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Doubt Cast on Witness’ Diary in Demjanjuk Trial

January 28, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The credibility of a key prosecution witness in the trial of accused war criminal John Demjanjuk was challenged in Jerusalem district court Wednesday.

The witness, Eliyahu Rosenberg, a Holocaust survivor who earlier in the trial identified Demjanjuk as the Treblinka death camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible,” was questioned about an entry in his diary in December 1945 that “Ivan” had been clubbed to death by escaping Jewish prisoners.

This followed his recall to the witness stand during the summation by state prosecutor Michael Shaked, a rare but not unprecedented procedure in Israeli courts.

But the defense seized on the opportunity to stress the discrepancy between Rosenberg’s diary and his identification of the defendant. Rosenberg was forced to explain that portions of his diary were based on hearsay.

The defense stressed that the diary, written in Yiddish in Rosenberg’s hand, gave no indication of what was an eyewitness account and what was hearsay.

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