Accused Nazi guard faces deportation to Germany
On Monday, a US judge ruled John Demjanjuk is healthy enough to face trial in Germany. He’s accused of complicity in the deaths of 30,000 Jews and gypsies.
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The last former Nazi to stand trial in Germany was Josef Schwammberger, who was issued a life sentence in 1992 and died in prison in 2004. "The passage of time in no way diminishes the guilt of Nazi perpetrators," says Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem. "If we want to set a chronological limit on prosecution, then if [former Nazis] are smart enough or lucky enough to escape justice until that age, they get completely off."Skip to next paragraph
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"We believe that every single victim of the Nazis deserves to hold the people who turned them into victims accountable," Mr. Zuroff says.
As Demjanjuk awaits deportation, the US Justice Department's Office for Special Investigations has begun moves to expel a Pennsylvania man accused of hiding his Nazi past. Authorities say Anton Geiser, an 84-year-old who has lived in the US since 1954, was an SS guard at the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps and lied about this on his entry documents. Right now, it is unclear where the US wants to deport Mr. Geiser to.
Demjanjuk has faced allegations about his Nazi past for three decades. In 1987, he was extradited to Israel, where he was accused of being the Nazi guard known as "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka extermination camp, also in what is today Poland. After seven years in Israeli custody, a court there acquitted him.
His US citizenship was restored in 1998. But a year later the Justice Department opened a new case against him. In 2002, a federal judge ruled that Demjanjuk had been a guard instead at Sobibor rather than Treblinka. He has been awaiting deportation since 2005, and last year failed to get the Supreme Court to consider his appeal.
Demjanjuk maintains that he was never a member of the Nazi party and that during the war he had fought with the Soviet Army, becoming a prisoner of war in Germany when he was captured in 1942.
"However the Germans proceed, we will be fighting for justice in this sad case," his son, John Demjanjuk Jr., told Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung recently. "There is no credible evidence that he engaged in murder or even thousands of murders. He has never harmed anyone, before, during or after the war."