Cleveland (Jun. 23)
Federal Judge Frank Battisti ruled today that the citizenship of John Demjanjuk be “revoked, vacated and cancelled” because the 60 year-old Ukrainian-born automobile worker lied about his Nazi activities in World War II when he applied for naturalization in 1958. The judgement, handed down in writing, cleared the way for U.S. authorities to initiate deportation proceedings against Demjanjuk.
Battisti’s decision was the final act in a legal drama that began in August, 1977 when the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) brought charges against Demjanjuk, an employe of the Ford Motor Co. and a resident of the Cleveland area since 1952. His trial opened in Federal Court here last February 10.
A parade of witnesses, many of them concentration camp survivors living in Germany, Israel and Uruguay, identified the defendant as a guard at the Treblinka and Sobibor camps in Poland in 1942-1943 who was known to the inmates as “Ivan the Terrible” because of his gratuitous cruelty and attrocities. He was charged with torturing thousands of Jewish and other prisoners and herding them into the gas chambers.
Demjanjuk maintained that he was a German prisoner-of-war at the time. His trial last winter was the occasion of a near confrontation between Holocaust survivors and the local Ukrainian community which supported Demjanjuk. The latter contended he was innocent and the victim of Soviet-inspired persecution.