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DEMJANJUK - THE LAST NAZI-CRIMES DEFENDENT ?


Police officers and medical assistants escort defendant John Demjanjuk, who sits in a wheelchair, during a trial break in the country court in Munich, southern Germany
More than 60 years after the end of World War II, an 89-year-old retired auto worker from Ohio went on trial in Germany on Monday in what many are calling the country's last Nazi war-crimes proceeding.
  • That's not the only reason the world is watching the trial closely: John Demjanjuk is also No. 1 on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of most wanted war criminals, accused of being an accessory to the deaths of at least 27,900 people.
  • Then there's the added drama of his health Demjanjuk's family insists he's too old and sick to stand trial, claiming he's suffering from a range of ailments. He was pushed into the courtroom in a wheelchair on Monday morning, his mouth slightly agape and apparently struggling for breath.
  • During the afternoon hearing, he was brought in lying on a gurney. When he started writhing and complaining of pain, he was taken outside for an injection.
  • Prosecutors say that Demjanjuk, who was born in Ukraine and emigrated to the U.S. in 1952, worked as a guard at the Sobibor extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943 and that his job was to lead thousands of Jews to their deaths in the gas chambers.
  • Demjanjuk fought for the Russians first, however. According to prosecutors, he was taken prisoner by the Germans in 1942 and then sent for training to become a Nazi guard at a special camp in eastern Poland called Trawniki, which was run by Adolf Hitler's √Člite SS force.
  • Crucial to the prosecution's case is an ID card from Trawniki purportedly showing that Demjanjuk was transferred from the SS training camp to Sobibor in March 1943.
  • The prosecutors' charge sheet carries a detailed description of Demjanjuk's alleged duties at Sobibor. "When the transport train carrying Jews arrived, the normal work was stopped and each member of the camp personnel became involved in the routine extermination process," the document reads.
  • After the Jews were ordered out of the cars, they were told to leave their luggage on the ramps and take off their clothes, the charge sheet says.
  • They were then allegedly led to the gas chambers under the pretext they were taking a shower. Holocaust experts have also linked the Sobibor guards to mass executions.
Source: More on Time, Also Read more on Demjanjuk Trail
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