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'Nazi guard' Demjanjuk faces six years in jail

The Local · 22 Mar 2011, 15:47

Published: 22 Mar 2011 15:47 GMT+01:00

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Delivering closing remarks in the high-profile war crimes trial, expected to be one of the last of its kind, prosecutor Hans-Joachim Lutz said the 90-year-old Demjanjuk had participated willingly in the Holocaust during a six-month stint as a guard.

"Armed with a weapon, he transported the victims from the wagons, undressed them and led them into the gas chambers," Lutz told the court in Munich, southern Germany. "He participated willingly in the murder of 27,900 Jews."

There is "no reasonable doubt" of Demjanjuk's involvement in the crimes committed at the Sobibor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during March and September 1943 when he was alleged to have been there, added the prosecutor.

Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk, who was deported from the United States in May 2009, where he worked for decades as a mechanic, denies the charges against him.

It is still not clear when a verdict could be handed down, although the court has scheduled hearings until May 12.

Wearing his now familiar blue baseball cap and sunglasses, the accused was wheeled into the courtroom, accompanied by two medical staff, to hear the prosecution's case.

He appeared relaxed, joking with one of the medics and taking a small sip from a plastic cup. He listened to proceedings sitting up on a stretcher, covered in a white sheet.

Lutz said he could have called for anything between three years and 15, which constitutes life in Germany.

He said one of the main reasons for a shorter sentence was that Demjanjuk had already spent time in jail in Israel, accused of being "Ivan the Terrible," a particularly sadistic Nazi guard at another camp, Treblinka.

Demjanjuk was released after the Israeli Supreme Court established they had the wrong man.

Also counting in his favour was "definitely the fact that he did not report voluntarily for duty in a death camp," Lutz added.

A member of the Red Army, Demjanjuk fell into German hands as a prisoner of war in 1942.

"The accused was at first a victim of German aggression. Then he became a perpetrator with his participation in the mass murder of Jews," said Lutz. "It's not about passing off German guilt for the mass murder committed by the SS onto someone else," he added.

The trial, which began under intense media spotlight in November 2009, has focused on two central questions: was he a guard at Sobibor and if so, was he in a position to have refused to take part in the Nazi death machine?

Lutz charged that Demjanjuk was convinced by Nazi racist ideology.

"He was aware that the victims suffered physical and mental torture ... in addition he adopted the Nazi ideology of genocide," he said.

"At the same time, he did not flee the camp, although he had the opportunity to do so."

Story continues below…

The accused has said nothing during the trial, often appearing asleep, sometimes emitting small groans. Constantly at his side are his medical team and a Ukrainian interpreter. However, his lawyer has read out three statements on his behalf.

In the latest statement, he threatened to go on hunger strike unless the court admitted evidence the defence said would cast doubt on the allegations against him.

In the statement, he also dismissed the proceedings as a "political show



The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:05 March 22, 2011 by tallady
There are a lot of ifs in this trial..

He is not a German but was himself a prisoner from the Red Army.

Sounds like he opted for an easier incarceration,buy going along with the Nazi exterminations,which would have proceeded with or with out him. He did not join the German Army and was not there by his own volition. Escape was not much of an option,the Red Army would send him to be reeducated or shoot him,the Germans would have shot him for sure,so where would he go.

He certainly can not be held responsible for what happened,even if he did carry a gun and escorted them to the gas chambers.Had he refused would the outcome be different? Certainly not for the Jews but definitely for him.

This is a far cry from the trial of Adolf Otto Eichmann .
17:28 March 22, 2011 by Kayak
He can now count the days to freedom by using his fingernails to scratch his cell wall: each day 12 murdered jews.

The warden should make him read a list of twelve names each morning before breakfast.
17:33 March 22, 2011 by Altdude
"It's not about passing off German guilt for the mass murder committed by the SS onto someone else," he added.

Yes Mr. Persecutor, that's exactly what it is.
17:58 March 22, 2011 by nolibs
The only crime I see here is the unending persecution of this man since the 1970's. How can you defend yourself when even the so-called "evidence" is either possibly forged or is simply the testimony of 87 year old war victims?

Even the Jews (Israel) let him go. That should tell you something.
18:26 March 22, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Nearly my whole family died in WWII. It used to be, both my father and mother had many siblings. But by the time the war was over, most were dead. The ones left alive by the fighting and bombing, were hung by the neck when the Czechs came through. A couple survived, but I never had any Grandparents, and only a couple Aunts survived. They were ALL Nazis. Both my grandfathers were SS. My grandmother was given a medal by the Fuehrer for having 9 children. They were Munich Nazi Party supporters through and through.

