DEMJANJUK FIGHTS FOR LIFE
Former Rep. Jim Traficant is again going to bat for an Ohio workman accused of being a Nazi camp guard
By Jim Traficant
John Demjanjuk is a retired auto worker from Cleveland. He was born in Ukraine, served in World War II as a Russian soldier, was captured and held as a prisoner of war. Demjanjuk’s captors were soldiers of the German army. Today, as you read this column, Demjanjuk is standing trial for his very life once again. He is facing another Nazi war crimes indictment.
Think about the dynamics of this dilemma for John Demjanjuk. He’s being tried in Germany, by the very country who captured him. They say he was a Nazi war criminal. I don’t know about you, but on its surface it just doesn’t add up.
Demjanjuk is not a war criminal and certainly was never a Nazi. I can remember my first acknowledgment of the “Demjanjuk” ordeal. It seems like yesterday. I was in my Washington, D.C. office in the old Cannon Building in the late ‘80s. One of my staffers came into my office in a sort of cloak-and-dagger mode stating that the “son of convicted Nazi mass murderer ‘Ivan the Terrible’ is in the reception room, and we told him you are not here.” I then inquired of his purpose to meet with me, since I was not his congressman. I was then informed that young John Demjanjuk Jr. told them that he has “been to every office in the House and Senate, and no one would even speak with him because the matter was too sensitive.”
John Demjanjuk Jr. further stated that “they did not want to involve Jim Traficant” because they said that they “knew the government hated him, but he’s our last resort for any help.”
My staffer said, “Do not meet with him; you’ll be ostracized, destroyed, ruined. Let him go back to his own congressman and the two senators of Ohio.”
My staff further advised that I was probably already targeted by the powerful Israeli lobby, since I was an opponent of foreign aid, and certainly my involvement with John Demjanjuk would guarantee that American Israeli Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC] would not quit till I was removed from Congress.
I went to the door so I could overhear the conversation between John Demjanjuk Jr. and my staff. I could feel the pain in his voice. John Demjanjuk Jr. finally stated: “My dad’s not asking to meet with anyone. I’m asking, and I’ve never even had a parking ticket. What kind of government is this, that I can’t even talk to my elected officials about my family’s grave concerns?”
I then ordered my staff to bring John Demjanjuk Jr. and his brother-in-law Ed Nishnic into my office. My staff told me this decision would destroy my
career in Congress. I met John Demjanjuk Jr. and Ed Nishnic and offered them a seat to discuss their problems.
John Demjanjuk Jr. is a fine young man, a son any father would be proud of. His demeanor was that of a troubled and worried young man. He was accompanied by his brother-in-law Ed Nishnic and basically let Ed Nishnic explain their plight.
Ed Nishnic is also a remarkable man. Like John Demjanjuk Jr. he’s very intelligent and was very determined to prove the innocence of his father-in-law. I stated emphatically, that “I’ve decided to meet with you for one reason and one reason only: No American should ever be turned away when seeking help from our government.” I then said, “Your dad has been convicted of mass murder, the extermination of one million Jewish prisoners. He has been sentenced to death. I want you to know up front, that if he is really guilty I could personally pull the switch at his execution.”
I then told them I would hear their concerns. (Be advised that the mainstream media wrote that “Jim Traficant supports Nazi mass murderer” as soon as word spread that I had met with the “Demjanjuk” family.)
Nishnic handed me two report summaries of OSI investigators (Office of Special Investigations, the group within the Justice Department created by Congress to apprehend and prosecute Nazi war criminals). They had interrogated one Otto Horn in Berlin, Germany. Horn was a former SS Nazi guard who had assisted “Ivan Grozny” (Ivan the Terrible), at the Treblinka, Poland concentration camps.
These two reports were originals, not copies, and were signed by agents Garand and Daugherty, and were witnessed by prosecutor Moscovitz, who handled the denaturalization trial of John Demjanjuk in Cleveland. The reports were stamped as received by the Justice Department and signed by unit chief Eli Rosenbaum.
