Demjanjuk sentenced to 5 years in prison

Published: 2011-05-12 07:54:17+00:00

By Thomas Kues

Today, on 12 May 2011, John Demjanjuk was sentenced by a Munich court to 5 years in prison [1]  for assisting in the alleged murder of 28,060 Dutch Jews in the Sobibór "extermination" camp in eastern Poland in 1943 (the number of victims in the indictment was previously given as 27,900).

This sentence is a travesty for several reasons, besides the obvious grotesquery of trying a 91-year-old man for a crime allegedly committed 68 years previously.
I will refrain from giving a detailed overview of the case, as this has already been done elsewhere.[2]

To begin with, the only piece of documentary evidence supporting the presence of Demjanjuk at Sobibór is an identification card (from the SS training camp at Trawniki) which authenticity has been questioned by several experts. A month ago a formerly classified 1985 FBI report surfaced which stated that the Trawniki card was "quite likely fabricated" by the Soviet Union.[3] This revelation, however, did not help Demjanjuk in the end. The only existing testimonial evidence consists of a few vague statements of dubious value from former Ukrainian auxiliaries made behind the iron curtain. Not one of the surviving Sobibór inmates has placed Demjanjuk at Sobibór.

The prosecution has been unable tie Demjanjuk personally to any specific crime of violence. Instead, his alleged crime consists of having been present as a low-ranked guard at camp which sole purpose, it is alleged, was the extermination of Jews. Any guard who found this activity objectionable, the prosecution's argument goes, could have deserted his post. However, the mere presence as a guard at Sobibór, or any of the other "pure extermination camps", has until now not been considered punishable. In fact, at the Sobibór trial in Hagen in 1966, five out of the eleven accused former German camp personnel were acquitted, despite their admitted presence in the camp. Four of the convicted were given sentences of between 3 and 4 years imprisonment. Needless to say all of these men were of higher rank than Demjanjuk.

There is further the fact that Demjanjuk spent several years in Israeli prison, including time on death row, innocently accused of having been the camp guard "Ivan the Terrible" of Treblinka. Demjanjuk has in fact been hunted, harassed, imprisoned and prosecuted continuously since 1975, when a pro-Soviet calumniator named Emil Hanusiak leveled the first accusations against him.

All of the above objections are dwarfed, however, by the following harsh facts:

1) There exists no documentary or material evidence whatsoever supporting the official claim that Sobibór served as a "pure extermination camp" where hundreds of thousands of Jews were gassed, buried and later burned on open-air pyres. The only documentary evidence mustered by prosecutors and holocaust historians consists of reports and transport lists confirming that large numbers of Jews were sent to the camp. Said documents have nothing to say about the fate of the Jewish deportees subsequent to their arrival in Sobibór. On the other hand a directive issued by Himmler on 5 July 1943, as well as a reply from Oswald Pohl on 15 July 1943 (Nuremberg document NO 482) speaks of "the Sobibor transit camp located in the Lublin district". The camp was in fact located very near the former German-Soviet demarcation line, a most logical location for camp serving the transfer of Jews to the Occupied eastern territories.

2) In 2001 and 2008 two teams of archeologists, the first headed by the Polish professor Andrzej Kola, the second by the Israelis Isaac Gilead and Yoram Haimi and the Pole Wojciech Mazurek, went over the whole of Lager III, the "death camp proper of Sobibór - corresponding to an area of less than 4 hectares - using probe drillings as well as numerous excavations without finding any trace whatsoever of the camp's alleged homicidal gas chambers. As it is radically impossible, given the limited area and time available, that these well-equipped teams of specialists would fail to locate any remain or trace, however slight, of the large concrete or brick building described by the self-styled eyewitnesses, only one conclusion is possible: the alleged homicidal gas chambers, never existed. On the other hand, Andrzej Kola discovered in Lager III a huge wooden barrack filled with remains of clothing and toilet articles, as well as a smaller building with a coke storage and remains of an oven - possibly one used for delousing with hot air or steam. According to the official version neither of these structures should have existed.[4] Together with the non-existence of the Sobibór gas chamber building their discovery greatly strengthens the revisionist case, namely that Sobibór (as well as Belzec and Treblinka) served as a transit camp where arriving Jewish deportees were showered and deloused before being sent on further east.

