Photos have surfaced of convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanuk in the Sobibor Nazi death camp, where he denied ever having been a guard.
The recently discovered images come from the estate of a deputy commandant at the camp, Johann Niemann, one of ten SS men killed by prisoners in the famous October 1943 uprising. Parts of his collection will be made public on January 28, at the Topography of Terror archive in Berlin, and in a new book to be released that day.
It reportedly is the first time that Demjanuk has been identified in photos of Sobibor.
Demjanuk, whose US citizenship was revoked in 2002 for lying on his citizenship application about his Nazi service, and who was deported to Germany in 2009, was convicted in Munich in 2011 as an accessory to the murder of 28,060 Jews at the death camp. Sentenced to five years in prison, he died in a nursing home at the age of 91 in March 2012, while awaiting a decision on his appeal.
The Topography of Terror archive said that the photos – part of a series of more than 350 images – provide unprecedented insight into the “Action Reinhardt” phase of the mass extermination of European Jewry in the death camps Sobibor, Belzec and Treblinka.
Sobibor was constructed in German-occupied Poland in 1942. By the time it was shut down in November 1943, at least 167,000 Jews had been gassed there with carbon monoxide, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Topography of Terror archive is working on the project together with the Stanislaw Hantz Educational Center and the Ludwigsburg Research Center on National Socialism at the University of Stuttgart.
Demjanjuk’s conviction set a legal precedent under which those who served where crimes against humanity were committed can be prosecuted as accessories.
Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk was believed to be the notoriously brutal guard “Ivan the Terrible” of the Treblinka extermination camp and was extradited to Israel from the United States for trial in 1986, and two years later was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging.
But in 1993, Israel’s top court unanimously ruled Demjanjuk was not “Ivan the Terrible,” overturning the 1988 verdict and returning him to the US after it received evidence that another Ukrainian, not Demjanjuk, was that Nazi guard.
Demjanjuk was reliably known to have been a guard at the concentration camp. But instead of trying him for this, Israeli court accused him of being someone else and then lost the case.
Why did they accuse Demjanjuk of being another person?
Wasn’t it enough that he was a guard at a Nazi concentration camp to try him?
Why invent a fictitious crime when there was a real one?
Header: Sep. 09, 1965 – Sobibor Process in Hagen : The proceedings against 11 members of the former watch of the concentration camp) Contributor: Keystone Press / Alamy Stock Photo