Good Friday, John Demjanjuk, 89 and gravely ill, was ordered deported
to Germany to stand trial as an accessory to the murder of 29,000 Jews
-- at Sobibor camp in Poland.
Sound familiar? It should. It is
a re-enactment of the 1986 extradition of John Demjanjuk to Israel to
be tried for the murder of 870,000 Jews -- at Treblinka camp in
How many men in the history of this country have been so relentlessly pursued and remorselessly persecuted?
The ordeal of this American Dreyfus began 30 years ago.
In 1979, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) at Justice,
goaded and guided by Yuri Andropov's KGB, was persuaded that Demjanjuk
was "Ivan the Terrible," a huge, brutal, sadistic guard at Treblinka,
who bashed in babies' heads and slashed off women's breasts, as he
drove hundreds of thousands of Jews into the gas chambers.
Demjanjuk's defense was simple: I was never at Treblinka.
a dozen survivors, shown a photo spread, identified him as the beast of
Treblinka. In 1986, OSI had him extradited to Israel. In 1988, he was
convicted and sentenced to death. The greatest Holocaust monster since
Mengele was to be hanged.
His family, friends and lawyers did
not give up. They scoured Europe and, in the last days of the Soviet
Union, struck pay dirt. In Moscow's files on Treblinka they discovered
a photo of the real "Ivan," a far bigger, more mature man than the
23-year-old Demjanjuk in 1943.
Ivan Marchenko was positively identified as Ivan the Terrible.