I read the documents very carefully without input from John Demjanjuk Jr. or Ed Nishnic. I could not believe my eyes. I could not believe what I was reading. The Justice Department had committed a great crime. Moscovitz, Garand and Daugherty suborned the perjury of Otto Horn in order to convict an American citizen wrongfully—an American now denaturalized, stripped of his citizenship and waiting to be executed. (The authenticity of these two documents cannot be denied.)
At trial, Horn stated that “John Demjanjuk was Ivan Grozny.” But in these two early reports, two years before the trial, Horn could not identify Demjanjuk from the photographs displayed before him.
I had a problem. A big problem. I knew without a doubt that John Demjanjuk was not Ivan the Terrible. John Demjanjuk was in fact another victim, soon to be known as one of the most vicious and infamous mass murderers in world history. John Demjanjuk was awaiting execution as the infamous Ivan of Treblinka, Ivan the Terrible.
I would be defamed and ostracized because I would be compelled to prove the innocence of John Demjanjuk on the strength of these two Justice Department documents. John Demjanjuk was innocent—convicted of mass murder, sentenced to death and awaiting execution—and no one seemed to care.
I thought, what has happened to our great country that it could produce this type of brutal crime against this American and his family?
I realized I had a difficult task ahead, but with the help of John Demjanjuk Jr. and Ed Nishnic, I believed we could prove John Demjanjuk’s innocence. It was imperative to do so. I had these two powerful documents to start with.
Otto Horn’s testimony at the Cleveland denaturalization trial (via videotape) was very direct. Horn had been shown a series of photographs when interrogated in Berlin.
Moscovitz spread eight photos of Caucasian males in uniform, all in their early 20’s. Horn testified that he identified John Demjanjuk immediately. Moscovitz then spread eight more photos of Caucasian soldiers in uniform, but now in their 40’s. Horn again testified that he identified John Demjanjuk, even as an older man, because he knew him so well. Horn’s testimony stripped John Demjanjuk of his citizenship, and he was sent to Israel to stand trial as Ivan the Terrible.
Now, back to the two reports of Horn’s interrogation in Berlin two years earlier. Garand and Daugherty wrote in their reports immediately after their interview with Horn: “We spread eight photos of Caucasian men in uniform, all in their early 20’s. Horn studied the photos at length and stated that ‘one man looks familiar’ [not John Demjanjuk] but FAILED to identify anyone.”
The report goes on:
“We then gathered the eight photos and put them in a stack with John Demjanjuk’s on top. We then spread eight more photos of older men in uniform with John Demjanjuk’s photo among them. Horn studied these photos at length, and looking at the John Demjanjuk photo on top of the stack, then back to John Demjanjuk’s photo in the older soldiers spread, said that ‘this is the same man’ but FAILED again to identify John Demjanjuk as Ivan.”
Be advised that Horn lied through his teeth, and U.S. prosecutor Moscovitz allowed it. Horn later testified at the Israeli trial that he positively identified John Demjanjuk from the photo spreads. When the defense team crossed-examined Horn, they asked if he could see the first photo spread when he was examining the second set. Horn testified:
“They put the first set of photographs in an envelope and removed them from my view.” Horn lied again. John Demjanjuk was convicted, and sentenced to death.
I immediately began my own investigation by utilizing a number of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests on John Demjanjuk. The government response was “classified”; thus I got nothing. At this point I conferred with John Demjanjuk Jr. and Nishnic to evaluate what options were available. We came up with a plan.
We decided to research any and all legal activity that involved the Treblinka camp. BINGO. We discovered that a Ukrainian-American from Chicago, by the name of Feodor Federenko, had been tried for war crimes at Treblinka. Federenko was acquitted. He then traveled to his homeland to visit his family, but was arrested by the Soviet KGB, was tried again in Russia, was convicted and executed. [No doubt our government arranged his demise].
I immediately sent out a new FOIA request, this time on Federenko. Most agencies threw my FOIAs in the wastebasket, but the State Department sent me two telegrams:
The first was from one of our OSI agents in Europe seeking information about Treblinka. The second was the response from the State Department listing the names of four men who had made statements about Treblinka. At the bottom of this was the following; “if you need further help, be advised we have another 100 pages in the file.”
