John Demjanjuk (3 April 1920 – 17 March 2012) was a Ukrainian citizen who immigrated to the U.S. after the Second World War. He and many other Ukrainian immigrants were targeted by pro-Soviet groups in the U.S. for their alleged collaboration with German authorities during World War II. U.S. authorities cooperated with these pro-Soviet groups, stripped Demjanjuk of his U.S. citizenship, and deported him to Israel, where he was put on trial in 1987 for allegedly aiding in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Treblinka Camp; he was found guilty as charged, and sentenced to death. That sentence was overruled by the Jerusalem Court of Appeals in 1993, which acquitted Demjanjuk for lack of evidence. He was subsequently repatriated to the U.S. and received his citizenship back.
However, in 2004, U.S. authorities again revoked his citizenship and deported him in 2009 to Germany, where he was put on trial for aiding in crimes allegedly committed at the former Sobibór Camp. He was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment, but died while his appeal was pending.
For centuries, Russian authorities sought to undermine the credibility of independence-minded Ukrainian groups and individuals. During the Cold War, this meant among other things that pro-Soviet groups tried tarnishing Ukrainians’ reputation by falsely implicating them in war crimes allegedly committed during World War II. In that context, the pro-Soviet weekly News from Ukraine, published in the U.S., defamed anti-communist nationalist-oriented Ukrainians living in U.S. exile, particularly by claiming that they had collaborated with the Germans during World War II. The Soviet Union’s practice of combating opponents by means of disinformation using falsified evidence is generally known, but was ignored by U.S. authorities in Demjanjuk’s case.
The U.S. authorities charged with “hunting Nazis” in the U.S. – organized in 1979 as the FBI’s heavily Jewish-dominated Office of Special Investigations (OSI) – collaborated closely with the pro-Soviet groups in the U.S. in their attempt to revoke the U.S. citizenship of Ukrainian immigrants and deport them. In Demjanjuk’s case, Soviet, U.S., German and Israeli authorities all worked together to hide from judges and from the public the fact that evidence presented by the Soviets were plain forgeries, and that witness statements were utterly untrustworthy. Among them was an ID card forged by the Soviets allegedly proving that Demjanjuk had been a guard at the Sobibór Camp. However, the photo in that ID card had been taken from Demjanjuk’s postwar immigration file to the U.S., meaning that the Soviets had U.S. collaborators for this framing operation. German authorities pressured one of their expert witnesses who had revealed this forgery to commit perjury in court in order to hide the rigged nature of the evidence presented by the Soviets and the OSI. As a result, Demjanjuk’s citizenship was revoked, and he was deported to Israel in 1986 to serve as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of a typical show trial.
When the scandalous pre-history and conduct of the Jerusalem show trial against Demjanjuk became apparent, two prominent U.S. personalities – U.S. Representative James Traficant (Democrat, Ohio) and U.S. presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan – spoke out on Demjanjuk’s behalf, exposing not only his show trial and the corruption of the U.S. authorities collaborating with it, but the fraudulent nature of extermination claims about Treblinka in general.
An expert on the reliability of witness testimonies called by the defense during the trial, as well as the director of Israel’s Holocaust research center Yad Vashem, Shmuel Krakowski, agreed that many, if not most, of the witness statements made in court and found in archives in Holocaust matters are unreliable. In the end, the Jerusalem Court of Appeals agreed, threw out all witness testimony as unreliable, and acquitted Demjanjuk for lack of evidence. It was a resounding success of relentless lobbying by Holocaust skeptics behind the scenes. Later on, Demjanjuk was repatriated to the U.S., and his citizenship was restored.
From the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Israel and several European countries implemented laws criminalizing dissenting views on the mainstream Holocaust narrative. (See the entry on censorship.) Consequently, societal pressure against dissidents increased dramatically, even in countries not outlawing historical dissent. Hence, when the OSI made a second attempt to revoke Demjanjuk’s citizenship in 2002 based on the same forged evidence and similarly fraudulent witness statements, there was no second wave of official or underground support for Demjanjuk.
In German courts, the defense has no right to introduce evidence; if they motion the court to introduce evidence on their behalf which challenges the mainstream narrative, the court must, by law, reject that motion, and the prosecution must, by law, initiate criminal proceedings against the defense lawyers involved for having tried to deny the Holocaust in a public court proceeding. Furthermore, if a lawyer says anything challenging the mainstream narrative, he can be banned by the court from speaking any further in court anymore, and be forced to make all submissions in writing instead.
With that German skill of perfect organization, Demjanjuk’s second show trial in Germany went down without a hitch. The Soviet-forged ID card allegedly showing that Demjanjuk had been a guard at the Sobibór Camp was used again to “prove” that he had served in that camp. Although the prosecution did not succeed in proving that Demjanjuk had committed even a single murder himself, he was sentenced to five years in prison by the Munich District Court in 2011, just for having been present at the camp. Having enabled the operation of the camp in any way made Demjanjuk an accessory to murder.
When this verdict was upheld by the German Supreme Court in 2016, reverting 70 years of case law not holding bystanders responsible for murder, it opened the floodgates for the prosecution of any German ever involved in operating a German wartime camp.
Demjanjuk, however, died before the verdict could become effective.