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Nazi camp guard's son: 'docs killed my dad'

The Local · 14 Jun 2012, 12:20

Published: 14 Jun 2012 12:20 GMT+02:00

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The accusation comes after decades of legal battles in which Demjanjuk and his family insisted he was a victim of mistaken identity who became a scapegoat because he shared a name with the notorious "Ivan the Terrible."

Demjanjuk died awaiting yet another appeal after being convicted a year ago of helping to herd some 28,000 men, women and children into gas chambers in what was billed as one of Germany's last major war crimes trials.

"Just before he died unexpectedly, he was given a high dose of a pain killer which is banned in the USA and which the German pharmaceutical manufacturer states should not to be given to patients with his bone marrow condition," his son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said in a statement.

"We believe this led to his death and any foul play should be investigated."

German officials have said that the elder Demjanjuk, who attended his trial in a wheelchair or bed due to ill health, appeared to have died of natural causes at the age of 91.

An autopsy gave no exact cause of death but also found no sign that anyone else was involved, a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office in the southern town of Traunstein said several days after Demjanjuk's March 17, 2011 death.

But a recently released toxicology report revealed that Demjanjuk's doctors had been prescribing the painkiller Novalgin since September 2010.

A police report also showed his doctor told a nurse to administer an extra dose after Demjanjuk complained of chest pains the night he died.

The drug can have severe side effects - including sudden death - and is banned for use in patients with Demjanjuk's medical conditions, his lawyer said.

“If you find out that a medical doctor made a very serious mistake giving overdoses of the wrong medicine and the patient is dead four hours later there could be a connection," Ulrich Busch told AFP.

The doctors had plenty of safer painkillers to choose from and are supposed to check to make sure the drugs they prescribe are not on a "red list" for particular conditions, he said in a telephone interview.

“If the doctor knew positively that this medicine is wrong, then it is objectively a medical execution," he added.

Demjanjuk's son filed a complaint with Bavarian prosecutors asking for an investigation of several doctors and a nurse on suspicion of manslaughter and other charges. He could file a civil malpractice suit at a later date, Busch said.

Officials in Germany were not immediately available for comment.

Last year, a German court sentenced the Ukrainian-born man to five years in prison in connection with the six-month period he was a guard in Poland at the Sobibor death camp in 1943.

Demjanjuk vigorously denied the charges and appealed his conviction, arguing throughout the proceedings that he had been a victim of the Nazis who captured him as a prisoner of war.

He was released from jail pending an appeal, having already spent nearly two years in prison, as he was deemed unlikely to abscond.

After World War II, Demjanjuk went to live in the United States, raising three children there and working in the auto industry.

Story continues below…

But in 1986, he was hauled before a court in Jerusalem accused of being "Ivan the Terrible," an infamous Ukrainian guard at the Treblinka death camp.

Found guilty of all charges and sentenced to death in 1988, he was freed five years later when evidence surfaced showing Israel had got the wrong man.

Demjanjuk returned to the United States, but when new information emerged suggesting he had served as a guard at other Nazi camps, he was stripped of his citizenship in 2002 for lying about his war record on immigration forms.

Stateless, the elderly Demjanjuk was eventually deported to Germany to face trial in 2009.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:43 June 14, 2012 by Bilderberg
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
22:46 June 14, 2012 by wxman
Bilderberg, I think perhaps you are woefully lacking in facts regarding Demjanjuk's case. He was conscripted by the Nazis when they overran the Ukraine. Many young men were forced into service with the threat that their families would suffer were they to refuse. He was a lowly camp guard in the rank of Private. His duties were normally to guard the gate of the camp and perhaps to man a guard tower from time to time. As anyone with a modicum of military background would know, he was in no position of power or decision making at the camp, and therefore had nothing to do with the persecution or execution of anyone. But, as we all know, there are many out there who make spot judgements made upon emotional appeal rather than facts. This is principally why most countries are in the sad state they are in today.
01:18 June 15, 2012 by Bilderberg
@wazman..........I do not believe that this man was or is innocent. While he may only be one of many who were forced into his job, he did have a choice......he could kill himself rather than participate in the killing of others. I believe the victims of this atrocity, always. I have no empathy for this man or others like him. The time will come when you and I may be "forced or coerced" to do atrocious things in the name of a new cause, a new leader, a threat of harm. WHAT will you choose to do in the face of it? We all will only die once and therefor if it must happen sooner, rather than later, it matters little. What does matter is whether our choice to live or die will be based upon primarily benefit to self and destruction to innocent victims. If the authorities did threaten his family then it is important to have a discussion with the family about why you cannot do what is being demanded of you. It is then up to your family to respect that you will not be party to the murder of others.

There have been too many excuses made regarding the behavior of those who were complicit in the atrocities of the NAZI regime. In your country you may wish to look at the Bush family and their money and it's use. The elder Bush has had his hands in many terrible things, yet he is a free man. In other parts of the world leaders and the wealthy have been actively involved in making profit for themselves as a result of wars and people like Hitler. THERE IS NO EXCUSE.
02:33 June 15, 2012 by raandy
This case has been going on for a long time,

The man was a prisoner of war , he had 2 choices work for the nazis in a death camp or be a victim of the death camps. he was in his early 20s and wanted to live , who would have done different?

