinds of key evidence we were able to expose even in the original trial – taking all these facts together, he did not believe that he stands a chance.

    And I must tell you that I didn’t encourage him to believe, because I myself told him, time and again, as innocent as you are, you definitely are going to be found guilty and you definitely will be sentenced to death; whatever I do is just to make the judges shiver a little bit when they write the death sentence. But that’s all I can achieve. And only when, unexpectedly, we found new evidence – I mean I didn’t believe when I entered the case and all through the first three to four years that I would be able to obtain direct evidence showing his innocence- only then did I change my prediction by 180 degrees, as I had said to him all along before the discovery of the evidence that he is going to be executed. So I told Demjanjuk afterwards that he’s going to end up in Cleveland.

    Q: Another psychological question. You devote quite a lot of space in your book to Mark O’Connor. I guess you come out in the end saying that Mr. O’Connor was in over his head. How could he even take on such a huge case if he wasn’t able to handle it? And how was he able to manipulate the Demjanjuk family, and primarily John Demjanjuk, the way he did?

    A: Well, to manipulate John Demjanjuk himself is very easy. As I said, he is a very limited person. He was totally lost as far as what to do practically regarding the accusations. He suddenly, out of nowhere, found himself [in this situation]. And O’Connor took advantage of it. He realized immediately that here he is dealing with simple, common people who have no experience whatsoever with anything concerning the legal profession, and he simply took advantage of this situation. And, although he was really the most unfit lawyer for this job you can think of, he didn’t hesitate to take it.

    But I must add that in this respect no lawyer in the world would secure Demjanjuk a not guilty sentence in the show trial that took place in the original trial. So it’s definitely not fair to say that Demjanjuk was sentenced to death because in the original trial his lead defense counselor was Mark O’Connor. No, even if it would have been Clarence Darrow the result would have been the same.

    Q: Has he seen the book?

    A: I’m sure he has, but I refuse to have any contact with him. If I see him I will not speak with him. I mean he accused me of being a Mossad agent planted in this trial in order to secure the death penalty for Demjanjuk. Here he was sitting with me on the defense bench making such accusations; he does not deserve to be talked to under any circumstances. There’s no way whatsoever that I will speak even one word with O’Connor.

    I must say that one thing we can attribute to O’Connor is the devastating attitude among the Israeli public against the defense and against Demjanjuk because of the unnecessary cross-examination which he conducted of all the eyewitnesses, who did not even need to be cross-examined, except for the process of identification with the Israeli police in 1976. This should have been the only question addressed to them; instead, for weeks he cross-examined them on things that we never disputed about Treblinka.

    By doing this he ruined our credibility, created the public outcry, delegitimized the defense of John Demjanjuk and helped to create an atmosphere that, whatever the evidence is, a not guilty sentence was out of the question. But again, even without this, Demjanjuk would have been convicted – no matter what the facts in the original trial. But O’Connor contributed a lot to creating the atmosphere and attitude outside and inside the court in this case which was extremely damaging to Demjanjuk.

    Q: In your book you describe the scene as the guilty verdict was announced. People chanting “Death, death, death to Demjanjuk. Death to Ukrainians. Death to the defense attorney.” And you say at that point you were the most hated man in Israel. But, what were your feelings at that time?

    A: Yes, yes. Well, I must say that this was already 14 months – you’re talking about the last day of the trial – 14 months after it started. By that time I got so used to my status that this particular moment shocked me, not because of the hatred demonstrated to me, but because of how the media can manipulate people the way it did, which was a devastating experience.

    In a democracy, in a free country, in a free society, the people can be turned into a mob due to the media playing an unacceptable role. I mean this scene was a direct outcome of the media’s role, of the case being tried in a theater hall, and transmitted live to every home in the state of Israel.

    Q: Your book was published in Israel, a British publisher published it, and yet you had problems getting an American publisher to publish it. Could you tell us about that?

