Sobibor survivor testifies in Demjanjuk trial


MUNICH, Germany (JTA) – A survivor testifying at the war crimes trial of accused Nazi death camp guard John Demjanjuk said he did not recall seeing Demjanjuk at the camp.

The court heard Tuesday from Thomas Blatt, 82, one of the few remaining survivors of the Sobibor death camp. Blatt, who lost his family there, recounted many details about his months at the camp until he escaped during a prisoner uprising in October 1942. He said he could not remember seeing Demjanjuk there.

Demjanjuk, 89, is being tried in Germany as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews at Sobibor in 1943. An estimated 250,000 Jews died in the camp’s gas chambers.

Prosecutors say they will present hard evidence that Demjanjuk was a guard there. Blatt said all guards there were accomplices to murder.

Another escapee from Sobibor, Philip Bialowitz, 84, is due to testify this week. He told JTA Tuesday that he also "did not remember the faces of all the guards. But I know they sometimes surpassed the Germans in atrocity.”

Blatt divides his time between California and Poland; Bialowitz lives in New York City.

Selected to work at the camp, Blatt had several jobs, including burning the personal documents and books of the victims.

On one occasion when he was forced to rake clean the path that led to the gas chambers, he said he found bits of colored paper littering the ground; the Jews, realizing they were to be killed, tore to shreds any money they had so that it would not fall into the hands of their tormentors, Blatt explained.

Recommended from JTA