John Demjanjuk Charged with Nazi War Crimes in German Court Hot

It is announced that John Demjanjuk, an accused Nazi concentration camp guard and war criminal, will be deported to Germany where he will stand trial for crimes against humanity.

Born Ivan Mykolaiovych Demianiuk in the Ukraine, John Demjanjuk fought for the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany and was captured in the Crimea. Later he became one of a number of recruits from Soviet POWs to work for the Germans.

A stay on his deportation order will be issued the folllowing day after a motion is filed by John Demjanjuk's defense lawyers arguing that deporting him to Germany for trial would constitute a form of torture under international treaties. The courts will reject his claim.

According to the Sixth Circuit Court:

"Based on the medical information before the court and the government's representations about the conditions under which it will transport the petitioner, which include an aircraft equipped as a medical air ambulance and attendance by medical personnel, the court cannot find that the petitioner's removal to Germany is likely to cause irreparable harm sufficient to warrant a stay of removal."

There is a significant difference between the trial John Demjanjuk faces in Germany and the trial he had in Israel a few years previously. In Israel, Demjanjuk was accused of being a particular person ("Ivan the Terrible") who committed particular and egregious crimes while working as a guard at the Treblinka concentration camp. Although he was originally convicted, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned the guilty verdict, concluding that the evidence that he was Ivan the Terrible was too poor to justify the verdict.

In Germany, Demjanjuk will go on trial for essentially nothing more than working at a concentration camp and being present while war crimes were committed. While it's implausible that anyone could serve as a guard in a Nazi concentration camp and never do anything wrong, John Demjanjuk is not charged with any specific crimes against any specific people. The German prosecution does not try to point to specific acts committed by Demjanjuk which led to specific crimes suffered by others.

For this reason, the German prosecution of John Demjanjuk is sharply criticized, even by some Germans. It's virtually certain that if John Demjanjuk was a guard at Treblinka (and the evidence on that debatable) then he was guilty of something, but the state has a responsibility to prove specific crimes in order to punish, not merely provide a means for generalized retribution against whoever is left and can be associated in some fashion with past crimes.


John Demjanjuk Convicted Over Nazi Camp Deaths

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