Jun 10, 2011

The Strange Case of John Demjanjuk


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Inconvenient  History

The Strange Case of John Demjanjuk


By Richard A. Widmann

On May 13th news headlines around the world announced the conviction of John Demjanjuk for having been a guard at the infamous Sobibor concentration camp. Demjanjuk it would seem was found guilty as an accessory to the murder of some 28,060 people. Oddly however if one reads beyond the headlines it is revealed that there was no evidence that Demjanjuk committed any specific crime. The conviction was based on the legally declared "fact" that if he was at the camp, he had to have been a participant in the killing.

But if convicting a man without evidence isn't strange enough, Judge Ralph Alt ordered Demjanjuk sentenced to 5 years in prison but released him from custody, noting that he had already served two years during the trial and had served 8 years in Israel on related charges which were later overturned. Was this verdict truly about carrying out justice for crimes committed 65 years prior or was it simply the wisdom of a judge who could placate all sides by setting a 91-year-old man free but still pronouncing him guilty?

To better understand the recent events we need to turn back the pages of this story nearly 70 years. During World War Two, Demjanjuk fought in the Red Army against the Nazis but ....




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