I acted immediately. I phoned the State Department and reached a Mrs. Poindexter, an honest, competent government worker. I asked her to send me those 100 pages, citing the fact that Federenko was deceased and his case was not “classified.” Mrs. Poindexter complied.
Those 100 pages saved the life of John Demjanjuk. They contained the testimony of 17 witnesses about Treblinka.
All 17 identified “Ivan”:
1. He was taller than John Demjanjuk;
2. He had dark hair, not blond like John Demjanjuk;
3. He was nine years older than John Demjanjuk;
4. He had a long scar on his neck.
There was also a photo of two SS Nazi guards who had been identified by one of the witnesses, who said: “The short guard with pistol is Tkachuk. The tall guard is the man the Jewish prisoners feared the most, ‘Ivan Grozny’—IVAN MARCHENKO.”
All 17 witnesses identified a man named Ivan Marchenko as “Ivan the Terrible.”
I asked Congress for a hearing. Congress refused, the case was “too sensitive.” The federal courts would not accept my evidence. I took my evidence to the floor of Congress. I said John Demjanjuk was not “Ivan the Terrible.” A man named Ivan Marchenko was the real “Ivan.”
That night, the U.S. Justice Department issued a statement that “there were two Ivans.”
The next day I released the photo of Marchenko. The Justice Department was silent.
I then forwarded all my evidence to John Demjanjuk’s defense team in Israel, who then submitted it in to the Israeli Supreme Court.
I flew to Israel with John Demjanjuk Jr. and Ed Nishnic, at my own expense. I did a live interview with Bryant Gumbel on the Today show. I stated that if Israel executed John Demjanjuk that Israel will lose $20 billion a year from U.S. taxpayers. Gumbel said that “Israel only gets $3 billion a year.” I countered, “That’s just the foreign aid bill, Bryant. Israel gets military aid, loans, loans converted to grants, and trade compacts and other money. I say that Israel gets $20,000 for every man, woman and child from America every year.”
The interview was over.
I was phoned the following night and was told that John Demjanjuk would be released and delivered to me at the Tel Aviv Airport. We took him home.
I called a press conference for New York. While the press gathered, I ducked out with John Demjanjuk on a small plane. When approaching Cleveland, I directed the pilot to seek a landing pattern at the airport, then directed the flight to a small airstrip near Independence, Ohio, thus eluding the press.
John Demjanjuk went to a safehouse, He was home. I flew toWashington.The next day the Sixth Circuit Court in Cincinnati, Ohio issued the following statement; “A TRAGIC BUT HONEST MISTAKE BY OUR GOVERNMENT.”
That was no mistake. Moscovitz, Garand and Daugherty should have been sent to prison. I said then, “Since when did sensitivity waive our Bill
of Rights?” When we allow the rights of one American to be violated, we endanger the rights of all Americans.
Germany should send John Demjanjuk home. How, in God’s name, can Germany accept any evidence from the U.S. Justice Department who suborned perjury in the first trial, withheld evidence, obstructed justice, and violated John Demjanjuk’s civil rights?
SHAME ON GERMANY AND SHAME ON THE U.S.A. What has happened to our great country?
James A. (Jim) Traficant, Jr. was born in Youngstown, Ohio on May 8, 1941. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a well-known football star. He also received a M.S. degree from Youngstown State University in 1976. For ten years he served as executive director of the Mahoning County (Ohio) Drug Program and from 1981-1985 he served as sheriff of Mahoning County, prior to his election to the U.S. Congress as a Democrat in 1984. He was re-elected by overwhelming margins every year up until 2002 when, following his conviction on trumped up corruption charges, he was expelled from the House of Representatives. Despite his conviction and expulsion and being sent to prison for a seven year term Traficant still won 15% of the vote running for re-election to the House in the 2002 election as an independent. He recently completed a seven-year prison sentence, having refused to seek a pardon or clemency, refusing to admit to or apologize for crimes he did not commit.
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(Issue # 47, November 23, 2009)