Two of John Demjanjuk’s chief supporters in the United States have been linked to Holocaust-denial activities and were key players in secret post-World War II operations to admit Nazi war criminals to this country, according to a report based on recently declassified intelligence records.
Demjanjuk’s case has evolved into one of the most controversial of war crimes prosecutions in both the United States and Israel.
The former Cleveland autoworker and Ukraine native was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and extradited to Israel.
Demjanjuk and his supporters have proclaimed his innocence all along, and last month Israel’s Supreme Court overturned his 1988 conviction. He may still face additional charges.
The revelations about his U.S. supporters were made by Charles Allen Jr., a war-crimes investigator writing for Reform Judaism magazine, which is published by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
In his article, “Liberty Betrayed,” Allen reports that Jerome Brentar and the late Edward O’Connor, two principal supporters of Demjanjuk, were participants in top-secret post-war U.S. government programs that helped fascist war criminals escape Europe and enter this country.
Brentar is a Cleveland travel agent. In 1989, Allen reports, Brentar appeared before a meeting of the Institute of Historical Review in Costa Mesa, Calif., a Holocaust-denial organization, where he “received a hero’s welcome.”
At the conference, Allen writes, Brentar compared the “crucifixion” of Demjanjuk by the courts of Israel to that of Jesus.
Brentar also lashed out against the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which prosecutes accused Nazi war criminals living in the United States.
The late Edward O’Connor — father of Mark O’Connor, one of Demjanjuk’s former lawyers — was the chief architect of secret programs to bring fugitive Nazis into the United States after World War II, according to Allen.
A high official with the National Catholic Welfare Conference, O’Connor was appointed to influential government posts — including the Displaced Persons Commission and the National Security Council — by President Harry Truman.
Since the establishment of OSI, according to Allen, both Brentar and O’Connor have testified for and defended the only three suspected Treblinka SS guards known to have entered the United States — Liudas Kairys, Feodor Fedorenko and John Demjanjuk. Demjanjuk was acquitted of war crimes at Treblinka but is still suspected of having served at other concentration camps.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.