Chapter V: Treblinka Trials
1. Confessions as a Basis for Historiography
In 1979, Gitta Sereny mounted a furious attack against revisionists, particularly against Arthur R. Butz. She made reference to her conversations conducted in 1971 with former Treblinka Commandant Franz Stangl, who was incarcerated in a Düsseldorf jail and who, according to her claims, had admitted the mass murders in that camp; she wrote:
"Stangl is dead. But if [...] Butz [...] actually had been interested in the truth, Stangl 's wife and many others would have been at his disposal to bear witness."
Butz could have indicated in his response that G. Sereny was unable to prove what the actual statements of Stangl were, due to the lack of a taped record, but he nonetheless made an argument from an entirely different perspective:
"We do not need 'confessions' or 'trials' to determine that the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, or the reprisals at Lidice following Heydrich 's assassination, really took place. Now, the extermination legend does not claim a few instances of homicide, but alleges events continental in geographical scope, of three years in temporal scope, and of several million in scope of victims. How ludicrous, then, is the position of the bearers of the legend, who in the last analysis will attempt to 'prove' such events on the basis of 'confessions' delivered under the fabric of hysteria, censorship, intimidation, persecution, and blatant illegality that has been shrouding this subject for 35 years. [...]
[...] Sereny was arguing the reality of the colossal events alleged by reporting what a tired old man recently told her in prison. One might as well argue that the gypsies burned down New York City in 1950, on the basis of confessions of gypsies who were living there at the time. [...] She was taking a great deal of space in a prominent journal in presenting arguments that in 1979 were wildly incommensurate with the allegation in question. If the Jews of Europe really had been exterminated, such arguments would not be offered."
The untenable nature of an historical picture, which is based merely upon confessions of alleged offenders and eyewitness narratives, could hardly be more glaringly demonstrated! In what follows we will explain how the legal systems of the Federal Republic of Germany and of Israel have sought to strengthen the traditional image of Treblinka by means of trials, at which confessions by alleged offenders and eyewitness narratives comprised the sole basis of evidence.
2. West German Treblinka Trials
In a trial conducted in Düsseldorf from October 1964 to September 1965, ten persons, among them Kurt Franz who was described as the last Commandant of the camp, were charged with participation in the alleged mass killing of Jews in Treblinka. Four of the defendants, Franz among them, were sentenced to life imprisonment for the collective murder of 300,000 persons and for a number of individual murders; a fifth defendant received the same punishment for the collective murder of at least 100,000 people; prison sentences of twelve, seven, six, four, and three years were imposed on five others accused for assisting in the collective murder of 300,000 or 100,000 persons, respectively.
At a further Treblinka trial, which took place from May to December 1970, likewise in Düsseldorf, only one defendant appeared before the court, namely the former SS-Hauptsturmführer and second Treblinka Kommandant Franz Stangl. The latter was sentenced to the loss of liberty for the rest of his life for the murder, committed together with others, of at least 400,000 Jews, but he died in 1971 before the German Federal Supreme Court had decided about the appeal filed by him.
At the first of these two proceedings more than 100 and at the second more than 50 witness were heard in and outside of Germany. Adalbert Rückerl, at that time Director of the Ludwigsburg Central Office for the resolution of National-Socialist crimes, documented these trials as well as those of the members of the camp staff of Bełżec, Sobibór, and Chełmno in his already mentioned book NS-Vernichtungslager im Spiegel deutscher Strafprozesse (NS extermination camps as reflected in the German criminal trials), which was published in 1977. This book cites long passages from the verdicts. In his introduction to Rückerl 's work, Martin Broszat, Director of the Munich Institute for Contemporary History, wrote
"Without wishing to anticipate an historical investigation and assessment of the role of German justice system in the prosecution of NS crimes, one thing can be maintained already today to be the result, also of the activity of the Central Office [in Ludwigsburg]: the significance of the extensive prosecutorial and judicial investigations, which began in this area at the end fifties in the Federal Republic [of Germany], cannot be measured just by their - often low - quota of sentences. In particular regarding investigations and proceedings dealing with mass killings of Jews [...], the systematic clearing up of the aggregate of crimes had a general public and historical relevance extending considerably beyond the criminal prosecution. [...] Although the fact of the 'Final Solution to the Jewish Question' is noted in nearly all history and school books about the NS period, the individual modalities of this horrible event have scarcely been systematically documented up until now. Their methodical concealment by the administrative departments of the regime and the thorough eradication of the traces after the conclusion of the operations, above all in the carefully hidden large extermination camps in the occupied Polish territories, have made it difficult or have hindered an exact reconstruction of the events. Despite an unfavorable point of departure, the years-long painstaking work of the judicial investigation have finally led to broad clarity of the facts and connections."
