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June 05, 1992 - Image 11

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-06-05

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The Wrong Ivan?

New evidence indicates that John Demjanjuk
was a Nazi guard, but was not "Ivan the Terrible"
of Treblinka.

r

'DOUGLAS DAVIS

Foreign Correspondent

I. •

T

he Israeli authorities
were this week con-
fronting an acute
sw
dilemma over how to deal
with the very real prospect
that the Supreme Court will
0 overturn the conviction and
death sentence passed on
'-' John Demjanjuk for war
crimes and crimes against
'humanity.
While it seems increasing-
ly unlikely that, as a result
_ of new evidence, Mr. Dem-
janjuk was "Ivan the Ter-
r--. rible" of Treblinka, it is in-
creasingly probable that he
was at least a Nazi guard at
the Sobibor and Flossenburg
* concentration camps.
The Israeli prosecution,
however, has presented no
o. evidence about offenses he
might have committed at
these camps and it is
difficult to determine what
Wounds can be found for
keeping him in jail.
' It is equally hard to imag-
,, ine that the Israelis will
simply allow a man who was
r— very likely a Nazi concentra-

tion camp guard to simply
walk free.
Even if they did, where he
would live? It is in-
conceivable that he would
remain in Israel. It is also
unlikely Mr. Demjanjuk,
now 72, would be allowed to
return to the United States,
where he had worked as an
auto mechanic in Cleveland

There is no new
evidence to
corroborate the
charge that
Demjanjuk had
been at Treblinka.

and from where he was
extradited in 1986 because
he was found to have lied on
his 1951 immigration ap-
plication form.
The 11-month trial of John
Demjanjuk was conducted in
a converted Jerusalem
auditorium, broadcast live
on television and attracted
some 250,000 spectators
before the three trial judges
concluded "without hesita-

tion or doubt" that Mr. Dem-
janjuk was guilty.
They accepted the prosecu-
tion case that John Demjan-
juk was indeed "Ivan the
Terrible," a Ukrainian
soldier who was recruited by
the Nazis after being cap-
tured, trained as a guard by
the SS at Trawniki and
served as a guard at the
Treblinka concentration
camp in Poland, where some
850,000 Jews perished.
They also accepted that
Mr. Demjanjuk, now a
lumbering, avuncular fig-
ure, not only took sadistic
pleasure in torturing his
defenseless victims as he
pushed them into the gas
chambers but also operated
the diesel engine that
pumped the lethal gas.
No one contests that "Ivan
the Terrible" did exist, but
there is now considerable
doubt that John Demjanjuk
was that "Ivan."
This week, his Israeli
defense counsel, Yoram
Sheftel, declared that he had
amassed 79 pieces of
evidence to show
"unequivocally and quite
completely" that the real

John Demjanjuk is a man without a country.

culprit was Ivan Marchenko,
and that Mr. Demjanjuk had
never been at Treblinka.
Mr. Sheftel, who was par-
tially blinded when a con-
centration camp survivor
threw acid in his face, told
the Supreme Court judges
that the five Israeli
witnesses who had positively

identified Mr. Demjanjuk as
the Treblinka guard were
either senile or lying.
The mass of new evidence
Mr. Sheftel presented relies
on photographs, SS staff
files, depositions, affidavits
and the interrogation of 37
former camp guards. Taken
together, it makes a compell-

applications in the State of
Israel, will meet Feb. 14-15,
1993, in New York.
The conference will draw
attention to the continuing
influence of the Talmud and
Jewish law on the lives of
Jews in Israel and
throughout the world.
Among the participants will
be Justice Menachem Elon,
deputy president of the
Israel Supreme Court, and
Professor David Weiss
Halivni, professor of religion
at Columbia University.
Interested participants are
invited to submit abstracts
of papers for possible presen-
tation. Due by July 15, the
abstracts should be no
longer than one, double-
spaced typed page and may
be sent to Dor Hemshech,
110 E. 59th St., Third Floor,
New York, N.Y. 10022, at-
tention Adena Berkowitz, or
call (212) 339-6074.
The event is cosponsored
by the Dor Hemshech-World
Zionist Organization, the In-
stitute of Traditional
Judaism rabbinical school,

Bar- Ilan University,
Yeshiva University's Ben-
jamin Cardozo School of
Law, Hebrew University
Law School and the WZO's
Torah Education and Cul-
ture Department.

ROUND UP

Speakers Analyze
.
Diaspora Support
Jerusalem — The fear of a
new Holocaust lay behind
'Diaspora Jews' tremendous
support of Israel just before
and during the 1967 Six-Day
0 , War, according to speakers
at a recent Hebrew Univer-
4i.ty of Jerusalem conference.
When it became apparent
0that war was inevitable,
American Jewry rallied in
an unprecedented way, said
Dr. Menachem Kaufman of
the university's Avraham
47-larman Institute of Con-
temporary Jewry, which
r. sponsored the event. Huge
sums were raised, including
a great deal of on-the-spot
cash from those who had
never before contributed to
Jewish or Israeli causes. Not
11,Pnly cash but blood, medical
equipment and food were
donated, with thousands
registering to go immedi-
ately as volunteers to Israel.
o- There was a feeling that
not only the existence of
Israel but of the entire Jew-

ish people was at stake, Dr.
Kaufman said. He added
that both in the United
States and elsewhere, as a
result of the war, Israel
became the focus of Jewish
life, making it a kind of
"new religion."

Sandals date back to 132 C.E.

Shoe-Bee Do:
News From Haifa
Wait! Don't dare let Fido
chew on these old shoes!
The University of Haifa's
Hecht Museum has put on
display a pair of woman's
leather sandals which date
back to 132 C.E., the time of
the Bar Kochba revolt.
Purchased from a New
York collector, the sandals
are made of cattle skin and
were found in a dark cave in
the Judean Desert. They
remain in virtually the same
condition as when they were
made some 1,800 years ago,
museum officials said.
That they belonged to a
woman is inferred from their

narrow shape and daintiness
of style.
Other artifacts found near
the sandals show that this
cave likely served as a
hiding place for the rebel
Jewish soldiers. Bar Kochba
coins were discovered at the
site, as were arrowheads of
bone, testifying to the Jew-
ish defenders' lack of raw
materials for fashioning
weapons.

New York To Host
Jewish Law Event
An international con-
ference on "Jewish Law and
Talmudic Sources," with
consideration of practical

Israeli Elections
Focus Of Program
The Shalom America
Television Network will pre-
sent through June 28 a
series of news and public af-
fairs programs, sponsored by
AT&T, focusing on the
Israeli elections.
The Hebrew-language
programs will be aired 4
p.m. Sundays on Continen-
tal Cable Channel 11, with a
special one-hour broadcast
June 23, election day, to
report the results. The pro-
grams will present an analy-
sis of political events and in-
clude interviews, debates
and footage of the parties
campaigning.

Compiled by
Elizabeth Applebaum

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

11

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