Tag: John Demjanjuk

Justice Served?

Sometimes the wheels of justice turn painfully slow, as witnessed last week when a 10 year manhunt of OBL culminated in a M4A1 round entering his left eye and exiting out the back of his head. If swift justice is preferable and 10 year old justice adequate, what would you call that which took 60 years, from act to sentence?

Guilty of being an accessory to the murder of 28,000 people, alright Guinness, a world record or not?

There are probably a lot of people saying ,”Hey, better late then never, no Nazi should be able to hide forever from their sordid past, and  all those thousands of relatives of the victims now have closure and can have some peace”. Some might say that, but I can think of several troubling questions that removes this nice tight lid on what seems like an open and shut case, and am wondering if anyone else is troubled by how this whole thing went down.

Mr. Demjanjuk was purported to be a guard at the Treblinka death camp (interestingly, different articles listed different camps, like the one I linked to above says it was Sobibor{a different camp} where he did his dirty work), regardless, both camps specialized in human extermination. Supposedly he was not camp commandant, had no part is the actual planning or purpose of the camp, but was one of probably thousands of lowly guards.

Other things that both sides agree on, He was Russian (Ukrainian actually) who was captured by the Germans and impressed into their Army, much like many of the captured Polish soldiers in the initial stages of the war.

Demjanjuk’s defense argued that he was a prisoner of war who was forced to do what the Nazis wanted. But the court rejected that claim, concluding that Demjanjuk could have fled “despite a certain degree of risk for himself.”

Of course, his lawyer maintained that he was never even a guard at the camp in Sobibor, Poland, but was a prisoner of war throughout World War II, and naturally there are no eye witnesses available that can place him at either camp.

Then we have the Israeli court room screw up, where in 1988, he was  convicted   of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a notorious concentration-camp guard at Treblinka. That verdict was later overturned on the basis of evidence that Mr. Demjanjuk had been falsely identified and he was set free, reinforcing the difficulties of trying so called Nazi’s 50 years after the fact.

But here are a few questions that I have:

1) Does an admitted Russian POW forced to serve in the German army, should he be considered a Nazi?

2)Assuming he was there and participated in everything the prosecution said he did, does he not have a valid defense when he asserts ,”If I did not do what I was told, they would kill me”?

3)The defense argued that the lone document in question that primarily convicted him (the camp photo ID with his name on it) was forged by Russian authorities, would not the Soviets view  any of “their own” who worked for the Germans as traitors, deserving to be discredited and shamed by any means?

4)If the logic that all who assisted in the deaths at the camps are equally as guilty, are we to condemn all the Jews that were forced to assist in the murders, the ones that sorted the possessions of the murdered, that assisted in emptying the ovens and buried the remains, all under threat of death themselves, are these Jews also culpable and deserving of being hunted down to all corners of the earth?

5) And lastly, was this really just a show trial with the outcome obvious, conducted to assuage a guilty nation of it’s past crimes?

Demjanjuk is 91 years old and he was sentenced to 5 years, pending appeal. The reality is that he will die before either the appeal get resolved or his sentence is served. What do you think should happen to him now?

If this whole affair gives the Jewish people some closure and some sense of vindication, then I guess it was worth it, but unlike the demise of OBL, I am not particularly sated.