First of all, it ought to be stressed that Broszat 's claim that "the large extermination camps in the occupied Polish territories" were "carefully hidden" is blatant nonsense. Auschwitz was situated in an industrial zone swarming with civilian workers, and the prisoners constantly were coming into contact with them; Majdanek directly bordered on the city of Lublin, so that from their houses at the edge of the city people were able to look into the camp; in Treblinka, the farmers cultivated their fields almost directly up to the fencing of the camp, and the brisk trade, already described by former inmates, between the prisoners and the civilian population guaranteed a steady flow of information from the camp into the outside world.
Let us move on to the "historical relevance" of the trials, as emphasized by M. Broszat. When he writes that the "individual modalities of the horrible events" have "scarcely been systematically documented up until now," but "the years-long painstaking work of the judicial investigation" have "led to a broad clarity of the facts and connections," then this means in plain words that the historiography up until then had not investigated the events in Treblinka and the other 'pure extermination camps,' but had left that task up to the Law.
Now, it is by no means the purview of the judge to write history; he has, instead, to make a finding about the guilt or innocence of a defendant. The mission of the judge is therefore a fundamentally different one from that of the historian.
Yet whoever studies the 'Holocaust' literature very soon recognizes that this is based upon court verdicts to a decisive degree: for example, in the chapter devoted to the 'extermination centers,' in his three-volume 'standard work' The Destruction of the European Jews, R. Hilberg cites Adalbert Rückerl 's NS-Vernichtungslager im Spiegel deutscher Strafprozesse as a source no fewer than forty-one times. Under these circumstances, the actual purpose of the countless trials of the 'Nazi criminals' conducted in West Germany emerges quite clearly: they served to retrospectively conjure up the desired evidence for million-fold murder in gas chambers on the basis of eyewitness narratives and confessions by alleged culprits, evidence, which historiography was unable to produce and has not been able to produce right down to the present day, due to the lack of documents and material traces. Hilberg and his consorts were then able to refer to the results of these criminal trials in their accounts of the 'Holocaust.'
In view of the eminent political significance of the trials as outlined here, a former SS-man sitting in the dock, who wanted a chance at an acquittal or at least a lenient sentence, would naturally not be permitted to dispute the image of the concentration camp as portrayed in the charges, but rather at most deny his own personal guilt or, in case the witnesses incriminated him too much, would claim that he had to follow orders. Even if it is correct, what Rückerl writes on p. 25, that the defendants have "without exception admitted their participation in the killing of Jewish men, women and children, conducted on an industrial scale in the camps named," then this can easily be explained as having been done for opportunistic reasons: if an accused defendant did not do this, then this was interpreted as 'obstinate denial' and resulted in a harsher sentence. On the other hand, if a defendant played along with the scenario of the charges, he or she could hope for leniency, however terrible the charges against him might be.
A succinct example of this is furnished by the case mentioned by Rückerl: The former SS-Hauptscharführer Josef Oberhauser, during the war stationed in Bełżec, was put on trial in Munich in 1965. Although he was found guilty of assisting in the collective murder of 300,000 people during this trial, which lasted only four days, he nevertheless got away with an incredibly lenient sentence of merely 41/2 years imprisonment:
"In the main proceedings, Oberhauser refused to make any statements in the case [he took the 'fifth']. He referred to the necessity of following orders."
This meant that he was not contesting the extermination of Jews in Bełżec; thus once again, the West German justice administration could triumphantly point out that the defendant had not denied the mass murder at all. Since Oberhauser, as Rückerl informs us, had been taken into investigative custody in 1960, in 1965 his sentence was considered served and he was probably released shortly after the verdict had been announced. Had he 'obstinately denied' the alleged crimes, he probably would have faced a life term sentence!