    A: Yes, you see, the book was portrayed by the major mainstream publishers as politically incorrect. Why politically incorrect? Because this is a book which is, first and foremost, an exposé of a shocking and unprecedented cover-up and conspiracy by the Justice Department, which in the context of all these events is on the left of the political spectrum. Now, the victim of this conspiracy is a man who is considered as being a part of the chauvinistic ethnic right-wing minority.

    And if such a person is a victim of such a cover-up, then the so-called mainstream media, mainstream publishers want to silence the truth. I mean if Demjanjuk would have been a black man, for instance, and if he was a victim of this cover-up because of being active in black politics, then there would have been an outcry throughout the media in the United States. But here we have a fictitious person who is from the left of the political spectrum and Demjanjuk is a victim of a cover-up from the right of the political spectrum. Here it is vice-versa, and when it is vice-versa it has to be silenced. Then there is no public right to know.

    Also, the media, the mainstream media, played a key role in portraying Demjanjuk as “Ivan the Terrible” without any substantiating evidence. My book shows how wrong this role of the media and the publishers and the rest of this industry was; and they also are afraid to be portrayed in a negative manner. I mean, after all, in Israel and in the United States they have a vested interest in his conviction. And, in order not to expose this, and because the book does expose all this, I’m called politically incorrect and therefore they must at least try to silence me.

    Q: So, how was it that you found this publisher, Regnery?

    A: Well, I was recommended last year when I went specially to Chicago to the ABA (American Booksellers Association) convention. I’m a stubborn person and I don’t take “no” for an answer so quickly. So I decided not to leave it to my British publisher to find a publisher, but to do it myself. And then I was recommended to deal with Regnery; I was told that because the book is so-called politically incorrect it would be attractive specifically to this publisher.

    And this proved to be correct advice. They immediately liked the book for what it is and were gladly ready to publish it.

    Q: Had you tried to get the book published by anyone else in the United States?

    A: Definitely. I approached, and my British publisher approached, every major mainstream publisher in the United States. They all were sent copies of my British edition; before that they had all been sent copies of excerpts from the book translated from Hebrew. Each and every one said that it’s a thriller, that it’s a very good book, but we will not have anything to do with it.

    And I will have the same problem in making a movie out of this book, and for the same reasons. But I’m sure this book will eventually end up as a movie as well, in spite of many quarters in the movie industry. For instance, just now, here in New York, I received a telephone call from a big producer who asked for the book to be sent to him – a Hollywood producer. And he told me just yesterday that the book is wonderful, it’s classical for a movie, but we will have to skip it.

    Q: Did he give a reason?

    A: Yes, yes. The reason is that it is not suitable for the public at large in the United States. … Naturally, there are always many more propositions to make a movie than possibilities to make it. So there always must be a process of elimination. And this one, at the moment, is eliminated for being politically incorrect.

    Q: Regarding the press. You are very critical of its role in this show trial as you call it, you point out that press reports were so slanted that even on a good day for the defense the reports made it out to be a bad one for the defense. In the weeks or months afterwards, was there ever any balance achieved in the press reports?

    A: A turning point to a certain extent was the Supreme Court sessions in the beginning of June 1992, when for the first time a comprehensive argument based on the new materials which were discovered by the defense was presented in a cohesive way in the Supreme Court. To my surprise, for a whole week after this presentation, some media quarters even told the Israeli prosecution not to wait for the Supreme Court to acquit Demjanjuk but to ask the court on its own initiative to back off the accusations. But, this lasted only one week. And we’re talking about June 1992.

    As the verdict was approaching in July 1993, it was as if nothing had happened and again everyone was predicting that Demjanjuk would be found guilty, that he was “Ivan the Terrible,” that only the survivors’ testimony is reliable evidence – everything else has to be ignored. And, therefore, there was a shock in the country when he was acquitted. Once this new material was discovered, I said that although I have a fundamental distrust in the ability of our legal system to deal with such a case, a fundamental mistrust because the original trial was nothing but a politically motivated show trial, since this new material is known, not only to the Supreme Court justices, but to every major media organization in the world, there is no way whatsoever that the conviction can be upheld. No way.

