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April 14, 2011

Dutch Jew wants Demjanjuk to be sentenced to 15 years in prison

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 11:49 am

John Demjanjuk, a 90-year-old American citizen, has been on trial in Germany since November 2009 on a charge of 27,900 counts of being an accessory to murder, based on the accusation that he was a guard at the Sobibor death camp. A verdict in the trial is expected next month and in the closing arguments given by the co-plaintiffs, Manuel Bloch, an attorney from the Netherlands who lost family members in the Holocaust, urged the court to convict Demjanjuk and sentence him to the maximum 15-year prison term.

The verdict will depend upon whether or not the prosecution has proved that Demjanjuk was a guard at Sobibor.  At least 27,900 Jews were allegedly gassed during the 5 months that Demjanjuk allegedly served as a guard.  The prosecution did not have to prove that anyone was gassed at Sobibor — only that John Demjanjuk was one of the guards that herded the Jews along the path to the gas chamber that was disguised as a shower room.

Sobibor was one of the 6 death camps used in the genocide of 6 million Jews during World War II; it was built by the Nazis in March 1942, for the sole purpose of killing Jews. An estimated 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor during a period of only 18 months, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

According to this news article, Manuel Blocht told the court that “the evidence against Demjanjuk is abundant” and “fits together like the pieces of a puzzle.”

This news source quotes prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz in his closing arguments:

“Armed with a weapon, he (Demjanjuk) transported the victims from the wagons, undressed them and led them into the gas chambers,” said prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz, as he began summing up in the trial, expected to be one of the last of its kind.

“He participated willingly in the murder of 27,900 Jews,” Lutz said.

Wait a minute!  The guards at Sobibor undressed the victims?  I don’t think so.  The Nazis were prudes.  They would never have allowed a young soldier like Demjanjuk to undress people.  Besides that, why couldn’t these people undress themselves?

Sobibor was one of the three “Aktion Reinhard” camps that were set up following the Wannsee Conference which was held on January 20, 1942.  The Nazis claimed that the Aktion Reinhard camps were set up as transit camps for the “evacuation of the Jews to the East,” a euphemism for the genocide of the Jews. Unlike the concentration camps, such as Auschwitz and Majdanek, the three Aktion Reinhard camps did not have ovens to cremate the bodies. The Jews were not registered upon arrival and no death records were kept at the Aktion Reinhard camps.

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. Jews were also brought from the Theresienstadt ghetto, located in what is now the Czech Republic, and from the Netherlands, to be gassed at Sobibor.

The Nazis claimed that the Aktion Reinhard camps were “transit camps,”  but there was a transit camp in the Netherlands at Westerbork.  So why were the Dutch Jews  transported all the way to the border between German-occupied Poland and the Ukraine to be gassed.  Why not just set up gas chambers at Westerbork?

There were no disinfection chambers for delousing the clothing at Sobibor. The clothing that was taken from the Jews, when they arrived at Sobibor, was sent to the Majdanek camp in the city of Lublin to be disinfected with Zyklon-B in a building that was right next to an identical building where Jews were gassed with the same Zyklon-B.  Lublin was only a few miles from Sobibor, so why not just send the Jews to Majdanek to be gassed, instead of setting up a death camp at Sobibor?  The clothing taken from the Jews could have just been sent a few feet to the disinfection chambers that were right next door to the gas chambers at Majdanek.

Toivi Blatt, one of the survivors of Sobibor, was 15 years old when he was sent to the death camp, but he was selected as one of the workers who helped the guards in sorting the clothing and possessions taken from the Jews. In a book by Holocaust historian Martin Gilbert, Toivi Blatt was quoted as saying that most of the Jews were transported to Sobibor in cattle cars, but the 34,000 Dutch Jews arrived in passenger trains. 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.

Passenger trains were extremely scarce in Germany during World War II.  German civilians were traveling in box cars, according to books that I’ve read.  So why were the Dutch Jews sent to Sobibor in passenger trains?