The witness testimony and confessions of defendants, the sole basis upon which the West German justice administration could support its case in these trials, were accepted as 'credible' in all cases where they jibed with the charges. Thus, with regard to an 'expert opinion' of historian Helmut Krausnick, who had given the number of victims of the camp as at least 700,000, the verdict of the first Treblinka trial reads:
"The Jury Court has no reservations in following the expert, who is well-known as a scholar due to his research into the National-Socialist persecution of the Jews, since his expert opinion is detailed, thorough, and persuasive. This is all the more so when several defendants, among them the defendant S., who is gifted with an especially good memory, figured the number of victims at far more than 500,000. On what scale Treblinka operated, emerges from a characteristic description of the defendant S. concerning the opening of one of the body pits. As he plausibly tells, in the beginning of 1943, he once was in the upper camp right when one of the enormous body pits was being opened there, because the bodies were now supposed to be burned. On this occasion, so S. relates, his comrade P., the deputy head of the death camp, explained that this one body pit alone contained approximately 80,000 dead. Since there were several body pits, and since the extermination operation by no means was ended in the beginning of 1943, one can see in this description by S. nothing but a confirmation of the expert opinion, which assumes a minimum of 700,000 persons killed."
What is to be thought of a justice administration, which relies upon rumors and hearsay in a trial dealing with the murder of at least 700,000 - "S. relates that his comrade explained to him" - instead of proposing an investigation of the scene of the crime and suggesting to the Polish authorities joint excavations for the determination of the size and position of the mass graves?
With what small mental endowment the Düsseldorf judges were graced may be seen from the following passage of their verdict:
"The building, solidly constructed out of brick upon a concrete foundation, contained 3 gas chambers, which were approximately 4 × 4 m in area and about 2.6 m high. [...]
Very soon after the inception of operations, the capacity of the old gas house proved to be insufficient for smoothly liquidating the daily arriving transports of Jews. For that reason, at the end of August/beginning of September 1942, the construction of a new large gas house was started, which contained more and larger gas chambers and was able to be put in operation after a construction period of about one month. [...] All are merely in agreement that the new gas chambers had a holding capacity approximately double that of the chambers in the old building. The new gas chambers were probably about 8 m long, 4 m wide, and 2 m high. [p. 203f.] How many people respectively were contained in one gassing operation has not been determined with certainty in the main proceedings. [...] An accepted holding capacity of approximately 200 to 350 people per gas chamber in the old house and approximately 400 to 700 people per gas chamber in the new house might safely be said to be most probable according to all [information]." (p. 226)
Therefore, according to this sterling jurist, up to 22 people per square meter could have been crammed into the old as well as into the new gas chambers!
As to the number of the German and Ukrainian guards, the verdict says:
"The camp staff in Treblinka, which was responsible for the smooth execution of the mass extermination, consisted of about 35 to 40 Germans who all wore the field-gray uniforms of the Waffen-SS and all of whom had the rank of at least an SS-Unterscharführer. [...] Besides this group of German camp personnel there were about 90 to 120 Ukrainian volunteer auxiliaries, who mainly had to perform guard duties but besides that were also used to a certain extent in the killing operations."
Confronting these - at most - 40 Germans and 120 Ukrainians, according to the Düsseldorf Court, there were up to 1,000 Jewish workers and thousands of Jewish deportees with every arriving transport:
"The accommodations of the Jewish workers, whose number was continually changing, but which on average might be put at between 500 and 1,000, were very primitive. [...]"
These up to 1,000 Jewish workers not only had to experience how the Germans and Ukrainians were driving their co-religionists into the gas day after day, but they themselves were always hovering on the brink of death:
"At their work, the Jews were driven to hurry by insults and blows from a whip. [...] For the least cause but often without any sort of reason, Jewish workers in both parts of the camp were reviled, abused, slain, or shot day after day. It sufficed that a Jew, according to the notion of his overseer, was working too slowly or not carefully enough, so that he would be whipped half-dead and subsequently to be shot in the infirmary."
However, it never occurred to the Jewish workers (at least until August 2, 1943) of putting up a resistance against their tormentors and murderers, who were far inferior to them in numbers!
The verdict has this to say concerning the measures taken to deceive the victims at their arrival:
"In order to strengthen the impression in those arriving that Treblinka was merely a transfer station for further transportation to the east for work, large signs in German and Polish were posted on the platform or in its direct vicinity, the gist of which read: 'Attention Warsaw Jews! You are in a transit camp here, from which there will be further transport to work camps. [...] For purposes of bodily hygiene, all those arriving must bathe before further transport.'
