New York Post
Saturday, March 17, 1990.
This May, Israel's Supreme Court will decide whether John Demjanjuk, the Cleveland auto worker convicted of being "Ivan the Terrible," the butcher of Treblinka who operated the gas chamber, follows Adolph Eichmann to the gallows.
Oddly, the closer Demjanjuk comes to death, the more certain his innocence appears. Had we known in 1980, when he was stripped of U.S. citizenship, what we know today, he would have walked out of his Cleveland courtroom a free man.
Just weeks ago, CBS' "60 Minutes" discovered Marianna Dudek in a village near Treblinka. Did she remember "Ivan the Terrble"? Indeed she did: she had slept with him for the gold Ivan ha taken from the Jews, she said; his real name was Ivan Marchenko.
At the War Crimes Commission in Warsaw, CBS was shown a list of guards from Treblinka. Marchenko's name was on it; Demjanjuk's was not.
The only hard evidecnne against Demjanjuk remains the I.D. card from Trawniki training camp, which puts Demjanjuk in a different camp, Sobibor.
Late in the Jerusalem trial, we learned that the U.S. Justice Department had withheld evidence, dating to 1979, that another guard, Danilchenko, also recalled Demjanjuk at Sobibor in the same months Demjanjuk's accusers swear he was at Treblinka.
Now, a U. S. researcher has finished an exhaustive study of the I.D. card, and three like it from Soviet archives, delivered to Israel by Armand Hammer. All four are patent forgeries.
Demjanjuk's card, supposedly issued in mid-1942, is validated with the seal of SS-Brigadefuehrer Odilo Globocnik. But Himmler himself dismissed Globocnik in March of '42, while Demjanjuk was still in the Red Army.
Three of the cards, including Demjanjuk's, carry the stamp of the Waffen SS; but the Waffen SS did not take over Trawniki until 1943, a year after Demjanjuk supposedly departed.
On guard Juchnowoskij's card, his picture is reversed (buttons are on the left side of the blouse) while the numbers on the blouse are not reversed, proof the picture was composed in a lab.
One card bears the signature of a Corporal Teufel; Teufel had been promoted to sergeant three months before. The same card bears the signature of Capt. Hoefle; Hoefle had already been promoted to Major to carry out the deportation of the Warsaw Jews.
Moreover, graphic elements of the seals are grossly misaligned; the SS thunderbolts are wrongly printed in the Roman script; one stamp is upside down.
Nazi documents have been copied professionally for years; why, then, such clumsy forgeries? Simple: The KGB forgers had no authentic Trawniki card to work from.
But what about the eyewitnesses?
Well, among the atrocities for which Demjanjuk must hang is using a drill to bore into the rectum of prisoner Finkelstein. Only, in his 1945 sworn testimony, Finkelstein did not mention this.
Moreover, S. Reizman, the leader of the Treblinka prisoners, never mentioned any Ivan in his list of the Ukrainian personnel at Treblinka, compiled at meetings of survivors in Lodz on Nov 5, 1945.
Another witness at Demjanjuk's trial swore in 1945 and 1947 that he'd killed Ivan in 1943.
Is this collective perjury? No, something else. Since the war, 1,600 medical papers have been written on "The Psychological and Medical Effects of the Concentration Camps on Holocaust Survivors."
This so-called "Holocaust Survivor Syndrome" involves "group fantasies of martyrdom and heroics." Reportedly, half of the 20,000 survivor testimonies in Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem are considered "unreliable," not to be used in trials.
(See "Shmuel Krakowski & the Yad Vashem Archives", in "Techniques of Denial" to understand how Holocaust deniers have utilized this falsehood in their propaganda.)
Finally, the death engine. During the war, the underground government of the Warsaw Ghetto reported to London that the Jews of Treblinka were being electrocuted and steamed to death.
(See this Usenet article for a discussion of these reports, which were incorrect. Even though neither charge was confirmed during the Nuremberg Tribunal, Holocaust deniers continue to point to them as if they had, in an attempt to discredit the Tribunal.)
The Israeli court, however, concluded that the murder weapon for 850,000 was the diesel engine from a Soviet tank which drove its exhaust into the death chamber. All died in 20 minutes, Finkenstein swore in 1945.
The problem is: Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody. In 1988, 97 kids, trapped 400 feet underground in a Washington, DC tunnel while two locomotives spewed diesel exhaust into the car, emerged unharmed after 45 minutes.
(The false assertion that diesel engines could not emit sufficient carbon monoxide stems from the work of Holocaust denier Friedrich Berg.)
Demjanjuk's weapon of mass murder cannot kill. The Soviet I.D. cards are patent forgeries. Polish witnesses say "Ivan" was another man; Israeli eyewitnesses contradict their own sworn statements, contradict one another, and are contradicted in turn.
And John Demjanjuk, bewildered and innocent, advances toward execution.
God help us. We are the Salem judges of our own time.