When I speak to them now, not much changes. They claim to dislike war, but really what they dislike is having lost. They still Hate America, still hate Jews. Basically, when you get them behind closed doors for a little chat, their 'truth' is not much different now than it was back then. They certainly don't see it that way, though. BUt I guess you just can't teach an old dog new tricks. But, nobody is sticking them in jail for it...

how can you punish just this 1 man for what happened to a country nearly 70 years ago.
18:33 March 22, 2011 by Sastry.M
If Mr.Dejanjuk happens to be a christian and dedicated to its virtues of humility.penitence and sacrifice in true confession of repentance, the impending imprisonment at his ripe old age may not abridge the freedom of his soul even when the supreme court of Israel whose people suffered all the horrors of his commitment itself has acquitted him as the wrong person in recognition of his already punished fore runners.
20:03 March 22, 2011 by bystander5
What an outrage that this should still be going on after all this time. He should counter sue for the way he's been treated in all this.

This is a perfect example of why there are Statutes of Limitation.
21:36 March 22, 2011 by catjones
@derExDeutsche...had to imagine holding on to a hatred all those years. Similar mentality to Southern Americans; can't get over the civil war as if today's world even comes close to what they yearn for in the past.
23:02 March 22, 2011 by ASLAN T. SOOBZOKOV
It is an embarrassment for the great nation of Germany to allow the prosecution and persecution of Mr. Demyanjuk. Every intelligent person who is knowledgeable of the case knows this man was tragically prosecuted and persecuted in the United States as well. Germany looks like fools to the rest of the world. Your own archievs proves this fact.

In the United States an innocent man named Tscherim Soobzokov was falsely accused as being a Nazi War Criminal. Unknown criminals killed Mr. Soobzokov, a Circassian, in 1985 using a bomb, the United States government have not found the killers.

Germany has made a very sad mistake that will breed hate for those responsible.

Who ever prosecutes an innocent person should look themselves in the mirror.


00:42 March 23, 2011 by derExDeutsche

I never really thought of it that way. but certainly people who have Slave ownership in their family history, would feel similarly. there is enough of a stigma attached to that era as well. Its remembered like Americans invented slavery.

I am pretty sure all those Confederate flags flying in the south are NOT meant to be seen as Pro-Slavery;) Its not like a Neo-Confederacy like Neo-Nazi or anything;). could you imagine? that would really get European panties in a wad about Southern US, even more than usual. lol.

but yeah, there you have it, that's my family history.

many, many with German heritage share a similar story. Of course now, everybody embellishes them a bit more every year. tells stories about how THEIR family wasn't involved, how Oma was hiding a Jude in the attic. Yeah, right.
01:40 March 23, 2011 by Altdude
Well now, as a Southern American, now living in Southern Germany, let me take this opportunity to inform youse guys that we ain't all a bunch of racists. (By the way, there are quite a few Southern Americans who happen to be of African ancestry). I have supported, demonstrated for, and voted in support of civil rights since I was old enough to have some sense, understanding that freedom and equality cannot be held by only a portion of society. My home state voted for Obama, in fact, and white males were credited with making the difference by voting analysts. Sure there are racists in the South, as in the North, but take care with that broad brush catjones, you might get some paint on yourself as one who is prejudiced. One thing we Southerns do have in common with Germans, however: we were both defeated in combat by the USA. Not all Germans are neo-Nazis, and not all Southern Americans are neo-Confederates. Guess you kinda touched a sore spot there. But I try to forgive ignorance as nothing more than ignorance. Haters will always find someone to hate.
04:04 March 23, 2011 by Redfeather
Will you hold trials also for Palestine suffers?
07:53 March 23, 2011 by mike_1983
this is a joke, its time to move on from the past! way too many "ifs" about this case! let the man go!!!

why dont the governments start following up some isreali war crimminals that have never been tired for anything!
09:05 March 23, 2011 by catjones
@Altdude...a little sensitive eh? Please don't embellish and exaggerate what I write.
13:15 March 23, 2011 by Altdude
@catjones ... if you had simply said "some Southern Americans" or "Southern Americans who can't get over the civil war" you may have made your point without bias against an entire population. Words are powerful when will chosen.
14:27 March 23, 2011 by Portnoy
Yes! Justice! Though, actually, justice would be locking him up for the rest of his life. Scumbag.
16:17 March 23, 2011 by tallady
Justice,,this is a witch hunt of an old Red Army surviver in a German concentration camp...leave the old man alone!!

Redfeather ,,good point,,
17:49 March 23, 2011 by wenddiver
@Redfeather- Good Point what do you think we should do to the Palestinians? Indict individual terrorists or everybody associated with a terrorist group.
00:31 March 24, 2011 by toemag
This guy just doesn't seem to have any luck in life, always between a rock and a hard place.

I hope he uses the time in prison to write his memoirs.
16:31 April 1, 2011 by rob robertson
Living too such an age; he does not seem to have a guilty conscious - the Nazi guard was brainwashed to follow orders.
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