In addition - at least in the first period of the mass killings - a member of the German camp staff often addressed the people assembled at the train station square and explained the same thing which was on the signs."
Exactly one page before quoting the above passage from this verdict, Rückerl cites the Jewish witness "Str." as follows:
"I then remember the terrible confusion when the doors were flung open in Treblinka. There were shouts from the Germans and Ukrainians, 'get off, out.' Even the members of the so-called Red Jewish Commandos shouted and yelled. Then the people arriving also began to yell and complain. I still remember that we were struck with whips. Then we were told: 'Men to the right, women to the left and undress.'"
Naturally, under these circumstances a panic would have broken out immediately among the approximately 2,000 new arrivals each time, and the 35 to 40 Germans as well as the 90 to 120 Ukrainians would not have been able to prevent their running off in every direction. The measures of deception allegedly taken by the SS would have been entirely in vain there. And why did the 500 to 1,000 Jewish workers never warn their doomed co-religionists?
No atrocity fairy tale from Jewish or Polish sources was too silly to be faithfully parroted by the Düsseldorf judges:
"During the first weeks after the camp had started operations, the orchestra played lively operetta melodies near the hose in order to drown out the sound of the screams of the victims in the gas chambers."
Since in every normal murder trial an expert opinion must be compiled concerning the weapon used in the crime, and if no body is present, there must be clarity as to its whereabouts, an unbiased observer would perhaps assume that the West German justice administration would have consulted a diesel engine engineer and an expert on cremation in order to learn whether the mass gassings and mass cremations described by the witnesses were at all technically feasible. But of all things, the Düsseldorf judges trotted out as an expert witness - a dog psychiatrist! From the original verdict of the first Treblinka trial:
"Either at the end of 1942 or the beginning of 1943, the dog Barry was brought into the extermination camp Treblinka. This was a black-and-white spotted mixed-breed dog as large as a calf with predominantly the characteristic traits of a St. Bernard. In the camp he associated himself with the defendant Franz and regarded him as his master.
On his patrols through the upper and the lower camp, Franz was accustomed to having Barry with him most of the time. He always delighted in setting the dog on the prisoners who had drawn his attention in some way, with the words 'man, catch the dog!' [...] Barry always bit the targeted person indiscriminately. Since he was the size of a calf and the height of his shoulders - in contrast to smaller dogs - reached the buttocks and the abdomen of an average person, he frequently bit into the buttocks, into the abdomen, and several times into the genital area of male prisoners, which he even partially bit off in many cases. [...] When, during the absence of the defendant Franz, Barry was not under his influence, he was not recognizable as the same dog. One could pet him and even tease him without him doing anything to anyone. [...]
As to the question of whether Barry was one time a vicious beast but another time a good-tempered and playful house pet, the Jury Court has heard under oath the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Research in Seewiesen/Oberbayern, the internationally known researcher Professor Dr. L. In his persuasive expert report, Professor Dr. L. has stated, among other things, the following:
From the photographs of Barry shown to him by the Jury Court, he notes that this was not a purebred St. Bernard but a mixed-breed dog, which clearly predominantly manifested the traits of a St. Bernard. Mixed-breed dogs are much more sensitive than purebred animals. If they have become attached to a master and have entered into a so-called dog-master bond, they would virtually foresee what intentions their master has; for a dog is 'the reflection of the subconscious of its master,' and that is especially true of mixed-breed dogs. [...] After the convincing exposition of Professor Dr. L., there therefore exists no logical contradiction between the findings that Barry on the one hand was dangerous when he was incited to attack Jews by Franz, and that on the other hand, during the absence of Franz, [...] he was indolent, good-tempered, and harmless on the camp property."
Adalbert Rückerl had this comment concerning these sagacious findings:
"The [....] statements give an impression of what effort and care the judges expended in resolving individual details of the crime."
Gegen Dummheit kämpfen selbst Götter vergebens. (German saying)
Even the Gods struggle in vain against stupidity.
