| For the past thirty or so years, I
have been tracking the story of Nazi John "Ivan the Terrible" Demjanjuk, as he
went from court to court, denying partaking in the murder of Jews in the
Holocaust, claiming mistaken identity. No court, however, believed that claim.
Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal to his final deportation
order, which has been in a final 30 days status for several years.
While the U.S. is seeking to deport Nazi Demjanjuk
to France, Germany or his native Ukraine, Nazi Demjanjuk will no doubt seek new
methods to avoid deportation, as he has somehow managed to be on appeals longer
than death row prison inmates, free at his home in Seven Hills, a suburb of
Cleveland, Ohio, and unlike lesser murders, and living free about 15 miles from
the homes of Holocaust survivors and the families of many of his victims.
All the while, the Demjanjuk PR machine has been in
full swing, supported by neo-Nazis, Klansmen and their supporters. Among these
supporters was Jerome Brentar, who stood in protest across from the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum the day it opened.
testified in court opposite a Ku Klux Klan official in a battle for the right
to protest in front of Nazis Demjanjuk's home while his suburb made it
abundantly clear that they did not want Jews there, as evidenced by a police
officer who deliberately tried to run me over in his patrol car and the general
harassment I received from that city, which only ended by court order. Later,
the long-time mayor of Seven Hills lost his re-election bid after a photo of
him accepting a hello hug from Rabbi Avi Weiss was published in a newspaper.
My involvement started years before that, when Nazi
Demjanjuk first appeared in the Federal District Court in Cleveland, Ohio,
where I protested with Betar (www.betar.org). Years later, Nazi Demjanjuk was
convicted of lying on his immigration papers in the U.S., the only charge
available at the time. In order to achieve that conviction, U.S. prosecutors
had to prove Nazi Demjanjuk was not who he claimed to be. The evidence
presented included both eyewitness testimony and his actual Nazi ID card. Nazi
Demjanjuk was proven in U.S. courts to be the Ukrainian volunteer guard known
as Ivan the Terrible, a man who took pleasure in gassing Jews to death, thus
proving he lied on his immigration papers.
Demjanjuk stood trial in Israel, the first country he was deported to, Israel
made the mistake of trying him just for the crimes of "Ivan the Terrible of
Treblinka" when Israel should have just prosecuted him for murder alone. Nazi
Demjanjuk was found guilty of war crimes in Israel and was sentenced to death
by hanging, which Israel established as the only sentence for Nazis because it
did not want to be seen as jailing Nazis.
automatic appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, Nazi Demjanjuk's sentence, not
his conviction, was overturned after the defense took a long shot gamble by
submitting a document from another Nazi guard who stated he served as an SS
guard with Nazi Demjanjuk at Sobibor. As such, Nazi Demjanjuk's defense
admitted his guilt as a Nazi death camp guard for the first time, while
gambling on two technicalities:
First, the document
in question would not have normally been admissible in US or Israeli courts
because the author had passed away and the information therefore could not be
verified via cross examination. Second, the document did not say one way or
another if the author knew if Demjanjuk went to Treblinka after Sobibor, for
which the trial was about - the crimes of Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka. Since
that document did not state Treblinka, and despite that all other timeline
documents proved Nazi Demjanjuk did in fact serve in Treblinka after Sobibor,
the defense argued that it was unclear if Nazi Demjanjuk actually served at
In a controversial move that was most
probably politically influenced, the ISC overturned Nazi Demjanjuk's sentence,
but not the conviction. Since Israel was unable to carry out the only legal
sentence available, Israel had no choice but to return Nazi Demjanjuk back to
the U.S. The Demjanjuk PR machine immediately claimed Nazi Demjanjuk was
acquitted in Israel, but nothing could be further from the truth.
After his return to the U.S., Nazi Demjanjuk again
went through the same court procedures, proving his Nazi identity a third time
in court, and he is now again facing deportation from the U.S. Considering how
slow the wheels of justice have turned in this case thus far, Nazi Demjanjuk's
final deportation from the U.S. may not come any time soon. Still, the U.S.
deportation sentence for one of the worlds worst mass murderers is merely
having to move to a new neighborhood, this one perhaps even less than 15 miles
from other Holocaust survivors and the families of his victims. In the words of
William Gladstone, "Justice delayed is justice denied."
Fred Taub is a boycott consultant and is the President of
Boycott Watch (www.boycottwatch.org) which monitors and reports about consumer