• Germany edition
 
Nazi camp guard Demjanjuk to stand trial
Photo: DPA

Nazi camp guard Demjanjuk to stand trial

Published: 13 Jul 2009 17:09 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Jul 2009 17:09 GMT+02:00

Prosecutors believe the Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk helped herd tens of thousands of Jews and others into the gas chambers while a guard at the Sobibor death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943.

Demjanjuk, the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre's number one suspect among those known to be alive, was deported from the United States in May after losing a lengthy legal battle.

No date was set for the trial to begin, and the defendant's poor health means that he will be subjected to no more than two court sessions of 90 minutes each day.

The octogenarian, who moved to the United States and worked as an auto mechanic in Ohio after World War II, suffers from kidney disease, arthritis and cancer, according to his family. His son John Demjanjuk Jr. has said that German doctors had given his father about 16 months to live because of bone marrow disease.

Courts in Israel and the United States have previously stated he was a guard at Sobibor, accusations he had never previously challenged, but his lawyer now says he was never there.

Prosecutors also have an SS identity card with a photograph of a young man said to be Demjanjuk and written transcripts of witness testimony placing him at the camp.

Demjanjuk spent five years on death row in Israel before being acquitted in 1993 when the Jewish state's highest court overturned the verdict. In that case, Demjanjuk was suspected of being "Ivan the Terrible," a particularly brutal camp guard who specialised in hacking at naked prisoners with a sword, but Israel established it had the wrong man.

Demjanjuk is stateless, having been stripped of his US citizenship for lying about his past. Munich prosecutors say it falls on the German city to try him because he had been registered as living there after World War II.

During months of legal wrangling that preceded his eventual deportation from his home in Cleveland, Ohio, the US Justice Department rejected the family's argument that he would not survive the flight to Germany. It released four secretly filmed surveillance videos showing him apparently getting out of a car without difficulty.

This contrasted sharply with the scene before his deportation when he was carried by federal agents in a wheelchair, moaning and sobbing. Last week, Germany's top court rejected an attempt by Demjanjuk's defence team to declare his deportation illegal.

Ephraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Centre office in Jerusalem, said he was "very happy that the court case is moving forward."

"The case is communicating a very important message that those guilty of war crimes can still be prosecuted even now and that they are just as guilty today as they were decades ago," Zuroff said.

Demjanjuk's trial is set to be one of the last in Germany to deal with the crimes of more than six decades ago.

On July 7, a German court declared an 88-year-old former Nazi SS soldier of Dutch origin well enough to stand trial for the murder of three Dutch resistance fighters, overturning an earlier decision.

Former army commander Josef Scheungraber, 90, meanwhile, is currently on trial in Munich, charged with murdering 14 civilians in the Tuscan village of Falzano on June 26, 1944.

Today's headlines
Bundesbank warns of ECB 'change of course'
Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann: Photo: DPA

Bundesbank warns of ECB 'change of course'

The head of Germany's powerful Bundesbank sharply criticised what he called a radical new approach by the European Central Bank of easy money, in an interview published Sunday. READ  

MH17 Crash
Families of German MH17 victims to sue
Australian and Dutch investigators examine a piece of debris of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 plane. Photo: EPA/DPA/ Igor Kovalenko

Families of German MH17 victims to sue

Relatives of German victims of downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 plan to sue Ukraine and its president for criminal negligence for not closing the country's airspace, a lawyer said Sunday. READ  

Sport
Wonder goal puts new boys Paderborn on top
Paderborn players celebrate after defeating Hanover 2-0 to go top of the Bundesliga. Photo: DPA

Wonder goal puts new boys Paderborn on top

Promoted Paderborn went top of the Bundesliga helped by an extraordinary 80-metre goal at Hanover on Saturday as champions Bayern Munich were held to a goalless draw by struggling Hamburg. READ  

Oktoberfest 2014
Oktoberfest opens to toast millions
Celebrities Carolin Reiber and Marianne Sägebrecht raise their glasses at Oktoberfest 2014. Photo: DPA

Oktoberfest opens to toast millions

Germany's world-famous Oktoberfest kicked off Saturday with the traditional tapping of the first barrel of beer, as millions of revellers are set to soak up the frothy atmosphere in the 16-day annual extravaganza. READ  

Germany plan air lifts to help fight Ebola
A Liberian man holds his daughter as they wait for treatment for suspected Ebola symptoms in Monrovia. Photo: DPA

Germany plan air lifts to help fight Ebola

Germany and France will send military transport planes to West Africa to help efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel and military officials said on Friday. READ  

Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany beefs up asylum rules for Balkans

Germany made it harder Friday for people from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia to apply for asylum after lawmakers classified the three Balkan countries as safe, with respect for basic rights. READ  

German Muslims rally against extremism
Muslims pray in Kreuzberg, Berlin, on Friday outside a mosque which was damaged in an arson attack. Photo: DPA

German Muslims rally against extremism

Muslims across Germany held a day of prayers and rallies on Friday to condemn both Islamic extremism and a backlash against their faith that has seen arson attacks on mosques. READ  

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup
The trainers on the air strip in Hohn, Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: Bundeswehr.

German military flight to Iraq starts with a hiccup

Military trainers flew to northern Iraq from Germany on Friday, ahead of a huge delivery of weapons from the German military, but things didn’t initially go as planned. READ  

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches
Photo: DPA

Munich gets four Euro 2020 matches

UPDATE: Munich will play host to four Euro 2020 games, European football’s governing body Uefa announced in Geneva on Friday, but London was the real winner. READ  

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils
The scene by the bus stop outside the school in Diepholz. Photo: DPA

Driver, 18, ploughs into school pupils

An 18-year-old drove into a group of students outside a school in western Germany on Friday morning, injuring several. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Culture
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's tents
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
Drunk teachers ruin school trip to Hamburg
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Fashion Ladies of the Local: Win a New Autumn Look
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Oktoberfest 2014: The best and worst in dirndl fashion
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Education
German universities tumble in global rankings
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
The three types of firms hiring foreigners
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Frisky couple shock Berlin commuters
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,365
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd