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No live eyewitnesses left for Nazi guard trial

DDP/The Local · 22 Nov 2009, 10:29

Published: 22 Nov 2009 10:29 GMT+01:00

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Weekly magazine Focus reported that although 23 witnesses had been named, and five from Russia and Ukraine had been expected, they are long-dead.

Demjanjuk is accused of assisting in 27,900 murders during his time as a guard in the Sobibor concentration camp in what was then Poland, during 1943.

His defence lawyer Günther Maull told the magazine witness statements had been produced, but added, “The men were questioned 30 years ago – at least in part in the Soviet Union and possibly under pressure. Whether their statements have any value as evidence is questionable.”

Demjanjuk emigrated to the USA after the end of the war, and fought extradition to Germany. His family argued that his ill health should preclude a trial.

He was sentenced to death by an Israeli court two decades ago after he was convicted of being the feared death camp guard known as "Ivan the Terrible" who would hack at naked prisoners with a sword and inflict cruel and sadistic punishments.

Story continues below…

That ruling was overturned in 1993 when statements from other guards identified another man as "Ivan."

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

18:47 November 22, 2009 by bugger
He's not an "alleged mass murderer," nor can it be proven that he "assisted" in any murders. His "assistance" consisted of working as a guard at the camp.

The absence of live witnesses is irrelevant, as their testimony would have been full of lies anyway. Much of the "evidence" for similar accusations against others came from the Soviets.

What is evident here is that Germany is an occupied nation.
19:45 November 22, 2009 by noras
Construction on the camp began in March 1942, overseen by SS Obersturmführer Richard Thomalla.From September 1939 until 1944, Poland was occupied either partly or entirely by Nazi Germany and its armed forces. Poland has never built any concentration camps on its territory or others. Moreover, Poland suffered heavily from Nazi brutality and cruelty. Six million Polish citizens perished during Nazi rule in my country. All concentration camps, where people from many nations were imprisoned, were built and organized by the German-Nazi occupiers on Polish land. Never by Poland. That¦#39;s why I want to express my strong protest at the false expression ¦quot; The Sobibor concentration camp in what was then Poland, during 1943. ¦quot; in your newspaper. The real ¦quot;founders¦quot; of the Sobibor concentration camp was Geraman -Nazi.
23:18 November 22, 2009 by wxman
I've said it before on a number of other articles regarding Demjanjuk's "show" trial. This is a travesty. When the NAZIs invaded the Ukraine, many of the locals were forced into service of the Reich. This guy joined the SS as a private in 1944, probably under duress by the NAZIs who would threaten the lives of your family. Also, anyone with a military background knows that a private isn't responsible for anything. He probably guarded the gate or manned one of the watchtowers. Big deal. This is all about the German people trying to assuage their collective guilt for these atrocities. If anything, all the German people alive today who allowed this madness should be on trial.
01:13 November 23, 2009 by snorge
Sounds like a room full of lawyers in these posts about the article... Anyone writing here have the facts? Anyone writing here was a witness to the events? Anyone here know the truth as it really is?

Let the trial state the facts and if they are bogus, it will come out.
09:46 November 23, 2009 by JDavidGalland
Mr. Demjanjuk falsified information on his immigration paperwork to get into and remain in the United States. Notwithstanding, he became a stalwart citizen, raised a family, and paid his taxes and otherwise obeyed the law. The salient point is that he was less than forthcoming on an immigration document. Was he a Nazi, No! A Nazi is and was a party member, the fact that he was not German, would have precluded his party membership. The man was not much more than a youth, who was undoubtedly subjugated into service as a Camp Guard, maybe, and most likely, on the theat of death to himself and perhaps his family and neighbors if he did not become acquiescent to the German occupation, at the point of a gun, and this was completely commonplace. This is not justice and this man has not been the benefactor of his rights as a human on this earth and an American, or just a man. What we see here is the circus-like attempt to do what the Jews,and others who suffered during the 30's and 40's and well into the 1950's, believe should be done to a mere speck of dust or living remnant of the pain, that they incorrectly "think" or want to belive, has some culpability in the horror that did occur. Why don't you go to Wundseidel Germany, dig up the skeleton of Rudoph Hess, and hang it in the town square just to be sure he is dead, that is what the world has done to Mr. Demjanjuk and it is sickening to ruin this man's life and that of his family.

J. David Galland
19:00 November 24, 2009 by blackminorcapullets
Perhaps with the witnesses now dead, the persecution will have a better case.

When they were alive, they testified before the Israeli Supreme Court that Demjanjuk was NOT a guard at Sobibor (or any other camp).
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