3. The Demjanjuk Trial in Jerusalem
On April 25, 1988, John (Ivan) Demjanjuk, a Ukrainian extradited two years earlier from the USA to Israel, was sentenced to death by hanging in Jerusalem. The Court, consisting of the judges Dov Levin, Zvi A. Tal, and Dalia Dorner, had found him guilty of murder of several hundred thousand persons. He had been - so the verdict would have it - that sadistic Ukrainian guard who had been called 'Ivan the Terrible' and who had operated the gas chambers of Treblinka. But this wasn't enough: according to the Israeli judges, Demjanjuk had by no means been satisfied with gassing the Jews, but tortured many of his victims beforehand in an outrageously bestial fashion. In its verdict, the Jerusalem court quoted the former Treblinka prisoner Pichas Epstein, who 'recognized' his former tormentor in Demjanjuk during the trial, as follows:
"I saw this man of vast proportions, well built, solid, and he was operating the motor, he was performing some action and pressing on something which activated the motor. After that, we would wait for twenty minutes to half an hour, and then they ordered the doors to be opened, these were very wide doors, and the corpses to be taken out. Ivan would come out of this room and would rain murderous blows on us with the pipe. Sometimes he would come with a dagger, sometimes with a bayonet, and he would crack skulls, he would cut off ears, he would brutalize the prisoners, it is absolutely unbelievable, unbelievable, and he would stand next to the corpses and gaze upon them. I want to say, honorable court, that it was horrible to look at the corpses when they took them out of the cabins. People with crushed faces, people with stab wounds, pregnant women with stab wounds in their bellies, women with the fetuses hanging half out, young girls with stab wounds on the breast, with eyes gouged out. [...] He would stand and gaze upon the results, what he had done, the stabbing of the girls, the gouging out of the eyes, the severing of the girls' breasts... he stood there like that, enjoying the scene... He was always near me, a few meters away. [...] And he would brutalize the prisoners, cut off a nose, injure somebody in the head, [...] Almost one million human beings, souls, were slaughtered, children, old people and little children. [...] Because they were Jews. This Ivan was a monster from another planet..."
The testimony of the witness Eliyahu Rosenberg, who likewise had identified Demjanjuk as the Satan of Treblinka, was recapitulated in the Jerusalem verdict as follows:
"I saw him especially when I was working on the ramp every day, whenever consignments of Jews arrived for extermination. I saw him when he stood next to the gas chambers at the entrance to the corridor with a destructive instrument in his possession, such as a small short iron pipe, and a whip. He also wore a belt with his pistol. This shouldn't be so, all the destructive instruments together... I also saw that he had a dagger, I saw him with these destructive instruments, and how he would strike, lash, cut... these victims at the entrance to the gas chambers.... [...] They knew how to strike, to strike. We were already there, at that place, and we got used to the beatings. But not to the tortures. God almighty, why tortures? Why cut living flesh from people? Nobody ordered them to do so, no one, he did it alone, on his own initiative. I never heard any German telling him to do that... [...]
I was there on the ramp. We had removed the bodies from the gas chambers, Ivan came out of his cabin, he saw how I was standing there, the place was full of corpses, he said to me... lower your trousers... lay down on them... I saw this incident, and in a second I understood: this was it, I was finished, either by the pipe in his hand or in another manner. Lefler (one of the German S.S. men) was standing there. He was standing and looking. I ran to him, I stood to attention and said to him (in German): Ivan wants me to have sexual relations with a dead woman. So then he went up to him and reprimanded him. Ivan only said to me (in Russian), I'll give it to you. He gave it to me and he found the opportunity."
Another witness, Yehiel Reichmann, testified as follows, according to the Jerusalem verdict:
"I want to tell what took place next to the well with my friend Finkelstein. While I was still washing teeth together with him, with Finkelstein, this Ashmadai (devil) Ivan came with a drilling machine for drilling holes. And he rotated this drilling machine for making holes on Finkelstein's buttocks and said to him, if you scream I'll shoot you... He injured that Finkelstein, he was bleeding and suffering great pain, intense pain, but he was not permitted to scream, because Ivan had given him an order - 'If you scream, I'll shoot you'... Ivan was a super-devil, a super destroyer from Treblinka."
Thus were the witness testimony during a trial, which from the very beginning was intended to once again, more than four decades after the end of the war, graphically conjure up the horror of the 'Holocaust' before the eyes of the world in general and of the Israeli populace in particular. The trial had originally been planned to be conducted in a soccer stadium (!), but since its show-trial character would than have appeared all too evident, this notion was abandoned and a movie theater was chosen as the courtroom. The Israeli media relentlessly stoked the hysteria, and the trial was a mandatory topic in the nation's schools. But then things went much differently from the way they were planned: The trial became a colossal fiasco for the State of Israel and its justice administration.