Right up to the time that the Dutch Jews entered the gas chamber disguised as a shower room, they were completely fooled by the Nazis into thinking that they were going to the “transported to the East.”  It seems to me that the Dutch Jews should show some compassion for John Demjanjuk, the same way that the Nazis showed compassion for them in allowing them an easy death.

The crimes at Sobibor took place in 1942 and 1943, sixty-eight years ago.  I think it is time for the Dutch Jews to give up their desire for revenge and allow an old man to die at home with his family.

BTW, the Nazis made a stupid mistake in selecting 15-year-old boys as helpers.  Toivi Blatt is still alive and living in Santa Barbara, CA.  They should have selected older men who would have soon died of natural causes and would not be alive today to testify in court.  The Nazis should have realized that the helpers at Sobibor might somehow survive, and 68 years later, a former Ukrainian guard might be put on trial as an accessory to murder.

Five relatives of the 250,000 Jews who were gassed at Sobibor were among the 40 co-plaintiffs in the trial of John Demjanjuk.  These 5 people are all in their 70s now; they were children when their parents and siblings were sent to Sobibor to be killed.

Sobibor and the other two Aktion Reinhard camps were set up to carry out the genocide of the Jews, so why were the children under the age of 15 left behind?  Good question.  The answer is that the Nazis tried to fool the victims into believing that they were being sent to the East in order to work.  If children under the age of 15 had been taken along, the Jews would have known that they were being sent to Sobibor to be killed.  In order to keep everyone calm and avoid panic, the children had to be spared.

Here is a quote from this website:

Another of five co-plaintiffs to deliver harrowing witness statements to the court said he did not discover what had happened to his mother, sister and brother until 10 years ago. “Part of me didn’t want to know,” said Martin Haas, 73.

Now a professor of biology and oncology in San Diego, Haas was sent to live with a foster family in the Dutch countryside when his family was rounded up. After the war when nobody came to pick him up he was sent to families around the country who were looking to adopt.

Rudolf Salomon Cortissoss, now 70 years old, was one of the five relatives of the 250,000 murdered Jews who delivered a witness statement in the trial. His mother threw a letter from the train, as she was being taken to Sobibor. The letter was dated 17 May 1943. In the letter, his mother wrote that she was being sent to the East to work.  According to the website cited above, “Four days later, according to Red Cross records, she was dead, aged 31, gassed by lorry exhaust fumes at Sobibor in Nazi-occupied eastern Poland.”

I doubt that the Nazis left records behind that showed that Jews were gassed at Sobibor.

David van Huiden, now 78, lost his stepfather, his mother and his sister at Sobibor after they were rounded up by the Gestapo. His family was murdered on 2 July, 1943. “It also happens to be my birthday,” he told the court. Many were in tears.

Mary Richheimer-Leyden van Amstel, 70, was the only survivor of her family. She was just two when strangers agreed to hide her before her parents were herded to Sobibor. “I have no memories of anyone in my family,” she told the court. “After the war nobody came to pick me up, and I just instinctively understood that my parents would not be coming back.”

Kurt Gutmann, 82, who lost his mother and brother in Sobibor, was angry at the way that Demjanjuk had turned his illness into a courtroom drama.

Only 90-year-old Jules Schelvis had any sympathy for Demjanjuk.  “Out of my respect for my humanist parents,” he said at the trial, “I ask the court to enter a finding of guilty against this aged man, who has already spent nine years in jail, but not to punish him.”

The prosecution is asking for a sentence of 6 years in prison for Demjanjuk, while some of the co-plaintiffs want Demjanjuk to spend another 15 years in prison. If the co-plaintiffs get their way, Demjanjuk will spend a total of 24 years in prison, provided that he lives to the age of 105.

In my humble opinion, the co-plaintiffs should be grateful that the Nazis allowed them to live in order to protect their story that Jews were sent to Sobibor because they were being transported to the East to work.  If children had been gassed at Sobibor, everyone would have instantly known the truth, that the purpose of Sobibor was the genocide of the Jews.