NEW YORK (Oct. 2)
Patrick Buchanan, White House director of communications and a long-standing critic of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), has published a column contending that John Demjanjuk is “a victim himself of a miscarriage of justice” and his case may be “the American Dreyfus case.”
Demjanjuk, 66, was indicted in Jerusalem Monday on four counts of war crimes and is accused of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a sadistic guard at the Treblinka concentration camp where some 900,000 Jews were killed.
Buchanan, in his column, wrote that after a thorough review of the facts of the Demjanjuk case, he believes the accused man is a victim of mistaken identity.
Buchanan’s column appeared in the Washington Post Sunday and carried a footnote saying the article expressed his personal views and not those of the Administration. He detailed the history of the Demjanjuk case and cited what he claimed were numerous testimonies of Treblinka survivors who all gave identical accounts of a revolt in Treblinka in which a prisoner fatally stabbed a man identified as “Ivan” in 1943.
In an unprecedented case, the U.S. extradited Demjanjuk to Israel in February to stand trial for Nazi war crimes and stripped him of his U.S. citizenship. Demjanjuk was a retired auto mechanic for the Ford Motor Co., in Cleveland, Ohio.
Demjanjuk has claimed since the outset of the proceedings against him that he is innocent and served as a Ukrainian conscript in the Red Army who was later captured by the Germans. After spending time in POW labor camps, Demjanjuk said he served in the “Vlasow Army” in a Ukrainian, anti-Soviet unit which defended Prague during a Russian advance.
But those who prosecuted Demjanjuk in the United States, namely the former head of the OSI, Alan Ryan, Jr., alleged that Demjanjuk never went to a POW camp but instead defected to the Nazi side and became a guard outside the Treblinka gas chamber who bludgeoned men with a six-foot metal pipe and mutilated women and children on their way to the gas chambers.
The prosecution’s case in Israel hinges on the positive identification by Treblinka survivors of a photograph of Demjanjuk from a document provided by the Soviet government during the proceedings in the U.S. Buchanan said the Soviets fabricated the document, an old identity card.
Meanwhile the Cleveland Plain Dealer reprinted Buchanan’s column Tuesday after a Ukrainian church group mounted a support campaign for Demjanjuk in that city.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the Free World sent a representative, Bishop Antony, to Israel Monday night to attempt to attend the Demjanjuk trial as an observer. Some 40,000 Ukrainian-Americans live in Cleveland.
A spokesperson for Cleveland’s United Ukrainian Organizations said they, too, believe that Demjanjuk has been falsely accused.