The two most important books about the Demjanjuk trial are Hans Peter Rullmann 's outstanding documentation written in the year 1987, Der Fall Demjanjuk. Unschuldiger oder Massenmörder? (The Demjanjuk Case: Innocent Man or Mass murderer?) and Yoram Sheftel 's Defending "Ivan the Terrible." The Conspiracy to Convict John Demjanjuk. H. P. Rullmann, former correspondent of the German left-wing news magazine Der Spiegel for Yugoslavia and Chairman of the German-Croatian Society, throws light not only upon the early history of the course up until then of the Demjanjuk trial (when the book appeared this trial was still underway), but also goes into the background features, in particular the tension-laden relations between Jews and Ukrainians; several times the author expresses doubts as to the correctness of the official version of Treblinka. On the other hand, the Israeli attorney Y. Sheftel, Demjanjuk 's defense counsel, by his own admission an ardent Zionist, accepts this version without reservation and insists merely upon the personal innocence of his client, who has been the victim of a conspiracy. Thanks to the committed efforts of Sheftel, the death sentence was quashed by the Israeli Appeals Court, and Demjanjuk was able to return to the USA after seven years of innocent imprisonment.
In the following account of the Demjanjuk case, we are relying for the most part upon the documentation of Rullmann for events up to the beginning of 1987, which appeared in that year; for the period following that, we rely upon the Sheftel book.
Ivan Demjanjuk, born in 1920 in the Ukraine, fell into German hands as a soldier of the Red Army in 1942. He was at first employed in the repair of railroad tracks and then came into the prisoner of war camp of Chełm in eastern Poland up to the beginning of 1944. In order to escape the hunger in the camp, he put himself at the disposal of the Germans as an auxiliary volunteer and was assigned to a Ukrainian National Guard unit under General Shandruk, which fought side by side with the Wehrmacht against the Soviets. In 1945, Demjanjuk escaped the fate of many of his countrymen, who were delivered up to the Bolsheviks by the British and were shipped into camps of the GULag Archipelago. At first, he lived in Germany for a few years, married a Ukrainian woman there and emigrated to the US in 1952, where he made a life for himself as an auto worker and received citizenship in 1958.
The fact that Demjanjuk was active in the Ukrainian community in his new residence of Cleveland, Ohio, spelled disaster for him. A certain Michael Hanusiak, staff member of the Communist newspaper Ukrainian News, published one article after another, in which the anti-Communist Ukrainian exiles supporting the independence of their homeland were calumniated as 'Nazi collaborators,' and he placed seventy such sinister figures as living in Cleveland. In 1975, Demjanjuk came into the crosshairs of the Ukrainian News. Hanusiak claims that he had found the testimony of a certain Danilchenko in a Soviet archive, according to which the latter had gotten to know an Ivan Demjanjuk in Sobibór in March 1943. There - according to Danilchenko - that Demjanjuk had driven Jewish prisoners into the gas chambers as an executioner's assistant of the Germans; in the spring of the same year, he was allegedly sent, together with Danilchenko himself, to the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where he again was employed as a guard.
Now the battue against the autoworker could begin. The Cleveland newspaper Plain Dealer named him as 'Ivan the Terrible,' and starting in 1976, the U.S. immigration authorities looked to obtain information against him. They requested the Jewish World Congress to find former Sobibór inmates who could incriminate the suspect. There clearly were no such prosecution witnesses, and the mysterious Danilchenko himself had vanished without a trace. In a search for witnesses, a U.S. investigatory group traveled to Israel, where seven former Treblinka prisoners 'recognized' Demjanjuk as the evil Ivan of Treblinka on the basis of a photograph. These statements of course contradicted the information of Danilchenko, according to whom the Ukrainian had not been in Treblinka but in Sobibór and Flossenbürg, but the ball had finally been made to roll.
