John Demjanjuk (dem-YAHN’-yuk). A name most of you have heard, recently in the news. Mr. Demjanjuk was born 91 years ago in Ukrainian SSR (Russia). His given name at birth was Ivan Mykolaiovych Demianiuk. Was convicted as an accessory to murder of 28,060 people at Sobibar camp in Poland. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison. Pretty minor time for the number of people killed and the families affected.
John Demjanjuk served as a Soviet soldier fighting the Germans. As the story goes, he was wounded, captured and held prisoner of war, before joining the Vlasov Army (an anti-communist group formed by Soviet POWs and others to fight with the Germans against the Soviets) This was near the end of the war. Not knowing all the facts, if he were tortured, or brainwashed. This would seem to be a treasonous act against the Soviet government.
Demjanjuk served as a “Wachmann”, the lowest rank of volunteers subordinate to the German SS. from March, 27 1943 until mid September 1943. About 6 months. I personally find it appalling that the Nazis could kill that many people, so ruthlessly, in that amount of time.
Demjanjuk came to the United States in 1952, was granted citizenship, and worked as an autoworker until his retirement. And now suffers a variety of ailments and needs medical attention daily.
In the 1988 he was accused of being the guard called “Ivan the Terrible. Convicted and sentenced to death, until the conviction was overturned as a case of mistaken identity.
Now the things that bother me in his case.
1. He was stripped of his US Citzenship before being convicted. As a US citizen you are innocent until proven guilty. Therefore no call for losing citizenship. But as we all know “INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY” is not the way it works, Just as in your workplace; The company makes a charge against you. You are guilty unless you can prove yourself innocent. A good example of this is in your place of employment. The company in most cases, (Unless you are a UNION member) Is the prosecutor, jury, and JUDGE).
2. If he was of the lowest rank, he probably had a choice (if he actually participated) KILL or be KILLED. I can relate this to an incident I had when I was a factory worker. The parts I was making were no good, we tried to everything we could to make good parts, but the machine just could not make them. I told my foreman, who said to run them anyway. Now my choices were run them, and get a write up. Ask if it were a ‘DIRECT ORDER, and if told it was a “DIRECT ORDER”, I could refuse it and be fired on the spot. Or run them, supposedly without the danger of a write up. I ran them. The next day I got a write up anyway.
So I’m not saying anything on the verdicts. or the trials. I am just raising these questions in the interest of justice. There are other things to consider than whether a guard was stationed at a Death Camp. His superiors who made the decision should be the ones who paid the price unless he voluntarily did acts of this sort.
Of course we all know the winner of wars write the history. Had the Nazis won he may have been considered a Hero.
Feel free to reply with your comments, how you feel about this trial
By the way according to German law he is free during the period from now until his appeal process is closed.
That Is How I See It.