Demjanjuk attorney belittles survivors’ testimony


MUNICH, Germany (JTA) — The chief defense attorney in the war crimes trial against John Demjanjuk belittled the testimony of Dutch survivors who lost family members in Sobibor in 1943.

Ulrich Busch also said Monday in a Munich court that he had heard that Jewish “police,” known as Ordnungsdienst, at the Westerbork transit camp in Holland were “worse than the Nazis.” He later said he had read this on the Internet.

The trial continued following a three-week recess. Demjanjuk, 89, is charged with being an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews in the Sobibor death camp.

Demjanjuk arrived in court Monday in a wheelchair. His priest, Archbishop Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, sat through the morning hearings and told reporters afterward that Demjanjuk "is a man who has no guilt on his conscience.”

In the courtroom, co-plaintiff Robert Cohen, 83, testified that his parents and brother were sent to Sobibor while he was still at the Westerbork transit camp in Holland. He said the Jewish "order service" patrol was part of the Nazi ruse to make people think deportation was positive.

"I wanted to be deported," Cohen said. "I thought I would be seeing my father or mother or brother again. I did not know they had been sent to Sobibor [and gassed there]. And I was sent to Auschwitz."

Following emotional testimony by co-plaintiffs, Busch said that “none of them are witnesses to any deeds, nor can they or will they be." He added that the murders of their relatives were "not even provable."

Another defense attorney, Guenther Maull, told JTA that it was the first time a court had brought charges based only on evidence of a defendant’s presence in a location, namely Sobibor.

“Usually they have to prove that he did something,” Maull said, adding that the charge could be the basis for an eventual appeal.

Meanwhile, the court on Monday officially rejected defense attempts to have the case dismissed and charges dropped. The trial is expected to end in May.

Recommended from JTA