Now the Moscow-directed Ukrainian News published an incriminating 'document' in facsimile, which once again was clearly not reconcilable with the testimony of the seven Israeli witnesses. It supposedly was a service ID card of Demjanjuk from the training camp Trawniki, where many Ukrainians had been trained as concentration camp guards during the war. According to this ID card, Demjanjuk had been detailed to Sobibór on March 27, 1943; Treblinka was not mentioned on it. The document was an obvious and clumsy forgery, for it displayed neither a date of issuance nor an expiration date. (In mid-1987 it was subjected to a chemical analysis by the McCrone Institute in the USA, which proved titanium oxide was a component of the photographic paper - a chemical used in black-and-white photography only since the end of the sixties.) The 'original document' was made available to the Israeli justice administration by the Soviets just at the end of 1986, ten months after the extradition of Demjanjuk.
Although to that point in time the US immigration authority could rely only upon a facsimile and the ID card, but had no proof for Demjanjuk's presence in Treblinka, the document was accepted as conclusive. Demjanjuk was deprived of his U.S. citizenship and under breach of constitutional principles was extradited to Israel in February 1986, a nation, which did not even exist at the time of the alleged mass murders in Treblinka. A substantial role in this scandalous violation of law had been played by the 'Nazi-hunter authority' OSI, established under President Jimmy Carter and for many years led by the Jew Neil Sher, which specialized - using perjured testimony and forged documents - in stripping innocent old men of German or eastern European descent of their U.S. citizenship and deporting them or arranging their extradition to prosecuting nations.
One year after this, the Jerusalem trial began, and five former Jewish Treblinka prisoners, who claimed that they saw the accused in that camp in 1942/1943, recited their unspeakable tales of horror to the best of their ability. One embarrassing detail was obviously that one of these witnesses, Eliyahu Rosenberg, had stated the following in the year 1947 in Vienna:
"The second of August 1943 was set as the day of the revolt. [...] About three-thirty in the afternoon everything was prepared for the revolt. [...] Then one of the water-carriers right then dashed into the barracks and yelled: 'Revolution in Berlin.' This was the signal. Thereupon some people rushed into the barracks of the Ukrainian guard detachment, where among others also the Ukrainian Ivan was sleeping, and killed the Ukrainians with shovels."
During the trial, however, Rosenberg made the excuse that he was only repeating what he had heard and had not seen the death of Ivan himself.
In April 1988, the Jerusalem Court passed the death sentence expected by all, but it was not carried out. Already by that time all too many embarrassing mishaps had occurred, and defense counsel Sheftel (who had acid sprayed in his face by a criminal at the end of 1988, after a second attorney of Demjanjuk, Dov Eitan, had been thrown from a high-rise a few days before and had passed away during this tragic accident) thoroughly exploited these mishaps in his appeal. Lastly, Sheftel pointed to an Ivan Marchenko - missing without a trace - as the actual Ivan the Terrible.
This name was at first put forward by a former prostitute living in the hamlet of Treblinka, who had numbered among her clientele several Ukrainian guards from the camp of the same name during the war, among them also the aforesaid Ivan Marchenko, but Sheftel found shortly thereafter still further 'evidence' in the USSR. According to Soviet court documents, a Ukrainian by the name of Nikolai Shelaiev, who had been condemned to death and shot in 1952 due to alleged crimes in Treblinka, had identified this Ivan Marchenko as operator of the gas chambers of Treblinka. Shelaiev 's testimony had been confirmed by several other former Treblinka guards, and a personal ID card of Marchenko from Trawniki also came to light.
The Israeli justice administration now had to grit its teeth and concede that Demjanjuk, despite all oaths of the five eyewitnesses, had not been 'Ivan the Terrible', but at first undertook yet another weak attempt to charge him with crimes in Sobibór and Flossenbürg. But there were no witnesses for such crimes, and according to the Israeli-American extradition treaty Demjanjuk was not permitted to be brought to account for any kind of actions in these two camps, since his extradition had been predicated solely on his alleged atrocities in Treblinka. Thus he was finally able to return to the USA in September of 1993. Up to the present day, this innocent man had not received a single dollar of compensation for the shameful injustice done to him. On the contrary: his persecution began anew in February 2002, this time because he allegedly served in the camps Sobibór, Majdanek, and Flossenbürg.
As do so many legends, that of 'Ivan the Terrible' may contain a kernel of truth: presumably there was in Treblinka a brutal Ukrainian guard feared by the prisoners, who was called Ivan or the like. All else is pure fantasy.
