Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Double Jeopardy OK’d for John Demjanjuk

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John DemjanjukThe U.S. Justice Department may indeed get their man this time even if justice is tossed out the window. Retired auto worker John Demjanjuk has been deported to Germany where he will be charged — this time — with complicity in Nazi crimes at Poland’s Sobibor concentration camp. Why emphasize “this time”?  Well, the now 89-year-old Ohioan was put through several legal wringers beginning 30 years ago because he was supposed to be “Ivan the Terrible,” the sadistic prison guard from Treblinka, a completely different camp.  Turns out he wasn’t Ivan after all.

U.S. officials got their evidence that Demjanjuk was Treblinka’s Ivan from the Soviet KGB, hardly a reliable source. The Justice Department personnel succeeded in getting him stripped of U.S. citizenship and sent to Israel in 1988 where he was tried and convicted, held on death row for four years, and about to be hanged for being Ivan. He always claimed that he never set foot in Treblinka. Before the death sentence could be carried out, however, family members succeeded in finding photos of the real Ivan, a man named Marchenko.  Israel’s Supreme Court reversed its sentence and refused to consider a second trial because its justices don’t believe in double jeopardy. Demjanjuk came back to America, had his citizenship restored, and resumed a very quiet life with family and friends in Cleveland. Double jeopardy then got its chance.

U.S. officials have never stopped their dogged pursuit of this man. If he wasn’t Ivan from Treblinka, the new charge is that he was complicit in the deaths of 27,900 Nazi victims as a guard at Sobibor. Again, the supposed evidence has been supplied by veterans of the KGB. Demjanjuk is being charged with being a guard at the camp in Poland. No still-alive Sobibor inmate can place him at the camp. He is not being charged with participating in any murders of helpless Nazi victims. Justice officials, once denied and supremely embarrassed by their previous bungling, don’t care. They are determined to get the man they claim was an “accessory” to the crimes perpetrated at Sobibor more than 60 years ago.

On April 12, the Justice Department succeeded in getting a judge to order the frail and sickly Demjanjuk deported to Germany to face the new charge. One month later, with his appeals exhausted, he was sent to Munich where he will be tried this fall — if he’s still alive.

One question related to all of the persecution of John Demjanjuk is why many high German officials haven't been prosecuted for what did occur at the hands of the Nazis. Plenty of them are still alive and there are plenty of witnesses and a great deal of evidence can be presented. The answer is that the Germans arranged an amnesty for themselves in 1969. So, targeting the Ukainian-born Demjanjuk with questionable evidence that he was a guard will have to suffice for those who claim outrage over what Hitler’s forces did 60-plus years ago.

An even more compelling question needing an answer is why have none of the arch criminals from the former USSR faced prosecution? Communist horrors that claimed far more victims than did the brutality of Hitler’s Germany are no secret. And many of those who killed and maimed to propagate Red terror can easily be identified by survivors who really did witness what happened.

One obvious candidate for prosecution (or at very least worldwide shunning) is former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. A life-long communist who has never retracted his protestations of being “a communist,” Gorbachev is as guilty as any man alive for the deaths of at least a million Afghanis at the hands of Soviet invaders who carried out Kremlin orders during the entire decade of the 1980s. Gorbachev became a member of the Kremlin’s Politburo in 1980 and rose to be the USSR leader in 1985. While he served, forces under his ultimate command decimated Afghanistan, forced six million to flee their homes for refuge in neighboring nations, and kidnapped tens of thousands of teens who were sent to Russia for Soviet indoctrination. Not satisfied with all of these crimes, Soviet troops spread booby-trapped toys throughout the nation and watched as children retrieved them only to have their faces and limbs blown apart.

Gorbachev and those who served under him, including current Russian leader Vladimir Putin, are guilty of all of this. But they are untouchables according to our leaders and our mass media. They are even given accolades by the current occupant of the White House. No one is even supposed to recall the decades of Soviet terror. But we are led like sheep to accept the ordeal of the octogenarian from Ohio.

Anyone who can’t see something wrong in this picture is himself a victim, a victim of massive propaganda that can only lead to more such crimes. In the end, it must be realized that crime unpunished is crime rewarded. And crime rewarded invites more treachery — with new criminals and new victims.

Photo: AP Images

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