NEW YORK (Aug. 25)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has reversed its position and said it does not believe the Israeli Supreme Court would seriously consider the testimony of a New Jersey woman who says she remembers that John Demjanjuk had been a guard at Sobibor, where she was interned.
A statement by the Los Angeles-based center was released Wednesday after Esther Raab, a 71-year-old resident of Vineland, N.J., was reported by the Associated Press and The New York Times to have suddenly come forward recalling Demjanjuk at that camp.
In 1983, Raab registered with the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors as a survivor of the Sobibor and Chelmno death camps.
Demjanjuk, a 73-year-old former Cleveland autoworker, was acquitted last month of being the notorious Treblinka guard “Ivan the Terrible.” He is now a waiting a decision by the Israeli high court as to whether he will be tried for other war crimes, including his work as a guard at Sobibor.
Raab would have been the first living Sobibor survivor to have identified Demjanjuk as a guard at that camp.
Eight Sobibor survivors who are among those petitioning for a new trial have said they do not recognize Demjanjuk.
Wiesenthal Center officials, following a lengthy interview with Raab on Tuesday, determined that since she had been unable to identify Demjanjuk’s photograph in a 1977 lineup with U.S. government officials, the “center does not believe that the Supreme Court in Israel is likely to consider such testimony.”
The interview with Raab was conducted by Martin Mendelson, the center’s Washington legal counsel, who was the first director of the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations.
Raab had told A.P. that fear stopped her from identifying Demjanjuk in 1977.
Raab said she spent more than nine months at Sobibor before escaping there and recalled seeing Demjanjuk there in the summer of 1943.
“He was there. He was miserable like all of them,” she told A.P.