(JTA) — John Demjanjuk, the Cleveland-area autoworker convicted for crimes he committed as a Nazi death camp guard, died in a German nursing home.
Demjanjuk, 91, died Saturday at an old-age home in southern Germany, where he was free while he appealed his conviction last year for his role in the murder of 28,060 people at the Sobibor death camp in Poland..
Demjanjuk, born and raised in Ukraine, was first identified as "Ivan the Terrible," a notoriously sadistic guard at the Treblinka death camp, in the 1970s. In 1986, U.S. authorities deported him to Israel. A court there sentenced him to death, but during his appeal process the Israeli prosecution uncovered evidence suggesting that another man who had died in the Soviet Gulag in the 1950s was "Ivan."
The Israeli Supreme Court ordered him released, but noted that substantial evidence emerged during the trial identifying him as a guard at Sobibor. Demjanjuk returned to suburban Cleveland in 1993 and resisted multiple attempts to strip him of his citizenship and deport him again.
But he lost that battle in 2009, and U.S. authorities deported him to Germany. Last May he was convicted for his crimes in Sobibor, and he was sentenced to five years in prison. The decision to allow him to remain free during the appeal process was criticized by many Jewish groups.