The Demjanjuk trial, in which all five Jewish 'eyewitnesses' proved to be perjured liars and swindlers, dealt a frightful blow to the credibility of such witnesses. In fact, since then no more 'gas chamber witnesses' have dared to appear in court.
|||"The Men who whitewash Hitler," New Statesman, November 2, 1979.|
|||Butz's reply to G. Sereny was not printed in the New Statesman. Its text can be found in the lecture given by Butz in 1982 at the Conference of the Institute for Historical Review, which was published in a paper with the title "Context and Perspective in the Holocaust Controversy", reprinted in A. R. Butz, op. cit. (note 109), pp. 379-407, here p. 382.|
|||In a letter written on January 3, 1976, Kurt Franz, who continually protested his innocence, strongly denied having been camp Commandant. He wrote: "I served in Treblinka with the military rank of a Oberscharführer of the Waffen-SS responsible exclusively only for the guard detachment and with the men for the guarding of the camp. An Oberscharführer is a Technical Sergeant and not an officer!" The letter is printed in no. 44 of the Historische Tatsachen (note 105) on p. 23. Kurt Franz, who was charged with participation in the murder of 300,139 Jews, had lived in Düsseldorf under his own name up to 1959. (A. Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager..., op. cit. (note 62), pp. 44f.); therefore he obviously had a good conscience and it had never occurred to him that he could be accused of anything! Only in 1993 was he released, a gravely ill and broken man, after decades of imprisonment.|
|||Adalbert Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager..., op. cit. (note 62), pp. 7f.|
|||With regard to this cf. Jürgen Graf, op. cit. (note 277), p. 110.|
|||Kurt Franz, the main defendant at the trial of 1964/1965, repudiated any guilt on his own part, so that Rückerl's claim is invalid at least in his case.|
|||Adalbert Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager..., op. cit. (note 62), p. 86.|
|||Ibid., p. 45.|
|||Another striking example of the tactic, successfully employed by many defendants in NS trials, of purchasing a lenient sentence by confirming the picture of the extermination of Jews as described in the charges as furnished by the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial (1963-1965) of the defendant Robert Mulka. Such horrific atrocities were imputed to him that many objected to his sentence of 14 years imprisonment as inappropriate. Yet only four months later, Mulka was released without any fuss: G. Reitlinger, op. cit., (note 181), p. 551.|
|||Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager..., op. cit. (note 62), p. 199; during the second West German Treblinka trial, the number of Treblinka victims mentioned by another expert report compiled by Wolfgang Scheffler rose to 900,000 "on the basis of new research".|
|||In the same verdict we read that the cremation of the bodies began "in the Spring of 1943" (p. 205).|
|||Ibid., pp. 206f.|
|||Ibid., p. 212.|
|||Ibid., p. 214.|
|||Ibid., p. 219.|
|||Ibid., p. 218.|
|||Of the 50 to 60 railway cars, which each of the freight trains used in the deportations had, 20 at a time are supposed to have been unloaded, while the rest at first remained at the station. (A. Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager..., op. cit. (note 62), p. 217.) In one car there were an average of 100 deportees.|
|||Rückerl, NS-Vernichtungslager..., op. cit. (note 62), p. 215.|
|||Ibid., pp. 234ff.|
|||Ibid., p. 234.|
|||Criminal Case No. 373/86, State of Israel vs. Ivan (John) Damjanjuk, Verdict, pp. 180, 182f. We heartily thank Dr. Miroslav Dragan for having made this important document available to us.|
|||Ibid., pp. 184f.|
|||Ibid., p. 186.|
|||Yoram Sheftel, Defending "Ivan the Terrible." The Conspiracy to convict John Demjanjuk, Regnery Publishing, Washington 1996.|
|||Cf. also the analysis by Dieter Lehner, Du sollst nicht falsch Zeugnis geben, Berg without date .|
|||By means of the example of one case (the prosecution of Martin Bartesch), Andrew Allen documents the murky machinations of the OSI in "Die US-Nazijäger vom OSI und der Holocaust-Mythos", Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, 5(4) (2001), pp. 428-430; English online: "The Office of Special Investigations and the Holocaust Myth," www.codoh.com/trials/triosi.html.|
|||This explanation of Rosenberg has been reproduced in full by H. P. Rullmann, op. cit. (note 188), on pp. 133f.|
|||In that month, Demjanjuk was once more deprived of American citizenship on the initiative of the U.S. government; cf. "In Kürze", Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung, 6(2) (2002), p. 239.|