Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Europe

Victim families: Demjanjuk should be convicted

Relatives of people killed at the Nazis' Sobibor death camp and their lawyers said in closing statements at John Demjanjuk's trial Wednesday that the evidence shows he was a guard there and he should be convicted as an accessory to murder.

Ukraine-born Demjanjuk, 90, denies having ever served as a Nazi death camp guard, saying he was a soldier in the Red Army who was captured by the Germans and then spent most of the rest of the war as a prisoner himself.

But the prosecution argues that after his capture, he volunteered to serve the Germans as a guard.

Scores of people whose relatives were killed in Sobibor — and three survivors themselves — have joined the trial as co-plaintiffs, as allowed under German law.

Eastchester, New York-resident Aleida Keesing was not able to attend Wednesday, but said in a statement sent to the Munich state court both of her parents, as well as her brother and his family, were killed in the death camp in 1943, when Demjanjuk is alleged to have been a guard there.

"I hope that before I die I will get justice from this trial," she said.

Ralph Erman, of New York City, recalled in another statement that was read aloud the last postcard that his family received from his father, who was killed in Sobibor along with his mother.

His father wrote, before being transported by train from Holland to the death camp in occupied Poland "tomorrow we will start our long journey to the unknown."

"We should ensure that all of those who are still alive who took part, even if they had only a small role, are brought to justice," Erman wrote.

Demjanjuk, a retired Ohio auto worker, lay in bed as he has for most of the trial, wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap pulled down low, and showed no reaction.

Attorney Rolf Kleidermann, who represents several people whose relatives were killed in Sobibor, said he believes in the authenticity of six historical documents implicating Demjanjuk in connection with Sobibor — including a photo identity card indicating he had been posted there.

He added that he also believed one witness who said he trained with Demjanjuk in an SS camp — even though the witness could not identify Demjanjuk in court. Kleidermann said he was likely just trying to protect the defendant.

"In the end he tried to defend Demjanjuk," Kleidermann said.

The trial resumes April 13 with more statements from co-plaintiffs, after which the defense will begin its closing arguments. A verdict is expected in mid-May.