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John Demjanjuk

Accused Nazi Guard Awaits Trial in Germany

May 12, 2009 05:04 PM
by Rachel Balik
His family protested that he was too ill to travel, but John Demjanjuk has been deported from the United States to stand trial in Munich, Germany.

Despite Protests of Family, John Demjanjuk Is Deported

According to U.K. paper The Guardian, John Demjanjuk, accused of being an “accessory to the murder” of 29,000 Jews, has returned to Germany to face trial. His family had insisted that the 89-year-old was too ill to leave his home in Ohio, but the Cleveland Leader reports that on May 8, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to prevent Demjanjuk’s deportation. On May 11, U.S. Immigration and Customs agents took Demjanjuk in an ambulance to the airport, and he landed in Munich early May 12. German doctors will determine if he is able to stand trial.

Demjanjuk, who was born in the Ukraine, is believed to have been a guard at Sobibor, a Polish concentration camp. He argues that during the time period in question, he was held by the Germans as a POW. Munich prosecutors say they have his SS membership card and additional evidence against him, including written testimonies from witnesses that claim Demjanjuk forced victims into the gas chambers.

The trial may be delayed until a year from now.

Background: The fight to prevent deportation

Demjanjuk has been fighting deportation for many years. In 1977, Demjanjuk was accused of being Ivan the Terrible, a “sadistic” guard from the Treblinka concentration camp and his U.S. citizenship was revoked for the first time in the 1980s. But an Israeli court ruled that he was not Ivan and Demjanjuk was allowed to return to the United States.

But evidence eventually surfaced that Demjanjuk was actually a different prison guard. His official deportation orders from the United States were delivered in 2005, but he has since been appealing the courts. The Supreme Court rejected a previous appeal in May 2008, but at the time, none of the three countries listed on the deportation order (Germany, Poland or Ukraine) would agree to take him. In March 2009, Germany finally issued an arrest warrant but the Demjanjuk family, arguing that John Demjanjuk was not well enough to travel, filed for and won a temporary stay of deportation.

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