3) According to orthodox historiography not a single Dutch Jew was ever deported further east than Poland. However, on 16 April 1943 - at the very time when Demjanjuk supposedly aided in the extermination of Jews at Sobibór - the Vilna Jew Herman Kruk noted in his diary that "a rumor is circulating that there are about 19,000 Dutch Jews in Vievis". Vievis is a small town between Vilna and Kovno, which during the years of German occupation was the location of a Jewish labor camp. On the same day Kruk wrote under the heading "More about the Dutch Jews" that he had "succeeded in getting a Jewish sign [evidently a cloth Star of David] and a copy of the order of the Reichskommissar for the Occupied Netherlands about Jewish property." Two weeks later, on 30 April 1943, Kruk wrote in his diary that "carloads filled with goods from the Dutch Jews are in the Vilna railroad station". Furniture taken from these trains had been brought to workshops in the Vilna ghetto, where documents written in Dutch were found by the workers.[5] Since there is no reason on earth to believe that Kruk, a prominent member of the Vilna ghetto community, made up this story, it must be taken as an important piece of evidence in support of the revisionist transit camp hypothesis. Large transports of "foreign" Jews to the Vilna area in the spring of 1943 is also mentioned in the diary of the Jewish partisan fighter Aba Gefen (entry for 16 May 1943),[6] as well as by a news notice published in the Polish underground newspaper Biuletyn Informacyjny on 6 May 1943.[7] There are also several testimonies confirming the presence of Dutch Jews in Minsk in 1942-43.[8]

None of the above facts have been considered, or even mentioned in passing, during the trial in Munich. This should of course not surprise, as the blatant disregard of technical evidence has been common to all "extermination camp" trials.

To summarize:

- The murder weapon in the crime which Demjanjuk has now been sentenced for never existed
- There exists no documentary or material evidence supporting the claim that Sobibór functioned as a "pure extermination camp"; preserved documents in fact describe the camp as a "transit camp" (Duchgangslager)
- There is ample reason to believe that the 28,060 alleged victims were in fact sent on to the German-occupied territories of the Soviet Union and the Baltic states.

Needless to say such facts does not matter one bit to the enlightened judges and prosecutors of the "freest state in German history". The defense, undoubtedly aware that any mention of said facts would run afoul of Germany's laws against "Holocaust denial", settled on the usual strategy: accepting the officially sanctioned version of events while insisting on the personal innocence of the defendant. In the end, this did not help, and it probable, even likely, that the outcome of trial was more or less settled from the start. At the time of Demjanjuk's extradition to Germany in May 2009 German holocaust historian Norbert Frei stated: "The Germans owe it to the victims and the survivors, but also to themselves, to prosecute Demjanjuk."[9] Demjanjuk had to be sentenced, because the Germans "owed this" to themselves. Or to put it more clearly: The trial was necessary to keep "alive" in the minds of the German people (and the western world in general) the phantom of the "Holocaust".

Demjanjuk's defense attorney, Ulrich Busch, has stated that an appeal will be filed against the verdict. As for now Demjanjuk has been released from prison, as the sentence is not yet legally binding (rechtskräftig). If after the appeal it is determined that he should serve time in jail (5 years minus the nearly 2 years already spent in custody) it will further be decided whether the 91-year-old is physically fit for imprisonment.[10]


[1] "Fünf Jahre Haft für John Demjanjuk", Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12 May 2011; online: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/muenchen/urteil-am-landgericht-muenchen-fuenf-jahre-haft-fuer-john-demjanjuk-1.1096378
[2] Cf. Jürgen Graf, Thomas Kues, Carlo Mattogno, Sobibór: Holocaust Propaganda and Reality, TBR Books, Washington D.C. 2010, pp. 9-12, 375-390.
[3] "FBI thought Demjanjuk evidence faked"; Associated Press, 12 April 2011, online: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gzn9sjjViXpoagiQbtyuSx3oZdEg?docId=2ed960173598473c94630a9a5ebe2cbe
[4] Cf. J. Graf, T. Kues, C. Mattogno, Sobibór: Holocaust Propaganda and Reality, op.cit., pp. 149-167.
[5] Ibid, p. 366ff.
[6] Cf. Thomas Kues, "Evidence for the Presence of 'Gassed' Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories, Part 2", section 3.3.11; online: http://www.inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2010/volume_2/number_4/evidence_for_the_presence_of_gassed_jews_2.php
[7] Klaus-Peter Friedrich, Der nationalsozialistische Judenmord in polnischen Augen: Einstellungen in der polnischen Presse 1942-1946/47, dissertation presented to the University of Cologne in 2002, p. 126. Online: http://kups.ub.uni-koeln.de/volltexte/2003/952/
[8] T. Kues, "Evidence for the Presence of 'Gassed' Jews in the Occupied Eastern Territories, Part 2", sections 3.3.17 and 3.5.
[9] Georg Bönisch, Jan Friedmann, Cordula Meyer, "Ein ganz gewöhnlicher Handlanger," Der Spiegel, No. 26/2009, 22 June 2009 (www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-65794351.html).
[10] "John Demjanjuk kommt frei", http://www.focus.de/politik/deutschland/ns-kriegsverbrecherprozess-john-demjanjuk-kommt-frei_aid_626638.html

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Author(s) Thomas Kues
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