Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Aged Ex-Nazi Deported To Germany

John Demjanjuk, a former Nazi death camp guard has been taken by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to Germany to stand trial on charges that he participated in the murder of at least 29,000 Jews during World War II.

Demjanjuk, 89, of Seven Hills, Ohio, allegedly participated in the exterminations of Jews at the Sobibor extermination center in Nazi-occupied Poland during the war. Demjanjuk also served the SS as an armed guard of civilian prisoners in Germany at the Nazi-operated Flossenb├╝rg Concentration Camp in Germany and at Majdanek concentration camp and the Trawniki training and forced labor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

The removal of Demjanjuk to Germany was effected through close cooperation between the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and State. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in this matter. Demjanjuk’s removal is part of OSI’s continuing efforts to identify, investigate and take legal action against participants in Nazi crimes of persecution who reside in the United States. Since OSI began operations in 1979, it has won cases against 107 individuals who participated in Nazi crimes of persecution. In addition, attempts to enter the United States by more than 180 individuals implicated in wartime Axis crimes have been prevented as a result of OSI’s "Watch List" program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Departments of State and Homeland Security.

Demjanjuk was first tried on allegations of participation in Nazi persecution in a civil denaturalization case decided in the United States in 1981. A federal court ruled then that Demjanjuk was a gas chamber operator at the notorious Treblinka extermination center where he was known to prisoners as "Ivan the Terrible." He was extradited in 1986 to Israel, where he was tried and convicted. However, after the Israeli Supreme Court found that reasonable doubt existed as to whether Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible, he was released and returned to the United States in 1993.

In 1999, the Department of Justice initiated a new denaturalization case against Demjanjuk, relying in large part on captured Nazi documents that came to light following the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union. In revoking his citizenship in 2002, the district court found that, in addition to serving at Sobibor, where approximately 250,000 Jewish men, women, and children were murdered, Demjanjuk had served as an armed guard at Majdanek, a concentration camp and extermination center at which at least 170,000 victims perished. The court also found that Demjanjuk served at Flossenburg, where thousands of prisoners were murdered or died under inhumane conditions.

Demjanjuk, a retired auto worker who was born in present-day Ukraine, immigrated to the United States in 1952 by concealing from U.S. immigration authorities his true whereabouts during World War II and his Nazi camp guard service. As a former Sobibor guard, Demjanjuk is only the second person to be removed from the United States after having served at one of the four Nazi camps constructed solely to murder civilians.

In 2002, the U.S. District Court in Cleveland revoked Demjanjuk’s naturalized U.S. citizenship after a two-week trial. Chief Judge Paul R. Matia found that Demjanjuk participated at the Sobibor extermination center in "the process by which thousands of Jews were murdered by asphyxiation with carbon monoxide" in the camp’s gas chambers. In December 2005, then Chief Immigration Judge Michael J. Creppy ordered Demjanjuk removed from the United States to Ukraine, Germany or Poland. In May 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Demjanjuk’s petition for review clearing the way for his being transported to Germany today.

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