    And, therefore, I said time and again that Demjanjuk is going to be acquitted, but, except for one week in June 1992, these statements of mine were looked upon as ridiculous, baseless and, of course, it was expected that they would be proved to be wrong. And the public and the media fell into the trap of their own lies, of their own distortion of facts. Therefore, there was such a shock on the 29th of July 1993 when Demjanjuk was acquitted unanimously by the Supreme Court.

    Since then I am looked at, not by everyone, but by the vast majority, as a person who alone pursued an impossible fight against the entire legal establishment of the state of Israel plus the Justice Department, plus the KGB, plus the Polish authorities, plus the German authorities – all conspiring to conceal another part of this affair. Everything was exposed through my struggle. And this drew a lot, a lot of appreciation from all quarters.

    Q: And, it’s acknowledged as such in the Israeli media?

    A: Yes. I mean, I definitely wouldn’t be able to continue to practice law if Demjanjuk would have been convicted by the Israeli Supreme Court as well. So, I was extremely fortunate as far as a my legal career with this – no question whatsoever. No question that my whole career was on the line with this case. My career depended solely on the ultimate decision of this case.

    Q: You write that among the Israeli legal community there was no reaction to this travesty that was taking place, even though it was public knowledge that there were so many improprieties.You write of the “cowardice and hypocrisy of the thousands of members of that community.” Did this non-reaction on the part of your fellow lawyers and judges surprise you?

    A: Well, it did at the time, but in retrospect no, because, you see, unfortunately, most people do not have any civil courage whatsoever. And they need a lot of civil courage in a society like the state of Israel in a criminal case like the case of John Demjanjuk to stand up and state that the proceedings are not fair, that the defense lawyer is being harassed by the court on a daily basis, that he is not being allowed to function properly, and on and on. All these things were obvious.

    Furthermore, I revealed, and forced the three judges to admit, that they connected themselves throughout the 14 months of the original trial to a clippings service, which every morning collected for them everything the media said about the case. Now this is the most horrible thing a panel of judges, fact finders, can do. I mean, can you imagine, for instance, the jury of O. J. Simpson connecting itself to a clippings service on a daily basis and reading every day what the newspapers have to say about the case? Now what the newspapers had to say about the case was nothing but prejudging and preventing Demjanjuk from having a fair trial.

    Again, I realized it right from the beginning and I carried out for the first time in the legal history of Israel successful proceedings forcing the general attorney to prosecute the leading newspaper in Israel for violating the sub judice law of the state of Israel through the way it reported the case of Demjanjuk. And the Supreme Court declared the writing of the media in this case as criminal. And this criminal writing was the daily breakfast which the judges ate every morning before the proceedings started.

    And I revealed it as fact, forced them to admit it on the record, and then carried a successful move in the Supreme Court forcing the general attorney’s office, which encouraged the newspapers to write this way, to prosecute them. And they were convicted. This happened for the first time in the history of the law in Israel. It’s an outstanding precedent. And all this was done in the open and was exposed by me in live television transmission to the nation, and yet nothing was done.

    Let me explain further. I argued in the Supreme Court in the first stage of the appeal for seven hours, quoting and showing atrocity after atrocity committed by the original trial’s three judges. In the verdict of the Supreme Court there is not one word of criticism about the way the case was handled, not even about the fact that the three judges of the original trial connected themselves to a clippings service of newspapers, which were criminal writings as far as the Supreme Court stated – not even about this. There was not one word of criticism.

    And this is, you see, another very major factor which made me write the book. I could not stand the idea that the Israeli judiciary was getting such appreciation all over the world because it set Demjanjuk free. It didn’t have a choice. I mean they could not act otherwise with all the material discovered by the defense with the knowledge of the entire world. I mean could they really have upheld the conviction, having in their file, with the knowledge of the entire world, 80 statements – each and every one of them enough to overturn the conviction because it showed in the most unequivocal way that someone else, not Demjanjuk, was “Ivan the Terrible”?

