After a number of months and deportation proceedings, the trial of the 89 year old John Demjanjuk is now underway in Munich, Germany. Mr. Demanjuk is accused of being an accessory to murder in the Sobibor Concentration Camp in present-day Poland, with the prosecution charging he is responsible for over 29,000 Jews who were killed there.
John Demjanjuk was born in then Soviet Ukraine, and was drafted in the Red Army before being captured by German forces in 1942. He maintains that after that he was a POW and later joined the Vlasov Regiment of the "Russian Liberation Army", a collaborationist group that was allied with the Nazi regime. Following the end of the war, he was in West Germany as a displaced person.
In 1951, he immigrated to the United States as a displaced person, setting down in Ohio where he worked in an automobile factory, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1958.
Demjanjuk's charges first arose in the 1970s, during the latter phase of the Israeli Government's search for Nazi collaborators who had escaped after World War II. At that point, the Israeli government believed that Demanjuk was the brutal SS officer "Ivan the Terrible", who was responsible for many deaths at the Trebilinka Concentration Camp.
In 1981 his American citizen was revoked, and he was extradited to Israel in 1986, being sentenced to death in 1988. In 1993, an Israeli High Court overturned the sentence, saying that evidence had arisen since then showing that Demjanjuk was not "Ivan the Terrible". Demjanjuk returned to the US and had his citizenship restored in 1998, but accusations lingered that he may have been involved with the holocaust in one way or another.
In 1999 to 2004, a series of trials by the US Justice Department presented evidence that while recognizing that Demjanjuk was not "Ivan the Terrible", he was regardless a guard at the Sobibor Concentration Camp, and a member of a SS-run unit which hunted down Jews in Nazi Germany-occupied Poland. This would lead to Demjanjuk losing his American citizenship in 2002, and ultimately a deportation order to Ukraine was filed 2005. Demjanjuk's lawyers argued under the pretense of torture, but were unable to reverse the sentence.
At this point, Germany stepped in and announced that plans were underway to extradite Demjanjuk to Germany, where he would be tried by a special German office responsible for handling issues relating to World War II crimes. They said there were grounds for this, as Demjanjuk had resided in Munich following World War II before immigrating to the US. By late 2008, the German courts upheld this motion and a request was filed with the US, leading Demjanjuk to try and appeal the decision, but was ultimately deported in May of 2009 to Munich, where he was transferred to a prison until November 30th, when the trial opened up.
The 89 year old was rolled in on a gurney for the trial, which is limited to two 90 minute sessions a day on account of his health. Some are accusing Demjanjuk of faking his problems to gain pity, but his doctors maintain that his age is getting to him.
The prosecution charges that Demjanjuk had been a guard at the Sobibor concentration camp, and had "enthusiastically" aided the Nazis in killing prisoners at the concentration camp. The prosecution adds that it should be considered that Demjanjuk could have escaped the camp as the Nazis began to lose their grip over Poland, but stayed behind.
The prosecution has evidence from the US Justice Department on top of their own, saying it definitely places Demjanjuk as a guard at Sobibor. The defense maintains that the trial is illegal as it shows a double standard, as Nazi administrators of the Sobibor camp were not given such treatment and sentences.
The trial is expected to last a few months and is to be attended by survivors and descendants of survivors of the Sobibor camp. Most of them see this as a symbolic proceeding, as it will more than likely be the last holocaust-related trial.
With the background out of the way, I give these questions- should Demjanjuk be charged with being an accessory to murder? Is he too old to face trial? Is it time to forgive?
Additionally, how do we determine who should be determined as actors and collaborators in the Holocaust?
Arguably, it is possible that he was foreseen as a bad guy, when he was just a prisoner. How would anybody have proof that he "enthusiastically" killed these Jews? He's a prisoner, and I'm pretty sure you might blow things out of proportion just a hair too if you were captured and you were tortured. He was just doing his job, after all.
Not to say that I condone Nazi activities, but as a neutral bystander I think that should be taken into account.
I heard about this a few months ago.
I suppose that because he is so old, he should not face jail time or capital punishment, mainly because I think doing so to someone that old just seems... wrong. I'm not sure what they will do with him though...
Dude clearly has a matter of days left...Who gives a crap, really. Just let him die.
Voice of joy and sunshine
26th May 2003
Such is the comedy of such proceedings these days that In a hundred years we'll still be trying their bones.
For the Emperor! Knights of Caliban!
16th March 2004
So what there going to try him as a War criminal? Lets face it the dudes has his foot in the grave. I bet he most likely regretting the choices he made in his life.
[color=#000000][size=2][b][i]Heralds of the coming doom, Like the cry of the Raven, we are drawn, This oath of war and vengeance, On a blade of exalted iron sworn, With blood anointed swords
It would all depend on how he acted in the concentration camp, and mostly, how he acted towards the end of the war since some nazi soldiers began to become more tolerant and even less helping them in an extremely small way. That being said, he was a fucking soldier. He could either obey his orders or be killed. You don't arrest the soldiers, you arrest the commanding officer.
Sadim-Al-Bouncer;5155706I heard about this a few months ago. I suppose that because he is so old, he should not face jail time or capital punishment, mainly because I think doing so to someone that old just seems... wrong. I'm not sure what they will do with him though...
While I agree with you in a way, would you still say the same thing if he had kept torturing jews through out the years?
Snipes With Artillery
22nd March 2005
Seriously? Even if he's half-dead, they've done psychological studies to figure out just exactly how 11 million people could be exterminated without the guards protesting, and they found that pretty much humans will listen to any authority figure, or they'll go along with what they think the other members of the group want. He wasn't a fucking mastermind, even if he was an evil dick. Just get whoever's in charge of his religion to damn him and that'll probably be enough punishment.
I didn't make it!
I wonder how long Jews will be playing the holocaust card. If only Native Americans didn't have dark skin, perhaps they could have gained a bit more sympathy?