His time there would not have made one single difference to all the jews that were murdered there. He was not the master mind and he had little to say.

Why are we making this person the fall guy? Political and BULLS^IT.
18:41 June 15, 2012 by ITAMAR
after so many years it is hard to prove your accusations against these war criminals and if the person did not got trial in 1945 when everything was still fresh and the victims were young enough,the chance you can punish him is small,too late...The man was charged in Israel but because of the distance of the time all charges against him were cancelled and he was sent to Germany,
19:32 June 15, 2012 by Bilderberg
None of the above arguments absolve this man of any responsibility he had for being willing to work in the camps. While it is very understandable that he wanted to live, it is not understandable that he participated in the extermination process of millions just so that he could remain alive.

The choices in life are often extremely difficult. We see the consequences today, of many choices made for only selfish reasons.

If all people would refuse to follow the leaders who want war and brutality we would have a very different world. This reality is made, one person at a time, under the most difficult circumstances.

I know what my decision would be. I do not make excuses for myself and do not make the easy choice simply because to do so would benefit me.

Society receives what we are willing to give or withhold. Ultimately, our children and grandchildren reap the rewards, or suffer the consequences of our choices. I am clear about what type of world I wish to leave ........
20:10 June 15, 2012 by raandy
Bilderberg all easy to say when you are where you are,

I have no idea which way I would go in that persons position ,no more than you do because like me you have never been there.
21:40 June 15, 2012 by Parade
I'm am sick to death of hearing about Demjanjuk and I'm sick to death of hearing his whining son. He was a "conscript" is his defense, I don't think so. We've all heard the Edmund Burke quote - "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." There's a time when courage comes into play and Demjanjuk missed that time by being a puppet so he had a societal price to pay. What's so hard about courage to be understood? Courage is not "running with a gang of thugs", courage is going against the thugs. Geesh!
22:39 June 15, 2012 by Kennneth Ingle
There is no doubt that under the Hitler regime many crimes against humanity were committed, but there is also a great probability that these crimes were used and exaggerated for propaganda purposes. Anybody who has served as a conscript member of the armed forces himself, will almost certainly realise at a later date, how it is possible to create an environment in which young men are forced to take actions against their own will.

It is often the decision of do or die. Obey orders first, ask questions later was the rule in the British army at the time I served, perhaps it still is today. Unlike the Bundeswehr of today, anybody disobeying orders during a war could be shot on the spot, I assume this was the same in the Wehrmacht.

Those who did not live at the time, mostly do not have the knowledge to give a fair judgement. When I see what is being taught in the history lessons, in schools across Europe now, and compare these with my own wartime experiences, the word - manipulation ­ would not be incorrect.

This son may be quite right in having reason to query the death of his father. It would certainly not be the first time such things have happened.

00:12 June 16, 2012 by raandy
Talk about sanctimonious, here is an old adage that fits better than a Edmund Burke quote.

"Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes"
08:49 June 16, 2012 by ITAMAR
Kenneth Ingle

you are completly right in saying that when you are in the army and there is a war you have to obay or you got shot, I guess it was the situation also in Germany,

But you can not hide behind such explanation when you commite war crimes,

Adolf Eichmann said in his trial that he was a "desk soldiers" who sat in his office in Berlin and obay orders from his Fuerer,"I just signed and organizzed the trains which took the Jews from all Europe to Auschwizim,,,my work was to bring them there I can not be on charge for there murder there..."

Demanuk was a guard in a concentration camp , he could not be charged because after so long time the victims were too old and it was hard to proof he killed somebody,part of the victims allready died so the lawyer Scheftal could easly say " the accussers do not remember well etc..."any way he was released from Israel but then USA took away his citizenship ,so he finished in the hands of the German law,

As I posted before unless you have everything good documentaded you can hardly charge today these war criminals, it had to be done in 1945 when the victims were young and everything was fresh,it might be that Demanjuk did participate in mass exsecution of Jews ,but without clear cut proof you can not charge him.
12:14 June 18, 2012 by TheWonderer

I dislike the situation as is, too.

But apart from the fact that in retrospect, everybody is wiser (hopefully!), we do not know what we had REALLY done in his place at THAT time.

Furthermore, living in a state with a working legal system, I am glad that everybody gets a fair trial and the chance of doubt - better let one murderer go that kill one innocent.

If we killed or jailed him for life and were wrong, we would not be any better than the Nazi-system.

He was tried a few times - in vain as there was doubts.

There were so many unfair verdicts in the past worldwide that I guess we do not have to add even more injustice to it. Just remember how many cases where wound up now that prove verdict to be wrong - only we have the proof on DNA these days.

He has done wrong. Would we REALLY have done better in his place?

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