    So they are to be commended for setting him free? It’s like suggesting that the French be commended for setting Dreyfus free. Did they have a choice? They didn’t. Well, here it is the same; it is exactly the same. They should be condemned for not criticizing in the 405-page decision even one of the shocking atrocities, real atrocities, of the original trial’s three-judge panel, the way they conducted a politically motivated show trial in the open.

    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.

    It would be the same in every country. I mean, if a Ukrainian, or whoever, was accused of gassing 900,000 French people with the same evidence as the prosecution had against Demjanjuk, you would have exactly the same scene, the same unfairness, the same politics, the same media role, the same everything.

    Q: You were in Cleveland, did you meet with John Demjanjuk and his family?

    A: This time it was a very brief visit because I was in Cleveland for about 35-36 hours, and if you take away the hours I slept and the hours I devoted to the media, I was left really with less than an hour of free time during my entire stay. But they came to see me, Ed Nishnic, Johnny Demjanjuk and Demjanjuk himself, and we talked for about an hour. They had seen me and heard me on radio and TV on various programs, and they were delighted. And then they drove me to the airport and we said good-bye until the next time.

    This was the third time I met Demjanjuk since the acquittal, and each time I’m amazed how back to normal he is. You know, you really never would be able to tell anything of what he has been through as you watch him.

    * * *

    EDITOR’S NOTE: As for John Demjanjuk, since returning to the United States, he has been living with his family in Seven Hills, a suburb of Cleveland. He has not made any public comments about his case and has not spoken with reporters, leaving that to the family spokesperson, his son-in-law Ed Nishnic.

    Though the deportation order that allowed him to be extradited to Israel to stand trial for the Nazi war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by “Ivan the Terrible” was reversed, he remains stripped of his U.S. citizenship – literally a man without a country. Mr. Demjanjuk is seeking to have his citizenship restored on the grounds that he was wrongfully denaturalized in 1981 by the District Court in Cleveland, as the Office of Special Investigations had perpetrated fraud upon the court.

    On May 14, Mr. Demjanjuk’s attorney, Public Defender Michael G. Dane, accused Justice Department lawyers of withholding still more evidence from a federal appeals court. In 1993 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that U.S. government lawyers committed fraud by withholding records containing exculpatory evidence. As a result of its finding, the court reversed its own deportation order issued in 1986.

    A Justice Department lawyer said the U.S. government would respond to the new charges in writing.

    Comment by Gasan — February 24, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

  3. In late 1941 a doctor returning from a Red Cross mission from German occupied USSR wrote this:
    “Fast alle Vewundeten muesesen entlaust und gesaeubert werden. Niemand darf die Grenze ins Generalgouvernement von Russland kommend, ueberschreiten, der nicht einen Entlausungsschein bei sich traegt.”

    Roughly tranlated as: Almost all wounded must be deloused and washed. No-one coming from Russia may cross the border of the Generalgovernement who does not carry a Delousing-certificate with him.

    This would not apply to Germans moving west to east, but if you were coming from a known typhus zone like a Ghetto, setting up a delousing station would not be surprising.

    Comment by littlegreyrabbit — February 24, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    • That would explain the cutting of the hair of the women. Typhus is spread by lice, which like to hide in the hair. I have never read anything about the hair being sent back to Germany from Sobibor. The clothes were sent to Majdanek for delousing. The hair was probably burned along with the personal items. I find it really strange that they would use Jewish workers and allow them to survive as witnesses.

      Comment by furtherglory — February 24, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

      • what would they say if there was a former nazi of high rank living in fort wayne, in. who was also at Sobibor? oops! hush hush – So the case needs to be supported by enough fact to persue.

        Comment by gordon — February 26, 2011 @ 12:31 am

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