Scrapbookpages Blog

February 25, 2011

John Demjanjuk’s alleged crimes against the Red Spaniards (Rotspanier)

Filed under: World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 9:04 am

If John Demjanjuk survives his current trial in Germany, his next trial will be held in Spain where he has been charged with war crimes in connection with the deaths of 60 Red Spaniards at the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he served as a guard after his service at Sobibor.

“Red Spaniards” was the name for the Spanish Republicans who fought in the Spanish Civil War against General Francisco Franco’s forces.  They were called the Red Spaniards (Rotspanier) because they were Communists and Red was the color of the Communists. After their defeat by General Franco’s Army, the Spanish Republicans escaped to France where they were put into internment camps by the French government. After Germany conquered France in 1940, around 30,000 of these prisoners were deported by the Nazis to concentration camps in Germany and Austria as political prisoners because of their anti-Fascist or Communist political affiliation.

On June 19, 2008, a criminal lawsuit was filed at the offices of the Audiencia Nacional (Madrid) on behalf of several survivors and family members of the Red Spaniards who were sent to concentration camps.

The Spanish lawsuit is based on the 1946 Judgment of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg which held that the SS was a criminal organization involved in “the persecution and extermination of Jews, brutalities, and killings in concentration camps, excesses in the administration of occupied territories, administration of the slave labor program and the mistreatment and murder of prisoners of war” as well as other crimes. According to Nuremberg Document NO-393 presented at the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, there were 155 Spanish citizens at the Flossenbürg camp, and 60 of them died.

This quote is from a document about the lawsuit which you can read in full here:

Iwan Demjanjuk began service with the Germans as an auxiliary guard at the Trawniki training camp in the middle of 1942. Soon after his arrival he was given Trawniki identification number 1393 and Dienstausweis (service identification document) no. 1393. At Trawniki, Demjanjuk received a uniform and rifle and was given training. He was given the rank of Wachmann (soldier private). On 22 September 1942 he was deployed as a guard to the Nazi work farm LG Okzow. He returned to Trawniki and was then assigned to the concentration camp of Lublin, known as Majdanek, where he served during the winter 1942-1943. Thereafter he again returned to Trawniki. On 26 March 1943 he was assigned on SS special detachment to Sobibor. He arrived at Sobibor on 26 or 27 March 1943 and whilst there he participated in the process of extermination at Sobibor. He thereafter again returned to Trawniki and on 1st October 1943 he was transferred to Flossenbürg concentration camp where he served at least until 10th December 1944, at least 14 months. During his service at all of these camps he guarded the prisoners and prevented their escape.

Note that Demjanjuk’s crime was that he “guarded the prisoners and prevented their escape.”  This is based on the “common plan” theory of guilt which was the basis of the prosecution of German war criminals at the Nuremberg IMT and also at the American Military Tribunal at Dachau.  Even if Demjanjuk did not personally commit any crimes when he was a guard, he is still guilty of participating in a “common plan” to commit war crimes.

This theory was explained by Lt. Col. William Denson in his closing argument at the first proceeding of the American Military Tribunal:

In his closing argument on December 12th, the chief prosecutor, Lt. Col. William Denson, JAGD, Trial Judge Advocate, said the following:

If there is no such common design then every man in this dock should walk free because that is the essential allegation in the particulars that the court is trying. As to examination of the specific conduct of each one of the accused, the test to be applied is not did he kill or beat or torture or starve but did he by his conduct, aid or abet the execution of this common design and participate in it?

I would like to call the court’s attention and wish to emphasize the fact that the offense with which these 40 men stand charged is not killing, beating, and torturing these prisoners but the offense is aiding, abetting, encouraging and participating in a common design to kill, to beat, to torture, and to subject these persons to starvation.

It may be, because of the testimony submitted here, that this court may be inclined to determine the guilt or innocence of these forty men by the number of men they killed, or by the number of men they beat, or the number they tortured. That is not the test that is to be applied in this case.

We are not trying these men for specific acts of misconduct. We are trying these men for participation in this common design… as a matter of fact, this case could have been established without showing that a single man over in that dock at any time killed a man. It would be sufficient, may it please the court, to show that there was in fact a common design, and that these individuals participated in it, and that the purpose of this common design was the killings, the beatings, and the tortures and the subjection to starvation.

The sad fact is that the Nuremberg IMT and the American Military Tribunal CREATED NEW LAWS which had not previously existed and John Demjanjuk might be prosecuted under those laws which didn’t exist when he was a guard at Flossenbürg.

In his current trial, Demjanjuk’s defense is that he was not a guard at Sobibor.  The prosecution does not have to prove that anyone was killed at Sobibor or that Demjanjuk was an accessory in the murder of any of the prisoners.  Nor does the prosecution have to prove the existence of the murder weapon  — the gas chambers.  The prosecution has only to prove that Demjanjuk was there and that makes him guilty of being an accessory to murder, which is basically the “common plan” theory of guilt which didn’t exist in 1943 when Demjanjuk was allegedly at Sobibor.

1 Comment

  1. During my time as an American POW I became friendly with an SS-man, Ernst Rippelt, (he did not have his tatoo under his arm)who was wounded and had spent his convalescent as temporary guard in Dachau taking Rotspanienkaempfer in groups never more than six as Arbeitskommando outside the camp.To what I understood from him and others that a high percentage of German communists had been taken prisoners in Spain and sent to Dachau since 1936.Mauthausen was not established at that time.You seem to differ on this point.As far bak as 1933 after killing an SA guard,(not SS) the German Communist Deputy Hans Beimler escaped from Dachau using his uniform reching Spain and helped esteblish the Thaelmann battalion. (He was killed 1.12.1936 in Palacete)The point I would like to make that a high number of Rotspanienkaempfer were kept in Dachau.(Thaelmann as the leader of the KPD was shot on orders of Hitler in 1944 at Buchenwald)

    Comment by Herbert Stolpmann — March 1, 2011 @ 1:02 am


RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: